The 17 Best Cenotes in Mexico (2024 Top Picks with Photos)

Best Cenotes in Mexico

What You Will Learn (Click to Expand)


Why Cenotes are a Must-Visit in Mexico?

Mexico, famed for its remarkable cenotes – natural sinkholes filled with fresh water, offers an ambrosial mix of natural beauty and Mayan culture.

The cenotes are salubrious of geological history, hidden behind jungles or enveloped by Mayan ruins. They provide an exhilarating experience that is as much an adventure as it is sightseeing.

Best Cenotes in Mexico Map

We’ve put together an interactive map of cenotes in Mexico to kickstart your travel itinerary. You’ll see the best cenotes, especially around the Yucatan region, including Tulum and Valladolid.

Note: You can save or share this map for future reference.

The Best Cenotes in Mexico

1. Cenote Dos Ojos, Near Tulum

One of the coolest cenotes near Tulum you could visit is Cenote Dos Ojos. This cenote is very popular for scuba diving due to its “two eyes”, which are sinkholes separated by a 1300-foot-long underwater tunnel. But it’s also fun for snorkeling, as there are plenty of caves to explore just above the water line.

Wooden stairs lead down to the clear blue water, where limestone rocks hang low over the cenote while a network of underground tunnels intrigues divers. Its sparkling, turquoise water adds to the allure.

Why it made the best list: Its combination of mesmerizing blue waters and captivating cave system snagged it a top spot on the list. Its popularity among snorkelers and divers propelled it to be an addressed attraction in Tulum.

Top 5 features:

  • Two sinkholes separated by a 1300-foot-long underwater tunnel
  • A network of caves for exploration
  • Dive and snorkeling-friendly
  • Clear blue water
  • Natural limestone formations

Five benefits:

  • Opportunity to explore underwater
  • Clearwater ensures safe and enjoyable snorkeling
  • Witness stunning natural formations
  • Photographing opportunities
  • Facilities including lockers and changing rooms

Two cons:

  • Because of its fame, it can get crowded fast
  • The entrance fee may seem a bit steep.

Best for: Cenote Dos Ojos is best suited for those who are adventurous at heart and for those who enjoy exploring caves and sinkholes.

Opening Hours: 9am – 5pm

Location: Cenote Dos Ojos (Click For Map)

Now, grab your mask and fins, and let’s dive into Mexico’s underwater beauty.

2. Gran Cenote - A Popular Choice for Tourists

Just a few miles from the bustling town of Tulum, the Gran Cenote is a popular must-visit destination flanked by locals and tourists alike. Endowed with clear emerald waters and a cave, this cenote offers a surreal swim that’s acquainted with tropical fish and tiny turtles.

Touting as one of the most famous and popular cenotes in Mexico, Gran Cenote is actually a string of cenotes connected by walking paths.

Why it made the best list: The Gran Cenote clinched the list because of its accessibility and versatility. With its jungle-foliage setting, this treasure of nature caters to swimmers, snorkelers, and divers, catering to a wider spectrum of visitors.

Top 5 features:

  • A series of interconnected cenotes
  • Clear emerald waters for delightful swimming and snorkeling
  • Numerous cave sections
  • Rich with aquatic and plant life
  • Provides snorkeling equipment included in the ticket price

Five benefits:

  • Bountiful swimming and snorkeling opportunities
  • Pleasant walks along the cenotes
  • Snorkeling gear comes with an entrance fee
  • Rich wildlife sighting opportunity
  • Accessible location

Two cons:

  • Due to its popularity, it tends to get crowded quickly
  • Its entrance fee is somewhat expensive compared to other cenotes.

Best for: The Gran Cenote is ideal for those wanting to experience a rich underwater life while being surrounded by splendid vegetation.

Opening Hours: 8 am – 4.45 pm

Location: Gran Cenote (Click For Map)

Now, let’s dive into this enthralling water-rich cavern and embark on a natural journey of exploration.

3. Ik Kil Cenote – A Mesmerizing Natural Sinkhole

The Ik Kil Cenote, also known as the “Sacred Blue Cenote,” is a mesmerizing natural sinkhole located near the stunning Chichen Itza ruins. With a water surface situated approximately 85 feet beneath the ground level, the cenote offers visitors an unforgettable swimming experience among hanging vines and shimmering waters.

With its careful stairway leading down to the cenote, Ik Kil is indeed an enchanting spectacle of nature’s ingenuity.

Why it made the best list: Its proximity to the archaeological site of Chichen Itza and its breathtaking natural appeal make it an irresistible attraction. The hanging vines and the cascading sunlight offer an ethereal ambiance that’s hard to match.

