Naturally formed sinkholes pockmarking the limestone turf of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, cenotes are among the world’s most unique natural phenomenon. Used as a water source by the Incas and revered as sacred "portals to the underworld," thousands of cenotes of all shapes and sizes can be found around Cancun and the Yucatan region, forming a vast network of underground lakes, caves and caverns begging to be explored. Today, visiting the cenotes is a popular tourist activity with opportunities for swimming, scuba diving and snorkeling inside the cenotes as well as ziplining, kayaking and tubing.
Two of the most famous cenotes of the Yucatan are Ik-Kil, known as the sacred cenote and as one of the most photogenic with its glittering waterfalls, high vertical walls and swinging vines; and Cenote Dos Ojos or Two Eyes, which boasts over 500 meters of underwater caves and is a hotspot for scuba diving. The Gran Cenote, located close to Tulum, is another popular choice, an enormous lake cave, home to a sizable population of sea turtles and tropical fish. Other cenotes worth a visit include Chelentun, known for its azure waters and dripping stalactites, the Chaak Tun caves nearby Playa del Carman, and the many cenotes surrounding Cuzama, Valladolid and Cenotillo.