Of course, after so many ruins visits, we also can’t wait to jump into a cenote, a big hole in the floor with crystal clear water inside. The cenotes were created when the celling of an underground cave with water collapses leaving a big natural pool. In Mayan times they were considered as the gate to the underworld and in late Mayan times, part of the sacrifices were offered to the gods through these holes. Now, we swim there, we jump there, we snorkel there, we can even scuba dive there!
We visit three cenotes, el cenote Cristal, Escondido and Ik-kil, being the last one, the most crowded, but also the most impressive of the three. There is of course the Grand Cenote, but it is currently closed because of an accident, we don’t really know what happened, but anyways, we are happy with the other ones. Spending a sunny and hot day in the cenote is perfect if you don’t like the sea and the beach.
Our next trip brings us to Akumal, we want to swim with sea turtles. So we catch an early colectivo (short distance mini vans stopping every time a passenger wants to get in and out). We’ve heard that people there are very pushy with tours and they tell you not to go into the PUBLIC beach on your own. We’ve also been warned that this is false, so we are very determined to get into the water without a guide. After more than half an hour of swimming around and after having been threatened by local guides from other tours at least three times, we are about to give up and go home without seeing turtles. The guides are really tiring, each time they warn us, they tell us something different: first, you cannot swim inside a marked area; second, you cannot swim without a vest (as if this would prevent people from stepping on coral); third, you cannot swim without a guide. It’s funny, though, it seems you only get warned if you answer “sí”, when they ask you if you speak Spanish… Of course, after each warning, they threaten us with calling the police… At the end, we manage to overcome our frustration and give it another try after being told by a nice German guy where the turtle was. Hard work, but worth it, we finally swim with a sea turtle and it was beautiful. The beach is nice, a bit crowded, but still we spend the rest of the day under the shadow of a palm on the beach.
Did you know that…
… you have to shower before entering a cenote in order to protect it and its fauna?
… unfortunately there are some human contaminated cenotes and some of them have even been converted to septic tanks?
… “Akumal” means “the place for turtles” in Maya?
… a green sea turtle, like the ones you find in Akumal, weights around 200 kg in its adult life?
- Cenotes: if you want more privacy, it’s better you go to the smaller ones, but the big ones are famous for a reason, and therefore crowded.
- Jumps: you’ll find jumping platforms or ropes in most of the cenotes you visit.
- Akumal: It’s a nightmare to have to deal with all the harassing guys trying to sell you a tour. We personally think that none of the money they make goes to actually take care of the turtles.
- Prices: some of the cenotes are expensive (200 MXN for Cenote Dos Ojos)