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Cenotes in the Riviera Maya: Amazing Mayan Underwater World

Cenote (pronounced “Say-NOH-tay”) – this geological creation is an integral part of the history of the Yucatan Peninsula. Cenotes are natural swimming holes formed millions of years ago by the collapse of porous limestone bedrock into the underground water system. For the ancient Maya, these fresh water sink holes were ‘sacred wells’ where religious ceremonies often took place, and the Mayans also believed cenotes were the entrance to the underworld. There are an estimated 6,000 cenotes in the Mexican states of Yucatan and Quintana Roo. In the Riviera Maya, many cenotes have become famous for their individual unique features and the different types of flora & fauna visitors can discover while snorkeling and swimming in these natural wonders.

Scuba Diving Riviera Maya


Famous Cenotes in the Riviera Maya


Cenote Dos Ojos –

This popular cenote is situated one kilometer south of Xel-Ha and 48 kilometers from Playa del Carmen. This anchialine cave system contains the deepest known cave passages in Quintana Roo including the "Wakulla Room", the "Beyond Main Base (BMB) passage", "Jill's room" and "The Next Generation passage.” You will find several varieties of fish and at least two types of freshwater shrimp while diving in the Cenote Dos Ojos.


Cenote Taj Mahal –

Located 29km south of Playa del Carmen, Cenote Taj Mahal is one of the most beautiful cenotes in the Riviera Maya. Shards of light enter this cavern system from above and are refracted by the waters' surface which create jagged laser-like beams. Haloclines appear in the deeper areas of Taj Mahal, creating an interesting mirror like effect because of the layer formed by fresh water over salt water.


Cenote El Gran -

Located about 4km from Tulum and part of the Sak Aktun system of underground rivers, El Gran Cenote is a hugely popular spot for cave divers because of its amazing underwater views. While snorkeling in the Gran cenote, you will find columns of stalactites and stalagmites of all shapes and sizes which resemble cities of skyscrapers, large balls of roots & vines that grow out of the underwater ceiling, and schools of fish eating up the plant debris.


Cenote Ponderosa El Eden -

Located 10 minutes south of Puerto Aventuras, Ponderosa is a spectacular pond with crystal clear waters and full of marine life. Enjoy unlimited visibility under the water, and a wide variety of fish, eels and turtles. A thick halocline formation and the fantastic light reflection give the divers the feeling of being in another planet.


Cenote Chac Mool –

Located 24km south of Playa del Carmen, this cenote has 3 water entries including Chac Mol, Kukulkan and Little brother. There are two rooms in Chac Mool cenote – one room is large with much light entering from the opening while in the second room, divers can admire two levels of beautiful stalactites. Chac Mool is also home to the largest underwater stalactite in the world.


The Best Way to Explore Cenotes in the Riviera Maya

Nowadays, millions of local Mayan residents and international tourists come to dive, snorkel and swim in the crystal-clear waters of these natural pools every year. The easiest way to discover these sink holes is to charter your own luxury yacht for scuba diving in Riviera Maya or book private dive charter tours with a qualified dive or snorkel guide. Don't miss out the exhilarating swimming experience in these underground pools of crystal-clear waters and awe-inspiring halocline formations! The perfect way to enjoy your Riviera Maya adventurous vacation is to combine a dive tour to these famous cenotes with some city activities and beach time.

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