Chaak Tun

Chaak Tun
By Dani Knod

(2014 updated information click here.)

Hidden behind the dense concrete jungle of Playa del Carmen, visitors can find a true natural gem – a spot to revel in the untouched glory of the Riviera Maya. Quiet pathways through lush green jungle; decorative caverns echoing millions of years of growth and formation; cool cenote waters, as crystal clear as the air we breathe; and the harmony of a fragile ecosystem inviting you to experience and explore. The ancient Maya revered this sacred spot and gave it a powerful name – Chaak Tun.

Chaak is the Maya god of rain - one of the most beloved deities, and it is Chaak’s rain of stone that delights visitors daily. My party and I chose to arrive in the early afternoon, for I was tipped off that the park is normally quite busy before 1 or 2 pm. Good advice! The whole place belonged entirely to us.

Chaak Tun
We were lead down the path to meet our guide, Shelly. As we approached, she motioned for us to carefully and quietly creep forward to join her. She had spotted a tiny green tree snake camouflaging itself in a bush, and so the precedent for our tour was set. Full of passionate knowledge of this particular ecosystem, Shelly gave us a detailed overview of our tour and what to expect. And, without further adieu, we put on our helmets and started down a wooden walkway that led into the mouth of a cave.

The passage was large and we could see light at the other end, so there were no fears of being lost in the dark. As we strolled casually through the cavern, Shelly filled our eager ears with interesting tidbits of natural, historical, and anthropological knowledge. With a flashlight, she pointed out all of her favorite parts of the cave. The walls and ceilings were covered with intricate formations of stalactites and stalagmites formed through millions of years of the rain of stone.

When rainwater collects depressions in the floor of the jungle, it filters through the porous limestone of the Yucatan picking up tiny particles that deposit in drips. Drip by drip; tiny particle by tiny particle, massive decorations of stone were made.

We snorkeled through the pristine waters held within the cenote and were amazed how the impressiveness of the formations continued – if not increased - below the surface of the water. More collections of monstrous stalagmites rising from the floor and clusters of stalactites hanging steadfast from the ceiling combined to form a labyrinth of natural awe. Memories to last a lifetime…

Chaak Tun is open daily from 8:00 am – 4:30 pm, and the recommendation still stands for an afternoon visit if you wish to enjoy this special spot without the crowds. Drive west on Juarez through the ejido of Playa del Carmen onto the dirt road; a few kilometers and one security stop later, and you’re there! The tour is recommended, but don’t worry - you can spend as much time as you want enjoying the cavern and the snorkeling. When it comes to fully appreciating all the natural beauty of the Riviera Maya, a cenote is definitely a must. So, enjoy your visit to Chaak Tun, and be sure to mention that you saw it in Sac-Be!