Top 5 features:

  • Situated near Chichen Itza ruins
  • Carved stairways leading to the cenote
  • Hanging vines from steep walls
  • The sunlit pool creates a magical ambiance
  • Facilities include changing rooms, restaurant, and even cottages for rent

Five benefits:

  • Uniquely refreshing swim experience
  • Aesthetically pleasing site
  • Ideal photo opportunities
  • Other facilities available include lockers, a restaurant, and accommodation
  • Opportunity to explore Chichen Itza archaeological sites

Two cons:

  • It can be overly crowded, especially during peak hours
  • The admission fee is a bit steep

Best for: The Ik Kil Cenote is perfect for travelers eager to combine nature, relaxation, and historical exploration in one go.

Opening Hours: 8 am – 5 pm

Location: Ik Kil Cenote (Click For Map)

Come, unfurl the mystic beauty of this cenote while you swim in the cool, crystal-clear waters beneath the open sky.

4. Suytun Cenote – An Underground Marvel

Known for its overpoweringly dramatic ambiance, Suytun Cenote offers a bucket-list-worthy experience. This underground marvel is primarily noted for its iconic circular platform flanked by a light beam piercing through its ceiling.

The crystal-clear water reflects beautifully, creating an enchanting mirror effect. Just a short drive from the heart of Valladolid, Suytun Cenote is favored for its mesmerizing visual spectacle, which has led to a surge in visitors and Instagrammers.

Why it made the best list: With its stunning visual feast and unique circular platform, Suytun Cenote poses an irresistible attraction. Its tranquil, celestial-like charm has wowed countless visitors, making it a top pick.

Top 5 features:

  • Unique circular platform
  • Sunbeam streaming down from the opening
  • Crystal-clear water with a fascinating mirror effect
  • Beautiful natural cave setting
  • Instagram-worthy visuals

Five benefits:

  • Ideal spot for photo ops
  • Immersive experience of cave swimming
  • A quiet escape from the bustling city
  • Easily accessible from Valladolid
  • Tranquil and calming ambiance

Two cons:

  • It can be crowded due to its soaring popularity
  • Limited amenities compared to other cenotes

Best for: With its unique characteristics, Suytun Cenote is perfect for adventurers seeking a special experience and is a paradise for keen photographers.

Opening Hours: 9 am – 6 pm

Location: Suytun Cenote (Click For Map)

Take a plunge into this natural wonder and let the serene ambiance wrap you in an unforgettable experience.

5. Cenote Samula – A Diver's Paradise

Situated in the town of Dzitnup, Cenote Samula is a hidden wonder. Popularly known among divers, the Cenote Samula, often called Cenote Dzitnup, is characterized by turquoise waters nestled in a deep cave.

The unique thing about Samula is a single hole in the ceiling of the limestone rock, which allows sunlight to grace the cave, creating an aquatic spectacle that is beyond luminary.

Why it made the best list: The ethereal natural light that nourishes the cavern, coupled with the vibrantly turquoise waters, makes Cenote Samula a diver’s heaven, marking it a spot on this list.

Top 5 features:

  • Turquoise water within a deep cave
  • A single hole in the limestone ceiling allows natural light
  • Incredible underwater visibility
  • The presence of intriguing aquatic life, such as catfish and bats
  • Close proximity to another marvelous cenote, Cenote X’keken

Five benefits:

  • Majestic underwater experience
  • Low light offers a unique diving experience
  • Close encounter with intriguing aquatic and aerial fauna
  • Photogenic cave interiors
  • The experience of two cenotes in a single visit with Cenote X’keken nearby

Two cons:

  • It can get crowded due to the popularity
  • Light might not be sufficient for some divers

Best for: With its stunning light effect and fabulous underwater visibility, Cenote Samula is a joy for divers and caters to those seeking a vibrant underwater experience in mixed light conditions.

Opening Hours: 9 am – 6 pm

Location: Cenote Samula (Click For Map)

Dive and explore the vibrant underwater universe that awaits you at Cenote Samula.

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6. Angelita Cenote - Dive into an Underground Forest

Deeply hidden within the heartland of Tulum, Angelita Cenote presents a unique and mesmerizing diving experience. At first, this cenote appears typical, but soon you witness a unique phenomenon—an underwater river caused by a cloud of hydrogen sulfate that lies 90 feet under the surface.

This natural phenomenon birthes a thick underwater forest that experienced divers can explore. But beware—this cenote isn’t for the faint-hearted.

Why it made the best list: Its unique features—a thick underwater forest and the once-in-a-lifetime diving experience are what place Angelita Cenote on this list.

Top 5 features:

  • Underwater cloud of hydrogen sulfate
  • An underground forest at 90 feet under the surface
  • Dive exploration opportunity
  • Unique underwater river
  • Diverse water clarity levels

Five benefits:

  • A unique diving experience unlike any other
  • Opportunity to witness the underwater verdures
  • Exploration of natural phenomena up-close
  • Enjoy varied water clarity levels
  • Peaceful and quiet environment

Two cons:

  • It is not suitable for beginners due to the depth
  • Generally, no snorkeling options are available

Best for: Angelita Cenote is especially for advanced divers who want to add an exclusive underwater adventure to their portfolio.

