Cenotes are one of those things that I’ve always heard about when visiting Mexico. They had taken on a somewhat mythical quality, though because I’ve never seen one. A few year’s ago Dewey did get to experience one as a diver. After that, I just decided that it was something you needed to be a diver to experience and kind of forgot about it.
I’m still not quite sure where I got the idea that you had to be a diver but it was pretty deeply ingrained. When I saw visiting cenotes at Kantun-Chi on our itinerary, I thought “Really? Because Evan can’t dive!” Thankfully I was completely and totally wrong and we had an amazing day exploring one of the most impressive natural wonders in the Mayan Riviera.
Kantun-Chi is located in the middle of the Mayan Riviera. It was super close to our resort, The Grand Palladium Riviera Maya. Inside the ecopark, they have 5 cenotes and an underground river. Actually, I should clarify…that is how many cenotes they have opened to the public. On their property there are many more that may be opened one day. Kantun-Chi offers different ticket prices based on how many cenotes you visit, whether you do the underground river and whether lunch is included. It is my reccomendation to do the full meal deal. Visit all the cenotes as they are each unique in their own way and beautiful and do NOT miss out on the underground river. Plus lunch is delicious (try the Pibil chicken) so it is totally worth the ticket price. Locker, water shoe, life jacket and mask usage are all included in your ticket price.
Let’s backup now and discuss what you will see. What the heck is a cenote anyway? From Wikipedia – A cenote (/sɨˈnoʊtiː/) is a natural pit, or sinkhole resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. A partially enclosed cenote has a roof of rock and you can swim in the water in a cave like atmosphere. An open cenote is one where the roof has collapsed and it is an open pool. Both are full of spring fed water that is cool but not frigid and super clear. I enjoyed the open cenote because the sun kept me a bit warmer than I was inside the partially enclosed cenote. The second picture above is an example of a partially enclosed cenote.
Above is an example of an open cenote. Dewey loved diving in!
While the cenotes are worth the visit to Kantun-Chi all by themselves, they also have an underground river that you can take a guided tour of. You don your helmets (adults only because children are too short to bump their heads) and descend into an cave with an underground river.
The tour consists of walking through caves and swimming through underground lakes. The water is the same temperature as the cenotes (cold but not frigid). I found myself gasping at every turn. As a lover of spelunking (caving), this was an amazing tour for me. Add in two underground cenotes and it was a must visit.
Evan really enjoyed it too. He was a bit apprehensive at first but soon he was at the front of the group wanting to explore. Our guide was full of information about the caves, the cenotes and the underground river. He was also really great with Evan who was the only kid on the tour.
One tip, though, keep a tight grip on your locker key. We were swimming and Dewey decided to dive down to look around. He thought “Huh…that looks like a locker key down on the bottom.” Then he felt in his pocket and realized that wasn’t just ANY locker key…it was OUR locker key. Thankfully he is a great diver so he was able to dive down and retrieve it from the bottom. Good thing he noticed it!
The day at Kantun-Chi made us hungry for exploring more cenotes on our future Riviera Maya trips. We will definitely be returning to Kantun-Chi.
Here are some tips for your trip to Kantun-Chi:
- Plan to stay long enough to have time to explore all the cenotes fully.
- If you own water shoes, wear them. They have ones to borrow but it is always nice to have your own.
- If you must wear sunscreen, use biodegradable. Kantun-Chi tries to keep their cenotes and underground river as chemical free as possible. That also means it is best to skip makeup and hair products.
- If you want to take photos, bring a waterproof camera.