Exploring Cenote Sac Actun is an adventure; not only can you enjoy swimming in this awe-inspiring environment, but you can also explore its depths as it features part of the world’s longest underwater cave network!
Soaking up the sights, sounds, and unique atmosphere of a cenote is an unforgettable experience that should be on every traveler’s list while visiting Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.
The crystal-clear water found in these freshwater sinkholes offers swimmers – or photographers – exceptional opportunities to capture amazing moments beneath the surface.
In recent years, cenotes have become very popular and trendy. Yet, despite the buzz many people are still not aware of what they are and their importance to the Mayans. If you already know what a cenote is, then go ahead and skip this section!
Cenotes are ancient limestone pools with sparkling rainwater and otherworldly beauty. It all stems from centuries-old caverns that collapse and form natural sinkholes. Over time the built-up rainfall in these basins grows connected to underground rivers – this is what makes a cenote so exquisitely unique!
Drawing from its Mayan roots, the term “cenote” literally translates to “well.” Yet, not all cenotes share a similar aesthetic – in fact, there are four remarkable varieties of these natural hidden gems.:
• Open Cenotes – Cenote Ponderosa located near Playa del Carmen, is a true wonder that all visitors will cherish. These open-air cenotes offer a mesmerizing escape, varying in depth and even connecting to underground rivers for the avid diver!
• Semi-open Cenotes – As its name implies, a partially submerged cenote is composed of components visible in plain sight and areas hidden away in caverns. The two most stunning examples are Cenote Calavera (my own favorite!) and the breathtakingly gorgeous Cenote Zaci.
• Cave Cenotes – Dare to explore the thrilling cave system of Cenote Samula with its land-level entrance! Have a dip in this underground pool that features both shallow and deep areas. This one-of-a-kind experience offers plenty of exhilaration, guaranteeing you an unforgettable journey.
• Underground Cenotes – For a daring and unforgettable journey, only brave divers have the means to discover underground cenotes like The Pet Cemetery Cenote near Tulum. Due to their subterranean character, access to these secret sites may be tricky.
Importance for the Mayan Civilization
Ancient Mayans considered the cenotes to be pathways leading to the netherworld of Xibalba, so sacrificial offerings were thrown into them. Human sacrifices are thought to have taken place at times as well! Remains that were discovered in these depths make cenotes increasingly crucial archaeological sites today. In fact, with recent findings in the Sistema Sac Actun cave system, this site is now renowned worldwide as one of the most vital underwater archaeological locations! In this article by the Telegraph, you can read more about it.
What is Cenote Sac Actun like
Shining the flashlight on the ceiling of Sac Actun reveals thousands of diamond-encrusted icicles – stalactites that have been forming for centuries. Some are so long their tips reach above the water surface, and everywhere near them hang thin spiderweb-like threads that attest to ongoing growth. Every square centimeter is evidence of a hundred years of hard work by Mother Nature!
Descending into the cave, you realize that there are bats hanging upside down from the ceiling and swooping around us like tiny shadows in flight. Under other circumstances, this could be frightening, but instead, I am captivated by nature’s wonders.
This incredible cave system, which is thought to have been formed during the Pleistocene epoch around 2.6 million years ago, dives 101.2 meters at its deepest point and stretches an astonishing 346 kilometers in length – making it not only the longest underwater cave on Earth but also the second-longest overall after Mammoth Cave Complex in America! The site has revealed a plethora of archaeological discoveries over time, some even dating back more than two million years!
The water was so crystal clear that you’d be able to see even without a mask, yet the tight passages and closing ceilings made it all the more useful. I wasn’t cold until near the end of our excursion. Yet, some from my group could not seem to stay warm in spite of their wetsuits – something important to bear in mind while considering whether or not you should invest in renting one for your tour, as temperatures tend to remain around 20° Celsius.
How much Does Sac Actun Cost?
The entrance fee is 450 pesos ($30 USD). This fee includes guide service and equipment such as lifejackets, snorkel tubes, and masks are provided. However, you should consider obtaining a flashlight.
There are no colectivo buses that run to its location, which lies 13 miles (20 kilometers) away from Tulum – so you can’t walk either !
In conclusion, if you’re looking for an adventure in Mexico, then there are two ways to reach this amazing destination: taxi or car.
Rent a Car
Renting a car and driving to Sac Actun was an accessible journey; however, it’s important to note that the road is quite bumpy.
