It wasn’t until about a year ago that I branched out in life, stepping out of my comfort zone to explore cool spots hidden off the trail. For the first time I experienced what it really means to explore somewhere new.
My first two trips to Mexico were with friends and family. Los Cabos and Puerta Vallarta. Pretty typical vacations; I spent most of the time enjoying all-inclusive meals and drinks, laying around by the pool under the hot sun, relaxing on the beach and jumping in the ocean to cool off. It was a great time.
Well my third trip to Mexico was quite different. Kirsten and I met up in Cancun. This was my first time on the Caribbean side of Mexico. This was also our first trip together, so it was much more exciting for the both of us.
Our third day there we rented a little green car and drove south along the Mayan Riviera towards the ancient city of Tulum to see the famous ruins and get video footage of the amazing scenery over looking the ocean. I remember we had perfect weather that day. Sunny and blue skies. It was so hot out; I was sweating so much my clothes were soaked. Our little green rental car was scorching in the sun and the air conditioning didn’t help much.
Swimming in fresh cold water seemed like the best idea so we started searching out a place to go. Swimming in the ocean seemed ok, but we had already spent lots of time in the ocean that trip so Kirsten suggested jumping into a cenote. I didn’t know what a cenote was. I never even heard of a cenote before. Kirsten explained to me that a cenote is a fresh water sink hole linking together a network of underwater tunnels and caves deep below the ground. People can swim, snorkel and scuba dive in them. I thought that sounded very interesting, exciting, and fun. So that was our plan.
We found a cool little place called Grand Cenote. It was located along the Mayan Riviera, not too far off the highway. Somewhere I could only describe looking like a rainforest. There’s always a little uncertainty with driving a rental car off the highway down a long dirt road through the rainforest in Mexico. There’s no cell service out there and our GPS wasn’t really helping us in that area but happily we didn’t run into any problems along the way. We just kept driving until we eventually found it. We saw a big wooden sign that said “Grand Cenote.” There was a charge of around 50 pesos to get in and I’d say it was definitely worth it!
When we first walked in the setting was all palm trees and colorful flowers. Everything around was just lush greens, vibrant plants and all kinds of unique vegetation. The ground was crawling with big green lizards and iguanas. I could hear tropical birds chirping and singing from the branches. This place really was a little paradise hidden out in the dense rainforest. Just a short walk ahead was the cenote. Looking down from up top was a cool view of the sinkhole. The visible sinkhole is about 30, maybe 40, feet across and about 40 feet deep. Basically a huge hole in the ground filled with fresh, clear water. At the very bottom there’s multiple underwater tunnels that go off into the darkness and unknown for miles (accessible to scuba divers). The water is accessible from the top with a big wooden stair case making it easy for anyone to walk down and jump in. There’s also lockers at the bottom of the stairs so you can enjoy swimming around with your belongings securely locked up.
Kirsten and I threw on our goggles and jumped right in. The water was the perfect temperature. Cool and refreshing. We could see clearly underwater throughout the whole cenote from where we were. We spent our time there swimming underwater from one cave to another, making sure to be able to hold my breath long enough to safely emerge back to the surface in the caves up ahead. At times when I came up for a breath of air I quickly realized that I only had 6 inches of space above my head to be able to breath. Other times the caves were over eight feet above my head. There were even bats hanging upside down above us! We were able to see a glimpse of them in the caves as we were treading water in the dark. The only way out was back the way we came. Under the water and towards the light. It got pretty exhausting after a while swimming underwater from cave to cave, holding my breath and constantly treading water. We weren’t allowed to wear flippers for environmental reasons. So we powered through it for about two full hours exploring the cenote. We managed to film most of this experience with our GoPro cameras and edited together a brief video showcasing this adventure. (Check out the video at the end of this blog).
Visiting Grand Cenote was spectacular experience. Venturing off into the rainforest to visit a unique part of Mexico’s ecosystem featuring interesting landscapes, wildlife, and amazing scenery. I will definitely come back one day.
Check out our cenote diving video. Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more adventure videos!