Cool Cenotes In Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula

Cenotes in Mexico
The Best Cenotes in Mexico
Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

One of my favorite things to do in Mexico is swim in the beautiful cenotes of the Yucatan. Here are tips for visiting a cenote in Mexico, and how to enjoy them responsibly.

Cenotes are super cool! The Mayan people used cenotes to supply their ancient cities (like Chichen Itza) with fresh water, as well as a sacred place to conduct sacrificial offerings to their gods.

Ancient golden artifacts and human bones have been discovered in many.

Offerings were made to the Mayan god Chaac, the god of rain, when drought threatened the area. The Maya also believed these underground wells were entrances to the afterlife.

Despite their slightly creepy history, these days cenotes in Mexico are enjoyed by foreigners and locals alike as refreshing jungle swimming holes and cave diving hot-spots. No trip to Mexico is complete without swimming in a cenote!

After spending many years living in and regularly traveling to Mexico as a digital nomad, I wanted to put together a helpful guide to my favorite cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexico Travel Restrictions 2021

Mexico is open to most travelers again, including American tourists. However you do need proof of your COVID-19 vaccination(s) or a negative test result before being allowed entry.

Many hotels, attractions, and private tours are open with new health & safety protocols in place, and you still have to follow certain guidelines.

You can find the latest updates on traveling to Mexico here.

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Snorkeling in a Cenote
Cenote Swimming in Mexico

Ultimate Guide To Mexico’s Cenotes

What Exactly Is A Cenote?

Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is famous for its amazing cenotes — natural pools of fresh water located in limestone caves. These pools are connected to each other through the world’s largest underground river system.

Rain water seeps through the porous limestone, collecting underground.

Cenotes themselves are created when the limestone surface collapses, creating a cave opening into this river system. Some cenotes are “open air” meaning the roof has completely collapsed, while “cave cenotes” may have most or all of their roof still intact.

Many cenotes in Mexico are home to a variety of fish and plant life, some even have turtles!

There are supposedly over 6000 different cenotes located in Mexico. Some have been turned into swimming holes for tourists, others are used for technical cave scuba diving, and many more are simply inaccessible – hidden in the remote Mexican jungle.

Best Cenotes To Visit In Cancun

Cancun Mexico Cenote: La Noria
Cenote La Noria

Cenote La Noria

The best cenotes near Cancun are located along the Ruta De Cenotes (Cenote Route) just outside the city of Puerto Morelos. La Noria was my favorite of these cenotes. It boasts milky blue water, some rope swings, a jumping platform, and dramatic cave stalactites hanging from the roof.

Entrance Fee: 300 MXN ($14 USD)

Opening Hours:

Location: Click For Map

Cenotes in Cancun
Cenote Verde Lucero

Verde Lucero

Cenote Verde Lucero is a fun one, with different cliff jumping spots and even a zipline! A very popular cenote that many tours stop at. They also have kayaks to rent here.

Entrance Fee: 300 MXN ($15 USD)

Opening Hours: 9am – 5pm

Location: Click For Map

Top Cenotes Near Playa Del Carmen

Playa del Carmen Cenote
Jardin del Eden Cenote

Garden Of Eden Cenote

Cenote Jardin del Eden (Garden of Eden) is a large open-air cenote just outside Playa del Carmen. It’s pretty popular with locals and expats, with lots of shady trees, multiple decks for jumping or sunbathing, and plenty of little fish swimming around. A great spot for snorkeling!

Depending on the time of year, and time of day, it can get crowded here. However because it’s big, there is usually plenty of room to spread out.

Entrance Fee: 100 MXN ($4.75 USD)

Opening Hours: 8am – 5pm

Location: Click For Map

Cenote Azul
Cenote Azul

Cenote Azul

Located right next to Garden of Eden, Cenote Azul has stunning blue water. The “blue” cenote boasts a nice small cliff you can jump from, a wooden boardwalk, and a few shaded areas to hang out.

There’s lots of small fish in this cenote too, who will nibble on your dead skin if you put your feet in the water. A natural Mexican fish spa! Make sure to walk the jungle path that circles the cenote too, it’s super cool.

Entrance Fee: 100 MXN ($4.75 USD)

Opening Hours: 8:30am – 5pm

Location: Click For Map

Cenotes for Kids
Yax-Kin Cenote

Cenote Yax Kin

Cenote Yax Kin is a wonderful cenote in Mexico for families and kids. This is due to its large shallow areas, something that most cenotes don’t have. They also have lounge chairs, and pathways that take you to even more cenotes that are part of the same complex.

There are grills and campsites available to rent too. Keep an eye out for all the HUGE iguana lizards who like to hang around this cenote! Sometimes they chase each other up trees. It’s pretty entertaining.

Entrance Fee: 150 MXN ($7 USD)

Opening Hours: 9am – 5pm

Location: Click For Map

Best Cenotes In Tulum

Casa Cenote
Casa Cenote in Tulum

Casa Cenote (Cenote Manatí)

One of my favorite cenotes in Mexico, Casa Cenote is an open-air cenote that looks more like a river than a typical cenote. Jungle plants go right up to the edge of it, and it’s an excellent spot for snorkeling. It’s narrow but VERY long, so you might want a life jacket here if you’re not a strong swimmer.

Locals call it Cenote Manati, because there used to be a population of Manatees living in it. While they are no longer there, a friendly crocodile named “Panchito” does sometimes make appearances to swim with tourists. I wouldn’t pet it, but otherwise there’s nothing to be afraid of!

