The Cascadas de Agua Azul are found in the Mexican state of Chiapas. They are located in the Municipality of Tumbalá, 70 kilometers from Palenque by the road that leads towards San Cristóbal de las Casas. It’s been called by many the most beautiful natural attraction in Mexico. It’d be a shame to miss it if you take public transport from San Cristobal de las Casas to Palenque, which was our original plan (more on that later) or to go during the rainy season when they lose part of their beauty because of the murky water.
Agua Azul is actually a series of shallow turquoise pools and waterfalls formed by rimstone dams. During much of the distance the water descends in two streams, with small islands in the middle. Beautiful but dangerous, the cascading rapids rush miles across jungle valleys and canyons creating a watery world of splendid beauty, one that seems just taken out of a movie, a twilight zone whose hypnotic qualities easily capture the heart of those lucky enough to witness it.
The crystalline blue waters are colored, in simple terms, by the large amount of limestone deposits on the rocky river bed, a surreal environment in the heart of the dense green rain forest country of southern Mexico. During the dry season, in April or May, the water is shimmering blue because of the high amount of soluted limestone. But during the rainy season there is more water and less color.
The path that leads all the way up is surrounded from one side by the waterfall, from the other by food and souvenir stands (unfortunately, these are a little too much represented). You can find fresh fruit, grilled corn, fried “empanadas” or real restaurants with long menus. If you get hungry, make sure to go up the hill and choose a restaurant with a view. We walked up the hill to see as many water ponds as we could. The crowds thinned out as we got higher, until we reached a viewing platform that looked out over the waterfalls and surrounding jungle.
Because the picturesque turquoise water playground is known to many who frequent the area regularly, especially on the weekends, it’s not unusual to find moderate numbers of sunbathers and river enthusiasts who come to revel and relax in this amazing watery paradise. But there are still plenty of remote areas along the cascades where you can find a beach, a bank, or a waterfall all to yourself.
Like I mentioned in the opening, my original travel plan was to get from San Cristobal to Palenque with a night bus and then take the tour from Palenque. Luckily we thought of a better and more efficient way of doing that and we got a tour from San Cristobal that stopped in Agua Azul, Misol Ha and then Palenque. Needless to say we booked it one way only.
If you decide to go to Agua Azul on your own you must know that the road is not in good conditions and has many rockslides and roadslides. Moreover it is said, that this is the street with the highest number of retarders in the entire Mexico. The entrance fee is 25 pesos plus an occasional extra fee charged by Zapatista community. The area of Agua Azul is a place of territory conflict that is difficult to resolve and because of this, after sunset, the place is also a favorite spot for armed assaults.