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Exploring an Underground River and Cenotes at Kantun-Chi in the Mayan Riviera

Exploring an Underground River and Cenotes at Kantun-Chi in the Mayan Riviera


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.

Beautiful cenotes

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.

Pibil chicken


Let’s backup now and discuss what you will see. What the heck is a cenote anyway? From Wikipedia – A cenote (/sɨˈnt/) 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.

Jumping in to an open cenote

Above is an example of an open cenote. Dewey loved diving in!

Underground River

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.

Climbing down the ladder

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 loves Kantun Chi

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.

Diving in the cenote

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!

Open Cenote

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.






Heather Lynne

Friday 17th of April 2015

This looks amazing! What a cool experience/opportunity to experience with your familY! (awesome memory-making :)


Friday 17th of April 2015

This looks like so much fun (and the lunch looks delicious!). I think the key re-capture is hilarious! That would absolutely be us! New plan is to travel with some safety pins to firmly attach our keys to our suits.

Randa @ TBK

Friday 17th of April 2015

Watching your trip via social media has made me expand my bucket list so much! This would be such an experience!


Friday 17th of April 2015

This looks like a fantastic adventure, I think I would be nervous, but the breathtaking scenery would win me over ;)

Suzanne Rudge

Wednesday 15th of April 2015

Wow, what an incredible experience! Just getting to visit Mexico would be a dream, but seeing these natural wonders would be amazing. Your pictures speak volumes. :-)