Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Mon April 13 2015

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  • A Cruising Couple | April 13, 2015 11:00 PM ET

    Exploring the Cenotes of Mexico's Yucatan

    Exploring the Cenotes of Mexico's Yucatan

    Photo by Ismael Alonso via Flickr

    While Cancun may be famous for the nightlife and party atmosphere of the hotel zone, there is much to see and do outside the confines of the all-inclusive experience. Diving the underwater museum, relaxing on Isla Mujeres, and traveling to Chichen Itza were all day trips that we thoroughly enjoyed during our time on the Yucatan Peninsula. But above all else, our favorite adventure was exploring the natural beauty of Mexico's cenotes.

    To the ancient Mayans, the cenotes of Mexico were considered to be sacred entrances to the underworld. Offering sacrifices into the cenotes was a way to communicate with the gods. The cenotes were also important as they were the main source of freshwater for this ancient civilization. In fact, all of the freshwater on the Yucatan is located in these underground river and lake systems, making them an invaluable resource to the region.

    These underground lakes and rivers were formed when limestone caves started to erode after the Ice Age. Scientists have only recently mapped the subterranean system, what is now known as the world's longest underground river. The waterway twists and turns for an incredible 95 miles through the caverns. The water is constantly eroding and reshaping the surrounding limestone. When enough erosion takes place above the river to create a hole exposing the river, a cenote is born.

    There are more than 6,000 cenotes on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. We had the chance to visit just 4 of them and record our journey along the way. Rather than simply seeing the cenotes, we decided to up the adventure factor a bit. Our experience took us zip-lining, cliff jumping, rappelling, snorkeling and kayaking in these natural wonders. See for yourself:

    Video Overview: Our first cenote incorporated an easy zip-line into crystal clear water. The smooth ride was a nice way to ease into the rest of the day's adventure. We were then able to float peacefully along with the gentle current, past trickling waterfalls to a cavern that provided the perfect opportunity for cliff jumping.

    Our second cenote could only be reached via rappelling through the mouth of the cave to the tranquil waters below. Once inside, the light beaming through the open ceiling and sparkling in the pristine waters was magnificent. After enjoying a brief underground swim, we ventured to the third cenote where the zip-line and the cliff jumping really began to test the adventurous souls.

    The final cenote was a combination of snorkeling and kayaking. This was our favorite cenote of the trip as we got to see fossilized shells and cave formations up close as the cliff walls rose high above us. Paddling through the ancient waterways it was easy to see why the Mayans believed these waters to be so special. If you're looking to add a little adventure to your Cancun vacation, a trip into the depths of Mexico's cenotes is sure to please. Have you ever visited a cenote?

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A Cruising Couple A Cruising Couple's Column

A Cruising Couple Dan and Casey are the two lovebirds, world travelers and adventurers extraordinaire behind the popular travel blog A Cruising Couple - adventure travel with a dash of class. Their stories and photographs feature that special place where experiential and stylish travel meet. Find out how you can spend less money, live more adventurously and travel more luxuriously on their blog,
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