The Yucatan Peninsula boasts over has over 6,000 Cenotes, a cavernous shelter over a river system, with some of the best within driving distance of Playa Del Carmen.
Tulum was our first stop, an ancient religious and ceremonious site of Mayan ruins that sit a top the cliffs of the Yucatan Peninsula.
Around an hour drive from Playa del Carmen, entry to the ruins is $65 pesos per person without a guide or $600 pesos with a guide. For another $20 pesos you can take a ride on a tractor carriage for a lift to the entrance.
The ruins are surprisingly still well preserved with the most impressive structure being the El Castillo (The Castle). We visited Tulum in the middle of the day, so it was quite hot and hard to enjoy. I would recommend visiting earlier in the day to avoid the heat and tourists. The beach at the bottom of the cliffs is a great way to escape the midday sun!
We decided to hire a car for half a day to explore the beaches and Cenotes around Playa del Carmen as we thought this would be the most convenient way to get around. We paid $65US for a day’s hire.
We had heard that Akumal Beach was worth checking out as it was a great place to snorkel with turtles on the green sea bed.
Its mandatory to wear life vests for any snorkelling on the beach, no matter how good or bad a swimmer you are. We hired a lifevest and snorkel gear feom the Akumal Dive centre for 400 pesos for 2 people. They also put our belongings in a locker for free.
We were unfortunate not to see any turtles but we did see alot of unusual fish. Much of the grass beds were buoyed off to swimmers in order to preserve the beds. I would Leanne more time for the best chance to see the sneaky turtles.
20 minutes out of Playa del Carmen is the Gran Cenote and my personal favourite as it best accomodates snorkellers. 180 pesos per person for entry, life vests and snorkells can br hired once down on the jetty above the Cenote.
Gran Cenote has a jetty or pier in the middle with lots of lillypads and turtles to check out, as well as a rental kiosk for life vests and snorkels. There is a 20 metre cave to swim under home to plenty of bats, that is stunning to swim under. Make sure to grab a snorkel to check out the deep ravens and the edges of the Cenotes. Its quite scary and mind boggling at how deep the river system goes.
About a 40 minute drive from Playa del Carmen is one of the best Cenotes in the Playa del Carmen region. The Cenote is spkit intp two different ‘Eyes’, one blue water for snorkelleds and one dark water for divers. There are over 61 km in caverns with one as deep as 118m. Entry is 350 pesos each with snorkells and life vests for hire in the Park.
We only snorkelled on this visit but the water was amazing!
Cenote Azul is one of three Cenotes (Azul, Jarden of Eden and Cristalino) within 100m of each other. Entry to Azul is $150 pesos each, Cristalino is $100 pesos.
We arrived just before close to both Azul and Cristalino (Jarden of Eden was already closed) so we were able to enjoy Cristiano all to ourselves. Azul ib particularly is alive with fishes keen to nibble on your toes – Cristalino is alive with mosquitoes willing to bite you! Make sure you use plenty of mosquito repellant.
In attempt to preserve the water and natural environment of the Cenotes, sunscreen use is dissuaded by visitors. Sunscreen is usually fine to go without as moat Cenotes are sheltered, however, the mosquitoes have a tendency to come out in force, especially in the late afternoons. A quick shower may be encouraged in some Cenotes to make sure any oils or creams are washed off before entry.
There are so many different Cenotes to visit in Mexico – I wish I had more time to visit some of the other bigger ones. It was quite enjoyable and romantic to have one all to ourselves. Next stop – Cuba!