CENOTE CRISTAL (NAHARON)
This is actually 2 cenotes, one on the left side of the highway (Cristal) and one on the right side (Escondido) that join through an underwater tunel.
Just 5 minutes southwest of Tulum town on highway 307 are two beautiful crystal clear cenotes (Cenote Cristal and Cenote Escondido) which are perfect for swimming, snorkeling, floating or scuba diving (must be cave certified to explore the caves with scuba gear). Cenote Cristal is like a natural swimming pool surrounded by palm trees, dancing iguanas and colorful singing birds.
The Yucatan peninsula including the Mexican state of Quintana Roo where Tulum is located, is a flat limestone shelf which formed after the impact of a meteor which created the Gulf of Mexico. This limestone shelf is filled with holes much like swiss cheese. When the heavy rains fall, the majority of the water filters through into the underground rivers which flow toward the sea. The underground and underwater caves feature stalagmites and stalactites formed during the process known as Karst, a continuing natural machine of dilusion, collapse and construction of limestone.
During the Caste War (1848 to 1902) between the Maya people and people of Spanish, Mexican and American decent, Cenote Cristal was an important watering hole along the sac be (Mayan words for white road made of limestone which reflects star and moonlight) between Tulum and Chan Santa Cruz (now known as Felipe Carillo Puerto). Deep in the jungle, this cenote is known for it´s history. Local legend says that the Maya people threw their gold into the cenote to avoid it being captured by the invading forces. Maybe that is why the water is so clear...
Now you can explore the waters with snorkel or scuba gear. The flowing green grasses on the bottom reflect the sunlight with a natural and seemingly magical irridescence. Fish and fresh water turtles abound while toucans and all types of jungle birds populate the palm trees surrounding it. Iguanas and lizards jump out of the way as you circumnavigate the cenote along it´s natural pathway.
There are four separate platforms of natural rock or constructed wood platforms from which you can dive into the water. These waters are part of an extensive system of underground rivers. The current flows from miles of untouched jungles and continues on to the Caribbean Sea. While snorkeling, you can see the underwater cave from which the current flows on the north side. This type of deep dark cave is what invites cave divers from around the world to explore it`s depths.
A palapa (thatched roof building) is available for parties or group picnics. Many times families of tejons visit to recieve gifts of tortillas from the visitors. A tejon is an animal not unlike a racoon, but with a long fluffy tail and strong nails for climbing the jungle trees.