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Cenote Swimming in the Yucatan Peninsula

BY: Jorie Larsen | Aug 16, 2016

Kicking back on one of the many white-sand beaches along the Yucatan Peninsula is (understandably) one of the most popular things to do on a Mexican getaway. But when it comes to memorable outdoor adventures that are as thrilling as they are breathtaking, cenote swimming has beach bummin’ beat by a mile.  

Wait...What The Heck Is a Cenote?

A cenote is a natural pool of freshwater, saltwater, or both that forms over millions of years as rainfall slips through the porous limestone bedrock and collects in a cave beneath the earth. When the “roof” of the cave finally collapses, a cenote is born.

Where Do I Start?

Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is the place for cenote swimming, as it boasts the biggest cluster of cenotes on Earth. But don’t worry about hitting all 7,000+ of them—we recommend heading to Cenote Ik Kil, a deep well where the water is so clear that you can see marine life swimming through the plants below. Lush vines dangle over its sides like ropes, intermingling with a handful of small waterfalls that pour down the 85-foot drop. You can follow a wooden staircase from the top of the cenote to the water’s edge.

What Can I Do Besides Swim?

Brave souls can show off their high-dive skills from various platforms (the water is 130 ft deep). You can also get a closer look at all the teeming sea life by engaging in a little cenote snorkeling.

How Do I Get There?

It’s simple to arrange an excursion from Cancun (125 mi/201 km) or Playa Del Carmen (115 mi/186 km)—just talk with your resort’s concierge. Otherwise, you can just as easily drive there yourself.

When Should I Go?

Mexico’s dry season is November to April, which largely coincides with peak tourist flow. You’ll have more room to backstroke through the cenote if you visit in the off-season, but keep in mind that temperatures—and humidity—soar in the summer months.

What Should I Bring?

Besides a swimsuit, be sure to pack sandals, a towel, sunscreen, and cash for the entrance fee.

What Else Do I Need to Know?

You can rent life vests and snorkeling equipment right at Cenote Ik Kil, which boasts its own showers, changing rooms, and small onsite restaurant.

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