Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula is full of sinkholes with mineral rich water and marine life. Like most tourists we planned on covering 2-3 famous cenotes. Every cenote is different from the other and has unique identifying elements. Like Cenote Dos Ojos which has interconnected open and closed pools and Gran Cenote, which has caves full of bats!
However, most popular Cenotes are also very crowded- mostly with tourists. That’s when we decided to explore one of the ‘hidden’/less famous cenotes, recommended by our Airbnb host- Cenote Xcacel
Why Cenote Xcacel?
- Its right next to Xcacel Beach! Which makes is a lovely combo- play in the beach and clean off the salty water with a dip in the Cenote. Also, Xcacel Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches you will see in the area- its almost untouched and non-commercialized. When the season is right, you can witness sea-turtles hatching eggs here
- Its almost free! Unlike the more popular Cenotes, you are not charged exorbitant rates for enjoying Cenote Xcacel and the beach. The entry fee is only 20 pesos per person (~1 USD)!
- Its green! The walk from the beach to the cenote, while only a few hundred metres (took is 5-7 minutes), is beautiful – a narrow trail amongst a lot of greenery- you almost feel like you are walking through wilderness- in a jungle 🙂
- Iguanas! The beach and cenote is full of beautiful Iguanas. A lot of people were feeding Iguanas by hand here
- Beach Showers– Xcacel beach is one of the few with beach showers and changing rooms, allowing you to clean off before hitting the road
- Smoke Free Beach– Cigarettes are a complete no-no here!
Using the local collectivos is the best way to get to Cenote Xcacel. The collectivo will drop you at the main road from where you walk on a muddy road for about less than 0.5 miles. The walk wasn’t too bad. Once you hit the beach, follow the signs to the Cenote.
The beach in itself is very clean and not crowded at all. You will hardly find any tourists here- mostly all locals, enjoying a swim. There is also a nice shaded picnic area on-route to the Cenote. This white sand beach has very soft sand and a lot of shallow area in the beach and easy waves. The water is very clean and clear. This is one of the calmest beaches we have been to. What made this beach stand out for us, may make it a dampner for you. We liked that the beach was non-commercialized with no food/drink stalls, no loud music etc. However, if you prefer that- this is not the beach for you.
The cenote is quite a small cenote, and at any point of time, not more than 20 people are allowed in the cenote. This means wait times of 15-20 minutes during peak hours (we went there late afternoon on a weekend). The cenote is full of what I call ‘spa fishes’- the little fishes used in foot spas. If you are lucky, you may spot a turtle or two, since there is considerable fauna and sea grass in this cenote
- The cenote closes by 5:00pm
- No lockers or changing room here- you will have to change behind the bushes or at the changing rooms at the beach- about half a mile walk from the cenote
- Non-swimmers may find it challenging to enjoy, as the shallow area is very small and the rest of the cenote is significantly deep
On a trip to the Yucatan peninsula, we would highly recommending a mix of open cenotes, closed/caved in cenotes and at least one ‘hidden’/less popular cenote- like Cenote Xcacel