There is an insane amount of cenotes throughout the Mexican Caribbean area, many of which are easily accessible and open to visitors. Some are free or fairly cheap and some are part of a more extensive park which can cost substantially more. From a relaxing swim to extreme dives, cenotes offer a rich history and otherworldly beauty. With a surplus of cenotes throughout the Mexican Caribbean, visitors can enjoy this unparalleled experience again and again.
Cenotes are a sinkhole you can access and swim in, pronounced seh-NO-tay. Cenotes have a deep history of health and wellness in the Mayan community. Mayans thought the waters were believed to purify and protect the soul, thus cenotes have served as the site for traditional rituals.
The Mexican Caribbean area is large, so I’ve broken these down into the various areas where you can find them. Some of these are two hours from Cancun, but I used Cancun as the main point because that is where the main airport is. This whole area is stunning, so it would be a shame if you only went to Cancun. Hopefully, this list will inspire you to go out and explore.
Cenotes in Cancun
Cenote Fantasma also known as Cenote Ghost is a large closed in cenote with stalactites, cool clear water, and bats fluttering around. There is a place to change clothes and buy snacks such as water and chips. The cost of entry is 50 pesos and you can rent a life jacket for 20 pesos. This is a great stop on the way to Chichen Itza or Ek Balam Mayan ruins or on your way back.
Cenotes in Tulum
A truly unique cenote, owing to its stunning halocline (a cloud of hydrogen sulfide that divides the freshwater from the saltwater). This cenote is 180 feet deep.
To get here take highway 307 south from Tulum towards Chetumal about 15 km on the left side, look for a big rock on the right side about 8 miles (13 km) from Tulum you are getting close.
Cenote Calavera also known as Temple of Doom named for its resemblance to a skull is 50 feet deep. To enter the water you walk down a path about 200 feet long and then jump in from a height of eight feet! To get out, there is a sturdy wooden ladder.
It’s easy to get to this cenote from Tulum. Drive out of town on the road to Coba for about five minutes. You can easily ride a bicycle here if you are only planning to snorkel. You will see a sign with a skull on it (the word calavera means “skull” in Spanish) showing you where to access the cenote. There is a gravel parking lot close to the road. After this, it’s a short trek through the jungle. If you’re diving here, the dive tables are near the parking lot, so most people load up with their dive gear and do the walk fully equipped.
Cenote Gran Tulum
Gran Cenote is a popular limestone cenote & cavern with snorkeling areas, equipment rentals & boardwalks. They also have changing stalls. It’s only three miles (five kilometers) from central Tulum. They allow visitors from 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Entrance to the cenote costs 180 pesos (or about $9.50). A great place to stop after visiting the Tulum ruins.
Located between Puerto Aventuras and Tulum, it used to be the home for manatees. It’s 6 meters deep (19.6 feet) making it is an incredible place to snorkel and swim where you can find reef formations and a big cave that connects to the sea.
Cenote Jaguar is off of the Dos Ojos road. It is an open water cenote with three different jumping platforms as well as a zipline. You have to pay to zipline across the cenote. Life jackets are provided free of charge. Snorkel and mask (MX$70) and locker (MX$50) rentals are available.
Open daily from 8 am -5 pm. Admission is MX$250 per person, ages 7 and up. All visitors must stop at the Parque Dos Ojos Visitor Center and pay admission.
Cenotes in Puerto Morelos
The Zapote cenote is part of an ecological park located along the cenotes route in Puerto Morelos with three cenotes. Cenote Zapote has a jump platform with a height of 8, 10, and 14 meters high. Cenote Palmas is also located here. It has an aquatic zip line. Cenote Abuelo Cheche is a closed cave-like cenote where you can appreciate the stalagmites and stalactites formed for more than 1,300 years and enjoy snorkeling.
You should visit this website in advance to make a reservation ahead of time.
Cenote Kin Ha
There are two cenotes here plus a slew of other activities like ATVs and horseback riding. Cenote Kin-Ha is the main cenote. It’s a gorgeous cave with an opening where light enters to reflect fun shapes throughout. To swim here it costs $23 USD.
The cenotes at Selvatica can only be visited by those partaking in the all-inclusive adventure they offer. They’ve got a zipline here that will blow your mind.
Cenotes in Riviera Maya
Parque Tankah is home to Cenote Piraña a cavern-like cenote. They also have a lake, zip-lining, and canoeing.
