Our first stop was Cenote Yokdzonot which is one of the Yucatan’s best kept secrets. If you picture a crowded scene with many tourists bumping into each other, you have it wrong! Although the water was a little chilly (20 °C) / (68°F), we visited at the height of the high season. We were alone with one other couple. Then they left and another couple joined us. It has beautiful pristine waters. Although the water was a little dark if the sun wasn’t shining just right, we did see many fish underwater. Check out the big fat fish that look like Koi! It is located a short drive (20 mins west) of Chichen Itza in the town of Yokzdonot. Life jackets were included in the price of entry which was 70 pesos when we visited.
It is run and maintained by a group of Mayan women who created a cooperative and restored the cenote to its former beauty. In so doing, they also created a livelihood for themselves and their families. They did a great job and we were happy to support them!
Cenote Samula is the sister cenote to Cenote X’quequén near Valladolid. The main difference between the two is that X’quequén has a smaller opening in the ceiling so there is very little natural light. It also boasts more stalactites and stalagmites than Cenote Samula. In our research we decided that Samula would be our focus although you can visit both. They are a short distance away from each other and the cost is 80 pesos each. That does not include a life jacket which costs 20 pesos to rent.
Be warned: there are many vendors and many requests for “propinas” (tips). Although getting hustled by everyone is a definite turn off, it was worth it. Cenote Samula is a beautiful sight. The turquoise waters and light shining in are what made it so spectacular. Although there were many visitors, we felt like we still had lots of space to enjoy it. We visited on a Saturday afternoon and it was busy but not crowded. I recommend avoiding visiting on a Sunday because that is the day off for many locals, which translates into more crowds.
What is a cenote?
A cenote is a natural sinkhole that exposes groundwater underneath the surface of the earth. Cenotes can be partially or fully collapsed and are fed by underground rivers and streams. Some Cenotes are tall, vertical shafts, some are enclosed caves with long, dark passageways. We were lucky enough to visit one of each.
Why must I visit one if I visit the Yucatan Peninsula?
Because they are so beautiful and accessible. There are over 6000 different cenotes in the Yucatan Pensinsula in Mexico alone!
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