Diving to Cenote

A day at a cenote – Chikin-Ha

Cenotes are magical pools of water connected to the underlying water table, found all over the Yucatan Peninsula and known for their crystal clear water. Which one do you choose? That’s the hardest part. Once you’ve decided you want to go a cenote you have to choose which cenote. Thankfully, to help you, we have covered this and written short descriptions on many of them; find them here on our cenote page. When visiting any cenotes you will need:

• Swim wear

• Biodegradable sunscreen (if bringing bug spray it also has to be

biodegradable)

• Snorkel and mask (although these, and lifejackets, are available for rent)

• Your (underwater) camera

• Proper shoes (not necessary but some cenotes require a short walk)

Cenote Chikin Ha

Price and location

Cenote Chikin Ha you will find 23 kilometers (14 miles) south of Playa Del Carmen, on highway 307. It’s next to the eco-logical park Kantun-Chi and can almost be missed by those not looking properly, as it is dwarfed by the entrance to Kantun-Chi. At the entrance you pay $232 pesos (15 USD), but actually this is a good deal because you pay for one but you get three! From the entrance on the highway the cenotes site itself is about a mile down a road. This can be walked or driven, and after the walk the cool water of the cenotes will be just that little bit more refreshing! There are snorkel and lifejacket rentals available on site, a zip wire across the first cenote for the more daredevil ones, and a small souvenir shop.

The three cenotes are individually named and about 330yards (300 meters) separate them all. Small paths connect them through the jungle leading to each unique one.

What’s the difference between the cenotes?

Jumping to cenote!

Jumping to cenote!

Xtabay

The first cenote you come to with the zip wire across it. It is lagoon-like, positioned in the sun and consequently is full of life! There are many coloured fish hiding between the lilly pads and the thick moss that carpets the bottom. If you have an acute eye you may also spot a turtle or two grazing along the bottom. It has a wooden pier built at one end for ease of access and is not more than eight feet deep. A big plus of this one is that a majority of it lies in the sun warming rays, and there is also a raised platform next to it with enough room for a few sunbathers to warm up and dry off after the whole days activities.

Chikin-Ha

This is the cenote that gives the whole site its name, as it has a cavern system that is used by divers. Entering this cenote is like walking into a fold in the earth, the ground parts itself and opens up into one big horizontal crevice! Here the wildlife is not as abundant as Xtabay but the landscape is rugged and spectacular. The cool, crystal clear water ranges in depth, from a few inches to around 30 feet (9 meters), and underneath, where the surface of the water meets the wall, it fades down into an inky black abyss; a space only accessible by diving. Also, for those that would like a free pedicure, a Mexican version of the “doctor fish” that are now used in the expanding fish foot spa industry can be found here.

Taak-Bil-Ha

This is the final cenote. Firstly appearing as a large hole in ground it triples in size inside once you climb in. In the middle is a large island populated by trees, plants and iguanas and there are a few tropical birds that flit in and out. The surrounding water again contains a rugged landscape like Xtabay and is a lot more accessible. Although not as open as the other two Taak-Bil-Ha is beautiful. It is also the furthest away and is usually occupied by smaller crowds.

As mentioned earlier diving is also possible in Chikin-Ha, entry for divers is the same as for normal persons but you are required to bring your own kit. You don’t have your own kit? Not to worry, there are many diver centers that offer guided tours of this cavern route, and will hire you gear as well. To enter this cavern no specialized divers training is needed, just an open water certification; although good buoyancy control is necessary. Chikin-Ha is an excellent choice of cenote if you’re unsure of which one to go to, as it offers a variety of different cenotes in one location. Although it costs a little more than other it is worth it for the variety, and a chance to experience these amazing locations!