Cenote Azul – The Start of My Love for Cenotes

Cenote Azul

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know that I, Erica, am a huge wuss with a giant list of fears. Jaime from Breakaway Backpacker got annoyed at me a few times as I refused to dive into a lake in Flores, Guatemala (fear of drowning and I can’t hold my breath without holding my nose and a huge fear of water where I cannot see the bottom). Caves in general freak me out (fear of the dark and I am claustrophobic).

So how did I find myself snorkeling in a cave?

In every guidebook and website discussing the Riviera Maya, you will find information regarding how important, mystical, and beautiful cenotes are. There comes a point when you realize that you will not be back to an area for some time and you have to just stick it out for adventures that you won’t get any other opportunity to do.

We signed up for a cenote tour at our hostel in Playa del Carmen and I took my death sentence in stride. I mean, thousands of people do it – it can’t be that bad right? These are words that would not have come spilling out of my mouth 3 months ago in the safety of home.

While we did miss the amazing Cenote Dos Ojos while in Tulum ($45US/pp OUCH), we went for the more economical Cenote Azul right out of Playa del Carmen. $120 pesos per person it was quite the steal and I’m sure you could find a better deals on vacations by looking up Cheapest Online Holidays Offers. Not only that but Shaun and I had recently invested in a mask and snorkel since we found ourselves drawn to snorkeling in general.

Honestly, I wasn’t prepared for how beautiful this cenote was. A wee bit deserted, since it is one of the lesser known ones, I found myself doing things that even surprised myself.

  • Taking a rope swing with no hestitation.
  • Jumping into the freezing cold water in a shady cave with a bat flying near by.
  • Diving in dark cave with just a mask to get a look at the gaping black hole 15 feet below.
  • Sitting in the dark water just to look at the light rays twinkling in front of me.

Seriously though. It was like emotional scarring rehab for fears. I’ve never felt so comfortable when I was completely out of my element.

It was like a kids dream. Sparkling water that words cannot do justice is found everywhere. Stunning bright blue and green rays of light flutter in front of your eyes onto the rocky floor 20 feet below – clear as day. You know how as a kid, you really wish that magic exists? This was it for me.

Just take a look at the pictures below – they came from our Flip. I know they aren’t the best quality but still, magical. Keep an eye out for our Episode 7 – Momentos: Mexico video as we put a substantial amount of footage from the cenote in it.

What has been your magical experience?

Cenote Azul - Outside

Cenote Azul Cave

Light rays - Cave Snorkeling

Water rays - Cave Snorkeling

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Disclaimer: One of the links in this post is sponsored.
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42 Responses to “Cenote Azul – The Start of My Love for Cenotes”

  1. Sarah Wu
    July 4, 2011 at 12:23 am #

    OMG, I have been reading about this magical sinkhole for the past weeks. Many brides trash their dress with these beautiful water photo. It looked amazing. I am very scared of water and I can’t swim. I really want to go check it out. But I’m scared I’ll drowned. Did you know how to swim at all? How did you get over your fears? My fiance really wants to go there but I’m super afraid to go under the water haha.

    • Erica
      July 4, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

      @Sarah: The colors are just so freaking phenomenal in the cenotes. You know that Cenote Azul rents out snorkeling equipment and life jackets? *hint* I know how to swim. I just panic a bit in fresh water because it is hard to stay afloat for some reason. I think if you have a lifejacket you will feel much better. Baby steps! There is nothing in the cenote besides fishies!

  2. mugs
    July 4, 2011 at 4:41 am #

    WICKED PIXS GUYS I remeber doing this years ago when i lived in mexico when i was about 10 years old! I had completely forgot about the experience until I read your post! I was sh*%ing myself too BTW, but I hoestlly can say I’m proud to have pulled it off! In a way I also challenged my fears of deep blue/black water, by swiming in that cenote. It also gave me the confidence to later be able to do my PADI certificate just 3 years ago. Something i was scared sh%∞less to do, but honetlly changed my life!
    BUEN VIAJE!

    • Erica
      July 4, 2011 at 9:20 pm #

      @Mugs: I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one that was a bit weirded out about swimming in a cave! Black water is FREAKING SCARY. After Guatemala we are heading to Utila to get our PADI cert. I hope by then I will have gained more confidence as well. I want to feel at home in the water and I’m pushing myself to do so. Thanks for stopping by – I love your comments!

