As the winter season begins in the Mexican Caribbean, one popular destination that is expecting high tourist occupancy levels is Playa del Carmen.
Known for its year-round sensational weather, great all-inclusive accommodation options, and some of the prettiest beach locations in the region, Playa del Carmen is seeing more and more people pick it as their vacation destination of choice this year.
Of course, this is wonderful news for the area, with local businesses seeing higher bookings and reservations than ever before, as well as more government spending on ‘beautifying’ popular tourist areas like beaches and environmental attractions as a priority.
One of the most popular activities for visitors coming to the Mexican Caribbean is visiting the endless number of cenotes on offer littered throughout the region.
@matadornetwork Uncover the secrets of #CenoteAzul, a natural #cenote paradise nestled in #PlayadelCarmen 🇲🇽 Cenote Azul is renowned for its captivating natural beauty. The cenote features deep, crystal-clear turquoise waters surrounded by lush vegetation and limestone cliffs, creating a picturesque setting. 🎥 @Pink Plankton #visitmexico #outdoorstok ♬ original sound – Matador | Travel + Adventure
These natural sinkholes are usually filled with some of the most crystal clear waters you’ll ever see, and were once in use as far back as ancient Mayan times, when used for ceremonial practices while believing they were gateways to the underworld.
Now they are a perfect place to visit as a day trip, where you can explore and swim the day all day long, as well as take some pretty cool photos!
Polluted Cenotes in Playa Del Carmen
With higher numbers of visitors in a controlled area comes some problems that have an effect on sustainability standards, one such being that sites can become not well looked after and ‘ruined’ when inundated with people.
There are currently at least 40 cenotes that have been reported to have contaminated water, which is not only bad news for the fragile ecosystems that live in and around the area, with many usually in high percentage flora and fauna areas, but also for tourists who may experience getting unwell if they were to ingest any of the water.
@mylifesatravelmovie My fave #cenote near #playafelcarmen #mexico ! #mexicotips #tiktokmexico #digitalnomad #digitalnomadlife #mylifesamovie #fyp #tiktoktravel ♬ Sunroof – Nicky Youre & dazy
If this issue was left un-tackled by authorities, the chances of disease spreading from swimming in the cenotes could become greater.
The contamination of the water can be put down to a great many things, such as simply being overused by tourists, as well people disposing of their trash such as plastics, food waste, and even sanitary products in incorrect places, which all have a knock-on effect on these natural sites.
Fines For Rule Breakers
This week saw the Regulation for the Prevention and Control of Water and Pollution of Solidarity come into force, which will bring in fines of up to 5000 pesos for any person who disrespects and pollutes these ancient zones.
It comes into effect as the number of complaints about pollution grew too big to be ignored, bringing sustainability efforts to the forefront for the government and allowing for regulations of economic activities that use water to be brought into place.
With the threat of quite substantial fines for anyone caught polluting the cenotes, it is believed there will be a noticeable decrease in contamination, bringing back the original beauty of these popular sites.
Some cenotes have seen such a decrease in standards that there are calls for them to be permanently closed to tourists, such as Puerto Maya in Playa del Carmen, where waste and trash disposal has gotten so out of hand that its natural beauty has been completely ruined, despite its residents’ efforts.
Hopefully, with the new fines that are being brought in via law, Puerto Maya and other popular cenotes can return to their once-former glory.
Some Popular Cenotes To Try
One of the most unique cenotes in the area, as well as the most popular, Cenote Azul is located about 20 minutes from Playa del Carmen and offers an open-air swimming sinkhole surrounded by incredible jungle terrain that truly makes you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere.
With flora and fauna all around, as well as a cliff that is perfect for jumping from, this cenote will quickly become one of your favorites you’ve ever been to.
Cenote Ik Kil
A bit further away than Cenote Azul, this breathtaking cenote is located near the infamous ruins of Chichén Itzá and offers another open-air sinkhole surrounded by cliff walls that are decorated by the brightest greenery you’ll see within the Riviera Maya.
With a natural skylight that allows the sun to shine down above you whilst you swim, this totally unique landscape is a popular favorite among tourists and costs you a mere $5 to enter.
In between Playa del Carmen and Tulum lies Casa Cenote, which is once again a completely open-air sinkhole that has…you guessed it…beautiful turquoise blue waters and lush greenery which connects to the jungle that surrounds it, and is perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and even paddle boarding!
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