Yalahau

This natural cenote is located 30 minutes by boat from Holbox Island, Quintana Roo, México. It was used as a refuge for the famous pirate Molas in the 16th Century. For many years, Yalahau was a natural fresh water source for the Holbox community. Nowadays, the lagoon is visited by travelers who come to swim and enjoy the clear fresh water of the spring.

Yalahau is the name given to both the cenote between Holbox Island and the mainland, and the spring fed pool on the island’s edge. The beautiful spring, which is fed by water that crosses the island’s jungle, and the lagoon are part of a protected ecological reserve.

Yalahau Spring is considered a magic place in local folklore and history. The spring was originally important to Mayan fishermen and travelers who used the spring as a source of fresh drinking water. It was also a port for seafaring Mayan traders, until one Mayan King closed it for his own use. Legends say that the king turned Yalahau into a private place where only his wives could swim. The king built beautiful gardens and fountains around the natural cove and made a royal swimming pool decorated with green jade.

When the Spaniards arrived they where very surprised to see so much beauty and wealth on the island. Although Maya no longer lived on Holbox (one legend says they moved to another planet), the king’s pool remained. The swimming pool was destroyed by the Spaniards when they arrived to Holbox Island. They removed all the jade and took the stones from the fountains and gardens to build the first church in Latin America. This church was built 26 miles (40 km) from YalahaU in Boca Iglesias, and was later the site of a monastery which administered punishments during the Spanish Inquisition.

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