Some of the most significant caves in the peninsula are found 31km north of Hopelchén, shortly before you reach the town of Bolonchén de Rejón. The local Maya have long known of the existence of the Grutas de X'tacumbilxuna'an, a series of underground cenotes in this water-scarce region. In 1844 the caves were ‘discovered’ by the intrepid John L Stephens and Frederick Catherwood, who depicted the Maya descending an incredibly high rope-and-log staircase to replenish their water supply.
Today the cenote is dry but X'tacumbilxuna'an (shtaa-koom-beel-shoo-nahn) is open for exploration and admiration of the vast caverns and incredible limestone formations within. A light-and-sound extravaganza accompanies the tour, and you can hear the sounds of motmots echoing off the walls as you descend.
Buses traveling between Hopelchén and Mérida can drop you at the cave entrance before Bolonchén (around M$40, 25 minutes). In addition, combis depart for Bolonchén from Hopelchén’s plaza, passing near the caves. Check with the driver for return times.