A cenote is a natural sinkhole caused by the collapse of limestone bedrock, exposing the groundwater underneath. There are many cenotes in Mexico and they are used as natural swimming holes, many cavernous and mysterious, others surrounded by lush jungle, the true depiction of a tropical paradise.
In the ancient Mayan language cenote means “sacred well”, so called because the Mayans worshipped these natural formations as they were a source of water in times of drought. They believed that cenotes were a portal to another world, and at the sites carried out rituals and ceremonies to speak to the gods.
Given how the sinkholes were formed, you might be asking yourself…
Are cenotes safe?
The first and most important thing to consider here is that you should only visit cenotes that are open to the public, and are clearly touristic sites. Providing that you follow this rule, and follow all guidelines at the cenotes you choose to visit, they are generally considered to be very safe! There’ll be staff on hand for any questions or concerns that you have, and many have lifeguards sitting poolside, too, help won’t be far away if you find yourself in need.
Which cenote is the best?
With so many to choose from, it’s no wonder that you might find yourself asking which cenote is best. The truth is, there is no single right answer. There are so many factors to take into account including location, activities such as snorkelling, diving or swimming, travelling with young children and more.
But, there is one cenote that is named best in Mexico time and time again and has something for everyone.
Two Eyes Cenote
Just outside of Akumal, between Tulum and Playa del Carmen, the Two Eyes Cenote (or Cenote Dos Ojos in Spanish!) is one of the most popular in Mexico and it is easy to see why.
Part of the Two Eyes Cave System, one of the longest underwater cave systems in the world, these two sinkholes are connected by a subterranean passageway and are truly breathtaking. One of the pools is dark and cavernous, whilst the other is surrounded by trees and natural vegetation through which the light blazes, illuminating the water which shines a bright turquoise-blue.
Activities at the Two Eyes Cenote
It is a great place for snorkeling and there are lots of tiny fish to be seen as the sunlight illuminates the crystal clear waters.
If you’re certified, you can also SCUBA dive here (and you should!) – the Two Eyes Cenote considered one of the best diving spots in the region. Be aware, though, that you’ll need to join a tour in advance if you’d like to partake in diving as the site is so popular with divers, it gets pretty busy.
If snorkeling and diving are not for you, rest assured that there is plenty to enjoy for swimmers and spectators. The landscape is beautiful, the water is like something out of a movie and it’s a great place to sit back, relax and let the surrounding environment transport you to another world.
If you’re still not convinced that the Two Eyes Cenote is the one for you, perhaps Sir David Attenborough can persuade you as the location featured on his 2006 Planet Earth documentary. The episode, “Caves”, saw a crew of expert divers enter the depths of Cenote Dos Ojos in their exploration of Yucatan.