Quintana Roo, Mexico
Verde Lucero is like an open 'eye', surrounded by rocks in a cylindrical shape. And the zipline makes it a great playground for all ages.
You can swim a complete circle around the cenote walls. Above you can see treetops. Just close your eyes and think about the nature around you, the jungle and its mystic silence. The jungle will connect with your spirit.
The cenote's name is Spanish and it means Bright Green. And it is truly a bright green colour and the waters are transparent.
For fun, you can hang onto the ropes that cross the cenote or jump from one of its three jumping platforms (one of them was under repair during our visit), each at a different height. If brave, try the zipline. When I visited here with my friends Michelle and Jim in April 2018, practically everybody tried the zipline, children and adults. What fun! We did not brave it on this occasion. In addition, there are three boards on the lagoon that you can use as floaters without any extra charge (we enjoyed the float). The same applies to the life jackets; no extra charge.
This cenote is on the Ruta de Cenotes (Cenote Route) that extends about 35km, just inland from Puerto Morelos. This route has a variety of cenotes: open, semi-open and underground. It is different from other cenote routes in the sense that many of the cenotes here offer ziplining, cycling, abseiling, horseback riding, and AV rides. They function as eco-parks. This makes them more expensive but also more adventurous, for those thrill seekers. The most popular cenote on this route is Selvatica but it is pretty expensive (up to 200 USD if you come here with a tour). We tried to get in just for a swim and they offered us a package for 75 USD, given that we arrived at lunch time. However, we did not want the AV ride and the ziplines, so we decided to look for another cenote, without a full package. And this is how we found Verde Lucero (200 pesos entry fee for foreigners, 100 for the local residents). Other cenotes on this route are Las Mojarras, Cenote Siete Bocas, Cenote Boca del Puma, Chilam Balam, La Noria, Kin Ha, Zapote, to name a few.
Verde Lucero is one of the smaller cenotes on this route. It is about 30m in diameter, 6m down to the water (for jumping) and the water depth ranges from 3 to 30m. It offers swimming, snorkelling, floating, jumping and ziplining. To access the pool, there is a set of wooden steps (although the last one was broken when we visited, making it a challenge) and a side platform where you can just sit or use it for sliding in.
In addition, you can camp here overnight (I did not ask for details though). We could see a few bonfire remains. We tried to walk around the cenote a bit. There is a swing at the back jumping platform and a jungle path leads from there but as we were not sure where the path was leading, we turned back after a short while. On our walk we enjoyed a few trees in bloom.
We even spotted a vulture sitting in a tree. He seemed to enjoy watching the zipliners (waiting for his prey?). His home is one of the small caverns within a cenote wall and he flew above the waters a few times. We observed dragonflies above the pond water, the thirsty fig roots suspended down to the water from above, catfish (by the entering platform – they will not bother you when you swim), water lilies all over the bottom of the pond (they tickled our feet in places) and we even spotted a turtle when snorkelling. What a lovely way to spend an afternoon!
You can also rent a hammock in the shop (for 50 pesos) and just rest in the jungle garden around the cenote. There are also plenty of palapas for a picnic and those are very popular with the locals. We also found a temazcal here, it is for hire (ask the staff for the details). It is a type of sweat lodge, which originated with pre-Hispanic people in Mesoamerica. The word temazcal comes from the Nahuatl word temāzcalli (house of heat) and it was (and still is) used as part of a curative ceremony thought to purify the body. To produce the heat, stones are heated and thrown inside into the pit. Alternatively, there is a local shaman Sadi who offers temazcal in more privacy, about 300m away from the cenote, in a separate temazcal. The shaman does a cleansing ritual before you go in to sweat and afterwards you can cool yourself in the cenote. The staff here are very helpful; they can help you to contact him (this session needs to be arranged beforehand).
The cenotes were considered sacred places for the Maya. They were the entrances to Xibalbá, the underworld, the place of birth for the ancient Maya, in addition to being the source of precious water. So it is very important that we as visitors adopt a similar position and respect the entire environment. These ecosystems are very fragile, so using any type of sunscreen is not allowed, and visitors are asked to take a shower before entering the water.
The cenotes are usually quite rustic; do not expect to find great infrastructure. This cenote offers restrooms (and we found them clean which is not always the case), showers, changing rooms, and a shop selling soft drinks and renting hammocks. Go prepared with a snack or sandwiches if you stay for lunch here.
How to get there:
The cenote is open daily from 9am to 5pm. There is no need to go through the expense of a tour operator. There are no colectivos but you can rent a car or take a taxi from Puerto Morelos (ask them to pick you up as there is no wifi signal at cenotes). The car park is right by the cenote, easy walking distance.
At Puerto Morelos turn off highway 307 (from Cancún to Chetumal) at the point where there is a big sign for the Ruta de Cenotes. This road is lined with cenotes. Verde Lucero is at km 18.5.