Opening Hours: 9 am – 5 pm

Location: Angelita Cenote (Click For Map)

Gear up for an exceptional diving expedition and experience the thrill of swimming through an underwater forest.

7. El Pit – The Deep Blue Wonder

Dive into the deepest blue wonder of nature at El Pit Cenote. Part of the Sac Actun network, this gigantic sinkhole attracts divers with a depth of nearly 130 feet. The fascinating game of sunlight beams penetrating the water is an absolute delight to witness.

Located deeper in the jungle, sharing its entrance with Dos Ojos, it’s one of the two best cenotes near Tulum for deep diving.

Why it made the best list: El Pit’s sheer depth and mesmerizing light show beneath the water’s surface make it a notable mention on this list. Its exceptional diving experience undoubtedly makes it a go-to cenote for divers.

Top 5 features:

  • Incredible 130 feet deep sinkhole
  • Part of the renowned Sac Actun network
  • Sunlight beams create a captivating underwater display
  • Perfect site for deep diving
  • Extraordinary underwater chambers and passages

Five benefits:

  • Unparalleled experience for divers
  • Captivating light effects underwater
  • Deep diving exploration opportunities
  • The presence of unique narrow passages
  • Peaceful and less touristy environment

Two cons:

  • Not recommended for non-divers or swimmers
  • It might not attract those looking for a snorkeling experience

Best for: The El Pit Cenote is ideal for professional divers or diving enthusiasts seeking deep diving experiences and exploring underwater passages.

Opening Hours: 10 am – 5 pm

Location: El Pit Cenote (Click For Map)

Accompany us on the deep blue journey and experience the wonder of nature that is El Pit Cenote.

8. Cenote Oxman – Swim with Hanging Vines

Cenote Oxman, tucked away near Valladolid, is an open cenote that combines thrill and leisure perfectly. Its claim to fame is its Tarzan rope swing, where one can grab onto the handles, swing to the middle of the pool, and make a spectacular plunge into the cenote’s inviting waters.

The cenote is adorned with lush vegetation growing around its walls, and its underwater world is inhabited by colorful fish. Plus, convenient facilities like sun loungers, a pool, and a restaurant add to your day trip’s charm.

Why it made the best list: Its blend of fun-filled activities, especially the exhilarating Tarzan rope swing, and the comfortable amenities make Cenote Oxman a favorite among visitors.

Top 5 features:

  • Open cenote with Tarzan rope swing
  • The lush vegetation around the cenote walls
  • Inhabited underwater world for exploration
  • Comfortable facilities such as sun loungers and a pool
  • Available restaurant

Five benefits:

  • Memorable experience with Tarzan swing plunge
  • Scenic views of vegetation around the cenote
  • Snorkeling opportunities to explore colorful fish
  • Relaxation spots like the lounge and the pool
  • Convenient option to dine at the nearby restaurant

Two cons:

  • Maybe crowded due to popularity
  • Not as cheap as other cenotes, with an entry fee of 150 pesos ($8.40)

Best for: Cenote Oxman is perfect for fun-seekers looking for recreational activities, swimming in the cenote and lounging around in a tranquil setting.

Opening times: 8 am to 5 pm

Location: Cenote Oxman (Click For Map)

So come, have some swing fun, enjoy the soothing ambiance, relax in the lounge, and satiate your palate with sumptuous food—the perfect way to spend your day at Cenote Oxman.

9. Cenote Zaci - In the Heart of Valladolid

Nestled right in the heart of the bustling town of Valladolid, Cenote Zaci offers a refreshing retreat. This semi-open cenote is easily accessible. In fact, you can practically walk from the streets of Valladolid to find yourself amidst this natural wonder.

With towering cliffs and a waterfall over the cave, seeing locals and travelers dive in off the high ledges is not an uncommon sight.

Why it made the best list: Cenote Zaci’s central location, paired with its stunning vistas featuring deep, clear waters and high cliffs, makes it a must-visit.

Top 5 features:

  • Conveniently located in the heart of Valladolid
  • Semi-open cenote with deep, clear waters
  • High cliffs for diving or jumping
  • Accessible right from the busy street
  • Rich with fish and other aquatic life

Five benefits:

  • Easy access makes it an attractive option
  • Beautiful view of a waterfall over a cave
  • Enthralling experience of jumping from high ledges
  • Wildlife sighting opportunities
  • Affordable entrance for just 30 pesos ($1.50 USD)

Two cons:

  • It might not be as impressive to seasoned cenote visitors
  • It can get a bit crowded due to its accessibility

Best for: The Cenote Zaci is a perfect fit for urban explorers who fancy a natural retreat right within the city.

Opening Hours: 8:30 am-5:30 pm

Location: Cenote Zaci (Click For Map)

So, after a cheerful lunch in Valladolid, why not stroll down to Cenote Zaci to cap off your day with a delightful cool-off?

10. Cenote X'Canche - Refreshment after Ek Balam Ruins

Tucked away right next to the Mayan ruins of Ek Balam, Cenote X’Canche is the refreshing endpoint of the archaeological trail. It’s an open-air cenote resembling a circular crater with steep sides. To reach the water, you walk down a couple of steep wooden staircases.

