The most beautiful cenotes in Mexico
A cenote is essentially part of an underground river system that lies deep within Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Translated from the Mayan language cenote, “zonot” literally means a hole with water. To the ancient Maya, cenotes were sources of fresh water as well as places of worship; burials, sacrificial objects and human remains have been found in many cenotes.
Now the cenotes have been turned into recreational areas for tourists and locals. Water in the cenotes is crystal clear and clean, and mineral salts contained in large quantities in the water make the skin after bathing soft and silky. Cenotes are usually equipped with ladders to descend into the water, platforms, and restrooms. Many popular cenotes also offer storage lockers, tables, and gazebos for relaxing.
Cenotes come in three types – open, enclosed, and semi-enclosed. Open resembles lakes, semi-enclosed are partly lakes, partly closed grottoes, closed represent the caves filled with water. Separately, you can select a type of open cenotes as wells, they are found in the state of Yucatan, which is above sea level, so the water in the cenotes are at a great depth – 20-30 meters from the ground.
The most famous open cenote is Ik Quil, which is located 5 minutes from Chichen Itza. It is one of the most beautiful, but also the most popular. To enjoy it you need to get there as early as possible before the tourist groups that usually stop there on their way from Chichen Itza.
If you are looking for more seclusion you could visit Zaci Cenote in the center of Valladolid. It is very crowded and almost as beautiful as Ik-kilu.
You can visit one of these cenotes during your excursion to Chichen Itza
In the area of archeological zone Ek Balam you will find the Shkanche cenote. It can be reached by traveling 3 km along a country road. You can walk there but it is better to rent a bicycle or a cyclorickshaw, which are standing by waiting for tourists. There are usually almost no visitors in this cenote, which allows you to enjoy it in silence and solitude. The cenote is equipped with a bungee cord and jumping platforms. Fans of extreme experiences can make the descent along the wall of the cenote with a climbing rope and even jump from the very edge of it from a height of about 20 meters. Near the cenote there are toilets, showers and changing rooms, as well as a small restaurant where the inhabitants of the neighboring village can cook you a meal of local cuisine.
Zazil Ha. This small but very beautiful cenote is located near the road that runs between Tulum and Coba. We visit it during our regular guided tour of Tulum-Koba. The cenote is equipped with toilets, changing rooms, tables, and gazebos. If you want you can ride a small bungee cord or jump from a 3-meter platform into the water. Also, masks and vests are available for rent.
Cristalino, Azul, and Hardin del Eden. These three cenotes are located near the road opposite the Hotel Barceló Maya. They are quite popular among the locals, so it is worth refraining from visiting them on Sunday. These cenotes are located in the jungle among lush vegetation, and their waters are also full of life – you can see lotuses, lilies, fish, freshwater turtles, and sometimes even pelicans!
One of the most beautiful, but also the most expensive is the Gran Cenote, located near the city of Tulum. The cenote is two lakes with islands in the middle, connected to each other by an underground gallery. In the closed part of the sonote you can see stalactites and bats. They also offer masks, vests, and storage lockers in the aredna.
Dos Palmas is a small but very beautiful cenote located in the Mayan community of the same name. Bathing in it can be combined with a visit to the Mayan community and the locals use it as a final part of the ceremony temascal, which can be accessed by appointment, either in a group tour or individually.
Sac Aktun is a very beautiful subterranean river. You can get there only with the tour. All visitors are given vests, masks and a local guide who will tell about the cave, its formations and ecosystem. Almost the entire tour takes place in the water. Located 6 km from the main road between Playa del Carmen and Tulum.
Santa Cruz is another underground river, which is entered with a local guide. The tour here is less expensive than the Sac Aktun. Most of the tour takes the form of a walk through a half-submerged cave with swimming in the final part. The cenote is located near the village of Akumal.
One of the cenotes can be visited during the tour, as well as on a separate trip.
10 the most interesting cenotes on the Mayan Riviera in Mexico
The Riviera Maya is the center of tourism on the Caribbean coast of Mexico. It has great beaches and resorts for a variety of travelers. Archaeological areas, nature reserves, theme parks and endless entertainment – all conditions are created here to make the tourist satisfied and want to return to Mexico more than once.
