Top 10 Best Cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula
The Yucatan Peninsula is well known for being the home of dozens of cenotes. Due to their geographical location and geological formation, cenotes are natural sinkholes resulting from the collapse of limestone rocks, filled with either sea or fresh water. They can be found all across the region for the greatest pleasure of tourists and locals. Whether they are open or underground cenotes, the Best Maya Tours team selected for you the Top 10 Best Cenotes to visit during your stay in the Quintana Roo and the Yucatan States !
Cenotes near Tulum
Apart from the gorgeous beaches, an archeological site, and crazy parties and festivals, Tulum and its surroundings are particularly popular for hosting various cenotes, either open, partially open or underground ones.
This cenote might be the best-known one around Tulum. Even if its name let you think it is only one
big cenote, it is in reality several cenotes, some of them going running under a cave, connected along the jungle. The Gran Cenote is very popular for snorkeling in its crystal blue waters where you can see the underwater life without even needing a snorkel equipment.
After swimming in the cenote, you can rest inside the complex. Although you will not find restaurants, food stalls are available and picnics are allowed.
Location : 3 miles/ 10 minutes car ride from Tulum
Admission fee : 500 pesos / 25 USD (includes lifejackets and snorkel equipment)
CENOTE CASA TORTUGA
If you decide to visit the Casa Tortuga cenotes, you will undoubtedly be marveled by the complex. It hosts a total of four cenotes, two of them being opened and the two others being underground cenotes. Casa Tortuga is the occasion to discover and enjoy those two types of cenotes in one day and be impressed by their natural beauty. You will be able to relax in the clear waters and see fishes and flora inhabiting the cenote, jump from a diving board in either the Cenote Tres Zapotes or the cenote Jaguar. You will also get to discover the underground Campana and Wisho cenotes by swimming under the cave, experimenting, and feeling the mysteries of these hidden waters.
Casa Tortuga is a great complex to spend the day at as, on top of enjoying your time in the cenotes, you will also get the chance to discover typical food in one of the site’s restaurants, buy some handcrafts and souvenirs or simply relax in hammocks.
Location : 7.5 miles / 15 minutes car ride from Tulum
Admission fee : 400 pesos / 20 USD (includes lifejackets)
The Calavera cenote is very particular in Yucatan. Being a half-opened cenote, it bears his name well as “calavera” means “skull”. Indeed, the main cenote is a hole leading to think of a mouth while the two other ones are littler, looking like eyes. It is a good place to scuba diving as the waters are clear and on top of that, it is a very less popular cenote than the Gran Cenote, meaning that if you are lucky enough, you can almost have the whole cenote for yourself (especially in the mornings and weekdays).
As it is less popular, there are very few installations for visitors. You can still find a resting area with chairs and bathrooms, but if you want to have lunch, we recommend you to drive a few kilometers and eat in one of the many restaurants of Tulum or its surroundings.
Location : 1.8 mile / 7 minutes car ride from Tulum
Admission fee : 100 pesos / 5 USD / No lockers available
CENOTE CRISTAL AND CENOTE ESCONDIDO
These two cenotes are right next to each other so you will be able to enjoy them both. Although still very popular, they are less crowded than the Gran Cenote.
The Cenote Cristal is an opened cenote, meaning that you will feel like swimming in a pool of fresh and blue water in the forest. Its waters are so clear that you will not even need snorkel equipment.
The Cenote Escondido, as its name says, is hidden in the forest. Almost the same as the Cenote Cristal, the cenote Escondido is perfect for snorkeling or diving beginners and both are considered family-friendly as the installations are made to allow better access to anybody, including children.
Wooden tables, bathrooms, changing rooms and lifejackets rental are available on site.
Location : 2.6 miles / 7 minutes car ride from Tulum
Admission fee : 150 pesos / 7.5 USD
The Yax-Muul park is composed of two underground cenotes. Although not the most popular, it doesn’t take any of its natural beauty out.
The first cenote, Yax-Muul, is an underground cenote featuring many stalactites and where plays of lights are performed to make you live an unforgettable experience while the Sac Tuunich cenote, however, is surrounded by marvelous wildlife where you can also witness a real Mayan ritual.