While the water is less clear than some other cenotes, it offers some exhilarating activities like jumping platforms, a free rope swing, plus ziplines & a rappel for an extra fee.

Why it made the best list: Cenote X’Canche’s distinct location next to the Ek Balam ruins and its addition to the historical tour schedule make it an irresistible escape. This cenote is unique, with ample activities, pathways, a circular form, and steep staircases.

Top 5 features:

  • Location adjacent to Ek Balam ruins
  • Circular crater-like open cenote
  • Rappelling and zipline activities
  • The wooden staircase leading down to the water
  • Jumping platforms and a free rope swing

Five benefits:

  • The pleasure of combining a historical and natural visit
  • Beautiful escape away from the crowd
  • Thrilling water-based activities
  • Easy to plan a visit with an archaeological tour
  • The unique circular shape and steep staircase add to the experience

Two cons:

  • Less clear water, not ideal for snorkeling
  • Extra charges for activities like ziplining and rappelling

Best for: Anyone fascinated by archaeology and nature will find the Cenote X’Canche an exciting place to explore.

Opening Hours: 8 am – 3:30 pm

Location: Cenote X’Canche (Click For Map)

After wandering through the Ek Balam ruins, plunge into the cool waters of Cenote X’Canche to end your exploration on a refreshing note.

11. Verde Lucero Cenote - Slide Into Nature's Wonders

Providing a breathtaking combination of emerald green waters nestled amidst a lush jungle, Verde Lucero Cenote, also known as Green Light Cenote, offers an adventure that’s hard to resist.

Located halfway between Cancun and Playa del Carmen, this cenote is home to zip lines and cliff-jumping platforms. You can zip across the bright green water, surrounded by tall rocks and jungle, dive from the cliffs, or swim and relax by the water.

Why it made the best list: Because of its wide variety of adventure activities like ziplining and cliff jumping, coupled with its gorgeous jungle setting, Verde Lucero easily earned a spot on the list of best cenotes in Mexico.

Top 5 features:

  • Located conveniently between Cancun and Playa del Carmen
  • Wide-open cenote nestled in lush jungle environs
  • Ziplining across the cenote
  • Cliff jumping platform at 6, 12, or 23 feet high
  • Aqua-green clear water makes swimming a refreshment

Five benefits:

  • Unforgettable outdoor adventure activities
  • Scenic and serene jungle background
  • Excellent spots for photography
  • Multiple cliff-jumping spots catering to different bravery levels
  • Protects the environment by prohibiting sunblocks

Two cons:

  • It can get busy fast due to its popularity
  • Parking might be challenging during peak times

Best for: Adrenaline junkies seeking thrilling activities and a refreshing swim, Verde Lucero Cenote is an ideal destination.

Opening hours: 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Location: Verde Lucero Cenote (Click For Map)

Dare to dive off a cliff, slide down a zipline, or enjoy splashes of fun! Verde Lucero Cenote is the perfect site for thrill-seekers.

12. Cenote Zacil-Ha – Crystal Clear Waters near Tulum

A mere 10-minute drive from Tulum town, you’ll find the crystal-clear waters of Cenote Zacil-Ha. This small open-air cenote, which resembles a natural swimming hole, is less popular than others in the area, usually resulting in smaller crowds for a more relaxing experience.

Boasting facilities like onsite bathrooms, changing areas, life jackets to rent, access to two man-made pools, and even a small restaurant, Cenote Zacil-Ha offers not only delightful swims but also a convenient, amenity-filled visit.

Why it made the best list: Its close proximity to Tulum, coupled with its convenient facilities and lesser-known status, makes for a quieter experience and places Cenote Zacil-Ha among one of the best cenotes in Mexico.

Top 5 features:

  • Easy accessibility from Tulum town
  • Crystal-clear natural swimming hole
  • Onsite facilities, including bathrooms and changing areas
  • Additional amenities of two man-made pools
  • A small restaurant for refreshment

Five Benefits:

  • Quiet, less crowded experience
  • High visibility for safe and enjoyable swimming
  • Relaxing retreat close to the city
  • Easy access points with no hiking required
  • Convenient food and drink options

Two cons:

  • Man-made features might deter those seeking a purely natural cenote
  • Could be busy in the peak holiday season

Best for: Those looking for an easily accessible, straightforward cenote experience near Tulum—be it families, large groups, solo travelers, or couples—will find Cenote Zacil-Ha a delightful choice.

Opening Hours: Daily, 10:00 AM-5:30 PM

Location: Cenote Zacil-Ha (Click for Map)

So leave the crowd behind and experience the tranquillity of crystal-blue waters at Zacil-Ha—your rewarding retreat, just a car ride away from Tulum.

