Have you ever heard of a cenote? They are these magical sinkholes here in the Yucatan Peninsula that were formed by the meteor that killed the dinosaurs. They are filled with freshwater and connected through hundreds of underground rivers. There are NO above ground rivers in this part of Mexico! I had never heard of them until we moved to Playa del Carmen.
I first went to a cenote when our friends Matt and Vanessa were here and I immediately fell in love. It is now my personal mission to visit as many of these places as possible! Each one is unique and presents its own mystery. There are over 6,000 of them here so I better get crackin!
Recently ugh MONTHS AGO omg LAST YEAR!!! (I’m so good at procrastinating!), my husband’s family came to visit and so of course I had to share some cenotes with them!
We first hit the cenote at Ek Balam, which is a fantastic geological site not far from the very popular Chichen Itza ruins. Ek Balam was essentially empty of visitors so we had the run of the place, save for a few rowdy Germans.
Entrance to the Ek Balam cenote, called X’Canche, was $50 pesos (around $2.50 usd). It is located about a kilometer from the ticket booth, so Seb and I rented bicycles for $70 pesos each ($3.68 usd) and the elders -lol!- took a bike taxi for $100 ($5.40 usd). I was loving the breeze in my face as we peddled!
Once you reach the cenote, they have showers, changing rooms, lockers, hammocks, and even a restaurant, although the food was bland and extremely overpriced. We rented a locker for $20 pesos, which is a little over a dollar these days.
They also have some extra attractions at this one like zip lining and rapelling down into the cenote, but we just wanted a dip. However, I did try the rope swing! The X’Canche cenote has high walls with tree roots growing down to the water. The water is a bit brackish but you can still see the catfish swimming around. You can rent a lifejacket or they have these little donut innertubes for free. I opted for the tube so I could take pics and not drown! haha.
Seb’s family and I visited this cenote for an afternoon swim. It is one of three cenotes clustered together just south of Playa del Carmen on the Federal Highway. There is a small parking lot by the road and you walk about 200 yards on a concrete path to the water. It’s $150 pesos to get in and this time life jackets were included. We also rented a locker for super cheap but I can’t remember the exact amount.
I loved it here! The cenote closes at 5 and we arrived around 2ish so maybe that’s why it wasn’t super crowded. The water was much clearer than at X’Canche and there are tons of fish! They love to nibble on your feet too, which tickled SO MUCH!
On Avenida Cinco in Playa del Carmen, you can pay $35 usd to have fish do this! But we got it free from nature haha. There is also a little cliff to jump off and Seb’s sister, Lisa, and I went for it! It was actually higher than I thought it was going to be! But it was fun.
My camera really does not do these places justice! We have been meaning to get out and enjoy ALL the cenotes, but darn it, it’s hard without a car! We always say, oh we’ll just take a colectivo from downtown and boom we’ll be there, but it ends up sounding like a lot of work for a little bit of relaxation, then you have to do it all again for the return trip!
We are settling into our second year in Mexico, and hopefully this year will be filled with more adventure!