CENOTE ESCONDIDO (MAYA BLUE)
This is the less crowded cenote in the area, located south of Tulum. After a short walk through the jungle, you can swim with hundreds of fish.
Just five minutes west of Tulum town on highway 307, Cenote Escondido (Hidden Cenote) can be found by going to the entrance of Cenote Cristal. Known in the 1970`s as Maya Blue when the first scuba diver to enter the cave so named it. His name is Hilario Hiler, an American who became Maya when he moved to the Yucatan peninsula during the late 1960`s.
These caves turned out to be a large system of underground river systems connected by cenotes (open water holes or caves with descending depths to the waterline), whose water current passes underneath miles of untouched jungle. The water current continues to the Caribbean sea where it mixes with the salt water.
Entering Cenote Escondido includes a 1 km walk or drive through natural jungle filled with chit palms, all types of jungle fauna and exotic trees. Keep an eye and ear out for families of spider monkeys swinging around in the trees above.
The cenote itself is a large and deep clear water swimming pool complete with solid rock cliffs of 2-4 meters which are great for jumping off. Bring your snorkel gear to see the fish, fresh water turtles and underwater caves. There are two comfortable wooden platforms for entering the water with confidence as well as sunbathing, a palapa (thatched roof hut) perfect for parties or picnics as well as underwater tunnels for adventurous snorkelers.
While visiting this hidden cenote, think about the following story from a local Maya elder about the alux. An alux is a mythical, but real, fourth dimensional leprechaun type being. The story is that he was about 15 years old, relaxing below two large palm leaves along side Cenote Escondido. After working all day as a chiclero (one who extracts the sap of the zapote tree to be sold for chicle, the gum base in chewing gum like Wrigleys Chewing Gum) he had lit his candle in order to eat his meal when he heard the chachalaka birds shouting out warning that someone was coming. He then heard someone, obviously a two legged creature, moving towards him across the water. As he waited cautiously in the dark, his breathing stopped when he saw an 18 inch tall pot bellyied naked man-like creature. The alux, or leprechaun, was warming himself along side the lighted candle, rubbing his belly mischievously while turning in circles. The alux did not see or acknowlege the young, large Maya man holding his breath with wonder. Now in his 60`s, he recounted to me that the alux had dark grayish-black skin like pottery. He had no hair and his fingers were like a baby´s. He danced around and moved as if he were indeed walking on water. In a minute the alux was gone but the young chiclero could hear him walking away with the same rythym... across the water.
Stories like these abound in the magical jungle near Tulum. Take the time to talk to the locals and ask about their jungle experiences. Cenotes like Cenote Escondido allow you to visit and explore without great expense and without busloads of tourists.