  3. Heather
    July 4, 2011 at 7:40 am #

    My favorite Eleanor Roosevelt quote begs to be noted here — “Do one thing every day that scares you.” So proud of you for stretching yourself and taking a risk! Sometimes those fears and little voices are there to protect us but I’m glad you gave this a go and I’m looking forward to the video. Diving was really scary for me, and I’m still too intimidated to go for certification, but the brief experience I had was magical!

    • Erica
      July 4, 2011 at 9:23 pm #

      @Heather: I’m going to try to get my certification when we go to Honduras. There are too many places I want to experience underwater and I’m even more curious after seeing the ocean through snorkeling eyes. I want to face my fears. I’m tired of being scared of everything.

  4. Real Club Cancun, Antonio García
    July 4, 2011 at 12:42 pm #

    Going to a cenote is a wonderful experience that EVERYONE has to try. It is great that you faced your fears and gave it a try, I´m sure you don´t regret it. As you say, cenotes are magical and beautiful places and we have to take the time to know them.

    • Erica
      July 4, 2011 at 9:26 pm #

      @Antonio: I highly suggest the experience for everyone! While it is a bit scary, the things I saw will forever change my life.

  5. Debbie @ European Travelista
    July 4, 2011 at 4:35 pm #

    Wow this looks great! The pictures are amazing and the experience you had sounds priceless.

    I loved when you said: I’ve never felt so comfortable when I was completely out of my element. This is so true! When ever I step out of my comfort zone and do something daring or unusual for me this is the exact feeling!

    Woo Hoo!

    • Erica
      July 5, 2011 at 1:18 am #

      @Debbie: I can’t say that it happens every time I’m doing something daring but I am working on my water fears in particular and it is so nice to see progress.

  6. Alouise
    July 4, 2011 at 5:00 pm #

    Great post, it’s always thrilling to conquer a fear. I went to Ik Kil, a cenote by Chichen Itza in May. I can’t swim at all, so I had to wear a life jacket – because the water is like 150 feet deep. I felt a little silly, but on the otherhand the experience of swimming in the crystal blue waters was so worth it.

    • Erica
      July 5, 2011 at 1:19 am #

      @Alouise: I have to wear a life jacket while snorkeling. I get so tired when I have to swim for so long that I start having panic attacks mid water. All good – at least we’re trying right?

  7. Philip Johnson
    July 5, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

    Fantastic photos! Did you get to see any other cenotes down in that area. X’keken and Samula are the most amazing I’ve seen, but really every single one is unique. Calavera, aka the Temple of Doom close to Tulúm was the creepiest I saw. Anyway there are supposed to be hundred more undeveloped cenotes in the Yucatán – you just have to get out and find them.

    Once again, great photos and great post…

    • Erica
      July 5, 2011 at 9:55 pm #

      @Phillip: Thanks! We didn’t get the opportunity to see any more because our budget was already waaaaay overspent. I wanted to see the Calavera one. Maybe another time. Flights to Cancun are not very expensive from home. <3

      • Philip Johnson
        July 6, 2011 at 9:35 pm #

        Very true! Mexico is a budget-blower but the easiest place to come back to later. If you have to leave something for next time, I guess it should be Mex (even though it is surpassingly awesome). Anyway glad you got to discover the cenote radness. Hope Xela is being good to you…

        • Erica
          July 8, 2011 at 1:29 am #

          @Phillip: I could have easily spent a year there if the budget would have allowed. I don’t regret spending more money than planned but we had to move on or go home in 3 months.

  8. Melvin
    July 5, 2011 at 2:56 pm #

    Wow! That looks like an awesome place…

    If you find time to share this as a travel tip on Traveldudes… that would be awesome

    • Erica
      July 5, 2011 at 9:56 pm #

      @Melvin: If I get the opportunity and a decent connection I will!

  9. Ayngelina
    July 5, 2011 at 5:55 pm #

    Cenotes were one of my favourite things in Mexico, your photos are fabulous.

    • Erica
      July 5, 2011 at 9:57 pm #

      @Ayngelina: I’m so glad I made myself go to one. So amazing! And thanks, they were stills from the Flip footage we took!

  10. Sheryll
    July 5, 2011 at 8:13 pm #

    Absolutely stunning. I’m the same way though, Johnny is constantly getting mad at me because I don’t like being underwater, in deep water, dark water. I’m hoping traveling will get my out of my shell!

    • Erica
      July 5, 2011 at 9:59 pm #

      @Sheryll: It is worth the try for sure! I think after snorkeling and being able to see what exactly was in the water, it made me feel more comfortable about my surroundings. Not everything is in the cave – you can start out with the sunlit water!

