Ruta de los Cenotes
Marked by an enormous mustard yellow arch on Highway 307, the “Cenote Route” is one of the newest developments along the Riviera Maya, and a sign, for better or for worse, that the megaresorts are finally starting to appreciate cenotes.
The route is simply a paved road, which begins just south of Puerto Morelos and extends nearly 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) into the scrub forest, passing several cenotes along the way. The most popular stops, at least for tour groups, are cenotes like Boca del Puma and Selvática, which also have ATV tours, zip lines, paintball…you get the picture.
But the route also has some true gems: gorgeous and remote cenotes, undeveloped and all but overlooked by the package tours, and well worth the drive to reach them.
Independent travelers will particularly enjoy Siete Bocas (Carr. Pto. Morelos–Vallarta Km. 16, no phone, 8 a.m.–4 p.m. daily, US$10 including life vest), so named for its seven openings (or “mouths”). Three openings have steep stairways leading straight into the cool, clear water; the other four allow sunlight into the underground chamber, lighting up the water dramatically, especially around midday.
Inside, you can swim or float through the cave, with its spectacular stalagmites and stalactites, often with no one else around (BYO snorkel gear). Most visitors stay only a short time, but camping is permitted on-site (US$16 pp), just a few meters from the cenote.
Just down the road from Siete Bocas is Lucerno Verde (Carr. Pto. Morelos–Vallarta Km. 17, cell. tel. 998/224-3731, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. daily, US$5 including life vest), an open-air cenote surrounded by huge tropical trees. Completely different from its neighbor but no less dramatic, Lucerno Verde is like an enormous swimming hole with clear turquoise water and seemingly no bottom. There’s a zip line as well as a thick safety line stretching across the cenote. Look for the freshwater turtles that make their home here. Camping is permitted here, too (US$10 pp).
© Gary Chandler & Liza Prado from Moon Yucatán Peninsula, 9th edition