A couple of months ago, my husband and I needed to get away on our own without our kids. We love to travel with our kids, but it was a much needed kid free vacation to Riviera Maya Mexico. After years of busy, adventurous European travel, we needed a vacation to sit back, relax and soak up time together. An all inclusive resort in Mexico definitely did the trick, but we were still itching for more. Cue excursion with Xenotes Tours to experience different adventures in the Cenotes of the Yucatan Peninsula!
What on earth is a cenote you ask? A cenote is a surface connection to subterranean bodies of water. So it’s essentially a pool of water with rivers of underground connections. The best known cenotes are at Chichén Itzá and in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico!
There are thousands of cenotes along the Yucatan Peninsula that are all connected via underground rivers. You can actually explore these underground connections while scuba diving, but you better be good at it! Some of the passages are incredibly narrow and pitch black. That was definitely not on my list of things to do, but there are so many other adventures in the cenotes of the Yucatan Peninsula!
A couple more things about cenotes before our journey begins. There are 3 types of cenotes: cavern, semi-open and open. We were able to visit all three! If you’re interested in learning more about Cenotes, different types and how they are formed, you can read about it on the Xenotes website. They are incredibly informed on Cenotes and shared tons of fun facts throughout our experience.
Our excursion started with a van promptly picking us up at our resort! After a 20 minute ride and pit stop to pick up our photographer, we arrived at the first of 5 cenotes. This is where the adventure begins!
This first cenote is known as a cavern cenote, so the water is essentially in a cave. The cavern cenotes wouldn’t have even been discovered if it wasn’t for small leaks on the surface that gradually created an opening on land.
To get into this cenote, we repelled down and then swam in the freezing cold but crystal clear water. After some swimming and floating around, we jumped off of a couple different rock formations. Naturally, I had to show off my skills and back flip in!
The second cenote was semi-open meaning part of the water formation was in the open air and part of it was in a cave. Semi-open cenotes are older than the cavern cenotes because their opening gets larger with the natural wear and tear of the elements
Here we were able to swim around and snorkel. The water in this cenote was different because it was much colder in the cave and warmer in the sun. There was also much more growing in this cenote where there was nothing in the first!
Snorkeling was so much fun. In the open area you were able to see what sorts of wildlife grows in the open cenotes. As you ventured closer to the cave it was so dark that you could hardly see anything. I think the picture above is a good depiction of what it looked like underwater too. You could see quite a bit looking one direction and almost nothing the other. I think it would have been neat to have an underwater flashlight to check the cave out!
Our third cenote was right around the corner from the second! This cenote was all open and shaped like a river. Here we were able to pair up and kayak along the length of the cenote. We all took our time getting to one end where our tour guide met up with us and encouraged us to race back! It was so much fun, and no, we did not win. While I like to think we were fairly coordinated, there were some “youngsters” that totally had us beat!
The fourth stop was a short drive away to an ancient, open cenote where we ziplined! This was by far my most favorite stop of the bunch. It was awesome and our tour guide put in the work to make it more fun for us.
Each person was supposed to be able to zipline twice from one side and once from the other side. Instead I managed to do the zipline 6 times and jump off the cliff twice! He told us to hurry up and keep going because we were ahead of schedule, so you better believe I did. We ziplined like spiderman, superman and even just jumped right off the cliff into the water. I live for this kind of adventure y’all! My spiderman zipline was the best. Check out the sweet picture below.
After this cenote we were given a delicious lunch of soup, sandwiches, salad, beer and wine! We thought that we were done after that, but no, there was more…
5: Sliding, Swimming and Jumping
Our final cenote was another ancient, open cenote with so much to do! We started out going down a waterslide into the cenote. Again, our guide was awesome and got us there a little early so we could do the slide twice! Then we swam about 300 meters down the river like cenote to a cave.
At the cave we were able to climb out and head up a rock formation for another round of jumping fun. Just like our first stop, I had to squeeze in a few backflips!
This sort of adventurous, constant moving, exciting fun is right up my ally. As you can see from the photos, I was living my best life!
Once we finished with our final cenote, we changed into dry clothes, grabbed some water and snacks, and were on our way back to the hotel. The whole excursion was about 6.5 hours with transportation, lunch, snacks and towels included. I don’t think I could have picked a better adventure for us on our relaxing vacation. I think our tour guides expertise and personality along with a great group of people made the day even better.
There are so many different types of adventures in the cenotes of the Yucatan Peninsula that you can take! Each journey will take you to different cenotes with different activities. I highly recommend the Xnotes tour/excursion group. They were incredibly professional, informative and FUN!
Have you ever gone on an adventurous water excursion? What and where? I’m always looking for new places to explore. Drop yours in the comments!