But in the Mayan Riviera is something that you will not find anywhere else in the world. They are cenotes, amazing natural cavities and caves in karst rocks, hidden from the outside world, filled with living crystal clear water, decorated with stalactites and full of mysterious legends of the ancient Mayan people. The water in the cenotes is always cool and it is the perfect place to relax after a hot sunny day. In the cenotes can just swim, jump into the water from the shore or from the tower, you can snorkel, watching the fish under water, or you can dive and explore the mysterious underwater kingdom, which is famous for many cenotes. Some cenotes are entire complexes of underground rivers and caves that stretch for many kilometers and have not been fully explored. The Mekikan Seasons are the pristine nature as it was thousands of years ago.
Here are just a few of the cenotes that you must visit if you come to vacation in the Riviera Maya.
Chac Mool Cenote
This cenote is more for divers than for those who like to swim in cool water. Chuck Mule is located on the cenote route (Cenote Ruta), next to the Puerto Aventuras hotel area. Its name means “claw of the jaguar” in Mayan. It is famous for its two main chambers. One is large and open, ideal for beginner divers. Abundant light penetrates underwater from the holes at the top. The other is for those who want to explore the underwater world, as the depths are filled with stalagmites in two rows. The beam of light coming through the hole in the dome makes the underwater landscape almost perfect. Along the open surface of the main entrance, tree trunks and branches go underwater.
Aktun Chen Cenote
The park where the cenote is located is in the heart of a tropical rainforest. The cenote is full of beautiful natural formations and is not too deep. The cenote has a stunning pattern of stalactites and beautiful stone arches, as well as a mystical lake of ancient Maya, which opens up into the heart of a pristine rainforest. You can swim and snorkel in the cenote, exploring the underwater tunnels and caves that are home to some incredible creatures.
The park surrounding the cenote is a completely tourist spot. In addition to the cenote, forest tours, ziplining with magnificent views, and a journey through an underground cave nearly 700 meters long are worthy of attention. The depths of the ancient karst cave are dotted with amazing stalactites. Everything is reminiscent of the Mayans, who prayed to their gods here. It is one of the oldest underground karst complexes in Mexico. The cave ends with a cenote of fabulous beauty.
Sacred cenote (Cenote Sagrado)
This cenote is an archaeological site known as the “Well of Sacrifices”. It is located in the archaeological area of Chichen Itza. The Maya once made offerings and even human sacrifices here, worshipping the rain god Chaac. Scepters, various weapons and jewelry have been found in its depths. Some of them were broken and perhaps even deliberately before being thrown into the water. The Maya also sacrificed their enemies, and human skeletons have been found at the bottom of the cenote.
You cannot swim in this cenote or even go down to its water, but it is a fantastic place to experience local history and culture. Although the Sacred Cenote of Chichen Itza may seem like a very dark place, it is one of the most beautiful attractions of the region.
This cenote is called “crystal clear” because of its pristine clear water, through which you can see the fish that live in it. It is surrounded by dense tropical vegetation and mangroves. It is an open cenote, not a cave, which makes it a great place for swimming, snorkeling, and snorkeling. You can jump in the water. The water in the cenote is quite cool, but very refreshing. Just dip your feet into the water. There will gather around small fishes, which will make you a free exfoliation.
The area of the cenote is large enough, so pandemonium here does not happen. There is a restaurant nearby and plenty of services to spend a good day here with the family. You can just wander along the landscaped paths in the shade of tropical vegetation.
Tak Be Ha Cenote
This beautiful cenote is a cave created by nature thousands of years ago. Stalactites and tree roots of incredible shapes hang from the ceiling, and clear water covers the bottom. The name of the cenote means “hidden path”. This is a great place to visit during a tour or on your own, especially if you are an experienced diver. You can see every pebble underwater, in the reflected rays come to life stalactites and stalagmites of the underwater cave. The water is cool, but the body quickly gets used to it. You are completely free to navigate the mysterious fairy tale labyrinths of the underground river.
The cenote is located 15 minutes from Tulum and 30 minutes from Playa del Carmen.
