The Best Cenotes in Mexico and All You Need to Know to Visit
Updated: Oct 5
I fell in love with the natural phenomenon of a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater. If you didn't know, cenotes may date back 5+ millions of years according to archeologists.
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! As of 2023, I have now visited 15+ cenotes in Yucatan. I will update this post every time I visit Cenotes in Mexico in and near Tulum, Playa Del Carmen, Balacar, Valladolid and Merida with insights, visits, and videos.
The Best Cenotes in Mexico and All You Need to Know
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 scuba and free 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, I ask locals as well for off the beaten path cenotes.
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 include showers, restrooms, and shops while others offer 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.
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
7 Aktun Chen - Top 10 National Geographic Underground walks, off the beaten path
I modified the list of Cenotes several times during my three month stay in Tulum, one month in Bacalar, two weeks in Valladolid, and two months in Playa Del Carmen and return travels to Mexico.
1 Cenote Cocalitos - beauty & uniqueness, pricing, easy to get to
2 Cenote Azul - beauty, depth, pricing, close to Cocalitos
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
1 Cenote Taak-bi-ha - semi-open cenote 65+ million years old
2 Cenote La Cuevita - mostly closed with few openings
3 Cenote Xunaan Ha - open cenote with incredible blue and green waters.
*Done with a tour with Cenotik in Chemuyil via Airbnb. No online information anywhere.
1 Cenote Canunchen - underground cenote with staircase and tree entrance
2 Cenote Hool Kosom - underground cenote with staircase and spectacular opening and colors
3 Hacienda Kampepen - old Hacienda property with 3 accessible cenotes - Noria, Chenke, and Kixne
The Ring of Cenote in northwestern Yucatan, Mexico lies about an hour from Merida, Mexico with over 3,000 cenotes and 300+ accessible ones in 2023.
The Ring of Cenotes, a 180-km-diameter semicircular band of abundant karst sinkholes in northwest Yucatan, Mexico, coincides with an aligned arc of sinkholes, forming the “Ring of Cenotes”., a circular feature manifested in Cretaceous and older rocks, that has been identified as the product of the impact of a bolide.
It has been known for almost 40 years that a large meteorite struck the Earth around 66 million years ago in a place in southern Mexico that we call Chicxulub, in the Yucatán Peninsula. It was about the same time that the non-avian dinosaurs disappeared from the Earth.
This was a most surprising discovery, since the meteorite crater is extremely well hidden under very thick 3,000 ft (1,000 m) of soft limestone rocks. However, we can see traces of the crater on the surface since there is a great number of very deep and large water filled sinkholes that are aligned along the edge of the crater basin. Northwestern University developed an extensive geological study on the meteorite, and its impact to the formation of the cenotes.
The local people call these sinkholes “cenotes” (pronounced say-no-tays) in a word tied to the Maya language (ts’ono’ot), meaning “a hole filled with water”.
Crystal clear waters at Cenote Escondido
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 Escondido Tulum, Mexico
Cenote Escondido in Tulum, Mexico
Cenote Escondido in Tulum, Mexico
When I saw the images of Gran Cenote years ago, I knew I wanted to visit. While some people may love to do tours, I am a big believer of getting uncomfortable and doing things off the beaten path and figuring it out on your own.
Getting to Gran Cenote:
While I saw Trip Advisor, Viator and Airbnb Cenotes tours, I decided to explore this one on my own. With my travel in Tulum, Mexico for 3+ months, my slow travel is increasing.
With help from locals, I figured out I could take a collectivo (small local vans that go every 30 minutes in multiple directions) for 20 pesos / $1 to get to Gran Cenote one way. Depending on the type of Cenote you take (local or regional), you may need to take 2 of them for $2 total each way.
Make sure you let the driver know which stop you are getting off on and keep an eye out.