Entrance Fee: 150 MXN ($7 USD)

Opening Hours: 8am – 5pm

Location: Click For Map

Dos Ojos Cenote Mexico
Dos Ojos (Two Eyes) Cenote

Dos Ojos

Dos Ojos Cenote is one of the coolest cenotes near Tulum. It’s very popular for scuba diving, due to its “two eyes” (sinkholes) separated by a 400m long underwater tunnel. But it’s also fun for snorkeling, as there are plenty of caves to explore that are just above the water line.

Because Dos Ojos is one of the most famous cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula, it can get crowded fast.

Entrance Fee: 350 MXN ($17 USD)

Opening Hours: 9am – 5pm

Location: Click For Map

Gran Cenote Tulum
Gran Cenote

Gran Cenote

Gran Cenote (aka Great Cenote) is one of the closest cenotes to the town of Tulum. In fact it’s possible to ride a bike there if you want to. It’s not super big, but has two cool chambers separated by a cave tunnel. They also have a mini turtle sanctuary!

A nice cenote for swimming and snorkeling, they also have showers and restrooms on site.

Entrance Fee: 180 MXN ($8 USD)

Opening Hours: 8am – 5pm

Location: Click For Map

Cenotes in Mexico
Cenote Taak Bi-Ha

Cenote Taak Bi-Ha

This cenote hidden in the jungle of Tulum is a special one. A full on cave cenote, it’s lit with led lights, but still kept looking natural, which I love. The water is super clear, and snorkeling here makes you feel like a cave diver. Which, by the way, you’ll see plenty scuba divers disappear into the abyss beyond.

Entrance Fee: 500 MXN ($24 USD)

Opening Hours: 9am – 5pm

Location: Click For Map

Car Wash Cenote
Cenote Car Wash

Cenote Car Wash (Aktun Ha)

The Car Wash Cenote is located right off the road from Tulum to Coba, and used to be where locals would wash their cars! Now it’s a proper swimming cenote where you’ll see tons of fish, water lilys, iguanas, and even some turtles.

Car Wash has a few wooden jumping platforms, and is another cave diving spot. There are a lot of downed trees at the bottom too, making for a unique underwater world.

Entrance Fee: 50 MXN ($3 USD)

Opening Hours: 9am – 4pm

Location: Click For Map

Cenote Calavera
The Temple of Doom

Cenote Calavera (Temple Of Doom)

Cenote Calavera gets its name from the appearance of a skull, with three openings into the ground. It’s a very deep cenote, that cave divers love. Perfect for jumping from the sides (there’s even a narrow opening you can drop into). It’s sometimes called The Temple Of Doom by professional scuba divers.

Entrance Fee: 100 MXN ($5 USD)

Opening Hours: 8am – 5pm

Location: Click For Map

Fun Cenotes Near Valladolid

Cenote Ik Kil Chitchen Itza
Ik-Kil Cenote

Ik-Kil Cenote

Cenote Ik-Kil is a super popular cenote near the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, and is often included as a stop on guided bus tours. As such, it’s often packed with people. Massive vines stretch down to the water, making it look very dramatic.

Entrance Fee: 350 MXN ($17 USD)

Location: Click For Map

Cenote Zaci Ha
Cenote Zaci in Valladolid

Cenote Zaci-Ha

Cenote Zaci is located right in the heart of the Mexican town of Valladolid, and an easy bike ride from anywhere in town. It’s not quite as popular as others, but has a few different cliff jumps, some big black fish swimming around, and sometimes a little waterfall.

Entrance Fee: 30 MXN ($1.50 USD)

Location: Click For Map

Cenote Suytun
Suytun Cenote

Cenote Suytun

One of the most photogenic cenotes in the Yucatan, Suytun has become an Instagram sensation. Sunlight streams down from a hole in the ceiling, making for a very dramatic scene. Due to its popularity, it can get quite busy as everyone waits in line for a photo on the circular walkway.

If you’re patient, and don’t mind waiting around for a few hours, you might get a lull in the constant tour groups and have the place to yourself for a bit.

Entrance Fee: 130 MXN ($6 USD)

Location: Click For Map

Cenote X'Canche in Mexico
Cenote X’Canche

Cenote X’Canche

Turtle Swimming
Turtle in a Cenote

Useful Tips For Visiting A Mexican Cenote

  • To avoid polluting the water in cenotes, most places require you to shower before entering. Please don’t use sunscreen either, as it can be harmful to wildlife.
  • Many cenotes in Mexico provide life jackets for people who are not strong swimmers. Most cenotes don’t have a shallow area — they can be super deep.
  • Some cenotes include rope swings, jumping platforms, zip lines, and will rent you snorkeling gear.
  • Cave divers frequent some cenotes, so make sure to give them plenty of room, and be careful where you jump!
  • Some cenotes can get very crowded, depending on the season and time of day. If you arrive at a cenote and see a bunch of tour buses, it might be worth looking for another if you want to avoid crowds.
  • The water in most cenotes is pretty cold, as they are fed from underground sources.
Travel Planning Resources For Mexico
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READ MORE MEXICO TRAVEL TIPS

I hope you enjoyed my guide on cenotes in Mexico! Hopefully you found it useful. Here are a few more wanderlust-inducing articles that I recommend you read next:


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This is a post from The Expert Vagabond adventure blog.

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