The 20 most beautiful cenotes in Yucatan
The word cenote comes from the Mayan “dzonot” which means sacred well. Indeed, cenotes were considered sacred by the Maya since they were the gateway to Xibalba, an underground world where several deities were found.
This is why they were used as ceremonial places where offerings and sacrifices were made.
Today you can bathe in these magnificent natural water wells, which are sometimes external, like natural swimming pools, sometimes hidden in underground caves.
But if there are 10,000, how do you choose the best cenote for a trip to the Yucatan?
To help you make your choice, here is my list of the best cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula, classified by state (Quintana Roo, Yucatan and Campeche ).
I have done my best to establish a fairly varied list, with cenotes suitable for families, others not very touristy and quite rustic, perfect for those who go on an adventure.
So, which cenote to see in Yucatan? Let’s go!
State of Yucatan
1. San Lorenzo Oxman
Cenote Oxman owes its name to the Hacienda San Lorenzo Oxman where it is located, just 10 minutes from the pretty colonial city of Valladolid.
It is an open cenote, surrounded by rock walls with long hanging roots. The view from the top is impressive!
It is accessed by a staircase of 73 steps and once at the bottom, you can jump into the water from the stone edge or a wooden platform…or even better: with the zip line!
In the afternoon, there are a few groups of tourists arriving after visiting Chichen Itza so I recommend going there in the morning.
It must be said that it is the ideal place to rest because, in addition to the cenote, there is also a nice swimming pool with deck chairs, tables with umbrellas, a restaurant and a bar.
How to Visit Cenote Oxman:
- Entrance 150 pesos (cenote + pool access), or 350 pesos with lunch at the restaurant
- Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- How to get there: from Valladolid, take Calle 54. You can also go by bike (10-15 min) from the center or take a taxi (70-80 pesos).
2. Cenotes Dzitnup
The Xkeken and Samula cenotes also deserve to be in this list of the best cenotes in the Yucatan!
They are located in the community of Dzitnup, close to Valladolid, and this is why they are often simply called Dzitnup cenotes.
X’keken means “pig” in Mayan and the guide told us that it takes its name from the curious story of its discovery.
Farmers had a little pig who often went for a walk and always came back full of mud, even in dry times when there was no rain.
Intrigued, one day they decided to follow him and he rushed into a cave. That’s how they realized there was a cenote.
So I don’t know if the story is true, but it always makes me laugh. After all, there are a lot of sites that were discovered completely by chance!
Cenote Xkeken is in a cave with large stalactites and an opening in the ceiling that allows natural light to bring out the turquoise color of the water.
The Samula cenote which is located right next to it is larger and a little less known.
How to visit Dzitnup cenotes:
- Entrance 235 pesos (includes 2 cenotes + life jacket)
- How to get to Dzitnup : 12 minutes from Valladolid, take the 180 towards Ebtun then turn left onto Dzitnup; or by public transport, take a colectivo in front of Casona el Negro Aguilar (Calle 44) – 60 pesos
3. Cenote Ik Kil (Chichen Itza)
Cenote is often called Ik Kil, Chichen Itzá Cenote or Sacred Cenote.
This is certainly a good promotional argument, but it is completely false because there are already two cenotes on the Chichen Itzá site (including one which is actually called the Sacred Cenote). Except you can’t swim there!
What is true, however, is that the Ik Kil cenote is located very close to Chichen Itzá (5km) and is therefore the ideal place to cool off after visiting the famous Mayan site under the sun.
It is one of the most beautiful cenotes on the Yucatan Peninsula, but also the most touristy, which is both an advantage and a disadvantage.
There are therefore more people than elsewhere, but it is also very well maintained and with all the facilities that make it accessible to the whole family (restaurant, shop, locker, large parking lot).
Comment visitor Ik Kil:
- Entrance 180 pesos (includes locker and life jacket), or child 100 pesos, with buffet 400 pesos. Free parking.
- Here you go after Chichen Itzá : taxi (180 pesos aller-retour) or by bus 20 pesos
- Getting there from Valladolid : take the 180 (45 min) or by public transport, ADO bus (33 pesos) or colectivo (40 pesos) from Calle 39
- Getting there with an organized excursion: it’s ideal so you don’t have to worry about transport!
I recommend this day trip with pickup from your hotel, the Chichen Itza tour, the Ik Kil cenote, the buffet lunch and the self-guided tour of Valladolid.
4. Cenote Hubiku
Cenote Hubiku is located between the Mayan site of Ek Balam and Valladolid.
