Cenote Ik-Kil – Xcalacoop, Mexico - Atlas Obscura

Xcalacoop, Mexico

Cenote Ik-Kil

A magical sinkhole on the Yucatan peninsula adorned with mini waterfalls and hanging vines. 

Just down the road from the famous pyramids of Chichen Itza lies one of Mexico’s most stunning sinkholes, or “cenotes,” Ik-Kil.

One of the most ethereal qualities of Ik-Kil is the light filtering in from above, illuminating the mini waterfalls, vegetation, and vines that wrap their way around the edges of the cenote and hang directly from overhead like a curtain. The sinkhole clocks in at a depth of over 130 feet, and archaeologists are said to have found bones and jewelry in the watery depths of what was once a sacred Mayan sacrificial site.

Visitors to this magical place descend down 85 feet of winding stone steps. From there it’s either a short jump into the water, or a considerably taller dive off a platform if you feel like joining the daredevils in line. (After rinsing off in outdoor showers so as not to bring unwanted chemicals or debris into the water’s careful ecosystem.) 

The site boasts a restaurant and overnight accommodations, as well as lockers and life vests for swimmers. The water remains cool throughout the spring months, and black catfish can be spotted swimming about alongside visitors. Ik Kil’s most recent claim to fame is its title as a Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series venue in 2010, 2011, and 2014.

Know Before You Go

Life vests and lockers are not free, but cheap and worth it if you're passing through. There are limited spots along the cenote walls to hang onto, and unless you're an experienced swimmer you'll want to stay longer than you're able to tread water.

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