There were so many memorable parts of the trip (as you can tell), but I can truly say that visiting and swimming in the cenotes blew my mind. It is such a unique part of this area of Mexico and there are over 9000! The water is crystal clear, chilly and something that I would go back to explore more of. A lot of them have become commercialized and require a guide which I think is important so that people don’t damage the formations. We went to three cenotes: Carwash, Sak-Atun and Aktun-Chen. All three were different and something that made for a great afternoon activity!
This Cenote is the carwash which is about a ten minute ride outside of the heart of Tulum and is right off the street. We paid a very small fee and spent some time taking a dip in the freezing cold water. IT WAS SO COLD. The water is truly crystal clear and there were people scuba diving while we were there as well.
The picture is in the section where you can’t swim as it is a guided walking tour but there is a cenote right next to where you can. This walk is listed as a must do under National Geographic and I couldn’t agree more! Our guide was great and we were only with one other couple. He was very informed about the history and shared a lot of his insights in both Spanish and English. This cave and cenote take a bit to get to as there is a long dirt road before you get to the center. It is also an animal sanctuary and I couldn’t say enough nice things about our experience there. Virtually no one else was there and they do the swimming and cave tour in hourly waves so you are guaranteed to have a peaceful time.
I don’t have any pictures of the cenote we swam in, but it was a very special experience. We were the only two people in the cenote at the time. There are a lot of catfish and minos and it is so breathtaking to see.
On our final day in Tulum, we went to this cenote after I researched it online and it was so highly rated. It lived up to the expectations and reviews! It is past the more famous Dos Ojos cenote and requires a guide as there are a lot of tight areas and you could actually get lost in it. The formations are so stunning and the center of the cenote was like being in a snow globe of formations. LITERALLY. After the tour they allowed us to swim around for as long as we wanted as the cenote extended into a circle around the cave in a nice loop.
I know there are tons of other cenotes and a lot of the time it just happens to be the luck of the draw if they are busy and what time of the day it is. During the rainy season there are restrictions on visiting some of them due an increase in the level of water. You can also scuba dive most of them with a guide and there are some seriously technical dives under tunnels and in tight spaces.