If I have to describe what Cenotes are like, I would say they are magical natural pools filled with pristine fresh water from rainfall and underground rivers. Sometimes, these sinkholes are surrounded by green plants and vegetation, the contrasting of the colours is astonishing! What makes Cenotes in Mexico magical and particularly mystical is that for the Mayans, these places were considered an entrance to the underworld, known as Xibalbá.
Cenotes were places for rituals and ceremonies to the gods and ancestors. So, you will feel these mystical vibes as soon as you get there.
In the Mexican Riviera Maya only, there are over 6000 Cenotes, and still counting. Sometimes people come across them when trekking on the jungle, without any previous knowledge of them. Open up your eyes, you might even find one in your backyard!
Cenotes vary in size and shape. You can find them open, semi-open and underground caves. In this article I will tell you about 7 Cenotes you cannot miss if you are visiting the area, I will tell you all you need to know to be ready for a unique experience. What activities you can do there, where to stay to be close to these natural wonders and how to get there.
If you are planning to visit Mexico, you have probably heard about Playa del Carmen and Tulum on the Yucatán Peninsula, which are two main places to stay at when you visit the Mexican Caribbean. Playa and Tulum are one hour away from each other, and on the road between those two places, I recommend you visit these two Cenotes, which are easy to access.
This is an open sky Cenote, with crystal clear blue water and surrounded by green native vegetation. There are sunny areas and shadows to avoid the burning sun. This Cenote is wide and its depth can vary, what I love the most is that you can jump into the water from the docks or from a 4.5 meters cliff. There are also some lounge areas where you can sit and relax.
Snorkeling is a must, I would say. Diving is also allowed on this Cenote, and I believe it must be really interesting for scuba diving to discover the underwater secrets of this or other Cenotes. The entrance fee for this Cenotes is 200 Mexican pesos.
Cenote Azul is right next to Jardin del Edén. A 20 minutes’ drive from Playa del Carmen on the main highway Tulum-Cancún (on the direction to Tulum). Once you get there, you have to walk to reach the water but the entrance is an easy walk. It might get harder if you have mobility difficulties, but with help, you can get there too.
This Cenote is also really beautiful and worth the visit, there’s a cliff to jump in from, you can see many fish and they will tickle your feet, this feels like a natural spa. Blue and fresh water make the perfect mix for summer days in the Riviera Maya. It’s a must, buddy!
Cenotes are found in many places, so in Tulum, you can discover many of them too. What is great about these Cenotes is that you can reach them by bike! So now, the Cenote hunting becomes a double adventure. Have fun all the way!
This Cenote near Tulum is around 3.5 kilometers away from the center of Tulum, pretty close to go by bike. You have to take the road that goes to the Mayan Ruins of Cobá. As its name suggests, Gran Cenote is huge. It has a cave, actually a pretty dark cave, you can swim through and get to the other side of the Cenote.
On your way, you can see amazing formations coming from the stones and water, they have been growing there for years, very slowly, those are called stalagmites and stalactites. You are not allowed to touch them, because that can stop their regular process of formation.
Gran Cenote is also a good spot to practice freediving. In my own experience, cave Cenotes are something completely wonderful and unique.
If you have not yet added Cenotes on your bucket list, you definitely need to add Dos Ojos on it. This Cenote has two caverns you can visit, and there is a cave where you can dive that links the two caverns. The water is blue and very clear, you can see fish, mostly small ones, though. You can see amazing rock formations, stalactites, and stalagmites.
Dos Ojos seems like the perfect place for divers, you can book your diving on-site or either get an outside agency. You can immerse yourself into underground worlds, dark and deep. Oh, remember to bring a lantern. It will be the kind of experience you’ll never forget.
Besides diving, you can have fun and relax, snorkeling and swimming in this Cenote. The water is deep enough to have space for everybody, the only cons is there is not a lot of room outside the water, and sometimes this Cenote can be crowded.
This Cenote is a little further away than the others, 22 kilometers north of Tulum, on the Carretera Federal 307, kilometer 244.5 and its cost is higher, around 300 Mexican pesos, because it offers more facilities, like restrooms, changing rooms and lockers.
I am saving these three gems for the end! Here I present you with three big Cenotes. Though these are in Yucatan, the experience is completely worth it, as well as the journey. These Cenotes are closer to Valladolid, which is a Pueblo Mágico, worth a visit there too, to discover its slow paced and Mexican vibes.
One of the most famous Cenotes in Yucatan is Cenote Ik-Kil. It is 3 kilometers away from the archaeological zone of Chichén Itzá, which is a World Heritage Site. Many tours from different parts of the country go to Chichén Itzá and include a visit to Cenote Ik-Kil. This Cenote is so amazing because it looks like a hidden paradise in the middle of the earth.
It’s a big, deep hole, with hanging trees and plants from the top. The good thing is that to get to the water, which is about 26 meters going down, you have rocky stairs. Just watch your step, because it can be slippery, it is recommended to wear water shoes.
Once you get to the water, there is a platform from where you can jump in the fresh and clear water. If you are visiting Chichen Itza on your own, it is a good idea to include this Cenote to relax and refresh after a few hours of walking on the ruins.
To get to the Cenote from Cancun, Tulum or Playa del Carmen it takes around 2 hours by car. Tour buses usually take longer. Around the Cenote, there are some small cottages where you can stay at. It is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the entrance costs about 80 Mexican pesos, but it is included in most tours. There is also a buffet restaurant on-site, with fish, meat, pasta, and vegetarian options, yay!
Instagramers, this is the place for you. As well as Cenote Ik-Kil, Cenote Suytun is a perfect spot to make a photo shoot. It is, actually a very popular Cenote on social media because it has a walkway that leads to the center of the Cenote.
Bear in mind that Suytun is also on the way of many tour buses, so it can be crowded at times. So, if you want to get that fantastic picture, it is better to get there very early in the morning or about the last hours in the afternoon.
This Cenote is a cavern an only has few holes on top that allow the sun rays to enter, creating a fantastic scene. Cavern Cenotes are something unique, with rock formations, old stalactites, and stalagmites. Pretty cool!
What makes Cenote Zací special in the first place is that it is a huge semi-open Cenote. This means you can see the wonders of a cavern Cenote and also have a view of the sky and perfect lighting. Jumping into the water is part of the Cenote adventure. Here you have your chance, there is a platform around 8 meters high! Of course, if you are not the adventurous kind, you can walk down to the water, and just chill.
Believe it or not, this Cenote is located in the central area of Valladolid. This Pueblo Mágico is quite small, so reaching this Cenote is very easy. Its exact location is Calle 36 between Calles 37 and 39, you can get there walking by bike, by car or by taxi. The entrance fee is very low.
As I told you before, top Cenotes can be found anywhere in Mexico. Cenote Zaci is an example of beauty found in the middle of the town.
Well, this is all I have to tell you about the magic of Cenotes. For me, they have been one of my favorite parts of Mexico, though you will be surprised by the culture and the natural treasures all over Mexico. Hope I have inspired you with some ideas for your bucket list when visiting this wonderful country!Last updated on Apr 3, 2020
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