Quintana Roo, Mexico
‘Cosy’ and ‘off the beaten track’ are descriptions that come to mind as the main characteristics of this cenote. You may have the cave to yourself. Choo Ha in Mayan means 'water that drips'. The cave is full of stalactites (from where the water drips) and stalagmites.
A visit to a cenote is always worth it, whether they are open or closed, small or large. About 6km from the town and the ruins of Cobá, on the road to Chan Chen, you’ll find a series of three locally administered cenotes: Choo-Ha, Tamcach Ha and Multún-Ha. Unlike most of the cenotes that have gone up in price in the last few years, these are still affordable.
Another word that comes to mind is 'classic': it is a perfectly round swimming hole in a cavern with a ceiling full of stalactites, with a bit of vegetation growing around the edges and sunlight pouring through the holes dramatically.
The shallow waters of this cenote invite all age categories to dip in and enjoy the cave environment.
The Cobá site was really large in the past and these cenotes would have been an integral part of Cobá city. You can see the unrecovered mounds of the ruins through the jungle trees on you way to the cenote. It would have been a source of water for the Maya; they always built their cities on or around a cenote (or a well or river). The Mayan name dz’onot (understood by the Spaniards as cenote) means a 'well', a source of water. Below (top left) is an illustration by Frederick Catherwood of the cenote at Bolonchen in Campeche (pinterest.com.mx), used as a source of water in 1842. The steps at Choo Ha are slightly easier today!
According to the Maya mythology of creation, life was born in cave waters; and finished there. It was a sacred place where they would also worship their deities, mainly Chac, the god of rain, who dwelt there.
After swimming it is usually time for shopping. While there are a few village shops selling the standard Mexican souvenirs, including woven fabrics, I recommend instead one unassuming shop on your way from the cenote towards the Cobá lagoon. Victor, the local Maya hippie, sells batik (which he learnt to make on the island of Isla Mujeres). His motifs are all from Mayan mythology and vary more than any other local souvenirs. You can choose your motif – the coronation of a king, a ball player, Chilam Balam story etc.
For lunch there are a few options in the village, from very small local restaurants to larger ones on the lake, such as La Pirámide and Nicté-Ha. Both have the lake view and the same buffet menu for 150 pesos (as of 2017). My preferred one is La Pirámide, because it has a bit of a breeze if you sit on the upstairs open-air veranda. The staff here also seem friendlier.
How to get there:
There is no public transportation that regularly makes the trip to these cenotes. You may get a rental bike in the village or may be able to take a taxi from the Cobá ruins although in all honesty I never saw a taxi at the car park. The best option is a rental car, all the way from Tulum, Playa del Carmen or Cancun.
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.
When you arrive at a fork outside the village, turn right and after a couple of minutes you will reach a little palapa house on the left side of the road, which sells tickets to all three cenotes. Choo Ha cenote will be first after a short drive on a gravel road.
The tickets are 55 pesos for each of the three cenotes (price of 2017). You will need to bring your own refreshments as there are no services here.