I have traveled to the area several times in the last 25 years and this is my opinion. Chichen Itza is a one day trip, with perhaps a cenote on the way. There is a large one somewhere between the ruins and Valladolid which is surrounded by a park and concession stand. These ruins are magnificent and one should not rush through them. Tulum is not far away from Cancun and can be done in a morning or afternoon. It is also a magical place, because of the location, overlooking the coast, views of the turquoise Carribean are spectacular. There is a very tiny private beach there one can swim in the ocean at the ruins. There are also a couple of nice beaches in the same area to hang out, that have food and drinks, but not located at the ruins. Coba is OK for 1/2 day but not as spectacular as the other 2 mentioned above. There are several cenotes in the area between Cancun and Tulum one can visit also, they are refreshing, cool, and generally the water is crystal clear, which can provide a nice break from the heat.
There are MANY things to do and see in the Riviere Maya. One that I like recomending is ACHTUNCHEN. This is south of PDC on the right side. It is a 1KM long cave that has a walk way through it You go in one end and out the other. It is iluminated and unique to the region. This site also has a serpent collection and a monkey collection. Would also recomend swimming in a CENOTE. Visit at least one of the 2 great parks XCARET or XELHA. Also from PDC take ferry over to COZUMEL. If you go over real early, you can rent a car and drive around the whole Island. Also TULUM, CHICHENITZA, and COBA are must see. Town of VALLADOLID has (in the main square) Mexico's beat "Cochinita Pibil" dish and the BEST leather sandals. (world class quality and style to rival LV)
Scorpio Divers operate from Cancun, Mexico and do daily scuba diving tours all over the Riviera Maya and in the Cenotes of the Yucatan Peninsular.
Whether you're an experienced Scuba diver or a complete Novice, Scorpio Divers have the dive or PADI Course for you.
From Diving with Bull Sharks in Playa del Carmen, snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Caribbean, Wreck and reef dives and dives in the Cenotes where you can see ancient Maya burials, they have it all.
My sister who was with us decided to swim in the "cenote" pictured here which is a natural sink hole that could have provided plentiful water year round at Chichen. But, I decided not to swim since it looked deep and scary. And my instinct proved me right when I later found out about the human sacrifices performed there!
Of the two cenotes, the "Cenote Sagrado" or Sacred Cenote (also variously known as the Sacred Well or Well or Sacrifice), is the more famous. According to post-Conquest sources (Maya and Spanish), pre-Columbian Maya sacrificed objects and human beings into the cenote as a form of worship to the Maya rain god Chaac.
American Consul Edward Herbert Thompson dredged the Cenote Sagrado from 1904 to 1910, and recovered artifacts of gold, jade, pottery, and incense, as well as human remains. A recent study of human remains taken from the Cenote Sagrado found that they had wounds consistent with human sacrifice!!!
It's a cenote that the local people use as a simming pool. When the relentless sun gets a bit much, nothing seems more refreshing than the chance of a swim. However, make no mistake! This cenote is inside a cave which means it NEVER gets any sun shining on it which means the water is absolutely FREEZING!
We had snorkles with us which was good because we could watch the cave fish as they swam around us. It's quite a deep cenote but half way across there is suddenly a drop off and it just goes down and down and down, further into the darkness.... to be honest the idea of some prehistoric underwater monster living, hidden, in the dark depths did cross my mind!!!
As I said this cenote is used by local people - of which there were about 6 young children when we were there - and when I say young I am talking 9 years old or so. The atmosphere was really nice and we had a giggle with them as they laughed at my big, pregnant bulk trying to ease itself into the icy water!!!
The day trip we took to the Aktun Chen caverns was spectacular . We've seen many caves in many parts of the world but this one is still very worthwhile to see. The name means underground river . The guide took us through and gave adetailed explanation of the importance of this area in Mayan times.
The main cave is enhanced with indirect lighting for a better view and enjoyment of the thousands of stalactites, stalagmites and natural sculptures, all of them formed by water and calcium carbonate throughout five million years. Its quite breathtaking.
the Chichen Itza tour that We joined stopped at a beautiful crystal clear cenote at Valladolid. You can swim at the cenote for $6 ( not included in the tour fee). there are a lot of catfishs in the cenote. you can bring your snokling gear if you want. We did'nt bring our swimming suit . I had to buy a swimming pant for my boy at $ 18 so he can swim (ouch!).
make sure you bring a lot of water and put on sun screen. It is very hot and humid at Chichen Itza.
It is over 100 degree in April.
A ways away from the main temple complex is the Cenoate. Take the walk out there. I know it's hot and your tired, but do it for me...
The Cenoate is essentially a large sink hole filled with water. This Cenoate was where they dumped the bodies of the human sacrifices after the religious rites were performed.
But the real reason to walk out here is they have a little stand where you can buy ice cream. See, now I convince you...
Cenotes are naturalmade wells and there are four different types. The first are the underground cenotes which are completely underground, like small lakes inside a cave. The other are underground cenotes which have a whole in their roof, where sunlight can come inside. Third there are the ones that doesn't have a roof at all. And the last are completely open, almost as lakes.
You can find cenotes all over the Yucatán peninsula, and they were very important to the Mayas. There were not so many rivers so they used the cenotes as their watersource. They also had sacred cenotes where they did their sacrifices.
Most rivers (if not all) on the Yucatan peninsula flow underground. At some places you will find openings in the ground from where you see the water below you. These openings are called Cenotes and were used by the Mayas for drinking water and sometimes (e.g. in Chichen Itza) even to sacrifice people in them.
If you have the chance, go swim in one of these cenotes. It is quite an experience if you go on a trip in one of the caves and all of a sudden you see jungle and blue sky above you.
If you look at the picture, you can see small black catfish in the blue water. An hour or so after this picture was taken, we actually swam down there.
TIP: Bring a single use underwatercamera if you go down there, but remember that your pictures will most likely end up rather dark.
We stopped by a cenote after our visit to Chichen Itza. You have to climb down to this beautiful well, you can also go swimming, beware of the very cold water when you jump in. Cenotes were very important to the ancient Mayas as there are no aboveground rivers in the Yucatán peninsula, and this was the primary way to access fresh water for drinking.