In between waiting for one, I walk down the street with safe walkable and bikeable paths along the road. All you do is go in direction on road you want to catch collectivo and ask if they are going to your destination. If not, they are likely going to Tulum Centro e.g. Ado Bus Station and you may transfer there easily.
On my way to Gran Cenote, it took about 20 minutes total with catching collectivos and transferring. On my way back to my Mayan Jungle Cabana in Tulum with Airbnb, I walked about 20 minutes before I caught my first one and then waited about 10 minutes for my second one. As a result, my return trip was about 30-40 minutes.
Keep in mind, a collectivo will cost you $2 vs. a taxi currently about $10-$20 depending where you are coming from and going. I am currently being a wise steward, loving experiencing things like a local, focusing on humility, and a babe on a budget.
Gran Cenote Visit
As a result, I decided to focus my visit on Gran Cenote on a Friday afternoon. Even though I read reviews recommending to go early in the morning, I chanced going in the afternoon on a Friday in May 2021.
The check in process with Eduardo is super easy. The prices are now clearly marked 300 pesos / $15. Make sure you bring either dollars or pesos. They accept both. I paid in pesos.
This does not include a lifejacket or snorkel equipment. Keep in mind prices are subject to change.
You are instructed to shower right away to make sure you are clean and free of any lotions, sunscreen, perfumes before entering the Cenote so that the environment is protected. A team member checks to be sure you are completely wet before you go down the stairs.
Gran Cenote is incredibly beautiful with open, semi-open, and cavern closed portions. When you visit, make sure you go to both pool areas.
To the left, there is an open and partially open swimming and snorkeling areas under caverns. You will see a roped off area for turtles with signs clearly marked to help protect them.
When you enter the swimming area, there is a rope to help you rest in between swimming. In some areas, you may be able to stand, while others are deep. Currently, life jackets are not required.
To the right, there is a cave you may swim under with a rope to help you rest. At the end of the cavern, there is a second pool area that is smaller and stand-up accessible. I loved swimming under the cave roof.
It is open and you see plenty of light. If you don't want to or can't swim, you can go back up the stairs, and go to your left to the other set of stairs that takes you down to the second smaller pool area.
Second smaller pool area
Even though I went on a Friday afternoon in May 2021, I didn't have any problems creating content and getting photos and videos of myself or without others in them.
In the future, if I want more peace visiting the more popular Cenotes, I will visit earlier and keep to weekdays. At the same time, there are a lot of people to help you with photos as we all want the same. Plus, I made new friends! The entire time I visited, I saw maybe 30-75 people.
If you are short on time, you may want to combine Gran Cenote, Cenote Car Wash, Zachil Ha Cenote, and Cenote Calvara in a day or a few days. They are all on the same road.
Kaan Luum Lagoon and Cenote
In case you haven't realized yet, I love to do both known adventures and those not so known. Not only that, I love to experience things that are convenient and nearby. I discovered Kaan Luum Lagoon and Cenote is less than 20 minutes biking (about 2-3 miles) from my Mayan Jungle Airbnb in Tulum, Mexico.
Kaan Luum Lagoon is both a lagoon and a cenote in one! In the picture above, you may see the Cenote sectioned off.
At its center, the Cenote is about 260 feet, or about 80 meters. It is not permitted to go swimming above it due to safety for weak swimmers, potential currents, and divers that may be coming up. popular among scuba divers.
In comparison, the lagoon with its bright green water is about 1.5 meters or about 3 feet with a few spots that are a little deeper. Once or twice, the water went over my head closer to the Cenote.
Getting to Kaan Luum Lagoon
It is located along the main road 307 Cancun - Chetumal headed towards Felipe Carillo Puerto. It is about 10km from Tulum center. In comparison, I found this gem about 4km from my Airbnb. I biked over in about 15-20 min easily on the bike lane along the road.
You will see a sign from the main road, and then drive/bike about 1km to the entrance.
