We had no idea what are “cenotes” and how much we’ll fall in love with them. Cenotes are natural cave sinkholes, with amazingly clear fresh water. Imagine them like natural swimming pools, usually with amenities and paid entrance. The logistics with our kids is not easy. But the more we try, the more we find them amazing!
PuntA Esmeralda aka Cenote for beginners
We start our cenote discovery with a small open cenote that merges into the sea. Despite being amazingly baby friendly, with a kid’s playground and easy access with a stroller, we don’t stay long. All three kids take a dip in the shallow water, but the wind is so cold we have to take refuge in a beach bar under palm trees. Oh, poor us 🙂
Jardin del Eden aka We will never manage this
Our second try, and we nearly get discouraged. Cenote is beautiful, open, in the middle of jungle. That means not baby friendly at all. The road is not paved, so forget the stroller. We carry the twins in their car seats while watching Piko running around excitedly, too excitedly for our taste. We find our spot, and now what? Can’t let the girls crawl around, can’t let Piko go alone to the deep water. So we watch other people snorkel and dive. When finally Lily falls asleep, at least one of us has their hands free to finally go in. Daddy takes Piko in…just to get out immediately, claiming he will never, NEVER, swim again. Long story short, we do take turns at the end, thanks to the help of our friends. And it is amazing. The water is cold and deep, but it is great and if it was not for the slightly impatient lifeguard whistling his lungs out, we would not let them close. Cenotes, we are not giving up. We will figure this out!
Xkeken and Samula aka Now we are talking
This “buy one, get one free” cenote is very civilized, maybe even too much to our taste. Apparently they must have been very popular with tourist buses once, and probably still are although it is not crowded. We easily push our stroller around on paved roads, until we get to Xcecen. Then we are stuck. The entrance is a staircase down to the cave. And what a cave! If this was back home, this would have been a national treasure with no entry. We literally swim amongst stalagmites and stalactites, it is surreal. And what’s more, Piko surprises us all by going in without a hassle. Could have been the warmer water, or peer pressure. Who knows. Samoa is also an underground cave, but much bigger. We are now efficient with taking turns. Next challenge is to figure out how to get the girls down there so we can at least once enjoy it all together.
Zaci aka Almost like Pros
We arrive, smoothly take our stroller down the stairs to a little platform overlooking the whole cenote. And what a view! A big half-cave, not too crowded, with a waterfall. Who would have expected this from a city center cenote? It is quite deep so we put Piko in a life jacket, and he loves it! Maybe it’s the sudden feeling of security, maybe he has a good day, who knows and who cares. We admire the beauty of this cenote, until a repairman turns the waterfall off. Not so natural waterfall after all.
Xcanahaltun aka Totally like Locals
This cenote has been recommended to us by our airbnb host. OMG, so amazing, it’s not even on Tripadvisor yet. We did save the best for last. We arrive, and couple small children welcome us by the gate. They take us to the cenote entrance, which is just a narrow staircase down. We don’t even blink, take the girls into our arms, fold the strollers, and go in. Again, there is a nice platform with a view, which we make our base. Now this cave is huge. And dark. And deep. And freaking cold. When we emerge from the underworld, we invite the local family taking care of the cenote to a chocolate cake and let the kids run around. Soaking up the sun, we feel like locals.
Chac-Mool aka The Bonus One
Nobody of us has seen this cenote except for Daddy. It’s a popular cenote for diving, a must-do experience for any diver around. There are light beams, caves, rocks, and halocline – a misty cloud where salt and fresh water meet. We trust him that it’s awesome, the photos speak for themselves.
- Do not use sunscreen in the cenotes, it can harm the fragile microorganisms living there.
- Make sure to take swimming booths, the pool entrances are usually slippery and rocky.
- Cenote’s entrance fee varies from 70 MXN to over 200 MXN. At Jardin del Eden, you can buy a VIP entrance including food, drink, and a sheltered place to sit for about 360 MXN. It is not worth it.
- Helpful and professional dive center in Playacar (Playa del Carmen) organizing the Chac-Mool and other cenote dives, among many other things.
- Chac-Mool Cenote has a strict no camera policy. You can purchase the images/video made by professional dive photographer on spot. Negotiate the price.