Ultimate List Of The Best Cenotes in Mexico

When you think of Mexico you instantly think of the gorgeous white sandy beaches and turquoise waters. But what if we told you there is even some cooler to swim and snorkel in Mexico? Put visiting a few of the best cenotes in Mexico on your bucket list. After laying on the beach in Playa del Carmen or Xpu Ha beach for a few days you’ll be ready for an adventure. There are over 6,000 cenotes in Mexico in which most cenotes are located in the Yucatan. In this cenote guide, we’re going to go through some of the best cenotes in Tulum, Playa del Carmen, Merida, etc. We’ve included the entrance fee (varies) and address (click to open it in Google maps).

What is a Cenote?

The Yucatan Peninsula is home to more than 6,000 cenotes or sinkholes, thought to be formed by the meteor that killed the dinosaurs. These ancient cenotes have been a special place for many millennia, they were a source of fresh water and thought to be a sacred place for the Mayan People. The Mayans thought these cenotes were the doors to the underworld and would often make animal and even human sacrifices here. Today, thankfully the sacrifices have stopped but now the cenotes are a super unique geological and historical place to explore.

A cenote is an underwater sinkhole that is revealed after the cave roof of limestone bedrock collapses. Some cenotes are completely open while others are partially collapsed leaving some of the cenotes underground like Calvera Cenote and some even require several steps walking underground to access. These sinkholes is very similar to small ponds. The water in cenotes is super clear and clean, it comes from rainwater that is filtered in through the ground. Each cenote is different so we suggest visiting more than one.

**Please make note that only biodegradable sunscreen should be worn in sunscreens. Do not apply any lotions or regular sunscreen if you’re going to visit a cenote. These lotions can poisonous to the fish and plant life. Many of the cenotes in Mexico will have signs reminding you. It’s best to bring biodegradable sunscreen with you, you can get it here on Amazon.


woman cliff jumping at Calavera Cenote - Tulum Mexico

How Many Cenotes Are there in Mexico?

There are over 6,000 cenotes in Mexico. The best cenotes in Mexico are located in the Yucatan.


Two divers with flash lights descend in El Pit Cenote with light beams

Diving In Cenotes

The best way to experience the cenotes is to dive in. Each cenote is very different and most aren’t just a single sinkhole, but connect to a vast underwater cave system full of chambers and swim-throughs. If you go with a licensed instructor you only need basic a diving certification to dive in the cenotes.


Top 5 Must Visit Cenotes in Mexico

1. Cenote Calavera

2. Suytun Cenote

3. Azul Cenote

4. Gran Cenote

5. Ik Kil  Cenote


Best Cenotes in Mexico

Best Cenotes in Tulum

Dos Ojos Cenote

Dos Ojos is a must visit cenote in Tulum. The entrance fee is rather steep but there are actually several cenotes in the Dos Ojos complex, some require an additional payment. If you’re a diver this is a must dive cenote.

Diver swim around the stalgtites formed at the top of the cenote

El Pit Cenote

El Pit is one of the best cenotes to dive in the Dos Ojos complex. There is no snorkeling in El Pit. This cenote is famous for its dancing light beams coming into the cave’s small opening

view of the ladder in cenote Calavera near Tulum

Calavera Cenote

If you ask us this is the best cenote in Tulum. After many trips to the Yucatan and visiting tons of other cenotes in Mexico we love Calavera. This cenote is located just outside of Tulum, you could easily ride a bike there from Tulum Town. It’s not on most tourists radar YET, none of the cenote tours stop here so you are likely to have it to yourself if you come early or in the late afternoon. We love the two hole you can jump in to access the cenote! Snorkeling in cenote Calavera is good but there is also some amazing diving. Calavera Cenote is also known as the “Temple of Doom” as there several animal skeletons down there that can be seen if you are diving.

Carwash Cenote

Gran Cenote


Woman swimming in Cenote El Jardin near Xpu ha

Best Cenotes in Playa del Carmen

Cenote Azul (pictured above)

Cenote Jardin del Eden

Cenote Chaak Tun

Cenote Cristalino


Playa del Carmen travel guide - Things to do in Playa del Carmen - Il Kil Cenote

Cenotes near Chichen Itza

Ik Kil Cenote

There are several tour companies that sell a combined tour of Chichen Itza and visit Il Kil cenote at the end of the day.

Suytun Cenote

Suytun is the best cenote near Valladolid, a quick ten minutes from town.  If you’re looking for the best cenote near Chichen Itza definitely head to Saytun, it’s 45 minutes away. Most tourists go to Il Kil cenote and don’t even realize how close Saytun is. If you are renting a car in Mexico and driving yourself we would suggest visiting both cenotes

Cenote X’keken

Cenote Samula

Cenote Hubiku

Cenote Zaci

Cenote Zaci is located right in Valladolid. We always suggest having lunch in Vallodid after visiting Chichen Itza and you could easily walk over and check out Zaci while in town. This isn’t the most impressive cenote but super easy to get to.