Kaan Luum Lagoon Visit
I viewed Trip Advisor reviews in advance, as well as VivaLaTravelVista. In reviewing the recent reviews, I found the entrance fee to be 300 pesos/$15 USD in May 2021. Please keep in mind that prices are subject to change. We as entrepreneurs, bloggers, and travelers do not always go back and update when a price has changed. We may not be aware.
In the past, there would be an extra fee to climb the mirador or view. Currently, it is included. There are options to Kayak for 150 pesos/~$7 USD and Stand Up Paddle Board for 300 pesos/$15 USD. If you do all three, this is much less than must tours for one activity. At most, you will pay about $40 currently. I recommend if you go for activities you go during the week and earlier in the day.
Although the water is relatively calm, there are more people in the afternoon and on weekends making it more difficult to Kayak and/or Stand Up Paddle Board.
During my visit early on a Friday afternoon, there were about 50 - 75 people between the lagoon, piers, and sitting areas. I arrived around 1pm. I found 2.5 hours is more than enough to swim, climb the mirador, eat, and take all the Instagram worthy pictures and videos you want. At the same time, I would have stayed longer if it didn't start pouring rain.
They currently close at 4:30 pm CST. If you plan on doing kayaking and/or SUP, you may easily spend half to a full day. Before I leave Tulum, Mexico, I will be back to do both. I will update this post once I do!
If you love coconuts like I do, make sure you get a fresh coconut and a coco preparado after! Apparently, in this area of Mexico, Coco Preparado (coconut cut up with the coconut after you drink it with salsa & spices) is common! I tried it for the first time and loved it!
Cenote Corazon del Paraiso
The hidden gems I am discovering in Tulum, Mexico continue! Before I visited more cenotes, I asked my Airbnb Hosts, Diana and Eva for recommendations for places to visit nearby the Airbnb.
On my way to Kaan Luum Lagoon, I saw the sign for Cenote Corazon. I decided to visit on a Saturday morning before a collaboration and meeting to talk about Holbox Island with Christine Lozado and my monthly Herbalife Global Nutrition meeting. I am so glad I did!
The name is Cenote Corazon del Paraiso, Heart Cenote of Paradise for great reason.
This is the aerial view so you may see why. Photo Credit reviews via Trip Advisor.
I don't have a drone yet!
Getting to Cenote Corazon
It is located along the main road 307 Cancun - Chetumal headed towards Felipe Carillo Puerto same as Kaan Luum Lagoon. So, if you are short on time you could absolutely do them both in the same day! If you are going to do them both in the same day, I recommend you visit Cenote Corazon first.
It is about 8km from Tulum center. In comparison, I found this gem about 2km from my Airbnb. I biked over in about 10 min easily on the bike lane along the road.
You will see a sign from the main road, and then drive/bike about 1km to the entrance.
Cenote Corazon Visit
This hidden gem Cenote in the middle of the Mayan jungle will capture your heart. Whether you come to swim and snorkel like I did, or scuba, it will show you its hidden treasures. It is connected to caves running about 8km long in one direction, and about 2km in the other towards the ocean.
I literally arrived first on a Saturday around 8:50am before they even opened! I wanted to go early with it being a Saturday. Angel, one of their team members told me later that typically Sunday is the busiest. Most locals have Sundays off adding to the visits to Cenotes and beaches as well.
As of May 2021, the entrance for tourists is 150 pesos/$7 USD. There are Palapa huts, chairs, tables, and decks you may lounge on. Currently, it is permitted to bring your own food and drinks. They do sell snacks and food during busier times.
In addition, if you want to rent a mask, they are available for 30 pesos/$1.50. I highly recommend renting a mask with the beautiful caves, flora, and fauna you will see underwater!
If you didn't know, I am advanced scuba certified by SSI. I took a scuba diving certification course in 2001 before my visit to Cozumel. I ended up taking an advanced scuba diving course at Sam Houston State University! Who knew you could take diving AND get college credit?!