It is located in a cave which is accessed by taking a staircase of 115 steps to reach its fresh and crystal clear water.
The prettiest time is around noon when the sun is high enough in the sky for the rays to enter through the opening in the ceiling to illuminate the water, bringing out its colors.
Before leaving you can also take a look at the Don Tadeo Tequila Museum located there. It allows you to understand the tequila manufacturing process and you can do several tastings. I really liked the chocolate liqueur!
- Entrance: 150 pesos for the cenote; or 300 pesos for the cenote and buffet, half price for children (6 to 10 years old), life jacket 40 pesos
- Cenote open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., buffet from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
You can also take this very complete excursion with hotel pickup, visit to Chichen Itza, Valladolid and the Hubiku cenote! To book here.
5. Zazil Tunich
It is a 2.5 hour guided tour covering approximately 400m in a cave which is 20m underground.
You can discover some 80 stalactites and stalagmites which surround the cenote, including the largest stalactite in the Yucatan!
There is also a package that includes the traditional meal in a Mayan house in addition to the tour, but only available on Monday and Tuesday.
It is truly an activity accessible to the whole family because the path is well lit and landscaped, and the water level of the cenote only reaches 2m at most.
In addition, it is close to the cenotes Xcanahaltun , Sac Aua, Palomitas and Agua Dulce, enough to organize a busy day!
- Entrance: cenote 350 pesos (guided tour obligatory), or 600 pesos for the cenote with traditional meal
- Getting there from Valladolid: take Carretera 180, then Carretera Yalcobá-Xtut (37min). By public transport, take a colectivo near the main square towards Yalcoba
Among the best cenotes in the Yucatan , it is difficult to miss the Suytun cenote, very close to Valladolid.
It’s undoubtedly the cenote we see the most on Instagram!
It must be said that it is a magnificent cenote hidden in a cave with a well of light which gives it a magical air. You can stand on a stone pontoon to take THE dream photo.
But what we don’t see on social networks is that there are almost always tourists there because it is often on the program of group excursions.
So to be able to enjoy it peacefully I really recommend going there around 9am – 10am.
The water varies between 1h30 and 5m deep, so it is ideal for the whole family .
Access to the cenote is 1 hour maximum, including time for photos.
The entrance ticket also gives access to a second cenote, the Ka’pe cenote, where almost no one goes because you cannot swim there. But it’s worth going there to see it!
How to Visit Cenote Suytun:
- Entrance 200 pesos (or 150 by booking online ), life jacket included (compulsory wearing) in the price. Option with buffet 350 pesos.
- Lockers 50 pesos
- Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Cloakroom, toilets and souvenir shop on site
- Possible to rent a cabin on site which gives free access to the cenotes
7. Cenote X-Canché
Cenote X-Canché is located very close to the Mayan site of Ek Balam, a must-see in Mexico.
You can easily get there on foot or by bike as it is less than 2km from the site.
This is a nice open cenote that is 15m below ground level, but be careful as the stairs are quite steep!
Once at the bottom, there are several platforms to jump into the water, as well as a tarzan rope and two zip lines.
There is also a camping area (130 pesos per person) and cabins (600 pesos) to spend the night surrounded by nature.
And a big positive point for X-Canché: the cenote, its restaurant and its cabins for rent are all managed by the local community!
- Open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Entrance: 170 pesos, bicycle to get there included
- How to get there from Valladolid : there are colectivos (70 pesos) at the corner of Calle 44 and 37. By car take the 295 towards Tizimin, then turn right 6km after Temozon (33 min).
8. Popcorn and Freshwater Cenotes
These two magnificent, untouristed cenotes in the Yucatan are located 200m from each other, at Rancho Agua Dulce between the villages of Yalcobá and Hunukú.
Both cenotes are located in a cave. The Palomitas cenote is the best known but both are magnificent and I don’t know why so little is said about the Agua Dulce cenote.
However, it has several points to its advantage: you can abseil or rent a kayak to stroll on its crystal clear water. Plus it’s a big cenote and it feels very small!
On site you can rent a bike to ride from one cenote to another and there is a small restaurant with local cuisine.
The place in general is really nice for those who want a getaway from the crowds.
- Entrance : 180 pesos per cenote, locker 30$ pesos, abseiling 80$ pesos, renting a kayak for 30 min 50$ pesos
- Getting there from Valladolid : take a colectivo ($40mxn) towards Yalcoba, then from Yalcoba you can take a bici-taxi ($30mxn, 3km) to get to the entrance.
9. Choo-Ha in Coba
It is undeniable that Coba is not only one of the must-see destinations in Yucatan, but also one of the must-see sites in Mexico.