13. Cenote Calavera – A Sneak Peek To Underworld

Despite its eerie name – ‘Temple of Doom,’ Cenote Calavera, located just outside Tulum, is more of an exhilarating experience than a spooky stop. Once you reach the entrance, don’t be fooled by its simplicity, a narrow entryway with a wooden ladder leading down; the real beauty of Calavera lies beneath the ground.

The cenote is known for its three holes, which create a skull-like visage from above and a ladder inviting you to descend into its depths. A swim in its azure waters unveils a labyrinth of underwater tunnels and caves that are certain to thrill diving enthusiasts.

Why it made the best list: Its unique subterranean views, the adventurous ladder entrance, and a labyrinth of underwater caves combined with its close proximity to Tulum make Calavera a noteworthy mention in our list.

Top 5 features:

  • Stairway entrance to the cenote
  • Three holes create a skull-like view
  • Proximity to Tulum
  • The mysterious labyrinth of underwater caverns
  • A high platform for the daring jumpers.

Five benefits:

  • The exhilarating experience of descending into the cenote via a ladder
  • Fascinating underworld exploration
  • Inviting dive site for professional divers
  • Closer to Tulum allows easy inclusion in the travel itinerary
  • Adrenaline-inducing plunge from the jump platform

Two cons:

  • The ladder entrance might be deemed challenging
  • The steep admission charge of 250 MXN ($12 USD)

Best for: Cenote Calavera is well-suited for adventurous souls and diving enthusiasts who relish an adrenaline rush and are eager to explore underwater caverns.

Opening Hours: 9 am to 4 pm

Location: Cenote Calavera (Click For Map)

Take a leap of faith into the enticing underworld of Cenote Calavera, and experience the thrill of exploring a submerged labyrinth of hidden wonders.

14. Casa Cenote (Cenote Manatí) – A Lagoon-style Beauty in Tulum

Known as an open-air cenote looking more like a river than a typical sinkhole, Casa Cenote, located just off the coast of Tulum, marks a unique spot in Mexico’s diverse collection of cenotes. Surrounded by jungle greens, this very long but narrow cenote offers perfect spots for snorkeling, with plenty of fish calling it home.

The calm atmosphere and the mangrove-lined edges make it an excellent choice for families and beginners in snorkeling.

Why it made the best list: Its lagoon-like appearance, the ambiance of serenity, and its reputation as a great spot for snorkeling earn Casa Cenote a place on the best list.

Top 5 features:

  • River-like open-air cenote
  • Pristine location surrounded by jungle vegetation
  • Narrow yet very long
  • Perfect site for snorkeling, kayaking and paddleboarding
  • Clear and calm water – ideal for beginners

Five benefits:

  • Unique lagoon-style experience
  • Excellent underwater visibility allows safe snorkeling
  • Chance to spot a variety of fishes and even a friendly crocodile
  • Affordable entrance fee of 150 pesos ($7.50 USD)
  • Peaceful place with less crowd

Two cons:

  • It might be too calm for thrill-seekers
  • It may get crowded during peak hours, despite its narrow layout

Best for: Casa Cenote is favored by families, beginners, or anyone after a calm, serene, and easy snorkeling experience.

Opening Hours: 8 am – 5 pm

Location: Casa Cenote (Click For Map)

Allow the calmness of Casa Cenote to replenish your spirit while you bask in the beauty of nature and savor enjoyable underwater views.

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15. Azul Cenote – Big, Beautiful, and Accessible

Cenote Azul is amongst one of the most accessible cenotes—in close vicinity to Playa Del Carmen. Flanked with tropical vegetation and furnished with crystal blue waters, it has a little something for everyone.

You can either immerse yourself in the cool water for a refreshing swim, make a thrilling jump from wooden platforms, or indulge in the surreal fish spa courtesy of the resident fish in the cenote. Adding on to the enticement, Azul Cenote is accompanied by a Bulgarian restaurant on site.

Why it made the best list: Cenote Azul ropes in a variety of activities for visitors along with its accessibility and facilities making it amongst the best.

Top 5 features:

  • Close proximity to Playa Del Carmen and Tulum
  • Crystal-clear turquoise waters, perfect for swimming
  • Wooden platforms for cliff jumping
  • Natural Mexican Fish Spa
  • On-site Bulgarian restaurant

Five benefits:

  • A wide range of activities catered
  • Allowing exploration of Mexican fish spa
  • Offering serene nature walk around the cenote
  • Convenient dining at the restaurant
  • Breadth and depth suitable for all swim-levels

Two cons:

  • It can get crowded frequently
  • There are no lifeguards

Best for: Cenote Azul—which checks off adventure, food, and relaxation—is best suited for groups, families, or individuals in search for a broad range of experiences in one go.

Opening Hours: 8:30 am – 5 pm

Location: Cenote Azul (Click For Map)

Cenote Azul promises a full-package experience that no visitor to Mexico should miss. You are guaranteed to have an absolute blast!

