What is a Cenote?
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Cenote in Costa Maya
A Cenote, pronounced [SEH•NO•TEH], is a deep water filled sinkhole in limestone that is created when the roof of an underground cavern collapses.
The Yucatan is a large peninsula made primarily of limestone and it counts only small rivers but the limestones ground has thousands of underground caverns, many running with underground rivers. Can happen that the caverns crossed from rivers collapsed and in this case the cenotes are formed.
This creates a natural pool which is then filled by rain and underground rivers.
Cenotes are prevalent in the Yucatan Peninsula, where there are over 2000, and they are the area's main source of water. In the antiquity, the Maya people used the cenotes to complete sacrifices or to provision of sweet water, in fact a lot of cities were developed next to the cenotes.
|Cenote diagram by Science Museum of Minnesota|
Some cenotes are vertical, water-filled shafts, while others are caves that contain pools and underwater passageways in their interior.
Cenotes were ritually significant to the ancient Maya because they were considered passages to the underworld.
Cenote Azul (near Bacalar)
The Cenote Azul, open to the sky, is 300 feet deep and 600 feet in diameter and it is the largest of thousands of deep fresh water sink holes found on the Yucatan Peninsula.
The Cenote Azul it's a spectacular mayan beauty surrounded by the thick jungle populated of tropical birds, jaguar and deer. Its elliptical shape reminds a little lagoon.
This freshwater swimming hole is a great place for diving or snorkeling, the water is so crystal clear that you can observe catfish and smaller fish from land.
The splendid visibility offered by Cenote Azul's water permits you to explore an incredible underground labyrinth made by roots and woven trunks, the parts you can visit with your snorkel are spectacular. There are huge stalactite and stalagmites, you can swim under and above and between them, the water is so blue, the bottom is covered in sand and hidden from a dark chasm that sinks deeper and deeper.
An open-air restaurant is located right on the edge of the cenote, and is a great place to relax in the cool shade.
The Cenote Azul is located on the Yucatan Peninsula in the state of Quintana Roo, just south of Lagoon Bacalar and it's easily reachable. It is separated from Lagoon Bacalar about by 80 meters of land.
To make it a whole day's trip, you can also enjoy Laguna Bacalar and see the San Felipe Fort in town.