El Jardín del Edén
Quintana Roo, Mexico
El Jardín del Edén is an open-air cenote, set in a jungle park. The surreal beauty sits inside the deep, crystal clear waters.
The cenotes Eden, Azul and Cristalino are located within walking distance of each other on the same side of the road, literally next to each other, but Eden is certainly my favourite of the three. It is only about 18 minutes south of Playa Del Carmen, just past Puerto Aventuras towards Tulum.
My last visit here was with my friend Michelle in March 2017. She comes to Playa from France every year for 6 months to live here as she is in love with Yucatán the same way as I am.
The park is maintained but kept in a rustic style: a little bit rugged, with paths around the pool. Plants grow also in the water and all the rocks are covered in green moss. The water is absolutely transparent so it is perfect for snorkelling (you can hire a vest and snorkels here). One can also dive here, because there are caves that extend deep under the ground. During my visit with Michelle we saw a few diving groups. Cave diving is popular in Yucatán.
The cenotes were considered by the Maya to be the entrance to the underworld and the rain god Chac dwelt in the caves. They would have been bringing their offerings to him here.
There is a jumping cliff about 3.5m high. It was fun watching people jump. Around the cenote there are quite a few palapas for picnics and four wooden stair accesses into the pool, if you don't want to jump. This makes the visitors spread around, so everybody gets their personal space.
In the middle of the cenote there are some rocks. These were once part of the roof and are now submerged. This makes for a nice place to rest. When sitting there, you can get a free foot pedicure from small fish, sailfin mollies. You can also spot some catfish here.
Apart from the fish, the jungle park is great for bird-spotting. The Yucatán jay is everywhere around. It is native to the deciduous forests of the Yucatán peninsula and nearby areas of Belize and Guatemala. It does not appear to be under threat from the rapid and intense development of Riviera Maya.
There are also plenty of spinytail iguanas around. They are called ctenosauras, referring to the comblike spines on the lizard's back and tail. They are native to Mexico and Central America. You can watch them while walking about or having a picnic.
The entry fee changed recently from 60 pesos to 100 (children pay half price). There are a few basic rules at cenotes, which apply to most of them. If you need to use sun cream, please use a biodegradable one to protect the pristine waters. The toilets are very basic; be aware.
To get here without a car, you can take a colectivo bus from Playa and get off at the sign on the road. There is a jungle path from the entrance to reach the pool. The walk takes about 10 minutes. They allow cars to enter this path as far as the pool and you can park there.