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  • Katrina Julia

The Best Cenotes in Mexico and All You Need to Know to Visit

Updated: Aug 21, 2021

Where are my lovers of all things water? If you love the ocean, surfing, canyoning, you will love visiting Cenotes! I first visited a cenote in Valladolid in 2019 at Cenote Zaci. I fell in love with the natural phenomenon of a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater.

As I transitioned on my travel to 7 continents from Guatemala to adventures in Mexico, I knew I wanted to continue to explore the Cenotes of Mexico.

Last year at this time, I didn't imagine I would be experiencing travel to 7 Continents, let alone be having global adventures now. At the same time, I cast the vision years ago for global travel.

Before I traveled to Mexico, I researched various Cenotes via sources like ExpertVagabond, Anna Everywhere, Getting Stamped, and ThatBlondeBikiniGirl.

During my 3+ months in Mexico, I visited 10+ Cenotes!

I will be updating this post over the next 3 months with insights, visits, videos to Cenotes in Mexico in and near Tulum, Bacalar, and Valladolid.

Let's talk about The Best Cenotes in Mexico and All You Need to Know to Visit!

Taken on my iPhone 12 Mini by a friend I met, Julia at Gran Cenote in Tulum, Mexico


Know Before You Go: Visiting Cenotes

The most common types of Cenotes are cave, open and semi-open Cenotes. Cave Cenotes are the youngest and open Cenotes the oldest as the cave has fallen onto itself.

While you may find similar Cenotes, they all have different designs and locations, and may vary in price and rules. You may find some undiscovered, go on private tours, visit them on your own, and with groups. In addition, some may be exclusive to diving.

The emerald green and blue waters, natural landscaping, and caverns will have you fall in love with one if not many of the Cenotes in Mexico. I fell in love the moment I visited Cenote Zaci, my first Cenote in Mexico in Valladolid,

There is no shortage of Cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico with over 6,000 discovered. As a result, it is very likely you may stumble across some that you will not find on Instagram. While I will be visiting some I discovered on Instagram and Blogs, I am asking locals for input on those not as well known as well!

Generally speaking, Cenotes that are managed for visiting are open 8 ish to 5ish, require showering before entering, do not allow sunscreen that is not bio-degradable to protect the environment of the Cenotes, and charge fees ranging from a few dollars to $30+. In addition, some may include showers, restrooms, and shops while others strictly showers and the Cenotes environment.

It is important to know that some Cenotes are great for lounging, snorkeling, cave discovery, diving, and some Cenotes are great for all of the above.

Cenotes to Visit

I started researching Cenotes before I arrived in Tulum, Mexico. The first place I went in Mexico in 2021 during my four month stay was Tulum. At the same, I took Trip Advisor and the reviews of others with a grain of salt. I asked my Airbnb hosts and locals for guidance too! I adjust for my own preferences and reasons to visit a Cenote. I encourage you to do the same.

Tulum, Mexico

1 Cenote Cristal & Escondido - proximity to Airbnb

2 Gran Cenote - beauty & images, closeness to Tulum

3 Kaan Luum Lagoon & Cenote - beauty, proximity to Airbnb

4 Cenote Corazon - off the beaten path, uniqueness, Airbnb proximity

5 Choo-Ha - off the beaten path, uniqueness, fully underground*

6 Casa Cenote - off beaten path, kayaking, crocodile, and price

I modified the list of Cenotes several times during my three month stay in Tulum, Mexico

Bacalar, Mexico

1 Cenote Cocalitos - beauty & uniqueness, pricing, easy to get to

2 Cenote Azul - beauty, depth, pricing, close to Cocalitos

Valladolid, Mexico

1 Cenote Ikeken - recommendations, underground, pricing

2 Cenote Oxman - beauty, underground/open hole, and close to my Airbnb

3 Cenote Ilkil - beauty, close to Chichen Itza, pricing

Crystal clear waters at Cenote Escondido

Tulum, Mexico

Tulum is saturated with Cenotes in Tulum, on the way to Kaan Luum Lagoon, and on the way to Playa Carmen. There are many to choose from in this area. It is important to point out that many are priced higher due to saturation of tourists.

Cenote Cristal and Escondido

When exploring Airbnbs for my stay in Tulum, Mexico, I came across Mini Tulum Jungle Cabanas. One of many reasons I picked my Airbnb is that within 10-15 minutes walking distance are the Cenote Cristal and Escondido Cenotes.

Cenotes Cristal is an open Cenote and looks more like a lake with shimmering waters indicating it is an older Cenote. It is a great way to relax and snorkel. The first time I visited I did see some divers come by.

Although more tourists are beginning to discover the Cenotes, It is more of a local stop. It definitely felt like that when I visited. I went on a Tuesday afternoon around 3pm. As of April 2021. I paid 120 pesos / $6 to visit both Cenotes. During the time I visited, there were about 5 people at Cenote Cristal and about 30 people at Cenote Escondido.

Cenote Cristal does have showers and a bathroom. There is no restaurant or shop at either Cenote so bring water, juice, snacks etc if you plan on staying longer. Once you pay, go take a shower to rinse off to protect the Cenote environment. Within 30 meters of paying, you will walk right over to Cenote Cristal.

Afterwards, you will walk across the street to Cenote Escondido about a 10 minute walk. You will find the water sunk in with elevated cliffs around. For my fellow adventure lovers, there is a swing to jump in about 10 feet at Cenote Escondido.

Between Cenote Cristal and Escondido, two hours is enough time to visit. At the same time, you could go for the whole day.

Cenote Cristal

Jumping at Cenote Escondido

Cenote Escondido Tulum, Mexico