A beautiful cavernous pool, Cenote Samula is one of the more scenic freshwater cenotes on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Characteristic to Mexico, cenotes are naturally formed pits, created when limestone rock caves in to expose these underground pools. A geological wonder with naturally formed stalactites and stalagmites, Yucatan cenotes were sacred places in Mayan culture, and are still considered a treasure today.
Located near the town of Valladolid, Mexico, Cenote Samula was recently opened to the public, and has an open roof, which acts as a natural skylight inside the cave. A group of long roots hang down from the ceiling and nourish the trees above ground. A narrow staircase leads visitors down to water.
Before you go: While the cenotes are open from 8am–4:30pm, noontime offers the best view. At this point, the sun is high enough overhead to shine light through the center of the cave. The entrance fee is 80 pesos (about $7) and you can stay as long as you like. The fee only covers Cenote Samula, so there's an extra fee for exploring nearby X'Keken. Tour guides are available on site, but not required, so pay attention as you buy your ticket, and make sure you understand what you're paying for. If you're coming from Cancun, the drive is about an hour and a half to Valladolid. Once in town, a short taxi ride will bring you to Dzitnup, where the X'Keken and Samula cenotes are located. Samula is the smaller of the two and tends to be less crowded.
What to know: Wear your bathing suit in case you decide to go for a dip – there's no place to change. You can snorkel and observe the many fish that inhabit the cave, too. Equipment can be rented, or you can bring your own.
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