What better place to do research for our upcoming series on coastal development in Mexico’s Costa Maya than the village of Akumal (Place of the Turtle in Mayan)? Located just north of the ancient ruins of Tulum, our family has visited Akumal for many years. It gives us a wonderful break from cold Canadian winters and a chance to explore nearby cenotes, either on foot or with scuba.

cenotes-mexico-yucatan, caves water

What are Cenotes?

The cenotes are flooded sinkholes and caves in the limestone crust of the Yucatan Peninsula. Some are interconnected, creating vast underground systems. Since cenotes are sources of fresh water they have played an important, even holy role throughout the history of Mayan culture. Many of the most important Mayan cities like Chichen-Itza were necessarily located adjacent to cenotes.


Divers Discover World’s Largest Flooded Cave

While doing research, I came across a headline on Costa Maya, Mexico excursions: Divers Discover World’s Largest Flooded Cave. Where do you think this underwater cave might be located? Just outside of Tulum, practically in our vacation backyard! A 216-mile link was discovered connecting the world’s two largest flooded cave systems. One part of the system is the 52-mile long Dos Ojos system that we dove several years ago. The other part is the Sistema Sac Actun system which stretches for 164 miles.

“This immense cave represents the most important submerged archaeological site in the world, as it has more than a hundred archaeological contexts, among which are evidence of the first settlers of America, as well as extinct fauna and, of course, the Mayan culture,” said Guillermo de Anda, the Great Maya Aquifer (GAM) project director and underwater archaeologist.

So now we have another reason, (especially divers) to visit the Yucatan. I know it’s touristy, and Cancun is not everyone’s idea of a tropical paradise. But the beer’s cold, the tequila is tasty, and way down the coast, there are still gems to be discovered.

Be sure to follow our upcoming series on the Costa Maya. We will be offering insights to the Yucatan and discussing ocean issues like pollution, coastal development, and the destruction of mangrove and coral reef ecosystems.

By Robert Frerck, Blue Ocean Network


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