Fantastic Cenotes in Mexico & How to Find Them in 2019

What are the best cenotes in Mexico? Yucatan is known to have the world’s most widespread range of underwater sinkholes and caves called cenotes. Some of these cenotes are open like a lake, others completely closed with only a small opening. There are more than 6000 of them in the Yucatan, so you have plenty of options to choose from.

Each cenote is inhabited by colorful fish, some have cliffs to jump from or you can even find a zipline. Whether you’re staying in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum or near Merida you can easily find a few cenotes around. Here is my list of best cenotes in Mexico.

What Is a Cenote?

A cenote (Mayan dzonot, “well”) is the word used to describe a natural pit made with a lime rock that has groundwater underneath. They were formed by naturally-acidic rain filtering down over thousands of years and dissolving away the limestone.

Mayans believed that cenotes were an entrance to the underworld, so they were often used for sacrifices, both human and material ones. In fact, at the Sacred Cenote found within Chichén-Itzá, archeologists have found many important ceramics, jewelry and bones.

At the cenotes in Mexico, you’ll be asked to swim without any lotions or creams on your skin at all, as can poison fish, sea plants, and other delicate marine life. You will live after being exposed to the sun for a bit, but sadly other creates will not survive if you infect their natural habitat with a sunscreen. However, you can get a biodegradable sunscreen at some cenotes.

Please note: all prices are in Mexican Pesos (MXN).

Jardin del Eden

I highly recommend skipping bus tours to cenotes and getting a taxi or rental car instead. That way you’ll be able to spend more time at each cenote and won’t be arriving with a big group of people. Some cenotes are big, so it can get really crowded when a tour bus shows up.

If you want to rent a car, the best site to book your car is Discover Car Hire. They offer competitive rates as it searches all the big car rental companies and finds the best price. You can read more about what to pay attention to when renting a car in Mexico and things to know before renting a car in Mexico in my other article.

Skip to:

  1. Best Cenotes in Mexico for Diving & Snorkeling
  2. Best Cenotes in Tulum & Playa del Carmen
  3. Underground Cenotes
  4. Off-the-Beaten-Path Cenotes: Secret Swims
  5. Best Cenotes for Activities
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Cenotes

Best Cenotes in Mexico for Snorkeling & Diving:

Cenote Dos Ojos

Located just 15 minutes drive from Tulum, Cenote Dos Ojos is one of the largest and probably one of the most famous cenotes in Mexico. The cave system of the cenote is known to be at least 61 km and 118 m deep.

As the name ‘two eyes’ indicates this Mexican cenote is divided into two sections: one with blue waters perfect for snorkeling and the other dark one for diving.

  • Open: daily 9am-5pm
  • Price: 300+ for snorkeling + 130 for diving
  • How to get there? You can take a colectivo from Tulum towards Playa del Carmen and ask the driver to drop you off at the cenote.Best Cenotes near Tulum & Playa del Carmen

El Pit

Located in the jungle, The Pit is an exceptional cenote that’s part of Dos Ojos. It’s also one of the deepest in the area. The entrance is steep and narrow what makes the whole experience even more exciting. El Pit continues deep below the cloud and narrows into darkness down to over 40m so you’ll need a flashlight.

  • Open: daily 9am-5pm
  • Price: 140 Pesos (free if visited the same day as Dos Ojos)
  • How to get there? Once you take a colectivo either from Tulum or Playa del Carmen, ask them in basic Spanish to drop you off at The Pit Cenote. However, you’ll most likely go diving there so your diving school will offer you transportation.

Calavera

This cenote is named for its look that from the top looks like a skull. It makes it perfect for jumping, but it’s small unless you’re diving, so I recommend visiting early during the day. You must be able to swim since there’s no place to stand inside the cenote. You can rent any equipment you may want such as a life jacket, snorkel, fins, etc.

Passages for diving are very narrow, which makes it difficult but rewarding to dive there.

  • Open: daily 9am-5pm
  • Price: 100 Pesos
  • How to get there? Colectivo from Tulum is the best option as it’s next to Dos Ojos.

Carwash Cenote

This cenote with a mysterious name is in Tulum, on the way to Coba. I was convinced that someone named it after many amazing plants, but I was wrong. This cenote is so close to the main road that people used to wash their cars there! Fortunately, it’s not happening anymore and now you can snorkel and dive in it.

Carwash has some incredible caves, so make sure you do some diving. However, even if you snorkel you’ll see a ton of fantastic water lilies, turtles, and fish.