It was a powerful Mayan city hidden in the jungle, and there is the 2nd highest pyramid in the entire Yucatan Peninsula.
But even though Coba has become quite touristy in recent years, few people know that there are also three cenotes in Coba managed by the local community: Choo Ha and Tankach Ha 200m apart, as well as Multum Ha a little further.
And so much the better! It allows those who know it to benefit from it with few people. 😉
These are underground cenotes, located in beautiful caves with stalactites and crystal clear water, but they are all different and all three are worth a visit if you have some time.
If you are visiting the Yucatan with family, and you prefer to choose just one cenote, I suggest Choo Ha instead because it offers shallow water areas and access to the water is also very easy. Perfect for children!
- Entrance $100 pesos to each cenote, you can buy the ticket at the entrance to the Coba site parking lot
- Getting there by car : go to the village of Coba then take the direction of San Juan de Dios, it is signposted.
- Get there by public transport : colectivo to Coba village from Tulum and Valladolid, or an ADO bus from Tulum and Playa del Carmen, then taxi or rent a bike (6km) to Choo Ha cenote.
Cenote Zaci is located in the city of Valladolid, just 10 minutes from the main square.
It is therefore very easy to include it in a visit to Valladolid, even if you are on foot.
It is a large open cenote, a few meters below ground level, with beautiful vegetation on the walls and a small artificial waterfall which gives it a lot of charm.
You can jump into the water from different platforms for those looking for a little adrenaline, but there are also stairs to go down to the water and you can sit around the cenote.
Big plus if you’re traveling to Mexico on a budget : entry only costs 60 pesos. And if you spend 100 pesos at the restaurant, the cenote is free.
It’s really a good deal! Above all, it is very well maintained, clean, with changing rooms and showers.
The only disadvantage of this cenote is that you cannot do snorkeling because the water is quite opaque.
- Entrance 60 pesos (life jacket included)
11. Noh Mozon
Very little is said about the Noh Mozon cenote and its neighbors the Nayah and Suem cenotes .
It must be said that they are located in Pixyah, just over an hour from Mérida, far from the tourist routes.
In addition, access is not easy since you have to take a narrow country lane for 20-30 minutes which is not in very good condition.
When I was there, we were even blocked by a herd of cows.
In short, you have to be patient, but it’s part of the adventure and it’s also thanks to these obstacles that it’s not touristy!
It is one of the most beautiful cenotes in the Yucatan, and also one of the most natural and rustic that I have visited.
The water is truly magnificent, clean, ideal for snorkeling or diving and you can jump from heights of 5m, 13m and 18m.
I do not recommend it if you are traveling to the Yucatan with children because there are no safety measures, no life jackets, the stairs that give access to the cenote move a little when using them and it does not there is no service on site.
But otherwise, go for it!
- Entrance 100 pesos
- I recommend taking the opportunity to also visit the Mayapan site!
State of Quintana Roo
12. Blue Cenote
Cenote Azul is an outdoor cenote that is very popular with families with children, just 20 minutes from Playa del Carmen.
It is quite large, with different depths and a 5 meter edge from which you can jump into the water. It allows all types of swimmers, whether beginners or advanced, to really enjoy it!
How to visit Cenote Azul:
- Admission: Adult 150 pesos, children 4 to 7 years old 100 pesos, life jacket 40 pesos, snorkeling equipment 70 pesos
- Getting there by public transport : from Playa del Carmen 45 pesos by colectivo corner Calle 2 and Avenida 20 norte; from Tulum 40 pesos
- Getting there by car : it is located on highway 307, 20 minutes from Playa del Carmen and 30 minutes from Tulum
13. Crystalline Cenote
Cenote Cristalino is one of the most famous cenotes in the Riviera Maya. Thanks to its beauty of course, but also thanks to its accessibility!
It must be said that cenotes are generally relatively far from the roads and it can be complicated to get there without a car.
Good news for all those traveling in Mexico by public transport, the entrance to Cenote Cristalino is on the road 20 minutes from Playa del Carmen, not far from Cenote Azul and Cenote El Eden.
It’s a semi-open cenote, with one part outside and the other under the rock, perfect when you want to take a break in the shade.
It lives up to its name very well with its crystal clear water which reveals its large stones at the bottom, turtles and fish. There is also a portion surrounded by mangroves which gives it an intimate side that I really liked and that other cenotes sometimes lack.
This is a family cenote close to Playa del Carmen perfect for spending a few hours.
You can then go to Xpu-Ha beach which is magnificent or swim with turtles in Akumal. It’s very close!
