Cancun is located on the Caribbean coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. It is known for its beautiful beaches, clear blue waters, and warm weather. Cancun is a very popular tourist destination with many resorts, great nightlife and many cultural attractions.
The city is also home to several Mayan ruins and is a gateway to other popular destinations in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, such as Tulum and Playa del Carmen. Cancun is known for its diverse range of activities, including swimming, snorkeling, diving, fishing, and exploring the nearby Mayan ruins.
Cenotes (pronounced seh-no-tay in Spanish) are natural sinkholes that are filled with water and are found throughout the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. They are formed when the roof of a limestone cave collapses, exposing the water that was previously underground.
Cenotes were an essential source of water for the ancient Maya civilization. Today they are used for swimming, snorkeling, and diving.
Some of the cenotes were used as sacrifice sites by the ancient Mayans, and this is why artifacts like gold, ceramics, and even human and animal bones, have been discovered at the bottom of some of those cenotes.
Different Types of Cenotes
There are several different types of cenotes found in the Yucatan, including:
Closed cenotes: These are cenotes that are completely underground and are only accessed through a cave or tunnel system. The water in closed cenotes is often dark and can be cold.
Open cenotes: These are cenotes that are open to the sky and are typically large, circular pits. The water in open cenotes is usually clear, and the color is turquoise.
Semi-open cenotes: These are cenotes that are partially open and partially underground. The water in semi-open cenotes is often a mix of clear and dark water.
Cave cenotes: A cave cenote is located in underground caves and are only accessible through a series of tunnels. The water in a cave cenote is usually clear, making it very popular for diving and snorkeling.
Freshwater cenotes: These are cenotes that contain fresh water and are suitable for swimming and diving.
Saltwater cenotes: These are cenotes that are connected to the ocean and contain salt water. They are typically found along the coastline of the Yucatan Peninsula.
On Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, there are a variety of open, semi-open, and underground cenotes.
Cenotes on Instagram
Perhaps you’ve always wanted to see some of those spectacular sinkholes you’ve seen on Instagram or other social media. We have put together a list of our favorite 10 cenotes near Cancun, and we are absolutely certain that you will adore these cenotes just as much as we have.
10 BEST Cenotes Cancun – 2023 Guide
1. Suytun Cenote
Activities: Swimming, pictures
Cenote Suytun is one of Mexico’s most Instagrammed and beautiful cenotes . Its also one of the most famous cenotes in the Yucatan Pensinsula. Cenote Suytun has a stone path leading to a circular platform that sits in the very middle of the water pool. This is one of the most famous cenotes in Mexico and the Yucatan.
The creamy grey cave walls create a nice contrast with bright blue waters of the cenote and the towering stalactites. Cenote Suytun is excellent for swimming and of course photos (your Instagram followers will love the photos), but it can get crowded at times. Try to be here really early in the morning for some alone time, even though the sun will shine through the hole in the roof later in the day.
Cenote Suytun is close to Valladolid and even though it is a 3-hour trip from Cancun, Tulum, and Play del Carmen, we believe that it’s definitely worth it, as this massive Cave Cenote is for sure the most beautiful of the bunch.
Getting to Cenote Suytun : Taxi or rental car. It’s a 2 hour 15 minute drive from Cancun.
Cenote Dos Ojos is a truly magnificent diving cenote in the Yucatan Peninsula that welcomes travelers to explore its two eyes-shaped sinkholes that are connected by an underwater boardwalk and through the deep cave system.
There is no doubt that cenote Dos Ojos has some of the most breathtaking vistas above and below the surface and is a magnet for professional and amateur scuba divers.
How to get to Dos Ojos: Taxi or rental car. It’s a 1 hour 45 minute drive.
Entrance Fee: 450 pesos ($22 USD) for all Cenotes in this park or 350 pesos ($18 USD) for just the DOs Ojos Cenote
3. El Gran Cenote
Great for: swimming, snorkeling and diving
Gran Cenote is a must-see. The breathtaking scenery is sure to leave you in awe. The cenote’s enormous pool is filled with crystal blue water. This natural wonderland is surrounded by lush and rich vegetation. Wooden boardwalks connect the caves and caverns of this open-air cenote.
Swimmers, divers, and snorkelers come from far and wide to witness and experience the Gran Cenote’s spectacular splendor.
The two snorkeling sections of this gorgeous open-air cenote are filled with fish and turtles that are swimming in the calm waters of the cenote.
How to get to Gran Cenote: Taxi or rental car. It’s a 1 hour 45 minute drive
Great for: families with kids, swimming pool style cenote
Zacil-Ha is a stunning open-air cenote with water that is so transparent that it cab rivals any swimming pool you have ever visited. Its also very conveniently located close to the breathtaking Cenote Carwash.
