Cenotes: Swimming, Snorkeling, and Surviving the Mayan Death Jump

While Chris and I were having a great time at Sandos, we wanted to take a trip off the resort to see more of Playa del Carmen.  Adventuras Mayas was advertising a six hour cenote/snorkeling tour at our hotel, so we decided sign up and see what life looked like under water.  The following day, we had an unforgettable experience!

We had no idea what we were getting into.
We started the day with a quick ride to our first stop, an open cenote.  For people who don’t know, cenotes are fresh water sinkholes that were sometimes used for Mayan sacrifices.  Chucho, our tour guide gave us a boisterous hello and asked if we were ready to zip line and make the Mayan death jump. 
Meet Chucho, the man in charge of the fun.
WHAT?!?!?  I know I didn’t sign up for a death jump, or zip lining.  There was no way I was going to risk breaking a bone on a fluke diving accident.  NO WAY. Chucho HAD to be joking.

When we arrived to the open cenote, I quickly learned he wasn’t joking.  We hiked up to the zipline, and one by one passengers were zipping and jumping into the beautiful water.

Chris showed no fear.
He landed safely in the water.
Finally it was my turn. I sat down, gained my composure, and suddenly felt paralyzed. It was one of the most embarrassing moments of my trip.  I didn’t want to ruin the rest of my vacation with a pulled arm so I chickened out, exited the platform with Chucho, and walked over to the Mayan death fall.

The Mayan death fall consisted of a 12 foot (I think) jump off a wooden platform into the cenote. The younger kids on the trip had no fear.  They ran and jumped into the water.  Again, it was my turn.  The paralyzing fear returned. I repeatedly paced back and forth from the ledge, but I couldn’t make the leap.  I was going to break something.  I was wearing my contacts.  Jumping would be one of the dumbest things I could do at this point. 

Then, I looked at Chris and told myself I wasn’t going to be an old, scared woman.  Adrenaline quickly took over and I made the leap off the platform.

Dumbest, yet funnest part of the vacation.  Gotta love the facial expressions.
By some miracle, I made it in the water safely with my contacts in tact.  The water was some of the freshest, cleanest water I have ever swam in.  I was so glad I took the fall! 

Chris then snapped into superhero mode and yelled,

“Don’t worry love!  I’ll save you!!” and plunged.  We both made it with our limbs in tact.  It was my favorite part of the trip.

My hero!

I was so relieved when we both landed safely.

Now that we were both safely in the water, we had a great time exploring the fresh water sinkhole.  I have snorkeled all over the world, but this was the first time I had the pleasure of seeing a fresh water environment.
Now that we landed it was time to snorkel.

This was the greenest environment I had ever seen snorkeling.

After the open cenote, we took a quick ride to an underwater cavern.  We had a great time navigating the stalactites and stalagmites.

At it's deepest point, the cavern water was about 15m deep.
Having fun in the cave!
After the cavern, it was time for an early lunch of grilled chicken, salad, and mashed potatoes.  It was nice to have a small break and refuel for our third and final snorkeling destination, the ocean inlet.

Lunch was really tasty!

We then spent some time at Yal-Ku Lagoon, an ocean inlet.

Snorkeling in the shallow end was quite easy.
Visibility was quite good by the platform to the water.

We ended the day snorkeling in a salt water/ fresh water area.  Visibility was a bit limited because it was later in the day so we didn't see too many fish at the end of the trip.
By the end of the trip, we were exhausted yet happy!  I highly recommend using Adventuras Mayas for snorkeling tours.  There are some things to know before you leave:
  • Bring your waterproof camera if you have one.  They will take pictures for you with your camera.  If you don't want to shoot or don't have a waterproof camera, they also sell pictures.  (We paid $40 US for all of our shots.)
  • Make sure to pack biodegradable sunscreen.  The water quality of the cenotes is fantastic because regular sunscreen and tanning oil don’t pollute the water.
  • Also pack a towel, a coverup or dry clothes for the car ride, and a hat.  The sun is intense.

BTW, I wasn’t paid or provided any compensation for this review.  The experience too fun not to share.  For more information on Adventuras Mayas excursions, visit them online at http://www.aventurasmayas.com.

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