A single shaft of light cut through the jungle and illuminated a patch of water before me. I set down my sandals and dove in. The water was clear, cool, and refreshing. I could see fish below me, and much deeper down—perhaps 60 feet—the bottom of this mystical pool, named Chukum-Ha.
Thousands of freshwater sinkholes called cenotes dot Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. They were created some 66 million years ago when a massive, miles-wide asteroid crashed into the area. The cataclysmic event is thought to have eventually wiped out the dinosaurs, but it also sent a lot of freshwater underground—so instead of ponds and rivers, the Yucatán Peninsula today has caverns and hidden pools. Some, like Chukum-Ha, became exposed when the ground covering them collapsed.