Any time I dive, I take a discovery course because I usually dive about once every three years or so. While I love being adventurous and taking risks, I consider factors like my skills may need refreshing. I decided to snorkel at this Cenote.
The last few times I went diving, the compressed air impacts my hydration and headaches more than it used to. As a result, I decided I will have a Free Diving experience while in Mexico this time! More to come soon!
While I visited Cenote Corazon, I met a fellow diver who dives at Cenote Corazon often. He shared it easily goes about 60 feet deep or more as well.
For the entire two hours I spent at Cenote Corazon, I had the entire place to myself! So, if you want to relax AND create content like a boss you will love it!
When researching online, I found out about the Cenotes near the Coba Ruins. There are three of them within five miles of Coba Ruins! The closest one is Choo-Ha followed by Tamcach-Ha, and a little further is Multum-Ha.
I want to shout out Slight North, Expert Vagabond, and countless others for their incredible blogs on Coba and the Cenotes nearby.
Even though Choo-Ha is not in the heart of Tulum it is easy to get to! It is fully immersed underground too with shallow depths in many portions!
The day I visited I went to Coba Ruins and then to Choo-Ha Cenote. I decided to focus on visiting one during my visit because of the time. I may return to visit the other two during my time in Tulum, Mexico. The entire time I visited there were no more than 20 people! At one point, for over an hour, there were five of us in the Cenote!
Entrance to Choo-Ha so cool!
Cenote Choo-Ha Visit
This hidden gem Choo-Ha (means water that drips) is filled with stalactites and stalagmites. The Cenote fully immersed underground will astound and amaze you. You descend into the Cenote by the steps built from the gaping hole above ground. Immediately, you are captured in the awe and wonder that is nature.
You may take a bus from the Ado Bus station to Coba Ruins for about $2/50 pesos currently. It takes about 30 to 45 minutes depending on traffic and stops. When you arrive at the stop, you will walk across the pier to get to the Coba Ruins. I highly recommend you visit there too!
You may rent a bike for 180 pesos / about $9 USD including a ticket to Choo-Ha Cenote. The Cenote itself is 100 pesos / $5 if you are coming by car. Choo-Ha is about 5km / 3 miles away from the Coba Ruins.
After visiting Coba Ruins, I rented the bike taking me about 2o minutes. I arrived at Choo-Ha Cenote at 4pm leaving me two hours or less to be immersed in its beauty.
The fully underground Cenote is amazing with refreshing water to swim and snorkel in. The water is so clear you may see 10 feet or more to the wonder underneath!
I continue to research the countless Cenotes in Yucatan! Recently, I discovered Casa Cenote which is great for swimming and scuba diving! Its uniqueness includes its river / lake like feel. Not to mention, their is a "friendly" Crocodile that lives in the Cenote!
I found out the entrance including a mask is 200 pesos / about $10 USD.
The experience at Casa Cenote felt extra special because I got to go with my Mayan Jungle Cabana Airbnb owner Diana and her boyfriend!
I brought this Cenote up as an adventure option! I am so glad I did!
Getting to Casa Cenote
It is located along the road headed to Playa del Carmen. If you don't have a car, it is easy to get a Collectivo from the center of town. The Collectivo ride of about 15 minutes will cost you 25 pesos / about $2USD depending on the exchange rate.
It is about 7km from Tulum center towards Playa del Carmen. Ask the driver to drop you off by Casa Cenote. The entrance is close to Jardin Cenote.
The walk to Casa Cenote is about a mile from the main road so you may want to go earlier or later in the day, or when it is cloudy. We walked when we got there. On the way back we got a ride in an 18 wheeler to the road - true story!!
Casa Cenote Visit
Casa Cenote is unlike any of the other Cenotes I visited. The shallow part is only at the entrance. The rest of the Cenote is similar to almost like a lazy river. You may swim it or grab a kayak!
We arrived around 1pm on Saturday and enjoyed near the shore for awhile. After a few hours, we decided to take a kayak to explore the entire Cenote and to spot the friendly crocodile!