We were literally astonished by everything about this place! You can jump from the sides into the beautiful pool waters or zipline across the cenotes!
If you are looking for a more relaxed experience, Hammocks and traditional swimming are conveniently waiting for you when you arrive at the cenote.
How to get to Zacil-Ha: Taxi or rental car. It’s a 1 hour 45 minute drive.
Entrance Fee: 200 pesos ($10 USD) and 10 pesos ($0.5c USD) for the zipline
5. Cenote Carwash, Tulum
Great for : swimming, diving, easy access and relaxed cenote experience
Cenote Ak Tun Ha, is also known as Carwash Cenote since it used to be used as car washing.
Get ready for an unforgettable experience as you immerse yourself in this underwater world that is filled with rock formations and aquatic species like fish, turtles…and a small resident crocodile who might make a surprise appearance during your visit also! The swimming area of the cenote is very accessible. The water in the cenote is 50 feet deep.
Don’t forget to explore the cave section of the cenote.
How to get to Cenote Carwash: Taxi or rental car. It’s a 1 hour 45 minute drive.
Great for: swimming, families and kids, easy access and relaxing in the blue water and fun jumps
Cenote Azul is an expansive open-air setting cenote that is divided into two distinct swimming areas that are separated by a wooden boardwalk. The cenote will appeal to both thrill-seekers and families alike. On one side of the cenote children can splash around safely in the shallow waters, while on the other, divers can leap over a cliff into the deep cenote waters!
Don’t forget to use your snorkeling equipment to explore the amazing depths of the cenote. Cenote Azul is very popular and is usually crowded throughout the year and especially on weekends.
How to get to Cenote Azul: Taxi or rental car. It’s a 1 hour 15 minute drive. Cenote Azul is usually very crowded due to its close proximity to Cancun, Tulum and Playa del Carmen
Cenote Jardin Del Eden is also known as Cenote Ponderosa and it stands out in our list for its unmatched splendor.
The moment you step into this cenote you understand why it has been so popular with Instagram with travelers and influencers. The lush vegetation and the crystal blue waters of the pool frame the Garden of Eden-like open-air pool.
You can do cliff jumping, enjoy a refreshing swim or just use your snorkel gear to explore the pristine depths. Cenote Jardin Del Eden’s cave system is one of the best in the Yucatan peninsula especially if you are a skilled diver.
How to get to Jardin Del Eden: Taxi or rental car. It’s a 1 hour and 15 minute drive. Cenote Jardin is usually very crowded due to its close proximity to Cancun, Tulum and Playa del Carmen
8. Cenote Sac Actun, Cenote Nicte-Ha & Cenote El Pit
Great for: swimming, snorkeling and diving
Dos Ojos Park is a magical place. We fell in love with the extraordinary collection of cenotes in the park, including the deepest cenote in Yucatan Pensinsula, El Pit, the “pet cemetery” Cenote Sac Actun and cenote Nicte-Ha surrounded by lily pads that will just leave you in awe.
Cenote Calavera is a truly special and unique cenote near Tulum. It is also known as the ‘Skull’ Cenote because its three sinkholes look like two eyes and a mouth.
To enter the cenoteyou can use a ladder or make your own grand entrance by jumping off the edge of the cliff!
Despite its proximity to Tulum, the cenote is a relatively quiet and peaceful cenote making it one of Tulum’s best-kept secrets.
How to get to Cenote Calavera: Taxi or rental car. It’s a short trip
Entrance Fee:250 pesos ($13 USD) for entrance and another $200 pesos ($10 USD) for photos
Are the Cenotes safe from bacteria?
In 2022, authorities in Tulum have issued a safety and health warning for three of Mexico’s most well-known cenotes after finding a notably very high concentration of bacteria in the water, one of those bacteria being particularly dangerous to tourists (E-coli).
Tourists have been advised to stay away from the popular cenotes altogether or refrain from swimming in specific regions. The bacteria has been discovered in at least three Cenotes near the very popular cities and towns of Cancun, Tulum and Playa del Carmen. The three Cenotes are:
The water was found to contain a variety of bacteria, but the one most likely to cause health problems is the aforementioned E- Coli. People who experience contamination describe a wide range of symptoms, from severe stomach cramps to vomiting, moderate fever, and, in severe cases, bloody diarrhea.What to bring when you visit Cenotes
Here are some tips for exploring Cancun’s Cenotes:
Cash (pesos): Since many cenotes do not accept credit cards, bring Mexican Pesos.
