Quintana Roo, Mexico
Samulá cenote sits in an immaculate jungle garden. The waters of this semi-open cavern are illuminated by the ray of natural light from the ceiling., making it photogenic.
The cave is not very large or deep so it is more suitable for swimming, rather than for diving. I came here in October 2016 with a group of Czech visitors. Eva took all the photos while we were swimming.
This limestone sinkhole is located in the village of Dzitnup, alongside X'Kekén cenote. You can buy a ticket for both cenotes, if you wish to try both of them in one go (65 pesos each in 2016). They are very different as you will not find two cenotes that are the same. These cenotes are run by the local community and in recent years they have tried to add infrastructure to this area. A large palapa will greet you as you park and enter the area to buy tickets. On each side of the road there are semi-circular buildings that had been set up for stalls for souvenir sales. Most of the shops are empty, which makes the mall looking rather sad. A pity because otherwise the park around is beautiful, the jungle garden is immaculate. (not common as a lot of cenote gardens are rugged and rustic). One thing to note is the sound of birds. There are a lot of them and the sound is melodic.
There is a restaurant on the property with a very good buffet for 150 pesos (as of 2017). My favourite meal was the chicken mole (chicken with chocolate and chilli sauce).
If you think that cenote is an unusual word, you are right. The Maya called it 'dzonot' (meaning 'a well'). It was the Spaniard conquerors who adapted the word as a 'cenote' (obviously, they could not pronounce it in the original way). Most cave cenotes have fresh water that has been meticulously filtered by the earth, making them so clear and pure. And turquoise!
You can reach the pool by descending stone and then wooden stairs. It truly feels like entering a cave. You will arrive at the viewing platform where you can leave your belongings. The access to the water is a little bit tricky. I got in from a sitting position as there was no step from the concrete platform.
Inside, artificial lights are also installed, despite the natural light coming in. In contrast to the other cenotes in the Yucatan, there is a shallow area, almost like a small island, at the centre of this cenote, where you can stand and rest. However, I found that this 'muddied' the water a little bit. The depth of the water varies, from 1 to 13 metres. The water temperature is about 25°C, as in most closed cenotes.
Small black eyeless fish swim in Samulá. In the process of evolution, they lost their eyes when swimming in the caves. Interestingly, a Swedish study by Damian Moran from Lund University, shows that blind cave fish also adapted their metabolisms so they show no circadian rhythm. Basically, they have no sense of time; they simply save energy by not increasing their metabolism needlessly for a day that will never arrive. Pity we humans can't adopt this strategy!
The property offers decent bathrooms and changing facilities (this is also not common to all cenotes). You can bring your own floating 'noodles' or just swim without (or rent a life vest).
How to get there:
The cenote is on the Merida-Valladolid Road, 3km before arriving at Valladolid. You can take a colectivo bus here from Valladolid, from Calle 44. X'Kekén cenote and Samulá now have a joint entrance as they are operated jointly by Dzipnup community. It is open until 17:00.
Mix & Match:
Samulá is a good option after visiting Chichen Itzá or popping over for a bit of fun from Valladolid (Ruins).