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4 incredible cenotes 1 hour from Cancun to escape the beaches full of algae


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Now that the weather is getting warmer and the sea temperature is rising, Sargassum seaweed makes landfall again along the coast of Cancun, ruining some of the most popular swimming spots.

The algae are hardly harmful, but they have a reputation for foul-smelling and staining the glistening white sands of Mexican Caribbean beaches when they accumulate along the shoreline.

Tourists taking photos of a blue water cenote from an observation point while wearing life jackets, Riviera Maya, Mexico

Although the authorities in Cancun promised to limit the spread of sargassum and keep the beaches clean this season, can never be completely frustrated.

If you’re heading to Cancun this season, you should expect a higher incidence of seaweed on the beaches, but this doesn’t mean your long-awaited tropical getaway is at risk of being ruined. You can always swim in a cenote instead:

What is a cenote?

Apart from the beaches, the Riviera Maya is famous for its mystical cenotesnatural pools with crystal clear waters that were once used by the ancient Maya for sacrificial offerings and now allow tourists to escape the seaweed-filled beaches.

A lot of very disgusting red algae sargassum on the tropical mexican beach Punta Esmeralda in Playa del Carmen Mexico.

As they are interior drains filled with fresh water coming from the subsoil, they are not affected by algae.

There are numerous pristine cenotes just a short drive from Cancun, so if you’re renting a car during your trip to Mexico or thinking about booking a day tour to visit one of these natural wonders, here they are. 4 beautiful places within an hour’s drive from the bustling Hotel Zone to consider:

Blue Cenote

Cenote Azul, aptly named the ‘Cenote Azul’, is an open-air bathing area just 1h08 drive from downtown Cancun.

The closest major settlement is Playa del Carmen, a popular day trip for sun worshipers looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city.

A brilliant blue lagoon enclosed in a limestone basin bounded by a ring of trees, it is one of the most beautiful cenotes of its kind in the mayan riviera It also has a natural jumping point, making it a highly sought after spot among cliff divers.

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People swimming in an open-air cenote in the Riviera Maya, Mexico

You can join them in line as you wait your turn to do a backflip into the translucent waters below, or you can gently wade into the pool for a swim session or even some snorkeling.

If you are a nature enthusiast, it is likely that you will find several species of tiny fish that inhabit the Cenote Azul.

It is worth noting that this cenote is not free to explore. The entrance costs 150 Mexican pesos, the equivalent of approximately US$7.50, and tickets can be purchased at the main entrance. Life jackets are not required, but are generally recommended and can be rented for an additional 40 pesos.

Crystalline Cenote

Driving 1h15 south of Cancun on Federal Highway 307, you will see some road signs pointing to the charming detour that is Cenote Cristalino.

A semi-open cenote famous for its different shades of green and the refreshing nature of the waters, it provides bathers with much-welcome relief from the high temperatures and excess humidity they are subjected to while vacationing in the Caribbean region during the summer. .

Cenote Cristalino, a cenote with crystal clear waters near Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya, Mexico

Like neighboring Azul, this cenote is equipped with jump points, and daring divers tend to get creative as they twist and turn in the air on their way down. The standard entrance fee is 200 Mexican pesos or little more than ten dollars.

When you travel as a family, especially with the little ones, this is one of the safest cenotes to visit, since life jackets are included in the ticket and the cenote itself is not so vastbeing comparable to a large swimming pool as opposed to a wide lagoon.

Cenote Seven Mouths

Siete Bocas is the closest cenote to Cancun on this list, with a driving distance of just under an hour. A stone’s throw from the Puerto Morelos beach resort; It is an underground shelter that has been in use by the Mayans from time immemorial.

Back then, the Maya believed that underground caves acted as a gateway linking the living with the world of the dead, and these pre-Christian folk tales and centuries-old traditions have been passed down through the generations to the present day.

denote near Cancun, empty and peaceful

Today, in addition to its historical importance to the native inhabitants of the Riviera Maya, Cenote Siete Bocas is a natural swimming spot that foreign visitors love because of its tourist facilities and easy accessibility compared to other more remote and wild cenotes.

The cavern has up to 7 different openings that let in light, and to swim in the ancient waters you have two options: jump from the nearby cliff or go down the ladder to the moat. Either way, the cerulean blue hue hypnotize you.

This one is more expensive, at 300 Mexican pesos, or about 16 US dollarsbut the infrastructure is better, with parking available for customers, as well as bathrooms.

Garden of Eden Cenote

Our last pick for this article, the ‘Garden of Eden’, is an expansive cenote ranked among the largest in the Yucatan Peninsula.

It has an open-air section and underground limestone tunnels, and is one of the few cenotes where you can dive alongside goby fish. The water itself is crystal clearalthough it often reflects the dense green foliage of the surrounding jungle.

For the thrill of active swimmers, this cenote is equipped with a main pool around 33 feet deep, and giant boulders and rock formations are naturally arranged around the well, where they can sit and rest when they are tired of the constant movement.

A woman swimming in an open air cenote in the Riviera Maya, Mexico

The shallow ends are particularly preferred by less adventurous swimmers, as well as seniors and young children, who can enjoy a free fish spa day or go snorkeling instead.

Visitors must pay an entrance fee of 200 pesos, although children under the age of 4 are entitled to pay half the price, or around five dollars.

Those who come with a car get free parkingbut they must rent snorkel gear and life jackets, if needed, for a combined price of about US$5.

Open air cenote in Mexico, Riviera Maya

Visit a cenote instead of the beach this summer

Visiting a cenote is a great way to escape the overwhelming humidity that settles in southeastern Mexico during the summer, and since they’re not supplied by the ocean, they’re a great alternative to the algae-ridden beaches of Cancun.

However, when swimming in cenotes, tourists are encouraged to familiarize themselves with local safety protocols and wear life jackets when necessary due to their depth and strong undercurrents that often go unnoticed by bathers.

traveler alert: Don’t forget travel insurance for your next trip!

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com