Cenote Swimming in the Yucatan Peninsula
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.
Jorie would love to bend your ear about historic cities, national parks, and wildlife encounters. She's determined to visit Louisiana soon—her 50th state.