18 Jan Secret Underworld Cenote Yokdzonot
Mexico is much more than stunning beaches. It’s home to an exotic underworld of turquoise pools and one of the most beautiful is Cenote Yokzonot in the Yucatan Peninsula.
A Unique Hidden Experience
At Apple Specials, we always recommend travelers to explore beyond the obvious. The Yucatan Peninsula is a holiday destination to do that. Deep in hidden jungle locations, under a frame of tall jungle trees and tangled branches, crisp mineral-rich waters flow freely in and around rocky caves. This is Mexico’s underworld of sacred turquoise pools. Each pool is known as a cenote (say-NO-tay) in Spanish or dzonot in Mayan.
There are an estimated 6,000 cenotes in Mexico but only about 2,000 have been reportedly explored. Visiting one of them and swimming in its crystal-clear water is a special experience, one enjoyed since ancient times. Each cenote is the core of a glorious sun drenched world of pristine waters surrounded by lush wild vines, the sounds of birds and the shade of lofty tropical trees.
Beautiful, Healthy and Sacred: Cenotes Throughout Time
Cenotes are a natural phenomenon. Under the earth of the Yucatan Peninsula, a series of fantastic water-filled limestone caves are connected by rivers. Rainfall eats away at the limestone which forces a cave’s roof to collapse, forming a sinkhole. The hole then fills with fresh water and a cenote is born.
Not all of these sinkholes are alike. Some are completely open – resembling a lake – while other cenotes feature a small opening. Others can be described as somewhere in between a lake or in between an underground lake and a cave.
At some cenotes, twisted vines hang 80 feet from the roof. Some are sparkling underwater caves filled with stalagmites and stalactites. Others are organized with tourist facilities such as snack bars, restaurants, changing rooms and toilets. Some are only known to a surrounding community and so many more haven’t been discovered by mankind yet!
These natural wonders – both large and small – are loved by locals and visitors alike. Some cenotes are even considered sacred. The Mayans revered and respected these gifts of nature, proclaiming some as mythical sites where humans could communicate directly with the gods.
Throughout time, these cenotes provided precious drinking water, which is exactly why Mayan villages and cities flourished around them. Filtered perfectly by mother nature, a cenote’s fresh water is so clean, clear and pure, it is easy to see right down into the colorful ecosystem of fish and thriving plant life living below. Endemic species including blind cave fish and blind crayfish even live in areas where light never penetrates.
Cenotes also offer a healthy swim. The vitamin- and mineral-rich algae that flourishes in the water which is said to be wonderful for the skin.
The Stunning Cenote Yokdzonot
Scientists say cenotes date back to the formation of the earth. While they’ve been around forever, a certain handful are easier to access thanks to paths that have been cleared and safety measures put in place by local groups. When this type of organization happens, a “new” cenote is on the radar for eager travelers exploring the Yucatan Peninsula.
One of the “newer” cenotes is the Cenote Yokdzonot. Just a 15-minute drive from the fantastic complex of Mayan ruins called Chichen Itza, the Cenote Yokdzonot is one of the largest in the Yucatan and one of the most unique. Deep in the jungle, its blue green waters are reachable by descending an 18-meter wooden staircase which leads to a wooden platform that borders the waters. The cenote boasts a depth of 45 meters. Surrounded by colorful buzzing hummingbirds, quick dragonflies fluttering above the water’s surface and slightly swaying jungle vines, the Cenote Yokdzonot is a place for a peaceful swim as you feel tiny fish zip below you.
Caring for the CenoteYokdzonot
The Cenote Yokdzonot is lovingly cared for by a local cooperative whose members are responsible for the care and maintenance of the tourist services. A small fee allows guests to use on-site changing rooms. The cooperative also runs a restaurant which serves made-to-order Yucatan specialties at excellent prices. Delicious dishes like salbutes or panuchos, chicken or cheese empanadas, poc-chuc and lime soup are on the menu. Also, a traditional Mexican shelter roofed with palm leaves called palapas is useful for anyone who wants to hang up a hammock and rest in the thick of nature. The cenote’s picnic spaces and tent areas offer relaxing views as well.
For the more active, snorkel gear can be rented. Snorkelers love finding themselves in a fantastic world that professional divers experience all the time. The clear waters also attract underwater photographers who can easily capture the aquatic life underneath. For the adventurous, mountain bikes can be rented to join a two-hour tour to explore other cenotes and hidden natural springs.
The Ideal Escape
A day trip to discover Mexico’s secret cenotes is the ideal escape from Mexico’s beautiful yet sometimes overcrowded beaches. These water pool jungle paradises remain fairly hidden away offering a more private kind of swimming and relaxation experience. During some times of the year, they can even be completely free of other guests.
How to Get to the Cenote Yokdzonot
The Cenote Yokdzonot is 300 meters off the road leading from Merida to Chichen Itza.
Did you know about Mexico’s exotic watering holes known as cenotes? Would you like to take a day trip out to the Cenote Yokzonot for a refreshing swim?