This week we stumbled across a day with no plans. No music lessons, no Spanish school, no workshops, no plans with friends in Playa, no beach meet-up. It doesn’t happen that often so when it does, we usually take advantage of the opportunity to check out another cenote. We decided on Kantun-Chi.
We’ve been to a lot of cenotes around here, as loyal followers will know. So we actually had to spend a little time to find a new one worth visiting. In the past we have left the house fairly late in the morning and didn’t have a specific plan of where we were going. This meant that we usually could only play in one cenote before they started to shut down for the day. So this time we vowed to leave earlier (as in, 11 a.m. – don’t expect miracles, ya’ll) and we had already established our destination.
We decided to check out a cenote park- a place where there are multiple cenotes that you can play in for one entrance fee. It means the fee is higher but it still comes down to about 100 pesos ($5.33 USD) per cenote, per person. But at the entrance they told us about an extra tour of a cave/river so we bought that too. All in all we paid about $2500 pesos ($133USD) for the 4 of us to play in 5 cenotes and take a cave tour. Not so cheap but not as pricey as whale sharks!
We were impressed with the park. Parking was easy and close by. The paths were nice white rocks, the signs were professional and easy to read and guided you at every turn. The check-in process was simple and the park tour packages were very straightforward. They even had a topographical map of the entire park so you could see where the cenotes were in relation to each other. They give you a free, large locker and the bathrooms have changing rooms and showers. This is the nicest cenote we have been to! It even has a restaurant on-site, but it closes at 3:30 pm, even when a family of wet gringos shows up at 3:31 pm looking for a snacky-snack. But I digress.
When we arrived and paid our entrance fee they told us the cave river tour would start in about 45 minutes and suggested we play in cenote #1 until our guide comes to get us. So we did. It was a half-open cenote with very very clear water. It was cold at first, as most of the cave ones are. But after about 30 seconds it’s refreshing and perfectly tolerable. The girls discovered the plastic kayak and ignored Dan and I. They loved that kayak and had to be forced to give it up when other kids came and looked at it longingly.
After about 30 minutes a guide showed up and said it was time for the river/cave tour. How organized! And so straightforward. It was lovely. He got us all set up with water shoes, masks and helmets. For some reason I was thinking we would do this tour on a boat. Ever since I had an experience exploring a cave on a boat as a child I have been obsessed with boats in caves, and yet have never found another cave that could be explored by boat. So I was surprised when there was no boat and Daniel was surprised I’m still talking about that boat cave experience from when I was 11. There was eye rolling, I saw it. But I digress yet again.
So we go down a ladder through a very small hole and it opens up into a cave-like area. It’s really impossible to describe at this point so I’ll just post some pictures. But essentially we swam, we walked, we waded, we ducked and we scooted through caves and pools and paths and crevices. It was the most amazing thing. I love love loved it. And I loved that the tour was quick, easy and yet incredibly helpful. This was one tour that was not artificially lengthened to try and make the gringo feel they are getting their money’s worth. And it was truly necessary to have a guide leading you. I highly recommend the tour if you ever end up in this cenote park. It was excellent. And for future reference, if your older daughter drops her mask and it sinks to the cenote floor 12 feet below you, the guide will swim down and retrieve it for you. A friend told me.
After the tour we were released back into the park and we set about exploring each cenote. The routine for us went like this: Arrive at new cenote. Allison puts on her mask and dives in. Girls jump on the kayak and paddle around. Dan takes pics and wades in to his knees, hating the cold water. Allison remarks on how neat it is seeing the formations under the water and how everyone needs to look. Girls paddle around, ignoring Allison. Dan finally comes in fully and just floats around. Allison makes him look at stuff with her mask. Dan obliges while rolling his eyes. Allison sees the eye rolling behind the mask and ignores it. Allison tries to play with the girls on their kayak and is rejected. Allison continues to beg anyone that will listen (including a stranger floating nearby) to take her mask and look at the large black hole over here and over there. Haley makes a comment from the kayak that everyone is sharing the same flu strain now. Then we’d move on to the next cenote and do it all over again. It was SO. COOL. Well, the eye-rolling and rejected play notwithstanding.
We were finishing up at cenote #4 and heard they were closing so we made our way back to the front of the park. We realized that there was one more cenote we didn’t see, but we were OK with that because this cenote park has made The List. My best friend and her family are coming to visit in 2 weeks and we are planning an epic vacation for them, which includes cenotes. This is one that will be early on in the schedule. I’m sure they will love it. I’m sure my best friend will complain about the cold water and roll her eyes when I make her look at stuff under water. It’s okay. I’m used to it.
Our guide heard about our love of cenotes and told me about his favorite one (Sac Actun) so that is next on our list. I’ll be sure to bring my mask. The girls said that if there is no kayak they are not going. Dan and I roll our eyes.