The Best Secret Cenotes and Underground Rivers in Tulum

Underground caves in Mexico are plentiful throughout and have become major attractions in their own right. These natural wonders are formed from the collapse of limestone, exposing the water underneath, and make for amazing, swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving experiences.

The Yucatan Peninsula is, unbeknownst to the average tourist, largely made of limestone, a soft and porous rock that is easily eroded by slightly acidic rainwater which carves out underground passages as it courses toward the sea. The pathways range from jumbo-jet-size rooms filled with long stalagmites and stalactites to narrow slits that divers must sometimes blindly squeeze through.

The rivers that flow through these underground systems are all part of a natural network of channels which circulate underneath the ground. The water itself is layered: a lens of freshwater rests on top of salt water, and when fresh rainwater percolates down, the liquid flows out horizontally and is discharged into the ocean.

Bats, well-known cave dwellers, are fairly plentiful, especially near the openings that give them access to the outside world. Deep inside there are some hardy residents. Crickets, ants, and spiders that have developed sensitive, antenna-like front legs for navigating in the dark, have all found a way to manage living in this dark, unexplored world.

Tulum is home to many of these underground caves in Mexico. The rivers of Sac Actun, the Dos Ojos cenote, Gran cenote and Casa cenote are some of the most popular cenotes near Tulum. So when next you plan a visit to this region, open your senses to the natural diversity of Mexico’s beauty and include a cenote or underground river in your schedule.

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