As of July 2021, the entrance for tourists is 150 pesos/$7 USD or 200 pesos including a life jacket and mask. The kayak is an additional 150 pesos/about $7 USD.
I highly recommend renting a kayak! It is a great way to stay healthy while you travel!
I discovered Aktun Chen from locals when I swam with turtles in Akumal. The word Aktun Chen comes from the Mayan, Aktun meaning cave and Chen well or cenote.
Aktun Chen is named Top 10 National Geographic Underground Walks
Aktun Chen National Park includes 400 acres of forest in Quintana Roo preserves a virgin ecosystem where man has not reached nestled within the thick jungle.
The park offers the underground river and Cenote, cave, animal reserve, and zip-lining adventures. During a visit, you may spot white-tailed deer, the spider monkey, collared peccary, parrots, coatis, jaguar, puma among other species that inhabit this area of the peninsula.
During my visit, I experienced the Top 10 National Geographic Underground Walk with the Cenote.
Getting to Aktun Chen National Park
It is located in between Playa Del Carmen and Tulum. If you don't have a car, it is easy to get a Collectivo from the center of town. The Collectivo ride of about 30 minutes from Playa Del Carmen will cost you 50 pesos / about $3 USD one way or about 15 minutes from Tulum depending on the exchange rate.
Ask the driver to drop you off at Aktun Chen. When you arrive, the guard will contact the par to arrange a shuttle to pick you up. You may wait in a hut for about 10 minutes or so.
The walk to the cenote is about 4km away, which you definitely do not want to do in the heat. When I visited, we stopped at registration to check-in, and then rode a few minutes to the Cenote.
Top 10 National Geographic Underground River and Walk
Aktun Chen is a must do bucketlist experience. Archeologists estimate the cenote is about 5 million years old. You enter the cenote via stairs and are surrounded by an underground walk, cenote, and river of about 100 meters or 300 feet long with depths of 1 to 10 feet.
As of Sept 2023, I paid $28 with an advance ticket on the Aktun Chen National Park website. The ticket includes a guide for about 30 minutes, and then you are free to experience the Top 10 National Geographic walk and cenote on your own.
I arrived around noon on a Saturday and experienced my tour with three other people. My guide, Rogelio was awesome. He explained the stalagmites and stalagtites, bats and cat fish in the cave, and helped me underwater photos and videos.
After our 30 minute tour, I experienced the entire underground river to myself for over an hour. Later, I relaxed in hammocks journaling for an hour or so. I went back to experience the cenote and the friendly bats for over an hour. A group of about five tourists came later.
It is definitely an off the beaten path cenote in Mexico.
Bacalar is about 2-3. hours south of Tulum, It is a much quieter, calmer, and relatively untouched town or Pueblo Magico in Mexico. I absolutely loved my visit to Bacalar, Mexico. Although Bacalar is surrounded by the Bacalar Lagoon, aka The Lake of 7 Colors, aka Maldives of Mexico, it doesn't have the same amount of Cenotes you will find in and near Tulum.
During my time in Bacalar, I visited 3 Cenotes. One of them included Cenote Negro that is within Bacalar Lagoon. It is accessible only via an experience and tour sunrise or sunset. I experienced Cenote Negro both during sunrise paddle boarding and sunset sailing with What SUP Bacalar.
Cenote Cocalitos is a dream. The pictures do not do it justice. You are surrounded by the clear water, and may see the shades of blue o the Lagoon all around you.
As of August 2021, the entrance is 50 pesos / about $2 USD.
I visited Cenote Cocalitos twice. The first time I went with Jenn, who worked with me on a WorkAway project on marketing. The second time I went on my own.
It is absolutely breathtaking!
Cenote Cocalitos Visit
It is located along the main road along the coast. If you are in the center of town, walk towards the coast and turn right. Keep walking about 3-4 km or so, and you will find it on. your right. It is easy to bike to as well. If you have a rental car, you will find Cenote Cocalitos on Waze and Google. Additionally, you may take a taxi from the center of town for about 50 pesos/$2 USD.
