Due to its geological composition, the soil of the Yucatan Peninsula is a kind of sponge, when it rains, it absorbs all the moisture. The water that seeps through the soil begins to dissolve giving way to caverns that can be partially or totally flooded, when one of these caverns collapses due to erosion, cenotes are formed.
The formation process of cenotes can last hundreds of thousands of years. There are open, semi-open, ancient and cavern cenotes, their classification depends mainly on their age.
The natural environment of the Yucatan Peninsula is what makes these places truly spectacular scenery.
The importance of cenotes in Mayan culture
Besides being one of the attractions that most attract the attention of tourists, cenotes are also very important in the Mayan culture, as they were sacred places and were believed to connect with Xibalba.
The cenotes are one of the most sought after attractions for tourists visiting the Yucatan Peninsula, because they are not only places with an indescribable beauty, but also have a great importance in the Mayan culture, as they were spiritual and sacred places for them.
The entrance to the Mayan underworld
The ancient Maya believed that Chaak, the rain god, dwelt in caves and cenotes. Today, native farmers in the Yucatn Peninsula still implore Chaak for the gift of rain, while cenotes provide archaeologists with new insights into the sacred landscapes of the ancient Maya.
Over the past couple of decades, archaeologists have begun to pay close attention to the role of caves, the solar zenith, and now-thanks to De Anda-the cenotes in the beliefs and worldview of the ancient Maya of the Yucatán peninsula.
Archaeologists already knew that the Maya considered both caves and cenotes as openings to another world inhabited by Chaak, the life-giving rain god, but the consequences of this fact for architecture and urban planning have only recently begun to become clear.
In 2010, De Anda (recognized for his skill as an underwater archaeologist), who by then had dived dozens of cenotes, began exploring Holtún at the invitation of Rafael Cobos, a renowned archaeologist and project director who had been busy researching and mapping hundreds of structures, promontories and cenotes in the Chichén Itzá region.
What is a cenote?
A cenote is a natural well in which crystalline water can be found, these aquiferous bodies are fed thanks to the filtration of rain, together with the largest subway river system in the world, the Great Mayan Aquifer.
The Maya called them Dz’onot and believed that they connected with Xibalba, the place where their gods and spirits rested after having received death. On the other hand, in some cenotes you can find caverns that are also formed naturally and in them there are stalagmites and stalactites.
In short, a cenote is a place where you can swim, snorkel, dive or sit and contemplate its beauty and all the goodness they offer, so if your intention is to know some of these beautiful formations, here we show you a complete map where you will find the cenotes that exist in Tulum and surroundings.
Map of Cenotes in Tulum
Click on the image to enlarge or download.