Central America, Mexico, Travel

Snorkeling…in a cave, in the sea and in a lagoon

October 14, 2014

To maximize our time in Mexico and because we didn’t rent a car there, like we normally do when traveling, we booked a tour with Edventure Tours.  We did their snorkel tour (cenotes and lagoon) and added on the Tulum ruins and sea turtles.

We went to the ruins first thing that morning to avoid crowds and beat the heat.  Yea!  I’ll write about that later.  Then, we set off for the cenotes (caves).

I wondered which ones we were going to — one of the famous ones I had read about like Dos Ojos? Or if they would be as cool as some I had seen pictures of. I booked the tour while we were there and didn’t have time to get that particular.  As it turned out, the tour company owner owns the land that the cenotes are on that they take you to.  This turned out to be a huge bonus! Private cenotes. No crowds. We had the caves all to ourselves, which was really nice. And, I shouldn’t have worried about which cenotes we were going to see because the two they showed us were super cool!

We didn’t know what to expect, but we pulled up, parked and then transferred to a Polaris (like a bigger 4×4). Erick was thrilled because he got to drive it.

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You drive through the jungle a ways to get to the cenotes. On the way, we spotted several black foxes! And, a tartantula. I love seeing wildlife, so this was unexpected and really exciting for me.

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Underground Cenote

The first cenote was completely underground. It was like a manhole in the earth with a set of steep stairs.  Hmmmm….  Was this a good idea?

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Once we got down there, before the lights were on, it was certainly a little creepy. We could hear the bats, but couldn’t see. Then, boom, lights! It was so big.

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Now, we could see the bats flying around. I’m not afraid of bats. I actually think they are cute. We took some pictures and then it was time to swim.

It’s like a big lake. We just had to jump in and while I was excited about the experience, I was little scared, too. The temperature of the water was shocking at first as it was very cold. I remember I couldn’t stop saying, “ahhhh!!! ahhh!!!”

We put our faces in the water and we would swing our flashlights around and see “big fish” and I was turning my head side to side trying to see where they were going. Eventually, I realized it was tiny fish and the shadows were huge. Well played, cave, well played.

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The water was crystal clear and it was neat to see all of the stalactites and stalagmites. You really have to watch where you are going underwater. At first we were in a giant lake like area that was deep, but then as we continued following our guide, we went through other smaller confining areas, like just enough space for you to pull your head up out of the water.  I was feeling a little claustrophobia in those areas.

We crawled back up the steps to emerge in the bright sunlight and walked to the next cenote.

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Open Cenote

The next one was very different. It was partial open air, but covered. It reminded me more of the grottoes of Italy sort of (not that I’ve been). So pretty. Super clear blue water. This one had a platform that you could jump off of into the water.

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Erick jumped with the GoPro.  I didn’t swim in this one and just enjoyed taking pictures.

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Watch our Cenote video:

Lunch

Next up, was lunch.  We jumped in the Polaris and drove a few minutes down the path to the picnic palapa. The food was so good. We had cochinita pibil tacos. That’s pulled pork that has been cooked slowly underground. My husband kept going back for more.

They had some habañero sauce that I tried. It was really good at first, but then lit me on fire. I drank beer, some of Erick’s Coke, more beer.  Finally it started to settle down.

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Sea Turtles

After lunch, we headed out to the beach for our swim with the turtles. This area in Akumal is regulated to protect the wildlife, so we were paired with a guide from there. So we set off of from the beach with two guides (not bad for two people, right?). It’s a beautiful, calm beach so swimming straight off the beach is easy. The first thing we spotted was a manta ray de aguila (eagle ray?) and according to our guides, they aren’t that easy to spot. Then, we saw the turtles. It is something everyone should see. It’s crazy how big they are. They are just beautiful and so peaceful swimming through the water. Seeing them come up for air is neat and one came right up by me — I didn’t move a muscle and just watched. I really tried to enjoy every moment.

We also saw a pod of squid. I came up out of the water to readjust my mask and I heard the guide say squid, otherwise I would have never known. They looked like fish to me and then as I continued looking, I finally saw what was really there. So cool. They swam in unison like synchronized swimmers.

I absolutely HATE that we have NO pictures of this favorite part of the day, but our battery died and we spaced out on changing it.  🙁

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{Photo via Edventure Trip Advisor}

Yal-ku Lagoon

And, for the final stop on our tour, we went to the Yal-Ku lagoon to snorkel. It’s a neat place and a great facility, but honestly after just swimming the sea with the turtles, it just couldn’t compare. It’s a calm place to swim and see colorful fish, but I preferred the excitement of the caves and the turtles.

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