Taj Mahal Cenote
This cenote, named after the famous temple in India, consists of 4 connected cenotes. A great place for beginner divers, and a visit to the cenote is offered as part of many tours. However, to fully experience the beauty of the underwater world, you must be an experienced diver to traverse the five-meter underwater wall that separates the main room and the adjacent chambers. The cenote has beautiful vaults, with bright sunlight penetrating in places. There is also a beautiful hall with a huge air space and three holes in the dome through which the sun’s rays pass.
In the caves, you can see hundreds of stalactites lying in the sediment. Continuing your dive, you will get to the “sugar bowl”, a second small cenote, where on sunny days you can watch an amazing light show. The Taj Mahal is decorated with stalactites, stalagmites, and hidden fossils.
Suytun is a beautiful cenote 8 km from Valladolid. It is located in the beautiful jungle countryside and has a museum which exhibits the archaeological finds made in this cenote.
Saitoon is an Instagram star. Stone stairs lead inside. Suitun means “stone center,” and it is the central stone platform that gives the cenote a particularly romantic feel. The colossal size of the dome, the crystal clear water, the shapes created by its stones, and the reflections of the sun capture at the very first sight. Ancient stalactites decorate the ceiling, and a ray of sunlight streams from the center of the dome. When the sun illuminates its interior, it further enhances the beauty of the blue color of the water. You can swim in this cenote. The shallow, crystal-clear waters allow you to see the many freshwater fish that inhabit it.
The best time to take a photo is when the light is just crossing the cenote, around noon to 2:00 pm. The cenote is also equipped with an artificial lighting system that emphasizes its beauty and pristine nature. The cenote offers many services such as lodging, restaurants, lounges and even the possibility to rent the cenote for an event.
Dos Ojos Cenote
This cenote is named “Two Eyes” because of the two cenotes that are connected to each other and resemble a pair of eyes. This is a fantastic site for divers with an average depth of 17 meters and miles of caves with underwater cameras.
The sun’s rays streaming through the crystal clear water create a unique underwater play of light and color that can be enjoyed endlessly. The rainwater passes through the lime rocks and is purified and fills the cenote. As you dive deeper, you can see the remains of fossil fish, snails, coral, and seashells, which suggest that this place was once completely
was under the water. This is another world – a world of peace and quiet. The water of a beautiful azure color makes you feel in a fabulous underwater kingdom, where ancient stalactites have formed unique alleys.
The cenote is great for relaxing, it is equipped with comfortable platforms for descending into the water. Walking from one cenote to another, you can admire the beauty of the tropical nature surrounding the place.
Siete Bocas cenote
Actually this is a cenote system that has 7 entrances. Some of them have stairs, in others you have to jump in and then climb the rope ladder. You can swim underground from entrance to entrance. The entrances and the surrounding area, by the way, are unremarkable. This cenote is for those looking for solitude, a deep connection to nature, because it is not overly visited. Perhaps it does not offer as many tourist services as other cenotes. But it is great for those who expect solitude. Don’t forget to bring your diving gear beforehand, or even just a mask and snorkel. Swimming in the karst caves and watching underwater stalactites leave an unforgettable impression.
Zazil Ha Cenote
This small cenote was discovered relatively recently, about 30 years ago, but it has become a very popular tourist destination due to its beauty, natural surroundings and easy accessibility. Located not far from Tulum, with crystal clear water and depths of no more than 4 meters it is a great place for those who prefer to swim or just relax on the beach.
The cenote is equipped with toilets, changing rooms, tables and gazebos. If you want you can take a ride on a small bungee cord or jump from a 3-meter platform into the water. Masks and vests are available for rent.
The cenotes on the Riviera Maya are truly magical places. Swimming or diving in the cenotes is one of the most memorable activities on a tour to Mexico. You can’t come to the Riviera Maya and not visit the cenotes. The cenotes are only on the Yucatan, and nowhere else in the world.
Hello! Please advise me a cenote to swim with kids under 5 years old, not too difficult to get to and safe. Not far from Cancun. Preferably a cave-like cenote.
Hello Irina! Here are 4 cenotes suitable for children: Kin Ha, Siete Bocas, Boca del Puma and Cenotes Zapote. Google the name and see the location. They are all located near one another and not far from Puerto Morelos. Boca del Puma is an open cenote, next to Siete Bocas, but it is well organized and you will like it there. There is also an open space in Sapote, and there are areas under the rock.
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