You can discover many cenote caves on holiday in the Mayan Riviera.
The Yucatan Peninsula is home to over 1000 recorded sinkhole sites, although it is thought that as many as 3000 could actually exist.
Sinkholes are often partially visible from the surface, and they can also sometimes look like giant, open wells. It has taken millions of years for the natural formation of stalactites and stalagmites to take place in the underground caves and caverns in Mexico.
Little pockets of light can often shine through the gaps of the surrounding vegetation to add to the dramatic atmosphere inside. The surprisingly warm crystal clear water has in many cases infiltrated through the ground above over a long period of time throughout history. Many sinkholes are extremely deep and have never been fully explored.
Cenotes were considered to be sacred places for the early population in Mayan history. It is thought that the Mayans once believed that the caverns represented the entrance to the afterlife.
The sinkhole at Chichen Itza was of particular importance, valuable objects and artifacts have been discovered deep in the water at this site. It is also said that the ancient civilisations practiced human sacrifice here and dispatched their victims into the well below. At the beginning of the 20th century human skeletons were actually discovered here.
Apparently the depths of this cenote (among others) have never been fully reached. If you visit one of the sinkhole sites with a tour guide, they will no doubt tell you countless stories and theories about what may, or may not lie beneath the waters surface.
You get the feeling that some of the stories are often exaggerated at these attractions, however it definitely adds to the tension and atmosphere as you descend the steep staircase below. Millions of tourists and local Mexican people swim and explore at the sites every year.
The quality of the water within the sinkholes, has been of considerable importance to the local people living in the Yucatan Peninsula for a long time.
There are few lakes or water supplies in most surrounding areas inland, so the caverns were often used as an invaluable water source over the years.
The presence of the caverns was particularly significant and essential during the annual dry season, when rainfall is either very limited or non-existent.
It is thought that the ancient civilizations built Chichen Itza in this location due to its proximity to the surrounding sinkholes.
If you get the opportunity to visit one of the sites whilst on your holiday in Mexico it is definitely worth considering. Many of the caverns are open to the public, you can generally snorkel, swim or scuba dive at the sites.
The contrast of the ancient history and natural beauty of the caverns, combines to form an intriguing place of interest. At certain times of the year streams of light shine through the cracks of the caves onto the formations of stalactites and stalagmites. If you're fortunate enough to be there at the time this is considered to be quite an honour.
Spend as much or as little time as you wish when visiting Tak Be Ha and Hilario's Well. Explore sacred Mayan pools and discover the geological marvels in the spectacular crystal clear water.
This site has been featured in many cinematic films and television documentaries.
Experienced open water divers can explore the geographical features of this iconic natural environment.