An eco-park with five incredible cenotes and an impressive underground river. It costs $26.10 USD to visit all five. The price also includes the use of life jackets, hammocks, sun loungers, bathrooms, showers, dressing rooms, and lockers.
Two bodies of water joined by underground caverns, making this cenote ideal for guided snorkeling. It is a perfect place to do snuba and snorkel to cross below the water to another adjacent cenote known as the cave of the bats. During the expedition to study this cenote more than 67 kilometers of underground routes were found.
Located close to Puerto Aventuras, this cenote is like a giant pool where you can jump off from a cliff of 4.5 meters to swim in the crystal waters. You can also do zip lines, snorkel, and discover the biodiversity of tropical fishes living there.
Cenotes in Valladolid, Yucatán
Cenote Samula is a natural pool in a cavern sinkhole with dramatic hanging tree roots & stalactites. It costs 80 pesos to enter.
Cenote Suytun is the cenote you typically see epic photos of on social media. It’s located just a couple meters off the main road 180 going East towards Coba and Tulum. It costs 120 pesos to visit.
Cenote Dzitnup is a limestone cave with a single opening in the ceiling. It’s free.
By <a href=”//commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Laslovarga” title=”User:Laslovarga”>Laslovarga</a> – <span class=”int-own-work” lang=”en”>Own work</span>, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
Cenotes near Chichen Itza
Cenote Ik Kil
Cenote Ik Kil is located in the northern center of the Yucatán Peninsula and is part of the Ik Kil Archeological Park near Chichen Itza. It is open to the public for swimming from 8 am – 5 pm for 80 pesos per person.
By <a rel=”nofollow” class=”external text” href=”https://www.flickr.com/people/58157206@N02″>Comisión Mexicana de Filmaciones</a> from México D. F., México – <a rel=”nofollow” class=”external text” href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/comefilm/24213963112/”>Cenote Ik Kil, Yucatán</a>, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link
Cenotes in Playa del Carmen
Cenote el Eden
Also known as Cenote Ponderosa To get here drive south on the 307 highway from Playa Del Carmen. You will pass Puerto Aventuras and then about 5 minutes past there you will see the main entrance to Barceló Hotel on the left. There is a large Cenote Jardin Del Eden sign and you follow the dirt road back to the cenote. If you take a cab they will drop you off at the entrance. From the entrance, you will walk 1/8 mile down a dirt road to the gate where a Mexican family lives. They charge 2 dollars per person to access. From there you will walk another 1/2 mile to the cenote. They have a few snorkels sets for $3 per person. There were people scuba diving here.
Cenotes in Coba
Choo-Ha, Tamcach-Ha, and Multun-Ha are a series of small cenotes close to the Mayan site of Cobá in central Yucatán Peninsula. All of them are accessible to the public for swimming. Choo-Ha has a small entrance of only about 3 by 4 meters and it is filled with stalactites and stalagmites.
Pac Chen is a cool activity where you visit a cenote, kayak, zipline and more. You have to rappel down into the cenote which makes it pretty unique.
Cenotes in Bacalar
Cenote Azule is the largest cenote in Bacalar and the only cenote near the Lagoon of Seven Colors. Its depth reaches almost 300 feet. This is pretty south and I do not recommend going out of your way just to visit it.
Cenotes in Holbox
According to legend, divers in this cenote emerge feeling ten years younger. This is another one that is not easy to get to.
Cenotes in Cozumel
Cavernas de Jade
Also known as Cenote Chempita this is a delightful spot with unbelievable stalactite formations. This lovely oasis has orchids and palm trees.
The Mayans believed that cenotes held powerful suhuy ha’, or virgin water, an origin of life. In addition, for centuries these aquifers served as the main source of cold, naturally filtered water to nearby communities. Various minerals that filtered through the water over millions of years have created a backdrop of impressive stalagmites and stalactites.
Should You Get Travel Insurance?
Don’t forget travel insurance! I’m a fan of Travelex insurance, because of the variety of options. Protect yourself from possible injury & theft abroad. I have gotten extremely sick twice now out of the country and Noah has had seizures in other countries, so I always recommend getting some sort of coverage. Read more about why you should always carry travel insurance here.
If you are looking for a car rental I recommend getting the car at the Cancun Airport. It will make things easier. This entire area is easy to drive around in. Get a Cancun car rental for $11 a day!