  11. dtravelsround
    July 5, 2011 at 9:14 pm #

    Oh my goodness, it looks magical! I love that you did this, despite your fears!! :)

    • Erica
      July 5, 2011 at 10:00 pm #

      @D: I can’t even explain how amazing. The post did not do it justice!

  12. Adam @ SitDownDisco
    July 6, 2011 at 8:29 am #

    Magical. Top word to describe that place. There’s a place called Greens Pool in Western Australia that I thought was magical which is a pretty big deal because I don’t normally get excited about beaches etc.

    • Erica
      July 6, 2011 at 6:06 pm #

      @Adam: I don’t normally describe a place as magical – it really has to catch my attention.

  13. Bluegreen Kirk
    July 6, 2011 at 9:17 am #

    Wow Erica looks like you really stepped it up and put those fears to rest. Well at least for the Cenote. The photos are amazing and i guess one does really conquer things when they realize such a limited opportunity. Best looking rehab center I have ever seen.

    • Erica
      July 6, 2011 at 6:06 pm #

      @Kirk: I’m not normally this adventurous! I don’t know what came over me. :P

  14. Federico
    July 6, 2011 at 11:26 am #

    Great experience, and so glad to hear about Flores in Guate too. I loved that little town when I visited Guatemala for the first time, on my way to Tikal from Cancun. Did you take a small boat tour in the area to the villages nearby?

    • Erica
      July 6, 2011 at 6:07 pm #

      @Fede: In Flores we didn’t do too much. We were only there with enough time for one day of exploration and one day for Tikal.

  15. Stephanie - The Travel Chica
    July 6, 2011 at 3:15 pm #

    One of my favorite things about travel is that I’m pushed to do things I’m slightly afraid of. This would be one of those things for me too!

    • Erica
      July 6, 2011 at 6:08 pm #

      @Stephanie: Travel is amazing that way – I’m so very different at home.

  16. Dina
    July 9, 2011 at 11:26 am #

    Just reading the list of what you did in the cenote made my heart beat faster! Before we went backpacking, we went to Mexico and take a day trip to Chichen Itza. In the way, we had a 30 minutes stop to a cenote. I couldn’t manage my fear over those 30 minutes, so I never actually jumped to that cenote. Ryan did. Looking back, I regret it. But this cenote is jam pack with tourists. Sounds like yours is a better cenote to visit. One day I want to explore cenote like you :)

    • Erica
      July 9, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

      @Dina: I think one of the things that appealed to me was that this was an “off the beaten path” cenote where we had basically the entire thing to ourselves. The pressure of a million people jumping in would have gotten to me.

  17. Cam @ Traveling Canucks
    July 9, 2011 at 3:14 pm #

    We LOVE the Muxican cenotes! So refreshing and creepy!

  18. Mica
    July 10, 2011 at 12:24 am #

    So cool you overcame your fear and dove in!! ( pun intended lol) beautiful pics. Looking forward to your video!!

  19. Lindsay aka @_thetraveller_
    July 10, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

    High five to getting in there hommie! Looks really exciting (and I would be kinda scared too) pictures are almost alien-like. Water is a wicked colour though.

  20. Jessica Rothman
    July 14, 2011 at 9:25 am #

    Wow great photos. I’m kicking myself as the last time I was in Playa del Carmen I only saw the 45 USD option and deemed it too expensive to go. Good to know there are better options, I’ll definitely check that out next time! Thanks for the tip.

  21. Mack Reynolds
    July 18, 2011 at 11:53 am #

    these photos look awesome. i would love to swim in a cave. there’s a spring in florida where me and my friends go camping. there are a few spots where you can swing from the trees into the water. i love it. i imagine taking this trip would be right up my alley.

    • Erica
      July 18, 2011 at 7:07 pm #

      @Mack: Hello there! I honestly have a guilty pleasure for rope swings. They can be super dangerous at times but exhilarating! I would show my swing into the water but I just kinda plop in and it is rather anticlimactic.

  22. Brooke vs. the World
    July 20, 2011 at 7:20 pm #

    Wow, awesome, and good on you for giving it a go! As long as it is a commercial type place to visit, I’d do it. Otherwise, it is always better safe than sorry when dealing with unfamiliar random pools of water in Central America. I will forever be traumatized by the knowledge of a hostel mate drowning in a hot water pool outside Palenque… not to add to your fear, just a word to heed any type of warning, which I don’t think she did.

    • Erica
      July 20, 2011 at 7:30 pm #

      @Brooke: There definitely were quite a few people around, not to mention they had a booth you needed to pay at before entering. As for your hostel mate – oh man that is HORRIBLE!

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