You may want to go on a weekday and/or earlier in the day if you want to experience the Cenote with less people.
It is surrounded by stromatolites, which are living organisms that are structures of calcium that adhere to rocks. Some of them are 3,500 to 10,000 years old. Do not touch them or stand on them.
When you walk up to the entrance, you will see them all around and roped off for protection. Once you walk in, the water is no more than about 1 meters or so deep. Once you keep walking, in most places it is no more than 2-3 feet deep.
From shore, you will see a group of hammocks you may lay in while in the water. There is a beautiful swing set in the water with 6 swings. These are all great Instagram worthy shots of course!
The first time I went with Jenn we spent over 2 hours giving us more than enough time. The second time I went, I spent about 2 hours or so as well in awe.
Cenote Azul is a short 10 min walk or so from Cenote Cocalitos. It is a deep blue circle inland surrounded by lush landscapes.
As of August 2021, the entrance is 25 pesos / about $1 USD.
Cenote Azul Visit
If you leave Cenote Cocalitos, and go to the left and keep walking for about 10 minutes along the road you will come across it. Make sure you follow the road as it curves to the right because the Cenote is inland on the opposite side of the street. The entrance is a little bit hidden, but you will come across the sign after the road curves on your right.
It makes for a perfect day when you visit Cenote Cocalitos and then Azul for less than $5 USD!
The water is a beautiful deep blue and its really warm considering how deep it is! There is a rope in the middle. A great activity is to swim across and back! That's what I did when I went, and met a great family from Merida with Cuban origins!
Valladolid is in the center of the Yucatan. It is about 2 hours to the west of Cancun, 3 hours ish to the Northwest of Tulum, and about 4-5 hours Northwest of Bacalar. I visited Valladolid, Mexico in 2019 and loved it.
Especially since it was a short trip, I knew I wanted to come back! I made that vision a reality in 2021! I went to Valladolid by Ado Bus from Bacalar with a stop in Tulum for about $22 USD total.
During my time in Valladolid, I visited 3 Cenotes including Cenote Ikeken, Cenote Oxman, and Cenote Ilkil.
Cenote Xkeken is about 10-15 minutes from town, and is part of a two Cenote complex. I went with Diana, who is the owner of the Mayan Jungle Cabana I stayed at in Tulum. We had a blast! We took a Collectivo for about 150 pesos/$8 USD
It is completely underground and magical and mystical in every way. It reminded me some of Choo Ha as well.
As of August 2021, the entrance is 80 pesos / about $4 USD.
Cenote Ikeken Visit
From the center of town, it is easy to take a Collectivo. You will easily find it via Waze and Google as well within the Cenote Dzitnup complex.
It is great for a solo or group visit!
It is fully underground with stalactites and stalagmites with beautiful blue water. It seems surreal with the hole in the middle of the ceiling as well!
Cenote Oxman is in Valladolid. From the Airbnb I stayed in, it is about a 30 minute walk. What is unique about it as well is that there is a Hacienda located on the property. It is fully underground, and at the same time has a huge opening up to the sky!
I went on a Thursday afternoon and loved it! I recommend going early in the day. It has a fun jumping platform too!
As of August 2021, they offered a 250 pesos package that includes a 200 pesos credit for lunch.
Cenote Oxman Visit
From the center of town, it is easy to go by bike, or by rental car.
It is great for a solo or group visit!
It is located at a Hacienda where you will climb down. While the Cenote is below sea level, it is open air with a huge opening once you ascend to the bottom.
Cenote Ilkil is located close to Chichen Itza. A great one day in Valladolid includes a morning trip to Chichen Itza, followed by a visit to Ilkil.
I went on a Friday morning around 11 am after visiting Chichen Itza, one of the 7 Wonders of the World.
