If you’re planning a trip to the Mayan Riviera, make sure you make time to visit at least one of the famed cenotes that are native to the area. Cenotes are limestone sinkholes – stunning natural wonders that formed a gajillion or so years ago from an intricate system of subterranean rivers. Erosion and other elements caused the earth above parts of these rivers to cave in over time, exposing this mysterious underground ecosystem to our world in the form of gorgeous, mineral-rich swimming holes.
Located less than 10 minutes from town and easy to spot from the freeway, El Gran Cenote is an absolute no-brainer for anyone visiting Tulum. Entrance is 150 pesos per person, with an additional 80 pesos for snorkel gear rental (scuba tours are also offered). All in all you’ll pay the equivalent $15 US for a pretty priceless experience.
Once past the entrance, you walk a few yards inland along a little sandy path with well-manicured gardens. As you approach, the cenote reveals itself sunken deep into the earth. Gazing down from above, it’s kind of wild to see this shockingly blue amazingness that lies just beneath the ground at your feet. Once you descend the manmade platform into the water, you’re greeted by a labyrinth of mind-boggling underground caves, stalactites and stalagmites, bats, birds, little fish and turtles…exploring a cenote can make you feel privy to some secret place that’s not of this world. But that’s probably just the nerdgirl in me talking.