Towel: Although some cenotes provide towel rentals, it is simpler, cheaper and more hygienic to carry your own towel.
Swimming suite: You are going to be swimming after all.
Water shoes: The inside of the cenotes is usually slippery and rough. Water shoes can help you navigate them securely
No Sunscreen: When visiting cenotes, you cannot apply any type of sunscreen, including eco-friendly and reef-safe sunscreen, as the oils and chemicals in the sunscreen can damage the sensitive ecosystem of the Cenote. Most cenotes require you to take a shower and wash off before entering. If you have sensitive skin, choose a bathing suit with long sleeves to avoid a suburn.
Follow the rules: Make sure to abide by these guidelines to protect the environment.
Guided Tours: A guided tour with one of the local guides can help you learn more about the amazing history and geology of the cenotes
Bring a Camera: Cenotes are stunning natural wonders, so you’ll want to take some pictures to document your trip…and also post on Instagram.
Respect: Because the ecosystem of the cenote is delicate, always make sure you leave them in the same condition as when you found them.
Cant Swim?: Don’t worry. Most Cenotes have life jackets for free or a small price for guest
A fantastic alternative to renting a car is to hire a driver for the day who will take you to any and all cenotes you desire for a set charge.
You can do this by asking a staff member at your lodging for a driver referral or by haggling a day pricing with a Cancun taxi driver.
There are many Cancun taxis, however, there is no Uber in Cancun. By explaining to the driver where you want to go and how long you want to spend at every cenote, you may work out a very good day rate with them.
If you like the driver, you can get their phone number and use them all the way back to Cancun.
Yes! You can travel freely and independently visit a cenote if you want to save money and be flexible with your plan. However, you need to take into account that the best cenotes are located in scenic but distant places, so you’ll need to rent a car to go to them.
In addition to being incredibly unique and gorgeous, cenotes can also a lot of fun.
If you’re looking for adventure, spending the day at a cenote is a fantastic option given the many things you can do there.
Some cenotes have both shallow and deep waters, being great options for children also.
Use your snorkeling gear to see the fish and turtles swimming in the cenote waters.
It’s really easy to see underwater life because the water is so clear.
Another common activity at cenotes is scuba diving. Some of the cenotes are actually very deep, making them perfect for exploring their uncharted waters.
Some of the cenotes have natural cliffs that you can jump off if the water is deep enough and you’re feeling brave.
Traveling to 🇲🇽 Mexico soon?
I recommend these travel resources for Mexico that I personally use:
🏨 Hotels: I have found that Expedia and Booking.com consistently have the best deals on hotels and resorts in Mexico. If you prefer to stay at a vacation rental, check VRBO that is usually cheaper than AirBnB’s added fees!
✈️ Flights: To find the best flight deals to Mexico, I always use Kayak. Remember to subscribe to their price alerts for the travel dates you want. Another great alternative for flight deals is Expedia.
🚗 Rental Cars: I always use and highly recommend Discover Cars because it allows me to compare several car rental companies and view ratings on various factors such as overall value, pick-up procedure, agent efficiency, car condition, and total time taken.
🚙 CancunAirport Transportation: For the fastest and easiest way to travel, I suggest arranging a private transfer with Cancun Airport Transportation. Honestly, no better way to travel from the airport to your hotel or resort.
🤿 Tours & Activities: For tours and activities in Mexico, I highly recommend using either Viator or GetYourGuide. These websites offer a full refund if you cancel your booking 24 hours before the start of the tour, and they also provide excellent customer service in case of any issues.
🚨 Travel Insurance: I always suggest purchasing travel insurance as a precaution before traveling, especially after a recent accident in a taxi in Mexico. For short trips, I recommend Travel Insurance Master, whereas for digital nomads, Safety Wing is a better option.
📷 Best Camera for your trip: I always carry with me a GoPro, It’s light, compact, takes great video and pictures, and most importantly, it’s waterproof! You just can’t go wrong with one. If you are interested in higher quality video and photography, I always carry with me on my trips and highly recommend the Sony A7IV which I think is the best travel DSLR Camera out there.
☀️ Biodegradable Sunscreen: Remember to include a good sunscreen to protect yourself from the summer sun. I always use and suggest Sun Bum Sunscreen, which is vegan, reef-friendly, and cruelty-free.
Strictly Necessary Cookies
Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings.
If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again.
3rd Party Cookies
This website uses Google Analytics to collect anonymous information such as the number of visitors to the site, and the most popular pages.
Keeping this cookie enabled helps us to improve our website.
Please enable Strictly Necessary Cookies first so that we can save your preferences!