Location : 10 miles / 17 minutes car ride from Tulum
Admission fee : 400 pesos / 20 USD
Restrooms available, lifejackets rental.
Cenotes near Playa del Carmen
Located between Cancun and Tulum, Playa del Carmen is more famous for its slow-paced lifestyle and attracts all types of travelers. Besides this laid-back aspect, Playa del Carmen also hosts several cenotes in its surroundings.
CENOTE CHAAK TUN
The Chaak Tun cenotes are both cave cenotes, meaning that the water you will be swimming in is deeper down than the hole a
tthe top, giving you the most impressive view of stalactites and stalagmites decorating the inside of the cenotes. The only light source comes from the hole of the cenote, enhancing its mysterious aspect.
Like the previously mentioned cenotes, Chaak Tun’s waters are so crystal clear that you might won’t even need a snorkel equipment.
Wetsuits, lifejackets, lockers, and restrooms are available.
Location : 4.6 miles / 15 minutes car ride from Playa del Carmen
Admission fee : 700 pesos / 35 USD (snorkel equipment and lifejackets included)
CENOTE AZUL, CENOTE CRISTALINO AND CENOTE JARDIN DEL EDEN
Although a bit farther from Playa del Carmen than the Chaak Tun cenote, these three cenotes are very popular for welcoming many families and are hence family friendly. The three of them are fully open cenotes with different access levels, meaning that you can jump from a cliff and land in the cenote as well as go slowly inside these clear waters from the dock and enjoy watching hundreds of fishes living here.
You can find various depths in these huge natural pools, so if you are not an Olympic swimmer no worries. You can also rent lifejackets and snorkel equipment.
These three cenotes are independent of one another, so you have to pay the admission fee to every cenote you decide to discover.
Cenotes near Chichen Itza and Valladolid
Finally, we are going to share with you our three favorite cenotes around Chichen Itza and Valladolid.
This is undoubtedly one of the most impressive cenotes you can find in the Yucatan Peninsula. You will have to climb down 26meters to reach the water and discover this massive sinkhole of 40 meters deep and 60 meters in diameter. The cenote is impressive by its depth, its size and by its past. Located only a few miles from the Chichen Itza pyramid, the Mayans considered Ik-Kil as a sacred place and access to the Underworld. Hence, many sacrifices and offerings were performed in the cenote.
Unlike many cenotes in the region, Ik-Kil has much more facilities for visitors such as restaurants and a hotel a few minutes walk from the site.
Location : 2 miles / 5 minutes car ride from Chichen Itza – 25 miles / 42 minutes ride from Valladolid
Admission fee : 80 pesos / 4 USD (Snorkel equipment and lifejackets not included)
This cenote might be one of the most aesthetic you will come across. This deep cave cenote only has a small pit of light dozens of meters upward, making it even more mysterious and magical. Thanks to the platform in the middle of the water, this place can be an ideal spot for your best Instagram pictures. However, as this is a very popular cenote, loads of people visit it every day, so our best advice is to get there as soon as it opens. As the cenote is quick to visit, you can also go to the city Valladolid only 5 miles away, and discover this ancient colonial place.
Concerning the facilities, you will find restrooms, gift shops, and even two places to get lunch or a snack.
Location : 5.2 miles / 15 minutes car ride from Valladolid
Admission fee : 120 pesos / 6 USD
Finally, our last cenote we would recommend you is the Cenote Oxman. Located close to Valladolid, it doesn’t have to envy the other cenotes of the region. Also a cave cenote, light, and tree roots fall into its crystal blue waters. Just like the other ones, you will be able to swim, relax in the cenote, and even just in the middle of the water thanks to a rope swing hanging over the cenote.
Location : 3.8 miles / 10 minutes car ride from Valladolid
Admission fee : 80 pesos / 4 USD
As you must have understood, there are plenty of cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula. Thanks to their different shapes and formations, anyone can find which cenote suits them best and enjoy them to the fullest. Located all across the region, you will definitely be able to find one close to your accommodation. And if not, Best Maya Tours is here for you! Embark with us for an unforgettable journey through the historical past of the Mayans by visiting Chichen Itza and discovering a cenote close to the pyramid (we let you discover which one…), or get your private tour to the Tulum ruins and a cenote around the city with a professional guide, transportation and lunch included!