In addition to our spectacular white-sand beaches and turquoise blue sea, one of the greatest attractions of the Mexican Caribbean are without a doubt the cenotes. These fascinating natural pools of intense cobalt blue, turquoise blue, or emerald green color leave anyone who dares to explore them breathless.
The cenotes are exclusively found in the Yucatan Peninsula (in Mexico), Belize, and Guatemala, where the soil is porous and soft limestone, which allowed rainwater to seep in and create an underground system of rivers called the Sac Actun System. The largest underground river system in the world, located along the Mexican Caribbean, connects all the cenotes.
Quintana Roo is home to more than 2,500 cenotes and 407 flooded caves, but not all of them are open to the public. Many of them are still hidden in the thick of the Mayan jungle. These beautiful settings are the perfect place for nature and adventure where you can dive, snorkel, canoe, kayak, and paddleboard.
Many natural and theme parks have cenotes within their facilities, where you can find endless fun and exciting activities such as zip-line circuits, rappelling down to the cenotes, or exploring the winding trails of the imposing Mayan jungle by bicycle or ATV.
The Dz'onot, the name by which they were known by the Mayans, were sacred places because they believed they were the gateway to the underworld (Xibalbá), where their gods and the dead resided; in addition to being sites where various ceremonies and rituals were carried out.
There are four types of cenotes: open, semi-open, cave, and ancient.
In Quintana Roo, most of these enigmatic bodies of water are found along the Riviera Maya—a region made up of Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum. However, you can also find some to the south, in Bacalar and around Chetumal.
Located in Puerto Morelos, the Ruta de los Cenotes is a site of unparalleled beauty that extends over 20 miles, housing more than 60 of these natural wells. In addition to the cenotes, the region offers incredible nature and adventure parks.
On the outskirts of Chetumal, in the town of La Unión—located very close to the natural border with Belize—the Cenote Cocodrilo Dorado is one of the most beautiful sites in the entire Mexican Caribbean. Still one of the best-kept secrets in the Grand Costa Maya, this cenote is a brilliant cobalt blue color and is approximately 328 feet in diameter. Unlike other cenotes in the rest of the Yucatan Peninsula, this one is located at the foot of a small hill, allowing the practice of rappelling. One of its walls reaches 229 feet, making it a great place to practice this extreme sport. Tour its streams in a kayak, swim in its springs, go horseback riding, go hiking or mountain biking, or simply admire the different species of flora and fauna found there.