- Entrance 200 pesos for adults, 150 pesos for children under 11 years old, life jackets included, snorkeling equipment $50 pesos, lockers $50 pesos.
- I will leave after Playa del Carmen : I will take a bus towards Tulum (40 pesos)
14. Chaak Tun
Chaak Tun is the only cenote in Playa del Carmen.
I would like to point out: this is the only cenote in the town of Playa del Carmen because there are many in the surrounding area!
This is a 1h45 guided tour in a small group through two underground cenotes located in magnificent caves filled with stalactites and transparent water: Cenote Pixan and Cenote Xibalba.
Before entering you are provided with a mask and snorkel, aquashoes, a flashlight and a life jacket.
You will be offered a neoprene wetsuit (included, but optional) and I really recommend you accept because the water is always COLD in a cave.
My friend wanted to be brave by refusing and he really regretted it!
The caves are really impressive, the visit is very well supervised by the guide and not particularly physically demanding so you can go with children and seniors.
And as a bonus, we get a little tequila tasting before leaving.
Comment visiter Chaak Tun:
- Entrance : 800 pesos. Included the entire team and the guide (tip welcome).
- Getting there by public transport : take the colectivo corner Calle 25 y 2 and ask it to stop at the corner Juarez and Lilis (10 min, 6 pesos), then you have to walk less than 10 min
- By car : the cenote is located here on Avenida Juárez in Playa del Carmen
- There is also a special package that includes Chaak Tun and transportation from your hotel. To book on their website
15. Rio Secreto
Rio Secreto is one of my favorite places in Yucatan and it deserves its place among the best cenotes to do in Yucatan 100 times over .
Why so much enthusiasm?
Because this is the opportunity to discover, thanks to a 1.5 hour guided tour, one of the most beautiful natural sites in Mexico on foot and by swimming.
It is in reality a large underground network of 40km and we only cover 600m, but it is more than enough to discover its magnificent caves filled with stalactites and stalagmites as well as its river.
We are provided with a helmet with headlamp, neoprene clothing, water shoes, and a life jacket. It’s a great adventure to experience in complete safety and the guides are truly exceptional!
It is forbidden to bring your phone or camera for security reasons, but they therefore take the opportunity to sell their own photos.
Like all sites with a photographer, it’s a budget to plan for if you’re interested: $25 USD per photo or all photos for $100 USD.
You can book entry to Rio Secreto here which also includes lunch at the end of the activity.
16. Cenote Dos Ojos
Cenote Dos Ojos is the best known in the Riviera Maya.
It must be said that it is part of the Sac Actun, the largest network of underwater caves in the world which extends over 347km!
It is formed by two cenotes connected by an underwater passage. It is a great place for diving with its two routes: Barbie (easier, 515 m), and Baticueva (more advanced, 312m).
But Cenote Dos Ojos is also very suitable for those who simply want to swim or snorkel with the family.
- Entrance : 350 pesos or 600 pesos for access to Baticueva. Fins 50 pesos, lockers 50 pesos, snorkeling equipment 70 pesos.
- Getting there by car : on Highway 307, 20 minutes from Tulum, 40 minutes from Playa del Carmen, 1h42 from Cancun
- By public transport : take one of the many colectivos that travel from Tulum to Playa del Carmen. It will leave you 2.5km from the entrance, you can walk or rent a bike available on site.
Kantun-chi Ecological Park is only 15 minutes from Akumal and 30 minutes from Playa del Carmen.
It is located in a superb tropical forest where you can enjoy 5 different cenotes : Kantun Chi, Saskaleen-Ha, Uch Ben-Ha, Zacil-Ha and Zihil-Ha.
But it was by far the underground river that impressed me the most!
We find ourselves facing a small opening on the ground and we take a ladder to descend to the floor of the cave. At the beginning, the only light we have is the guide’s flashlight, which creates quite an atmosphere!
Then a few steps further, we arrive at an incredible spectacle with transparent water emerging and a multitude of subtly illuminated rock formations.
- Reservations are required (click here to reserve!) – entry includes guided tour with access to 5 cenotes, food and equipment
- L’excursion dure environ 4 h
- Wear comfortable clothes and shoes
18. Blue Cenote (Bacalar)
Cenote Azul de Bacalar, not to be confused with Cenote Azul de Playa del Carmen, is truly unique on this list of the best cenotes in Yucatan!
It is a cenote 90 m deep and 200 m in diameter, surrounded by forest, right next to the famous Bacalar Lagoon.