16. Choo Ha Cenote – Refreshment before or After the Coba Ruins visit

Among the cluster of three cenotes near the Mayan ruins of Coba, Choo-Ha boasts of its beautiful rock structures and clear, cool waters. The cenote’s name directly translates to “water that drips,” a nod to the extensive stalactites that elegantly hang from the ceiling of the underground cenote.

Notably less touristy than other cenotes, Choo Ha provides a serene scenery of living nature enhanced by the deep blue water.

Why it made the best list: The intricate rock formations, close proximity to Coba ruins, and its tranquil atmosphere make Choo Ha Cenote worth a visit.

Top 5 features:

  • Proximity to Coba Ruins
  • Cool, crystal-clear water ideal for a refreshing dip
  • Spectacular stalactite formations on the ceiling
  • Less crowded than other cenotes
  • Wooden stairway leading deep into the cavern

Five benefits:

  • Allows combining a visit to Coba Ruins
  • Enjoy the serene setting with less crowd
  • Cool down in the refreshing waters
  • Marvel at the stalactite formations
  • Great place to take memorable photos

Two cons:

  • Lacks substantial amenities or facilities
  • It might be too quiet or less developed for some visitors

Best for: If you’re looking to visit Mayan ruins and a cenote on the same day, then combining a trip to the Coba Ruins with a dip in the Choo Ha Cenote is an excellent choice.

Opening Hours: Daily, 8:00 AM-6:00 PM

Location: Cenote Choo-Ha (Click For Map)

Get ready to discover the history and natural wonders all in one exhaustive day at Choo Ha Cenote and Coba Ruins. Enjoy the cooling and calming effects after exploring the vast ruins.

17. Cenote Jardin del Eden – A Slice of Paradise

Bearing the name of the biblical Garden of Eden, Cenote Jardin del Eden lives up to its name by offering a lush paradise of verdant scenery encircling turquoise blue waters. It is closely situated to Cenote Azul, and you can visit both on the same trip.

Hidden away in the jungle, you will find an open cenote at the Garden of Eden, facilitating swimming, snorkeling, or simply relaxing in the sun.

Why it made the best list: Its tranquil setting, encouraging multiple activities, adaptability with snorkeling, and accessible location near to another cenote make Jardin del Eden a considerable choice.

Top 5 Features:

  • Serene, jungle-surrounded spot
  • Options of swimming and snorkeling
  • Proximity to Cenote Azul for a double visit
  • Stunning scenery with verdant greenery
  • Shady trees to relax

Five Benefits:

  • Relaxing atmosphere with clear water, turning snorkeling into a dream
  • Magical paradise-like ambiance as the cenotes).
  • Closeness to Cenote Azul enables visitors to savor two cenotes in one trip.
  • Blends adrenaline rush with calmness—from cliff dives to quiet swims.
  • Plentiful small fish add a vibrant underwater charm

Two Cons:

  • Depending on the time, it can get crowded
  • The admission fee of 200 pesos ($10 USD) might be a bit pricey for some

Best for: Jardin del Eden is delightful for those who seek tranquility and a mix of activities in a serene, natural setting with options of greater thickness.

Opening Hours: 9 am to 5 pm

Location: Cenote Jardin del Eden (Click For Map)

Visit Jardin del Eden and succumb to the charm of nature mixed with water-borne fun for a memorable day out.

Unlocking the Mysteries of Mexican Cenotes

What is a Cenote?

So, what exactly is a cenote? Originally derived from the Maya word “ts’onot” which refers to any location with accessible groundwater, a cenote is a natural sinkhole that forms when limestone bedrock collapses and exposes the groundwater underneath.

This phenomenon creates unique subterranean water systems, filling with rainwater over thousands of years and resulting in pools of crystal clear water that make for breathtakingly beautiful natural swimming spots.

Cenotes are most commonly found in the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico due to the area’s geological conditions. They’re often categorized based on their structures into open, semi-open, and underground or cave cenotes.

For many centuries, cenotes have held great significance in Mayan culture. Not only were these natural wells the main source of fresh water, but they also held spiritual value as the Maya believed cenotes were gateways to the underworld and were often used in sacred ceremonies.

Today, they remain a major attraction for visitors, thanks to their unique beauty and opportunity for a range of water-based activities like swimming, snorkeling, and diving. 

With each cenote featuring unique characteristics, from its size and depth to the type of flora and fauna, there’s a whole new world to discover beneath these stunning sinkholes.

The Origin and Formation of Cenotes

The process begins with the gradual erosion of limestone bedrock, typically due to acidic rain. Over time, this erosion causes the ground to cave inwards, leading to the creation of a sinkhole.

Because limestone is porous, rainwater gets filtered through the ground, filling up these sinkholes over decades, or even centuries, converting them into pools of water. When exposed due to the collapse of the limestone ceiling, this underground water forms what we know as a cenote.

Remarkably, cenotes are connected with one another through an intricate network of subterranean rivers, turning these independently seeming water pits into pieces of a grand, interconnected puzzle.

The Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, home to numerous cenotes, flaunts the perfect geological conditions for their formation. The region’s flat limestone terrain has little to no surface rivers, creating the ideal setting for the underground reservoirs of the cenotes to form.