As of August 2021, they offered a 150 pesos package that includes life jacket and locker.
Cenote Ilkil Visit
Cenote Ilkil is close to Chichen Itza. If you go by rental car, it is about 4 to 5km away. I traveled via Collectivo for 40 pesos to Chichen Itza.
At Chichen Itza, you may find a Collectivo or go via Taxi for 80 pesos/$4 USD.
It is a beautiful Cenote where you climb down, from the top you may see into the Cenote. At the bottom, you may see the beautiful sky above you.
Unlike Cenote Oxman, there is not much room at the bottom to put any of your things.
It is almost entirely immersed in water, vines, and mini waterfalls. There is a jumping platform for you to jump about 3 meters.
Of course, I did it! I enjoyed spending about 2 hours immersing myself in the waterfalls and floating.
Chemuyil, Mexico is a beautiful town in between Playa Del Carmen and Tulum.
It is about 45 min south of Playa and 25 min north of Tulum.
When I discovered Chemuyil has 12+ known Cenotes that are relatively unknown aka Secret Cenotes, shared by local projects like Cenotik, and offer indescribeable adventure, I knew I wanted to experience the cenotes.
Getting to Chemuyil
It is located along the main road 307 Cancun - Chetumal headed towards Tulum from Playa Del Carmen, or headed to Playa Del Carmen from Tulum.
I took the Collectivo from Playa Del Carmen to Chemuyil. You can put Playa Del Carmen Collectivo in your GPS to lead you to the stop. It is 50 pesos in September 2023, and you let the driver know where to let you off. Jorge was waiting for me in Chemuyil.
I could not find any information on Trip Advisor, Google or GPS so a tour is required and well worth it!
So, if you are short on time you could absolutely do all three in a half day with Cenotik.
Brian, Jorge, Jonathan and the team are SO amazing!
We biked from place to place together as a group adding to the adventure!
I loved my Secret Cenotes experience and meeting Sally and Ernesto from LA.
1 Cenote Taak-bi-ha - semi-open cenote 65+ million years old
In this Cenote, I free dove and swam to two air pockets for the first time ever!
The lights under the caves is unfathomable.
2 Cenote La Cuevita - mostly closed with few openings.
You walk underground to this one. I loved hearing the stories of. how Brian and his friends learned to swim here as children and played hide and go seek in the caves and secret rooms in the dark!
You can swim and freedive under the caves through openings into two secret rooms. Yet another reason you need a guide!
Of course, I did it!
Just Call me Lara Croft
3 Cenote Xunaan Ha - open cenote with incredible blue and green waters.
This one is completely open, and has platforms to jump, dive, and cannon ball. The cave system near Playa Del Carmen and Chemuyil is the 6th longest in the world. There are 14 known Cenotes in 2023. There is a 52km connection of the Cenotes in Chemuyil underground alone.
The cave system. in Tulum is the longest with over 300km of connected caves and pathways to the ocean.
I loved our Mayan snack after too! It was pumpkin mixed with a salsa.
You will definitely be hungry after! We went to La Palapa after and had Ceviche too!
Merida, Mexico is a beautiful colonial town to the west of Cancun in the Yucatan. It is about an hour west of Valladolid, Mexico.
Merida, Mexico aka The Paris of the West in its prime, or The White City. Some will tell you its called The White City, or Ciudad Blanca from the predominance of white limestone that was used as a building material; others will tell you it had to do with racism in history and only whites being allowed and not indios or Mestizos. I heard this on both my city walk and my double decker tour bus as well in October 2023.
Yet, still others may tell you it also has to do with the cleanliness of the city's streets and public areas, not to mention how safe is Merida, Mexico.
I believe specific reasons applied during historical times.
I believe Merida being called The White City has to do with all of the above reasons.
When I discovered The Ring of Cenotes within one hour of Merida, Mexico existed with 300+ accessible cenotes, I knew I wanted to begin to explore and experience adventure.
