Mexico Snapshots: Cenote Ik-kil

This popular swimming hole is steeped in Mayan culture


The limestone substrate of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is riddled with underground rivers and flooded caverns. When the roofs of these chambers collapse and expose the subterranean waters to the sky, they are known as cenotes. One of the region’s most spectacular cenotes is known as Ik-kil. Located near the ruins of the ancient city of Chichen Itza, the clear waters of this natural pool are surrounded by 85-foot cliffs, and plunge to depths of more than 130 feet.

Vines drop rope-like runners from the surface to tap into the water source, and small waterfalls often cascade over the edges. Revered as a sacred site in traditional Mayan culture, it was once the site of ceremonies and sacrifices. Today, it is a popular swimming hole, with a wooden stairway leading down to the water. A dip in the waters of Ik-kil is often bundled with tours of Chichen Itza, giving visitors a chance to cool off after exploring the ruins.