Instead of being part of the crowd at the beach, enjoy one of the thousands of freshwater swimming holes that can be found on the Yucatan Peninsula. Some of the cenotes have become busy tourist attractions, while others require local guidance through jungles and fields to gain access to their cooling waters.
Finding a remote cenote can be a fun challenge. There are several in and around the Yucatan Peninsula that are absolutely worth discovering. Do not bring your sunscreen, however, as it pollutes the limestone and damages the nature beauty of the cenotes. Instead, be sure to bring long sleeves or a hat for sun protection.
In the village of Cuzama, which is about a one hour drive south of Merida, visitors can find local cenotes via horse-drawn wooden carts. Separated by only a mile and a half, there are three distinct cenotes near Cuzman. For a nominal fee that ranges from $7 to $15, visitors can travel in groups of four in the carts to experience all three swimming sites.
A few miles from Chichen Itza,which is only two hours from Cancun, you can discover a quaint cenote called Dzitnup. This swimming spot can only be reached through a hole in its ceiling,and is considered by locals and visitors alike to one of the prettiest around.
In recent years, the city of Valladolid has attracted a number tourists and investors,thanks in part to its well-kept colonial neighborhoods and low real estate prices. Most tourists overlook Valladolid on their way to Merida or Cancun, making it the perfect authentic getaway. From the newly restored town center to the cenote that can be found in the middle of downtown, Valladolid is truly a hidden gem. The popular restaurant Zaci overlooks the cenote here, which boasts a scenic walking path circling its perimeter.
Farther south in the Mexican Caribbean near the Belize border, Lake Bacalar is also home to a large number of cenotes. One of the most popular, Cenote Azul is located here and measures more than 300 feet deep, which many believe makes it the deepest in the entire Yucatan. Here, a cement platform at the mouth of the cenote serves as a diving board and others are found throughout the lake, accessible by boat and easily recognizable from the surface, thanks to the deep blue color of their water.
Only a small percentage of the cenotes on the Yucatan Peninsula have been found. Quite a few are even located on private property! If you are interested in owning a natural swimming hole, be sure to check out some of the many affordable yet luxurious properties that are for sale in the Yucatan.