So, each time you dive into the crystal-clear waters of a cenote, remember the natural phenomena behind its creation, as you’re indeed swimming in a time capsule sculpted by nature for centuries.

Be Travel-Smart

Best Time to Visit Cenotes in Mexico

Planning the right time to visit Mexico’s cenotes can help you maximize your experience and avoid large crowds.

Generally, the dry season between December and April is considered the best time to visit cenotes as there’s less rainfall, leading to clearer and more enticing waters. You’re also bound to enjoy sunnier days, perfect for those stunning vacation photos.

To dodge the crowds, visit early in the morning or later in the afternoon. Early birds will often find cenotes less crowded, giving them a secluded, more peaceful environment to relax and soak in the scenery. Similarly, late afternoons can be quieter, although be sure to check the cenote’s opening hours.

Remember, popular cenotes near tourist hubs like Tulum, Cancun, and Playa del Carmen can experience higher footfall. To avoid this, consider going mid-week, or better still, explore some of the lesser-known cenotes.

Regardless of when you decide to visit, a trip to the cenotes of Mexico is guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience. These natural wonders, with their azure waters and scenic surroundings, don’t cease to mesmerize, no matter the time of year.

Tips to Ensure a Great Cenote Experience

Exploring cenotes can be a wonderful experience, but being prepared can make your visit even better.

Here are some handy tips to enhance your cenote adventure:

  • Stay Hydrated: Cenotes are often located in remote rural areas. So, ensure you carry plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated.
  • Restrooms and Amenities: Use the facilities before you leave, as not all cenotes will have restrooms or changing areas.
  • Bring Snacks: Carry snacks for a small picnic. It can be a refreshing treat after swimming.
  • Carry Cash: Not all cenotes accept credit cards. Take enough cash in Mexican pesos to cover entrance fees and other expenses.
  • Respect the Environment: Cenotes are delicate ecosystems. Refrain from touching or disturbing plant or animal life.
  • Avoid Sunscreen and Insect Repellent: Sunscreens and insect repellents can harm the freshwater ecosystem. Avoid using them before going into a cenote. Protect yourself from the sun and insects after swimming.
  • Sturdy Footwear: Often, you may have to walk on uneven, sandy roads to get to cenotes, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes.
  • Bring Your Own Gear: If you plan on snorkeling or diving, consider bringing your own gear. It saves money on rentals and ensures good hygiene.
  • Be Mindful of Crowds: Cenotes can get crowded, especially on weekends and holidays. Visit on a weekday or during off-peak hours to avoid crowds.

With these tips in mind, you’re ready to enjoy a wonderful cenote experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is the best cenote in Mexico?

Choosing the best cenote in Mexico is subjective, as it greatly depends on personal preferences.

However, if one were to be selected based on sheer beauty, Cenote El Pit is often recommended. Known for its astounding depths and an incredible light show beneath the surface, El Pit is a diver’s paradise.

It’s one of the two best cenotes near Tulum for deep diving and is part of the Sac Actun network, adding to its allure.

But there are many other phenomenal cenotes for various reasons—Cenote Dos Ojos for snorkeling and diving, Cenote Suytún for Instagram-worthy photos, Cuzuma cenotes or Gran Cenote near Tulum for breathtaking jungle settings, and Cenotes Hacienda Muchuyché for impressive architecture.

Ultimately, the best cenote depends on what you seek in your cenote experience.

Is it safe to swim in Mexican Cenotes?

Yes, it is generally safe to swim in Mexican cenotes.

The cenote waters are naturally filtered through limestone and rocks, making them quite clean.

However, there are a few precautions to take into consideration for a safe and enjoyable experience:

  • Swimming skills: If you are not a confident swimmer, it’s a good idea to wear a life jacket, as some cenotes are quite deep and may not have shallow areas.
  • Check before you jump: Some cenotes have cliffs or platforms you can jump off. Always check the water below for rocks or other hazards before jumping.
  • Respect posted signs: Some cenotes have areas where swimming is not allowed, perhaps due to dangerous currents, lurking wildlife, or preservation efforts. Always respect posted signs and warnings.
  • Use showers: Most cenotes require you to shower before getting in to keep the water clean.

As long as you heed caution, respect nature, and use common sense, swimming in the cenotes of Mexico can be a safe, unique, and refreshing experience.

How deep is the water in a Cenote?

The depth of the water in a cenote varies greatly depending on the specific cenote. Some cenotes are fairly shallow, suitable for casual swimming and snorkeling, while others plunge to extreme depths, catering to experienced divers.

For instance, while many cenotes have depths of 10 to 20 feet in certain areas, some sinkholes, like Cenote El Pit, can reach nearly 130 feet deep. And the Angelita Cenote, with an underwater river, can submerge to a remarkable 200 feet.

However, even in the deeper cenotes, they typically have some shallower areas accessible to all swimmers. Also, many of them require swimmers, regardless of swimming ability, to wear life jackets as a safety protocol, given the unpredictable depths.

