Cenotes, natural wonders of Riviera Maya

Cenote, (say-NOH-tay) called dzonot (ZO-note) by the ancient Maya were defined by the Motul dictionary, a dictionary of Mayan hieroglyphics, as “abysmal and deep” or “hole filled with water”. Cenotes are created by an underground river system and are fresh water sink holes that the Maya considered to be sacred,  they also believed they were the entrance to the underworld.

There are four different types of cenotes – those that are completely underground, those that are semi-underground, those that are at land level like a lake or pond, and those that are open wells.

The Yucatan Peninsula has an estimated of 7,000 cenotes! Among these, we can find Cenote “Dos Ojos” (two Eyes), Kantun Chi (which is also an Ecopark) and Gran Cenote.


Dos Ojos is a flooded cave system located south of Playa Del Carmen and north of Tulum, on the Caribbean coast, in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. The exploration of Dos Ojos began in 1986 and has never stopped since. The documented underwater extend of the cave system is at least 61 km.
Dos Ojos has remains in the top 10 longest underwater cave systems in the world. Dos Ojos contains the deepest known cave passage in Quintana Roo with 118 meters / 396 feet of depth located at The Cenote Pit.
The name Dos Ojos is Spanish for two eyes, and refers to two neighboring cenotes which connect into a very large cavern zone shared between the two. These two cenote appear like two large eyes into the underground. Some of the underwater cave were featured in an IMAX Film in 2002, Journey Into Amazing Caves.

*text from http://www.cenotedosojos.com


Kantun Chi Ecopark is home to several cenotes. Currently four are available for swimming, snorkeling, or just admiring. In order to protect the fish and other wildlife that make the cenote their home, the use of any kind of oil or water-based sun block or lotions is not allowed:

Kantun Chi: This cenote gets its name from the park itself. It is also the first one you encounter as you begin your adventure.
Sas ka leen Ha: which means “transparent water” in Mayan: This cenote resembles a crescent moon and was probably used by the ancient Mayans for the purification of their souls.
Uchil Ha or “ancient water:” This is one of the most unusually shaped cenotes in the Yucatan. Its waters wrap around what was once likely the roof of the cenote forming a unique shape.
Zacil Ha: a Mayan word that means “clear water:” Early each afternoon, you can often see a sun ray crossing through a hole on the roof of the cenote that reflects off the water. It is quite beautiful.

*text from http://www.travelbymexico.com


The name does say it all. This large cenote is one of the most popular diving and snorkeling areas in the Riviera Maya. Located on the highway to Coba just outside of the city of Tulum access could not be easier to this roadside destination. Snorkel inside of this huge cave system without ever diving under the water. Huge stalagmites, stalactites, and columns are yours to be seen by just sticking your face into the water. Cavern divers can enjoy this circular shaped cenote dive as they tuck behind and swim through this underwater wonderland. If your family would like to stay for a picnic you will find plenty of space and the perfect environment for some relaxing.

*text from http://www.grancenote.com

For more information about Cenotes in Riviera Maya Click here