It is ideal for swimming, diving or snorkeling. Not too comfortable swimming? No problem, you can rent a life jacket and there is even a rope that crosses the cenote so you can explore everything at your own pace.
There is a seafood restaurant with a terrace facing the lagoon. I can’t say it offers the best value for money in Bacalar, but it definitely has a prime location!
It is very important not to touch the stromatolites of the cenote because they are fragile organisms.
How to visit Cenote Azul de Bacalar:
- Getting to Cenote Azul : it is located at the entrance to Bacalar, taxi 50 pesos from the center
- Entrance to the cenote 35 pesos
- Also Read: My Ultimate Guide to Bacalar!
19. Cenote Calavera
Cenote Calavera, the “skull”, owes its name to its two entrances in the stone floor…like two orbits!
Unlike other cenotes designed and modified by the hand of man to make them accessible to all, here we only have a ladder to descend into the water.
Personally I really like its rustic side, but here, even more than for the other cenotes, the Aquashoes will be very useful because the entire edge is made of stone.
It is also a very good spot for taking photos because there is a rope that serves as a swing.
In fact, we are starting to see this cenote more and more on Instagram, but there are much fewer tourists than in Suytun, the other photogenic cenote!
It’s not necessarily a cenote where you stay for hours, but it is unique in its kind and its proximity to Tulum is a good advantage when you have a fairly tight Yucatan itinerary!
Visit the Calavera cenote
- Entrance $250 pesos, life jacket $50 pesos
- Just 2km from Tulum, on Highway 109 towards Coba. You can therefore get there by car, by bike or even on foot from the center of Tulum. A taxi should cost around $100 pesos
State of Campeche
20. Ich Ha Lol Haan
We talk a lot about the cenotes of the State of Yucatan and the State of Quintana Roo but we always forget the State of Campeche because it is a much less touristy region.
The most beautiful cenote in Campeche is definitely Ich Haa Lol Xa’an. It is an ecotourism reserve which actually contains two cenotes.
The first is quite small, but has incredibly crystal clear water where you can see lots of small fish.
We then cross its large garden where we can walk freely. There is also a river with a suspension bridge where you cannot swim, but you can rent a kayak for only $50 pesos per person.
Then we finally arrive at the second cenote which is a little larger, with emerald-colored water.
It’s really the ideal place for families with children because the water level is low, or simply for anyone who likes places without tourists to enjoy nature.
I was there during the week and I didn’t see anyone in almost two hours!
How to Visit Ich Ha Lol Xaan:
- Entrance 100 pesos
- Bring mosquito repellent! This will be very useful here.
- By car: it is located here on highway 180 between Mérida and Campeche, near Hampolol, just 30 minutes from Campeche.
- By public transport : you have to go to Hampolol which is the closest village. From Campeche you have to take a bus (45 pesos, 35 min).
My advice for enjoying cenotes
- Avoid bringing valuable objects: in the majority of cenotes there are no lockers and you must therefore leave your personal belongings at the edge of the cenote.
- Buy snorkeling equipment : many cenotes do not rent masks and snorkels, or they cost $5! Better to bring your own, they are easily found at Walmart or on Amazon.
- Bring your towel (too many people forget it!) and especially Aquashoes which are very practical so you don’t slip or hurt yourself on the rocks.
- Be a responsible traveler : do not touch roots and stalactites, always take a shower before entering the water, and do not use sunscreen or mosquito repellent.
- I insist: do not use sunscreen even if it is organic because it weakens the cenote ecosystem!
- Always carry cash as cards are not accepted.
- The best time to enjoy the cenotes is in the morning to avoid groups and during the week because the weekend is the Mexican family outing.
- The water in cenotes is always cool (exterior cenote) or downright cold (underground cenote), it is never like the sea! So having neoprene clothing is a good idea 😉
Where to land to visit the Yucatan?
You have to take a flight to Cancun (eg: Iberia, Aeromexico, Interjet, KLM, American Airlines, Air Transat, Air Canada, etc.) because it is the only international airport in Yucatan.
How to get around the Yucatan?
By public transport : it is quite easy to travel to the Yucatan by ADO bus or colectivo (shared van) when you want to get to the main tourist sites.
It is often more complicated when we visit certain natural sites since we are left on the road and we sometimes have to walk several kilometers to the entrance.
By rental car: many travelers decide to rent a car to visit Yucatan. The advantages are numerous: freedom, speed, flexibility of routes and schedules…
The tourist map of the cenotes of the Yucatan Peninsula
Here are the most beautiful cenotes in the Yucatan on a map to help you find them better!
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