With sargassum expected to wash up on Mexican Caribbean shores in record amounts this year, travelers are planning for the worst. For a growing number of visitors, cenotes, or freshwater lagoons, are turning out to be the perfect alternative to sargassum-filled beaches.
Shielded from smelly seaweed and seawater critters, cenotes are both beautiful and calming. Cancun travelers will be pleased to know there is an abundance of these natural gems dotted around the area. In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about visiting one.
Cenotes – and cenote tours – are seeing their popularity explode as massive amounts of sargassum continue to wash up on Cancun and Mexican Caribbean beaches. Even though travelers can visit several nearby cenotes by themselves, taking a guided tour is one of the best ways to enjoy them. According to local tour operators, booking numbers are unprecedented for this time of the year as travelers shy away from unsightly amounts of sargassum.
What Are Cenotes?
Cenotes are naturally-formed freshwater sinkholes found across the Mexican Caribbean. Overall, the Yucatan Peninsula is estimated to have over 10,000 cenotes, many of which are ideal for exploration and, of course – swimming. Most cenotes are found in cave-like structures full of crystal-clear freshwater pools that offer some of the most turquoise waters in the region.
While not all cenotes are safe for swimmers, travelers can find countless that are easily accessible and provide the perfect environment for an afternoon full of swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying local flora and fauna. Some of the most famous areas for cenotes include Puerto Morelos with its Ruta de los Cenotes (cenote route), home to four distinct types of freshwater pools.
Travelers venturing further south or north of Cancun can find plenty of cenotes along the way. Places like Tulum and Yucatán are known for their massive cenotes, which played an important role in Mayan culture.
These Are The Top Cenote Tours Near Cancun
If you’re looking for the best alternatives to sargassum-filled beaches, then keep on reading! We’ve chosen three top-rated cenote tours for travelers to consider, all focusing on different experiences.
Viator’s top-rated Cancun cenote combo tour is the perfect choice for travelers that want to experience one of the best local cenotes without having to venture far out. The 5-hour combined tour takes place around Puerto Morelos and kicks off with a set of 12 zipline course above lush treetops and finishes with a refreshing swim in Cenote Lukama.
Consider this 4-hour cenote tour for a culturally immersive experience that includes swimming in some of the region’s most stunning freshwater pools as well as a witnessing a spectacular Mayan ritual. The $115 per person tour includes pick up and drop off as well as a guided tour of the intricate Yax-Muul cenote system.
Lastly, if you want to make the most of the Mexican Caribbean’s sunny weather, then opt for this award-winning combo tour. With an approximate duration of eight hours, this tour takes tourists along an action-packed route that starts with a visit to Tulum’s archeological site, followed by a dip in the beautiful Xtun Cenote. The $110 per person tour includes hotel pick up and drop off.
Keep This In Mind When Visiting A Cenote
Whether you plan on exploring on your own or booking a guided tour, there are a few important things to keep in mind. Not all cenotes are safe for swimming, and many are known to harbor waterborne bacteria, so always check the latest warnings. Travelers should also pack some essential items with them: make sure you have enough sunscreen, bottled water, and mosquito repellent for a hassle-free trip.
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