My husband and I were in Mexico a few weeks ago to celebrate the wedding of our good friends. It was our first time staying at a resort WITHOUT our children and we had a fabulous week of socializing and enjoying the swim-up pool bar. I’ve written before about how I typically need to venture OFF of a resort around day 4 of a week-long stay. And so, on Day 4 at our lovely Mayan Riviera resort, my husband and I found ourselves in the lobby awaiting our morning pick-up for a Xenotes Oasis Maya excursion.
A full-day event, this excursion was taking us to 4 different cenotes that we would be experiencing in 4 very different ways – through snorkelling, zip-lining, kayaking and rappelling. In fact we also tubed through a portion of one of the cenotes and did a little swimming and cliff jumping too. What more could you ask for?
I chose a cenotes tour because cenotes are somewhat unique to Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. While there are cenotes in a few other parts of the world, they are widely associated with this area of Mexico – there’s thought to be over 7,000 cenotes in the state of Yucatán! The peninsula is essentially a limestone shelf with no visible rivers (they’re all underground) and given the porous nature of the limestone, caverns and caves form over time where the fresh water collects underneath it. These caverns and caves are the abundant cenotes in the area and many feature stunning stalactites and stalagmites and are filled with beautiful clear turquoise coloured water.
To the Mayans, they were sacred places that represented an entrance to the underworld and offered them fresh water (as they still do today). To me, they were absolutely magical.
The first cenote we visited, a cavern cenote named ha’, we were able to climb down into. Our guide handed us each our snorkel gear and in we went to explore the turquoise water and natural flora.
The water was cool but by no means cold and we snorkelled around its waters and then under a covered portion that gave us our first views of stalagmites and stalactites. This was what I had come for.
From there we made our way to another section of the cenote where we picked up kayaks and ventured down the waterway admiring natural waterfalls, lots of greenery and some local sunshine.
Next up was cenote Iik’ and this time we got to zip-line our way in! It was a fun way to experience the cenote and for those that aren’t keen on heights, this is a great way to get your feet wet. The zip-line is relatively short and not too high compared to a lot of zip-lining experiences that one comes across when looking for a little adventure. Lots of people in my group who are not normally comfortable with heights gave this a go and enjoyed it. There was also a swing option for those not confident in their ability to hang on the line long enough to make it to the far side of the cenote where you get to let go and go for a swim.
Cenote lu’um was my absolute favourite. This is the type of cenote I have sought out before – a semi-open cave cenote with deep turquoise-coloured water, long stalagmites and stalactites and bats swooping across its ceiling. Because it’s only semi-opened, we rappelled into it. The views inside are worth the time it takes to gear-up for the short drop down into this eery ‘otherworld’.
Our final cenote was an open one called k’aak’. With underground currents, small fish and lots of green jungle to admire we started off on foot atop one of its tall vertical walls before trying a little cliff jumping to enter its waters. From there we grabbed tubes and let the current (and a little arm paddling) take us down its winding path until we reached the end and finished our day off with one final zip-line.
Xenotes Oasis Maya was an excellent host for our adventure. Our guide was friendly and informative and all the gear we were provided with throughout the day was in excellent condition. At each stop there were clean washrooms and change rooms with drinks and snacks being offered and we had a fresh and tasty lunch of hot soup and custom-made sandwiches with salad, dessert and a wide selection of beverages. I felt that my money was well spent. My only tip for the day would be to NOT sit at the back of the bus. The roads into each cenote are off of the main roads and are therefore quite rough and bumpy – not a comfy ride when you’re sitting over the wheels. Otherwise, you’re in for a great day with Xenotes Oasis Maya!