Quintana Roo, Mexico
This cenote is like a cave cathedral, majestic, with a bit of an echo, and crystal clear turquoise waters that match the colours of the Caribbean Sea.
Multún Ha means in Mayan 'hill of stones in the water'. This indicates that we can see the stones at the bottom, due to the clear waters (it almost feels like endless visibility) and also that the stones look a bit like Mayan ruins.
I always combine it with visiting the ruins of Cobá. The scenery around the pool itself is serene, secluded and rugged. The jungle around is natural; there are no fancy gardens, no frills.
This sinkhole was discovered 15 years ago, but opened to the public just 3 years ago. If you are lucky, you will have it to yourself. It is one of three cenotes around Cobá lake and if you are not in a hurry to go somewhere else, you can do all three cenotes after the ruins. Choo-Ha is best for snorkelling, Tancach-Ha with its jumping platforms is best for jumping and Multún Ha, the largest and deepest, is best for free diving.
It looks like at one time the cave could have been a living space. Certainly the Maya considered cenotes as entrances to the underworld (Xibalbá in Mayan) and they went there to worship their rain god Chac, who in their mythology dwelt in the caves. They left offerings to the god in the cenotes and this was a custom everywhere in the Maya lands. You can easily imagine it when you are inside this cenote because the environment indicates to you its sacred nature. Well, it certainly does to me. I have been here many times, with various friends, just love taking them here because it is always a hit.
It would certainly also have been used in the past as a source of water. As a matter of fact, on the way to the three cenotes off the lake, along the jungle road, you can see the ruin mounds of the Cobá site, not yet recovered (and probably never will be). The Cobá site was really large in the past and these cenotes would have been an integral part of Cobá city. The Maya would have called the sink hole a 'dzonot'. It was the Spanish conquerors who adapted it as 'cenote'.
To access the pool, you have to go 18 metres down a wooden spiral stairs in a 'hole in the ground'.
Inside there is a large wooden platform with three entrances to the cenote. You can also jump in off the side platform. That dive can feel scary because the water is so clear it looks like you're diving into shallow waters, which is not the case.
The deepest end of the cenote is 30 metres. The entrance is simple and the showers and toilets on the site are also rather rustic.
There is a tiny hole in the rock ceiling of the cavern and so the locals added artificial lights. For the comfort of the swimmers there are also a few ropes across the water to rest on, if desired.
There are a few fish swimming that you can easily see, mainly the black eyeless cave fish. They lost their eyes through the evolution process, adapting to the cave environment. You may have read in my other cenote posts that apparently they also lost their sense of time (lucky them!).
On the photo on the right you can see how transparent the water is.
On the way back from swimming, before you reach the Cobá lake, I recommend stopping at Victor's local shop. He is a local Mayan 'hippie' and does unusual art for this area - batik. In Yucatán fabric is usually woven in a traditional way. All Victor's fabrics have motifs from Mayan mythology, for example the coronation of King Pakal I (in Palenque) or an image of a ball player. I have not seen such work anywhere else in Yucatán. He makes different sizes and uses beeswax for the finish, which makes the fabric sturdy and gives it a good quality feel (it means it can be framed as a large picture for your wall). It is certainly worth a visit because you will not find it anywhere else. You can spot his shop as he has some samples outside.
Afterwards you can have lunch on the other side of Cobá lake. There are two restaurants, both equally good. Actually, they both serve the same meals (wonderful chicken in banana leaves and cochinita pibil). The first one at the corner is La Pirámide. If you choose to go there, it is best to sit upstairs as the veranda is open and has a nice breeze. It has fewer clients from large tours, so it is tranquil.
The second restaurant on the lake is Nicté-Ha, where most tours like to go (it has a larger choice of fruit). Both serve a buffet lunch at 150 pesos (as of 2017). The village itself has a few more small restaurants.
How to get there:
There is no public transportation that regularly makes the trip to these cenotes so you will need your own car. You need to turn left when leaving the Cobá ruins car park and go alongside the Cobá lake for about 10 minutes. Half of the village is situated on the other side of the lake. You will reach the sign pointing to three Cobá cenotes.
After about 5 km, you will reach a little palapa house, which sells the tickets to all three cenotes (you can also buy the tickets at the ruins). If you are not going to all three, you can disregard it and keep driving a few more minutes. The entrance is on the right-hand side and it takes another minute or two by a dirt road. In other words, the cenote is well hidden and not many tourists have discovered it yet.
You will need to bring your own refreshments as the staff will only sell you the entry tickets (55 pesos in 2017).