Characteristic of the Yucatan Peninsula, cenotes are natural sinkholes that form when the roof of a cavern collapses. The Mayans believed the mysterious formations were entrances to the underworld.
The Cenote Sagrado, near the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza, was once a site of sacrifice to the Mayan rain god Chac. In the early 1900s, archaeologist Edward Herbert Thompson dredged the famous cenote and found copper, gold bells, rings, masks, cups, figurines and embossed plaques. He also found evidence of human sacrifice.
The breathtaking Cenote Dzitnup in Valladolid, Mexico, is completely underground with a hole in the ceiling. A guide rope and lighting make the cavern easier to enter, and it's a great place to swim.
The entrance to one of the Yucatan's many cenotes.
Cenote Xlacah, at the Mayan site of Dzibilchaltun, is ground-level, easily accessible and more than 140 feet deep at some points.
A view of the Cenote Sagrado from above.
People take a dip in the Cenote Samula, located right next to the Cenote Dzitnup in Valladolid, Mexico.
One of the 3 cenotes in Cuzama, Mexico.
Cenote Yokdzonot is located just 15 minutes from the Mayan city of Chichen Itza.
Located inside a private ranch in Valladolid, Mexico, the Cenote Suytun has an accessible entrance with a long staircase leading to the water.
Cenote Ikil, or the 'Sacred Blue Cenote,' is about 10 minutes from Chichen Itza, not far from the Cenote Sagrado.
The Grand Cenote, in Tulum, Mexico, is one of the most popular scuba-diving destinations in the Riviera Maya.
A scubadiver explores the marine life and underwater canverns of a cenote located in Quintana Roo, Mexico.