Best Cenotes in Merida

Cenote Xlacah

Los 7 Cenotes

Los 7 Cenotes isn’t just one cenote, this is a whole day adventure and experience located 80 minutes outside of Merida. Click here for more about Los 7 Cenotes and reviews.

Cenote Yax Bacaltun

X’batun

Cenote Sambulá


Cenotes on Cozumel

If you’re vacationing in Cozumel or on a cruise that stops in Cozumel for the day you’ll have to take the ferry from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen. Once in Playa del Carmen you book a cenote tour or rent a car in Playa del Carmen, they are super cheaper if booked in advance here we use to live in Playa del Carmen and never paid more than $5 a day. There are several cenotes near Playa del Carmen and ever more cenotes in Tulum only 45 minutes away. You could make a whole day trip from Playa del Carmen visiting some of the best cenotes in Mexico.


Best Cenotes near Cancun

Most of the cenotes in the Yucatan are between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. There aren’t any cenotes in Cancun that we would recommend. The best thing to do is rent a car in Cancun for the day or your entire trip and spend a day visiting the best cenotes in Mexico.


Things To Bring To a Cenote

Depending on the cenote you don’t want to bring too much stuff as you’ll want to spend most of the time in the water. The most famous cenotes in Mexico like Il Kil will have lockers you can rent to store your belonging. If you come on a cenote tour or you rented a car in the Yucatan leave unnecessary items in the car.

1. Biodegradable sunscreen

The number one thing to bring to a cenote is biodegradable sunscreen. Regular sunscreen is not allowed in cenotes, you’ll see signs posted all over the cenotes. Regular lotions are not healthy for the plants and fish in the cenotes or in the ocean. For sure wear biodegradable sunscreen in the cenotes (since it’s a small space) and if you can afford it also the ocean.

2. Water Shoes

It’s always a good idea to have a cheap pair of water shoes for cenotes. Not all cenotes will you use them but you’ll be happy to have them when you do. Usually, the surface around the cenotes is rocky, uneven, and slippery. Some cenotes you jump in, while others you can walk in. Buy on Amazon Now for $5

3. Waterproof Dry Bag

A waterproof dry bag is great to have in general for any trip whether it be the beach, cenote, hike in the mountains, etc. You never know when you’re going to get caught in a rainstorm and need a place for your expensive camera, wallet, phone, etc. A dry bag is great to just throw all that stuff in and then jump in the cenote. Buy on Amazon now for as cheap as $9. We have a backpack dry bag so it’s easy to hike with and it holds a lot of stuff.

4. GoPro

The best camera waterproof camera is a GoPro and it should definitely be in your bag for visiting cenotes. We also suggest a GoPro dome for fun over-under shots, make sure to read our article on GoPro dome tips to getting those epic shots.

5. Quick Dry Towel

Bring a quick dry towel so that by the time you get to the next cenote stop of the day it’ll be dry. If you’re like us you’ll want to see several of the best cenotes in Mexico. This cheap quick dry towel is also a sand-free towel!


Best Cenote Tours

If you aren’t renting a car in Mexico and able to drive yourself to several of the best cenotes in the Yucatan the next best thing is a cenote tour. There are several cenote tours in the Yucatan that visit a handful of cenotes in one day. If you’ve never been to some of the famous ruins you should consider a cenote tour that combines Coba Ruins, Tulum Ruis, or Chichen Itza.

1. Chichen Itza & Il Kil Cenote & Lunch in Vallodid for $79

This is a great price to visit one of the most Mayan ruins in Mexico and one of the coolest cenotes in the Yucatan and topped off lunch in a quintessential Mexican town. We always stop for lunch in Vallodid and walk around the central park.

2. Coba Ruins & Cenote Visit for $89

If you’ve been to Chichen Itza before or are looking for a less visited Mayan ruin head to Coba. You can actually still climb this ruin which makes it unique.

3. Tulum Ruins, Cenote, Caves, and Snorkeling only $109

This is a jam-packed tour that hits some of the best highlights in the Yucatan. Start your day visiting Tulum Ruins, trust us you want to get their first as it gets busy and hotter later in the day. Then head straight to the water for the rest of the day’s activities including snorkeling on the reef, visiting a cenote in Tulum


How to get to cenotes in the Yucatan

The easiest way and the way we always visit centoes is with our own rental car. This gives us the freedom to visit as many cenotes as possible and spend as long as we want there. If driving in Mexico isn’t your thing you can hire a private driver for the day for reasonable prices, it’s best to negotiate in person for the best prices. Another option is to join a group tour that is visiting cenotes, many of the organized tours visit a cenote or two with a famous Mayan ruin like this $79 Chichen Itza, Il Kil cenote, and Vallodid lunch tour.

 

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