When going to spend time in the Yucatán peninsula, it’s likely you’re going to visit at least one cenote. In fact, Yucatán has over 6,000 known cenotes spread across it, so it’s highly likely you’re going to see one. But with that many options, which cenotes or cenote parks should you visit? Well, until we saw Xibalbá Reserva Park, we wouldn’t have been able to answer that burning cenote question for you. But now, after going on a tour like no other of this future property, we strongly encourage you to visit Xibalbá on your next trip to Mexico.
Opening in June 2022, Xibalbá immediately throws a unique cenote park your way by providing a full experience with an incredibly unique story that ties this park into the Mayan culture of the area. It’s really not just a cenote park, rather a full-on cultural experience.
Located near Playa Del Carmen, roughly and hour and a half from Mérida, this park tells the unique story of an old Mayan legend of two twins who journeyed into the underworld. As you arrive, there is a rock that beckons you to begin your descent into the underworld as you follow the path of these two twins who challenged the gods and accomplished tasks to survive their experience in the world below. You begin your journey by going through a series of tunnels that take you under the ground into the cenotes and through the canals of the water. This natural path was modified to connect visitors through the whole experience, and it’s like nothing I have ever seen before.
The first challenge or cenote pool is the “House of Darkness” where visitors will canoe through the experience on an old, wooden canoe that looks like a thing out of legends. The next cenote area or “challenge” takes you into the “House of Voices” where these twins fooled the gods and accomplished their next task. Here, you can swim in a cenote that will have voices and sounds echoing off the surface of the water in a fully immersive experience like no other.
Then, you can journey and swim in the “House of Daggers”, the “House of the Sun”, and “the House of Jaguars”, my personal favorite. I have never seen a cenote as beautiful as the House of Jaguars is here at Xibalbá. With vines, sunlight, and a rope ladder cascading down into the gorgeously blue water, it’s something you have to see to believe.
After this, you leave the underworld into the present and discover a Mayan village and a few other above-ground cenotes where you can admire the natural beauty of Yucatán. In the end, the myth wraps up reminding us that we can rebirth ourselves and emerge greater on the other side of our experiences.
And you can’t miss the opportunity to eat lunch in the gorgeous stone church structure here, either. It’s a culinary experience like no other.
All in all, we can’t wait to see Xibalbá when it’s open! First, the idea to use a Mayan myth to tie the cenotes together is genius. It takes this park to the next level. It isn’t just another cenote park, it’s an experience and a lesson all in one. Connecting the cenotes together through a story is an interesting, unique, and exiting way to keep visitors engaged. And, unlike other places in Yucatan, Xibalbá understands and stresses the importance of having tours in multiple languages, which is crucial to having a successful destination sought after by world travelers. It’s a way to tell their classic tales in new languages and spread their stories and reach across the world. I, for one, am itching to go back to Xibalbá when it opens. I predict it will be the hot place to visit in Yucatan in the summer of 2022.
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