So many cenotes!

Cenote swimming in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico by Maille and Eliane

What did we do with 10 days in Mexico? Well mostly, we jumped and swam in cenotes. About 10 different ones in all.

So what are cenotes anyway?

Cenotes are natural pit, or sink holes, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. Most cenotes are found in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico and were sometimes used by the ancient Mayan people who made sacrificial offerings.

A cave cenote near Chemuyil.

How are they formed?

Cenotes are formed when porous rock, that is typically limestone, collapses, exposing a hidden, subterranean cave filled with water.

Letting catfish nibble our feet in Cenote Samula.

What sort of cenotes did we find?

Cenotes can be classified into four different types:

  • Jug or pit cenotes: named after their shape, jug or pit cenotes have a wider water diameter then their surface entrance.
  • Cylinder cenotes: defined by their vertical walls.
  • Basin cenotes: have a shallow water feature that is shaped like a basin.
  • Cave cenotes: usually have an entrance from the side, rather than the top.


Why are there so many cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula?

Did you know that some people think cenotes are connected to the extinction of the dinosaurs? That the asteroid that wiped them out created cenotes? The asteroid smashed into the earth making a 180km crater and the rain and sea water came in and soaked into the rock creating ground water. The ground water ate away the limestone, forming tunnels for the water to flow freely. Meanwhile, as rain splashed onto the stone, the once pure water became acidic and burned holes in the rock to create the cool blissful pools we swim in today.

Some of our favourite cenotes

The Temple of Doom

I’m flying Daddy!
Don’t jump now!

The Temple of Doom is a jug or pit cenote. It is half cave and half hole. It has other holes next to the big hole. There is a ladder and you can jump in. The only thing that is bad about it is that there are lots and lots of people, so best to come early.


Tamcach-Ha is a cave cenote. It is a big cave that has a small hole to get into the cave. You come down a staircase. There is a ten-meter jump and a five-meter jump. I did the five-meter jump and Daddy did the ten-meter jump. My sister dived down really deep to get someone else’s goggles, when no-one else could.

This place is huge!
View from the 10 meter platform.


Zaci is a cylinder cenote that has cat fish. It has little jumps and high cliffs and this man did a back flip from very high up. It is a really big cenote in the middle of the town of Valladolid.

Our local neighbourhood cenote at Chan Chemuyil

This was one of three – free – little cenotes within a 5 minute walk from our house at Chan Chemuyil.

We picked our local cenote as one of our favourites because it was so peaceful. We found a small place to plunge into the cool refreshing water that fills the blissful pool. It feels like you are having a bath but with fish that nibble the dry skin off your toes. Sometimes you meet a family too as the local people come there to swim.


This sunny green cenote is full of life from the plants on the bottom to the fish in the water. It has two jumps, both similar sizes, and a ladder to climb into. This wonderful spot is great for snorkelling and simply swimming. They also do diving tours which are probably amazing for there are dark underwater caves at either end.

Cenote Oxman

At this cenote there was an awesome swing that swung out right into the middle where you let go. I went on this about fifty times. The water was crystal clear but you still couldn’t see the bottom because it was so deep! Tiny little catfish swam around Big vines that hung down from the roof. The hole in the roof shone light beams onto the water so it looked like blue glass. This cylinder cenote was one of our favourites.   

3 thoughts on “So many cenotes!”

      1. Thanks Christia! Have fun in Mexico – we hope you get to swim in some cenotes too! My daughter Maille will send you an email if you want a pen pal.


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