Always check the information about a specific cenote and follow safety measures before deciding to take a dip.

What should you bring to a Cenote?

When planning a trip to a cenote, it’s important to pack smart to ensure your visit is comfortable, convenient, and respectful of the cenote’s delicate ecosystem.

Here’s a list of essentials:

  • Swimwear: Pack a swimsuit and a change of clothes for after your swim. Remember, some cenotes may not have changing rooms.
  • Towel: It’s always handy to have a towel to dry off after your swim.
  • Drinking Water: Stay hydrated, especially on hot days or after a long swim.
  • Food/Snacks: Some cenotes might not offer food, thus having your snacks will save you from hunger.
  • Cash: Many cenotes only accept cash for entrance fees or equipment rentals.
  • Camera: Capture your adventure, but remember to respect the rules on flash photography.
  • Hat and Long Sleeves: To protect you from the sun and mosquitos.
  • Sturdy Shoes: Often required for a walk on sandy roads to get to the cenote.
  • Swimming Gear: Snorkel masks or goggles can enhance your swimming experience.
  • Life Jacket: If you’re not a strong swimmer, this could be a lifesaver.

Avoid taking valuables with you, as lockers might not be available. Also, as many cenotes prohibit the use of sunscreen and insect repellent to protect the water quality, ensure you apply these only after your swim.

Always remember, while enjoying, it’s essential to respect the cenote’s natural environment.

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Are there dangerous creatures in Cenotes?

While cenotes are home to various fishes and small aquatic creatures, they’re generally not harmful to humans.

Occasionally, you may come across turtles, eels, or freshwater fish like catfish and guppies. These creatures usually avoid human interaction and pose no harm.

There have been rare instances of crocodile sightings in certain cenotes (like Casa Cenote), but these are specific to certain cenotes and are not a widespread concern.

Regarding marine life, cenotes lack the dangerous sea creatures you might encounter in the ocean due to their freshwater composition and isolated nature.

Despite this, as with any natural body of water, it’s always a good idea to exercise caution, respect the wildlife, and heed any posted warnings or advisories about local fauna. If you have any concerns, it’s suggested to ask the cenote staff or local guides about the wildlife you may encounter.

Where is the best cenote to visit in Cancun?

The best cenotes near Cancun are along the Ruta De Cenotes (Cenote Route) just outside of Puerto Morelos, a town located between Cancun and Playa del Carmen.

Among these, Cenote La Noria stands out for its enthralling beauty. It features milky blue water, a jumping platform, and dramatic cave stalactites hanging from the roof—providing a perfect blend of scenic beauty and adventure.

If you’re willing to venture a little, Cenote Ik Kil, located near the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, offers a truly magical experience. The spectacular open-air cenote is surrounded by lush vegetation and cascading vines, making a swim here nothing short of enchanting.

Both cenotes offer brilliant opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, and relaxation, but each has its unique charm. Depending on your preferences for natural beauty and activities, either of these could be the best cenote to visit near Cancun.

Are cenotes worth visiting?

Absolutely! Cenotes are among the unique natural wonders of Mexico and are definitely worth a visit.

They offer azure, clear waters nestled within caves or surrounded by lush vegetation, making for a truly breathtaking sight.

Swimming in a cenote is not just a refreshing experience but also a chance to participate in a range of exciting activities like snorkeling, diving, and cliff jumping, depending on the cenote. For those who enjoy adventurous activities, certain cenotes offer diving opportunities to explore their extensive underwater cave systems.

Beyond their natural beauty, cenotes hold significant cultural significance dating back to the ancient Mayans, further enriching your experience.

Whether you’re a nature lover, history buff, or thrill-seeker, a visit to a cenote is bound to be a memorable part of your Mexico vacation.

However, while indulging, always remember to respect these fragile ecosystems to preserve them for future generations.

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Conclusion: Best Cenotes in Mexico

Mexico’s cenotes are a marvel of nature, each unique and splendid in its own way.

Be it the intriguing Cenote Calavera, also known as ‘Temple of Doom,’ or the open-air, lagoon-like Casa Cenote, the tranquil Choo Ha Cenote, or even the popular Cenote El Pit with its astounding beauty—there’s a cenote for every traveler’s palette.

Whether you relish an adrenaline-fueled dive into deep waters, a serene swim near the surface, or simply wish to soak in the almost mystical surroundings, the search for the ideal cenote culminates here. Better still, if your itinerary allows, consider visiting multiple cenotes, as each offers its unique perspectives and experiences.

Remember that respecting the environment and the delicate ecosystems of these natural sinkholes is crucial. Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but photos, and kill nothing but time.

Embrace the allure of the cenotes and let the magic of these sacred Mayan wells captivate you. Dive into the heart of Mexico’s underwater beauty and make unforgettable memories in the very lap of nature. Safe travels and happy swimming!

And if I missed anything, let me know in the comments below!

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