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  • Writer's pictureValrie

Cenotes, what are they?

Cenotes are sinkholes that are found in the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. They were created as a result of the collapse of limestone bedrock, revealing the groundwater underneath. The word "cenote" is derived from the Mayan word "dzonot" which means "well".

Spiritual leader performing ritual at Cenote Yax Mul
Cenote Yax Mul

Cenotes have been part of the cultural and spiritual beliefs of the Mayan civilization for thousands of years. The Mayans considered cenotes to be sacred and believed that they were a gateway to the underworld. They used cenotes for religious ceremonies, offerings, and sacrifices. In some cases, artifacts and human remains have been found in cenotes, giving us a glimpse into the spiritual beliefs of the Mayans.


In the Riviera Maya, cenotes are now popular tourist destinations and are widely recognized as some of the best places for swimming, snorkeling, and diving. The clear, turquoise waters of the cenotes offer a unique underwater experience, with an abundance of marine life and stunning formations of stalactites and stalagmites. The region is home to several types of cenotes, including open cenotes, semi-open cenotes, and cavern cenotes.

Image of Cenote Cristalino
Cenote Cristalino

In recent years, cenotes in the Riviera Maya have become a popular eco-tourism destination, attracting thousands of visitors each year. Many of the cenotes in the region have been protected and preserved, ensuring that future generations can enjoy their beauty and cultural significance.


In conclusion, the cenotes of the Riviera Maya are a unique and important part of Mexican history and culture. Their stunning beauty and cultural significance make them a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to the Yucatán Peninsula.

Swimmers in cenote at Chichen Itza
Cenote at Chichen Itza



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