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Please Define Cenote

So, What is a Cenote ?

cenote (pronounced [se’note]) are natural wells that evolve when the limestone weakens and collapses forming basically a sinkhole leaving a natural entrance to the underground river systems.

Typically found in the Peninsula of Yucatan , the term « cenotes » actually comes from a word Yucatec Maya dzonot (ts’onot) which means « well ». The Maya’s civilization considers cenote a sacred well and home for many of the gods they worship. Cenotes, for the Mayas, is a kind of  « passage » or  « way of communication » from this world to the « underworld ». They were associated with the concept of the emergence of life, and the forbidden underworld of ¨XILBABA¨ (underworld God) . Caves were also the abode of the dead and dwelling place of ¨Chac¨ ( rain God)

You can still find some pottery or bones, result of traditional gifts from the Mayas to their gods.

What does a cenote look like ?

Cenotes are produced by a collapse of caves’ limestone ceiling  leaving access to caves and underground rivers. They are the surface connection.

cenote look usually like :

  • a kind of  swimming pool

  • or like a natural well

The water is fresh water and usually it’s very clear as rain water passed through the ground which acts like a filter. The temperature is always around 24°C/77°F.

Cenotes all along the Riviera Maya, from Cancun to Playa del Carmen, to Tulum,  attract a lot of cave divers and cavern divers for their hundreds of kilometers of cave system and their amazing beauty !! If you plan diving in Playa del Carmen area, diving in cenotes a clearly a priority!!