March 28, 2013

not all sinkholes are bad: the gran cenote

how many times have you started to plan a vacation or booked your plane ticket only to see your intended vacation spot every time you turned around? as soon as we knew we were vacationing near cancun it seemed like everywhere we looked there were articles about all of the cool things to see and do in the area. a couple of weeks after we booked our catamaran trip, we stumbled across an article about the spectacular cenotes of the yucatan peninsula, and we decided then and there that we had to go see at least one while we were on our vacation.

a cenote is a sinkhole that can be filled with fresh water or salt water. and the yucatan peninsula has tons of them. one of the larger ones, the gran cenote, was a short drive from tulum so we decided to check it out one afternoon.


the gran cenote is located ~3.5 km away from tulum proper or ~6 km away from the beach, so since we already had bikes (100 pesos a day), we biked to the gran cenote after we had seen the ruins in tulum. it's a bit more expensive than we would have liked (120 pesos each, or approximately $10) but it was definitely worth it. especially if you make a whole afternoon out of it.  



the gran cenote is a large, partially cave-like fresh water lake that was formed over the course of thousands of years by limestone eventually giving way and creating a sink hole.   some of the cenote is covered by a large, bat inhabited cavern with stalactites, while other parts are open to the sun. some parts are shallow enough to walk through, while other parts are rocky and deep. the most amazing part? how crazy clear the water is. it had this magical turquoise blue color to it and you could see everything; it was almost like looking through a glass bottom boat that's how awesome it was. 

we went to a couple of other cenotes when we were in puerto morelos as well. one was all underground -- you could reach it by jumping 15 feet or via stairs. and the other was open; again, you could either jump 30 feet down into it or walk down the stairs. both were 60+ feet deep. (we went to both of these cenotes as part of a packaged tour with kin-ha jungle tour. on this half-day tour you drive an atv to the cenotes, go on a zipline through the jungle, get a light snack, and swim in the cenotes for ~400 pesos each. not a bad deal.)