Getting to Homun
The Ring of Cenotes encompasses the towns of Homun and Cuzama. They are located in between Merida and Valladolid, Mexico.
I took the Collectivo from Merida to Homun. You can put Cenote Homun Collectivo in your GPS to lead you to the stop. It is 35 pesos in October 2023, and you let the driver know where to let you off.
You. may visit some of the more tourist centered cenotes on the road, or take the road less traveled literally with a personal guide. My friend Rebecca and I met our guide Yonny, who took us from the Collectivo stop to get life jackets, and took us on a motor type buggy to our three Cenote sites, or 5 Cenotes we experienced.
You may spend a half day at one Cenote entirely like I did Aktun Chen near Playa Del Carmen, or you may visit 5 in a half day like I did on my first adventure to The Ring of Cenotes.
Homun near Merida, Mexico
1 Cenote Canunchen- underground cenote with staircase + tree entrance.
You may spend hours walking down, swimming around, and jumping off 3+ platforms in this Cenote. The grounds are beautiful and have picnic areas, a pool with a slide, change rooms, and a small restaurant. This Cenote is 105 pesos / $5-7 USD in 2023.
In this Cenote, I walked down stairs underground and jumped 20+ feet!
2 Cenote Hool Kosom - underground cenote with spectacular staircase + colors
You may spend hours walking down, swimming around, and marveling at the shimmer of the water.
Make sure you bring. your phone protector to capture those shots and vides for Instagram.
This cenote was 60 pesos/about 3-4 USD in 2023.
3 Hacienda Kampepen - 3 underground cenote with staircases + colors
When you enter into the Hacienda Kampepen property, you will immediately marvel at the Hacienda ruins. The property offers 3 accessible cenotes - Noria, Chenke, and Kixne.
Noria has an hidden entrance that will surprise you in garden with a staircase to enter the underground cenote. Chenke you enter via a staircase to the underground illuminating cenote.
Kixne is more of a cave - think Indiana Jones - type vibes.
Noria and Chenke have incredible colors and are accessible for swimming. They are truly some of the most beautiful cenotes and water colors I have ever experienced. You may spend hours walking down, swimming around, and marveling at the miracles.
The Hacienda Kampepen for access to the 3 cenotes is 180 pesos/about $20 USD in 2023.
The Best Cenotes in Mexico
Out of 6,000 Cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, these are the Best Cenotes in Mexico I visited. 12 out of 6,000 may not be a great %, but each and every one of them is magical.
Cenotes in Mexico Visited
1 Cenote Zaci in Valladolid in 2021
2 Cenote Cristal & Escondido - proximity to Airbnb - done
3 Gran Cenote - beauty & images, closeness to Tulum - done
4 Kaan Luum Lagoon & Cenote - proximity to Airbnb, uniqueness, beauty - done
5 Cenote Corazon - proximity to Airbnb, beauty, uniqueness, price - done
6 Choo-Ha - off the beaten path, uniqueness, fully underground*
7 Casa Cenote - off beaten path, river like, kayaking
8 Cenote Cocalitos
9 Cenote Azul
10 Cenote Ikeken
11 Cenote Oxman
12 Cenote Ilkil
13 Cenote Taak-bi-ha - semi-open cenote 65+ million years old
14Cenote La Cuevita - mostly closed with few openings
15 Cenote Xunaan Ha - open cenote with incredible blue and green waters.
16 Cenote Canunchen - underground cenote with staircase and tree entrance
17 Cenote Hool Kosom - underground cenote with staircase and spectacular opening and colors
18-21 Hacienda Kampepen - old Hacienda property with 3 accessible cenotes - Noria, Chenke, and Kixne
Best Cenotes in Mexico
Exploring Tulum, Bacalar and Valladolid in Mexico and Cenotes in Mexico is a dream come true!
Are you dreaming about experiences in Cenotes yet?
Stay tuned, because it's just getting good!
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