  • Open: daily 9am-4pm
  • Price: 50 Pesos
  • How to get there? You can get a colectivo from Tulum towards Coba – ask the driver to drop you off at Carwash cenote. If you’re driving from Tulum towards Coba it will show up on your left side, very close to the road.

cenote carwash


Cenote Ik Kil

Ik Kil is probably the most photographed cenote in the Yucatan. While many visitors think it’s one of the best cenotes in Mexico, I tend to disagree. From the top, you can see a big hole surrounded by vines which is impressive unless you arrive after 9 am and you’ll see hoards of tourists in orange life jackets instead. We ended up not even getting in as human-made stairs and crowds made the experience not fun at all.

  • Open: daily 9am-5pm
  • Price: 80 Pesos + optional 30 Pesos for lifejacket
  • How to get there? Unless you’re on a tourist bus to Chichen Itza you’ll need a car to get to Ik Kil.Ik Kil

Gran Cenote

Gran Cenote is a perfect cenote for everyone with its sandy bottom and bats living in the cave. The center garden includes palm trees, water lilies and elephant ears with a platform for sunbathing. Keep an eye out for toucans if you happen to be visiting during January or February as they tend to pop out of nowhere sometimes.

  • Open: daily 9am-5pm
  • Price: 180 Pesos + options 30 Pesos locker rental

How to get there? You can take a colectivo from Tulum towards Coba and ask the driver to drop you off at the cenote.


Best Cenotes in TulumPlaya del Carmen:

Cenote Azul

Cenote Azul is one of my favorite cenotes. It’s 26 meters deep and has crystal clear water perfect for swimming in. You can also meet some iguanas living in the bushes around. Although the place can get quite crowded everyone can find a spot to either relax or jump from a cliff.

There are plenty of fish that will swim around your legs, so be prepared to be tickled a lot. If you can hold your breath for long enough there is a small underwater cave passage that you can free dive through.

  • Open: daily excl. Saturday 9am-5pm
  • Price: 100 Pesos
  • How to get there? All three cenotes (Azul, Eden, Cristalino) are just 20 minutes away from Playa by public transportation. In order to get there, you need to jump on a colectivo – a Mexican minibus. You can take them from a stand located on Calle 2 Norte between Avenida 15 and 20 and ask the driver to drop you off at one you want to go to.

cenote azul mexico


Cenote Jardin del Eden

Considered one of the most beautiful cenote near Playa del Carmen. You can jump off the climb or even a tree and chill on a terrace right above the cenote. The water is clear and you can find huge rocks in the center where you can swim to and rest.

While you sit there little fish will come to you and eat the dead skin – just like at the “fish spas” on 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen.

  • Open: daily 9am-5pm
  • Price: 100 MXN
  • How to get there? Look up Cenote Azul.

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Cenote Eden
cenote jardin del eden

Cenote Cristalino

Cenote Cristalino is one of the groups of three cenotes next to each other, along with Azul and Jardin del Eden. This cenote has a half-cave you can swim through and see a contrast between the lighten up water and the one from the cave.

  • Open: daily 9am-6:30pm
  • Price: 100 MXN
  • How to get there? Look up Cenote Azul.

Best Underground Cenotes:

Cenote Choo-Ha

Deep inside the ground, 5 minutes drive from Coba ruins, you’ll find an incredible cenote called Choo-Ha. Stalagmites are everywhere what makes it a photographer’s dream.

Surprisingly, the water isn’t very cold and you can find some cool black fish swimming around.

  • Open: daily 9am-4pm
  • Price: 55
  • How to get there? If you came to Coba with a driver ask him to get you to cenotes – it’s just 5 minutes away. If you’re driving everyone can give you directions.

>> Read More about Renting a Car in Mexico <<

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Choo-Ha cenote


Cenote Multum-Ha

Multum Ha is another cenote near Coba and the best for snorkeling as it has the clearest water, but I didn’t see any fish so I’m not sure if I would recommend it.

  • Price: 55 MXN
  • How to get there? If you came to Coba with a driver ask him to get you to cenotes – it’s just 5 minutes away. If you’re driving everyone can give you directions.

Multum-Ha


Cenote La Noria

La Noria is a cenote on the road of cenotes close to Puerto Morelos. It’s a great cenote for diving as it’s very deep, but also you can swing inside a cave what I haven’t seen in any other cenote.

There’s also a floating platform at the center of the cenote, so you can swim to reach it and float.

  • Price: 140 MXN
  • How to get there? This cenote is located on the road of cenotes near Puerto Morelos. You might need to rent a car to get there as there are no colectivos, but if you can’t drive get a cab from Playa del Carmen.

best cenotes Mexico


Dzitnup

The story says that this cenote was discovered after a pig felt down to it while being walked by his farmer. Dzitnup, also known as Xkeken, is one of the cenotes you need to go around noon when the light stream goes through the top and gives a great visual effect.

