One of the things I love about coming to Playa del Carmen is visiting one of the many the cenotes (natural fresh water pools) along the Mayan Riviera. It is a special experience unique to Mexico and I believe you never forget your first time.
The first cenote I visited was near the Chichen Itza ruins last year, which was fantastic. Swimming in a natural lagoon caused by a geological phenomena is a special experience that stays with you for a while.
Returning to Playa del Carmen this year, I knew I had to experience another cenote, and chose Cenote Azul, about 20 minutes drive away. Each natural pool is completely unique, formed by thousands of years of geological activity. Azul is rather small, but that doesn’t detract from its beauty. The water is completely clear, revealing many interesting limestone formations, caverns and life below the surface.
I was glad I remembered my snorkel, as Cenote Azul is filled with fish of all shapes and sizes. Once I entered the cool water and adjusted to the refreshing temperature (cenotes are generally quite cold, which adds to their rejuvenating qualities!) I donned my mask and began to explore the waters.
The clarity truly blew my mind! At first it was a little disconcerting – I just wasn’t used to water so clear. The fish darted around me and into dark caverns in the distance. Part of me wanted to explore them too, whilst another was a little bit afraid of what I might find!
The good thing about Cenote Azul is that it is completely open to the sunlight, which makes it easier to see all the fish and interesting underwater rock formations.
A wooden platform was erected over the water for people to sit on, and as I made my way towards it, I discovered a large school of catfish living underneath. There must have been at least fifty pairs of dark eyes hovering under the platform staring at me!
I left them to it and hoisted myself up onto the deck to warm myself in the sun, watching as some adventurous souls jumped into the water from the elevated ledge opposite.
After watching for a while, I finally plucked up the courage to give it a go. The ledge didn’t look all that high from where I was sitting, but when I got to the top, it seemed much higher! I hesitated a little before taking a deep breath and muttering, “here goes!” before launching myself off the edge and into the refreshing water with a splash!
“Woohoo, I did it!” I thought to myself, high on the adrenalin rush of the jump.
I’m no daredevil by any means, and wouldn’t feel safe jumping from anything higher, but the jump at Cenote Azul was the perfect compromise on fun and safety. I was glad that I hadn’t just stayed on the sidelines and watched everyone else have all the fun.
Tip: Cenote Azul is about a 20 minute drive south of Playa del Carmen, and can be easily reached by van, taxi or car, as it is on the right hand side of the highway heading south. Parking is available, though it’s advisable to bring water and a snack/lunch if going for the day. There is an entrance fee of about 70 Pesos ($6) per person.