To reach Sac Actun from Tulum, take the highway to Playa del Carmen and exit for Cenote Dos Ojos. Keep driving past the entrance until you see a left turn. There aren’t many signs indicating Sac Acton’s location, so it may be hard to find. Once you’ve taken this left turn, continue straight ahead for roughly 6 kilometers before arriving at your final destination! To ensure a peaceful journey, make sure you have our provided map below! What’s more, parking near Sac Actun is plentiful, and there are no fees attached. If driving yourself – proceed with caution! The roads are in rough shape and contain various deep potholes. It is possible to reach your destination safely, but do not speed; drive slowly and attentively.
For those catching a taxi, it might be best to have the driver stay while you explore Sac Actun.
Sac Actun isn’t among the major tourist destination cenotes yet, large tour operators aren’t bringing groups of people there either. Fortunately for us, though, we were able to explore almost entirely alone – how remarkable! In contrast to the crowds of tourists at Tulum ruins, Sac Actun is a hidden gem, and getting there can be tricky.
Is there Uber in Cancun, Tulum, Valladolid or Playa del Carmen?
Unfortunately, no. Even though the app is functional there has been a lot of push-back from the local taxi-mafia and some violence so for your safety, we would suggest against using it.
How much time to spend at Cenote Sac Actun
We recommend 1-2 hours to take everything in, explore and have some time to relax and unwind.
Best time to Visit Sac Actun
As early in the morning as you can to get some time before the crowds arrive, or before the site closes down for the day.
Expert Tips for Cenote Sac Actun:
Water is cool: The water may be quite cold at around 20 degrees Celsius – so if you plan on swimming, consider renting a wetsuit as an extra precautionary measure against the chill.
Stalactites: Suppose you’re looking forward to seeing beautiful stalactites, crystal clear water, and a variety of aquatic species like catfish, prawns, and even tarantulas. In that case, this is the place for you!
Camera: Remember to bring an underwater camera so you can capture all the amazing sights!
Flashlight: Don’t forget a flashlight, as it will enable you to explore more and increase your security in the water.
Towel: Dont forget to bring a towel with you. Ad
Parking is totally free.
Things to Do Near Sac Actun
After you’ve explored the majestic underground cave systems of Cenote Sac Actun, why not take part in some thrilling activities?
Take off on an intrepid expedition to uncover Tulum’s wealth of awe-inspiring cenotes! With such a plethora of stunning locations, you and your closest companions will have days full of unforgettable memories.
Unwind and relax at the gorgeous Tulum Beach, and don’t forget to try one of the many amazing restaurants in town (try the tacos and local beer)
Take a trip to the ancient Tulum ruins, National Parks and, if you find yourself with extra time, venture even further to ruins of Chichen Itza – a stunning location and one of the 7 Wonders of the World!
Enjoy an unforgettable day trip to the magnificent Sian Ka’an Biosphere breathtakingly blue waters and get up close with dolphins and even some crocodiles!
The Beaches, Beach Clubs, amazing food and nightlife are just of the many things to do in Tulum
Traveling to 🇲🇽 Mexico soon?
I recommend these travel resources for Mexico that I personally use:
🏨 Hotels: I have found that Expedia and Booking.com consistently have the best deals on hotels and resorts in Mexico. If you prefer to stay at a vacation rental, check VRBO that is usually cheaper than AirBnB’s added fees!
✈️ Flights: To find the best flight deals to Mexico, I always use Kayak. Remember to subscribe to their price alerts for the travel dates you want. Another great alternative for flight deals is Expedia.
🚗 Rental Cars: I always use and highly recommend Discover Cars because it allows me to compare several car rental companies and view ratings on various factors such as overall value, pick-up procedure, agent efficiency, car condition, and total time taken.
🚙 CancunAirport Transportation: For the fastest and easiest way to travel, I suggest arranging a private transfer with Cancun Airport Transportation. Honestly, no better way to travel from the airport to your hotel or resort.
🤿 Tours & Activities: For tours and activities in Mexico, I highly recommend using either Viator or GetYourGuide. These websites offer a full refund if you cancel your booking 24 hours before the start of the tour, and they also provide excellent customer service in case of any issues.
🚨 Travel Insurance: I always suggest purchasing travel insurance as a precaution before traveling, especially after a recent accident in a taxi in Mexico. For short trips, I recommend Travel Insurance Master, whereas for digital nomads, Safety Wing is a better option.
📷 Best Camera for your trip: I always carry with me a GoPro, It’s light, compact, takes great video and pictures, and most importantly, it’s waterproof! You just can’t go wrong with one. If you are interested in higher quality video and photography, I always carry with me on my trips and highly recommend the Sony A7IV which I think is the best travel DSLR Camera out there.
☀️ Biodegradable Sunscreen: Remember to include a good sunscreen to protect yourself from the summer sun. I always use and suggest Sun Bum Sunscreen, which is vegan, reef-friendly, and cruelty-free.
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