If you go earlier or later you won’t be able to see this spectacular light and you can also find some blackfish. Unfortunately, some colorful lights were installed inside what makes it quite touristy looking, but it’s still worth your time.

  • Price: 60
  • How to get there? You can ride a bike from Valladolid, but the easiest form of transportation would be a rental car as it’s 10 km away from town.
Photocredit: ExpertVagabond.com
Photocredit: ExpertVagabond.com

Saytun

Saytun is the most popular cenote in the Valladolid area. While it used to be fantastic to visit since last year it sadly became an Instagram hellhole and now it’s absolutely packed with people waiting for almost half an hour in line for the traditional short in the middle of the platform.

  • Price: 80 MXN
  • How to get there? You can ride a bike from Valladolid or take a taxi.

saytun cenote


Off-the-Beaten Path Cenotes:

Cenote Corazon Del Paraiso

This cenote is surely one of a kind as it’s the only heart-shaped cenote in Mexico and it’s located very close to Tulum. Most people don’t know about it (neither does Instagram, yet!), so quite often you can be the only ones there. 

There are lots of fish swimming in the crystal clear water and plants’ long stems with flat leaves glistening from the sun. Around the edges of the cenote are platforms for sitting or jumping in, what makes it a perfect spot for sunbathing or picnic.

  • Open: daily 9 am-5:00 pm
  • Price: 100
  • How to get there? You can easily bike or taxi from Tulum.

Zaci

Cenote Zaci was one of the first cenotes I’ve seen, but also one of the best as it was almost completely empty. Located very close to the main plaza of Valladolid it’s easy to get to and it’s cheap. If you’re able, be sure to walk the entire way around the entire sinkhole because every angle gives you a different view.

  • Open: daily 8:30am-5:30pm
  • Price: 50 MXN
  • How to get there? If you’re already in Valladolid you can easily walk over to the cenote in 15 minutes.

cenote Zaci

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Cenote Xoch

A little town of Cenotillo has over 100 cenotes. We searched for someone to show us one of them, literally going from door to door. There’s no other way. Many locals were afraid of going to cenotes; telling us stories that some people who went never came back and their bodies were never found.

Spooky. When we finally managed to find a guide, he took us to this hidden gem where I immediately took over the raft.

  • Price: depending on who’s taking you to the cenote
  • How to get there? Drive to Cenotillo town and ask locals who can take you to some cenotes.
  • Difficulty level: Extreme!

off the path cenotes in mexico


Cenote Cristal

Cenote Cristal is a small cenote that might not have the most crystal waters you’d see but it’s a bit off the beaten path place to hang out. Also, the cutest little cat came to me, then stayed with and cuddled the whole time purring.

  • Open: daily 9am-5:30pm
  • Price: 120, but you get free access to Escondido as well.
  • How to get there? You can easily bike 3km from Tulum as that’s what I did, but if you want to get there faster get a cab as it shouldn’t be very expensive.

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Cenote Escondido

Cenote Escondido is far from being the most beautiful cenote near Tulum, but it’s really hidden and you can enter for free if you visit Cenote Cristal.

It has a cool rope to jump from and apparently an underwater cave I failed to discover when I visited.cenote escondido


Best Cenotes for Activities:

Verde Lucero

Verde Lucero is an open cenote with various small caves that you can explore and use some floaties. Like the majority of cenotes in the area of Puerto Morelos, it has a zipline and a cliff for jumping. The whole scenery look very jungle like so you’ll surely enjoy it!

  • Open: daily 9am-5pm
  • Price: 120 MXN
  • How to get there? This cenote is located on the road of cenotes near Puerto Morelos. You might need to rent a car to get there as there are no colectivos, but if you can’t drive get a cab from Playa del Carmen.

best cenotes Mexico

Verde Lucero


Tamcach-Ha

What makes this cenote special is the two platforms you can jump off. I didn’t have the courage, but everyone seemed to love jumping from an 11m platform.

  • Open: daily 9am-4pm
  • Price: 50
  • How to get there? If you came to Coba with a driver ask him to get you to cenotes – it’s just 5 minutes away. If you’re driving everyone can give you directions.

Tamcach-Ha


Want to read more about Mexico? Check out my Mexico: Travel & Live section & facts about Mexico articles! If you have any specific questions join my Mexico Travel Tips community group on Facebook


ARRANGE YOUR TRAVEL INSURANCE

Don’t forget to arrange health insurance before heading to the best cenotes in Mexico. The easiest and the most reliable travel insurance is Travel World Nomads Travel Insurance. Get it before your trip to avoid unnecessary troubles that might ruin your holidays!

Ultimate Guide to Cenotes in Mexico
Best cenotes in Mexico
Categories Mexico
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