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Top 5 Cenotes For Snorkelling In Riviera Maya
Cenotes are an amazing part of the eco-system in the Riviera Maya – some are located in caves and others are exposed to sun and air after the roofs have collapsed. The classification of the cenote is related to its age – mature cenotes are completely open to the sky. And the youngest are those which still have an intact overhead dome. Cenotes are often surrounded by lush vegetation making them so appealing for underwater exploration. Here’s a review of the top 5 cenotes for snorkelling in Riviera Maya:
1. Gran Cenote
You’ll find this well-known spectacular cenote just a couple of miles from Tulum and it’s perfect for scuba diving and snorkelling. The cenote has wonderful natural light – showcasing stalagmites and stalactites, and crystal clear water. It consists of over 130 cenotes meandering through the jungle floor and connected by wooden walkways. You can enjoy Riviera Maya diving here, but the water is so clear you can actually see the fish swimming without any equipment!
Snorkelers can enjoy spending time at the sandy area at the bottom of the stairs, or exploring formations in the shallow waters as the fish and turtles swim by.
2. Casa Cenote
Casa cenote features a long canal that winds away from the ocean – it’s separated by a small strip of land from the sea – and the location is easy to get to from Tulum. On a sunny day you can see all the way to the bottom through crystal clear waters, making it appear much shallower than it actually is. Snorkelling here is a real treat as you can see mangrove roots reaching down into the water, plenty of marine life– and you can explore the cenote and the ocean without having to walk.
The mixture of warm sea water and cool fresh water of the cenote forma a halocline – creating wonderful lighting and visual effects. Huge rocks overgrown with mosses and green algae decorate the bottom – a perfect destination for snorkelling throughout the whole year.
3. Dos Ojos
Located just north of Tulum the cenote Dos Ojos is Spanish for two eyes – and this refers to the two connected sinkholes with a large cavern between them. This underwater cave complex is one of the longest in the world with beautifully clear water. The cenote pit is almost 10 metres deep and is the deepest known cave passage in the area. The water temperature is ideal for snorkelling as it remains constant throughout the year. One of the caves even has a resident population of bats that keep the insect population at a record low!
4. Jardin Del Eden
At one end of this cenote near Playa del Carmen is a 12 foot cliff for jumping, and a tree to climb for even higher descents! In the middle of the cenote are submerged rocks that make a nice resting place – small fish will eat any dead skin from your feet if you stay still. The caves extend underground making it a popular cenote for Riviera Maya cave diving activities.
5. Aktun Chen
This cenote is an amazing subterranean cavern located in Playa del Carmen. It’s filled with wondrous formations of stalagmites and stalactites, and an underground river. You’ll be able to see sculptures formed naturally by the water over thousands of years – take a guided tour of the inside of the main cave. Every nook and cranny of its underwater tunnels is filled with marine life for a fantastic snorkelling experience.
Explore the cenotes
Koox’s diving team has a favourite site for snorkelling – Soliman Bay just a few miles north if Tulum. The coral reef is beautiful and there’s an abundance of marine life a depth of just two metres. You’ll encounter many local reef fish including eagle and manta rays, and barracudas – on some days you’ll meet sea turtles and nurse sharks. Small crocodiles sunbathe near the dirt roads, and pelican and marine eagles are often sighted.
The Tulum area with its unique underwater cenotes is also nearby – complete with mysteries of caverns and caves. You’ll be able to book a snorkelling tour for up to four people that include the fin and snorkel rental. You don’t need any swimming skills or diving certification – and if you prefer you can arrange a private exclusive tour.
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