We’ll start with the moral of the story: everybody looks dumb in snorkeling gear. Even Clive Owen would look like a bug-eyed trout stuck in the sand with a mask, a snorkel and some fins on. There’s just nothing for it.
Once off the beach and away from the Spring Breakers of Cancun, the Yucatan Peninsula becomes famous for its cenotes, sinks holes—some just off the side of the road in the jungle and out of view—that give way to miles of dramatic caves connecting one of the largest underwater river systems in the world.
The water is clear and cold, and when sediment isn’t stirred up by snorkelers, you can dive down and feel like you’re peering into the very depths of the earth, into her dark, clear soul.
Stalactites and stalagmites litter the pools, and light filters through the underground forests and the jungles of waterlilies of the Grand Cenote, casting a turquoise hue through the ripples and soot and sand.Slowly lowering yourself into the clear depths, you can see why the Maya thought these waters were sacred and cleansing.
Through shadows, and a rock seems to move and shake and shift through the waters and suddenly transforms into a SCUBA diver emerging from the depths.
If you’re staying in Tulum, either the beach or the pueblo, it’s an easy bike ride to several cenotes, including Gran Cenote, located about 3 km down the road to Coba heading northwest. If you can find a road or mountain bike, instead of a beach cruiser, and are a regular biker, it would even be possible to bike all the way to Coba, 44 km away, though the wind coming back to Tulum would be a significant obstacle. We met a couple of guys, staying at Papaya Playa—next door to our own Cabanas Copal—who were going to attempt it.
But remember, you WILL look stupid in your snorkel gear.