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Complete Guide To Exploring The Sac Actun Cenote And Cave System in Tulum

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There is an underground river hidden under the jungle of the Riviera Maya that is the longest underwater cave network in the world. Immerse yourself in its fresh, crystal clear waters to rediscover secrets of the past preserved by cold darkness over millennia.

Where is Sac Actun Located

The Sac Actun system is located 9 miles from Tulum, and its name means “White Cave” in Mayan. It is located 30 minutes west of Tulum and can be reached by car or public transport and taxi or hire a tour with an authorized operator. If you travel from Cancun, it’s an hour and forty minutes, and from Playa del Carmen, it’s less than an hour away.

What you can see and do at Sac Actun

It’s also known as “Pet Cemetery” for the large number of animal fossils that have been found on the site. It consists of more than 248 cenotes (sinkholes that serve as the entrance to the cave system) that are part of this extensive cave complex, including some of the most popular cenotes in the area such as Cenote Sac Actun, Cenote Dos Ojos, and Cenote The Pit. These cenotes are open to the public, and here you can enjoy swimming, snorkeling or diving in one of the many cenotes of this unique underwater system.

Sac Actun History and Archaeological Findings

These underground caverns are actual tunnels of time that protect the ancient and recent history of Quintana Roo. Teams of scientists and explorers have studied more than 215 miles of this cave system and have found a treasure trove of archaeological and paleontological remains. From clay pots and jewelry and human sacrifices from the Mayan civilization to mammoths, giant sloths, and other animals that lived in the area thousands of years ago. Perhaps the most surprising of all is the skull of a girl who lived here more than 12,000 years ago, a discovery that rewrote the history of how humans colonized America.

Tips for Snorkeling in the Sac Actun Cenote

The Cenote Sac Actun is part of the longest cave network, of the same name, in the world. Snorkeling in the Sac Actun Cenote is much more than just admiring its beautiful caverns. You will immerse yourself in one of the richest places in history and ancestral mysticism. To enjoy the best experience, we have the following useful tips:

  • Hire an expert guide who knows the routes; even if you are an expert diver, it is not advisable to go alone.
  • If you have claustrophobia, it is suggested not to dive in caverns.
  • The best time to start your activities is before 12 noon to avoid crowds.
  • Do not use bronzers, blockers, repellents, perfumes, deodorants, or makeup with chemicals, in order to take care of and preserve the cenote’s ecosystem.
  • The cenote’s water is cold, so it is highly recommended to use a wetsuit (you can rent one on-site).
  • A life jacket and snorkel equipment are included in your entry fee but consider bringing a swimsuit, towel, water shoes (not needed in the cenote, but there is some walking before and after you enter the cenote).
  • Waterproof camera or GoPro and waterproof flashlight (you can rent a flashlight for an minimal fee.)
  • Use biodegradable or reef-safe sunscreen (all other kinds are harmful to the delicate ecosystem and not allowed).
  • The Sac Actun’s website doesn’t have much information, but you’ll find the entrance fee, contact information, a photo gallery, and a video of the site.

Visiting Sac Actun With a Tour

If you’re staying in the Mayan Riviera and would prefer a tour with transportation, there are great options for private tours that include hotel pick up. Some tours combine Cenotes Sac Actun with a visit to the Coba or Tulum ruins, a great way to spend the entire day. 

tulum ruins

If you travel to Cancun or the Riviera Maya, you should include a visit to any of its impressive cenotes, and Sac-Actun is an excellent option. Here you will find various adventure activities exploring caves, underground rivers, and incredible and intricate rock formations. You will also immerse yourself in nature and relax in the mystical waters of this fantastic place.

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