11 Best Cenotes in Mexico: 2023 Instagram Cenote Guide
What makes the Cenotes so special?
Though likely best known for tourist-heavy city of Cancun, Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is home to literally thousands of stunning, magical, mystical and underappreciated cenotes. These magnificent treasures and hidden gems of Mexico are natural, freshwater sinkholes that once held great spiritual importance for the ancient Mayan civilization.
For the Mayans, the Cenotes were a significant supply of water and a mythological boundary between this world and the underworld. Ancient offerings of pottery, jewels, and occasionally human sacrifices have been found at the bottom of many cenotes. Fast forward to today and many of these beautiful, mysterious, and enchanting cenotes are now popular swimming places for locals and Instagram influencers but are generally still unknown to most.
Visiting Cenotes and swimming in a jungle-protected cenote is an adventure you should absolutely try during your stay in Cancun, Tulum, Playa del Carmen and the rest of the Riviera Maya.
Cenotes are deep water wells that are supplied water by rain filtration and river currents that run deep within the soil. This is why swimming in a cenote can feel so refreshing. The average, typical water temperature in a Cenote is 75°F (24°C)!
The Mayans named these wells Dz’onot, meaning “cavern filled with water.”
Cenotes are created when an underground cave cenote collapses on itself and they can be open (the roof has completely collapsed) or covered/cave cenotes (most or all of the roof remains in cave cenotes). Many cenotes are home to a large variety of fish, plants, and even turtles!
Best Cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico
We have visited all major Cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula and have created for your eyes only our list of the Most Beautiful Cenotes in Mexico
1. Suytun Cenote
Activities: Swimming, pictures
Cenote Suytun is one of Mexico’s most Instagrammed cenotes. It 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.
This stunning Cenote is ideal for diving and snorkeling, inviting you to explore its two eyes-shaped sinkholes that are connected by an underwater boardwalk.
There is little doubt that Dos Ojos has some of the most beautiful underwater landscapes in the Yucatan Peninsula, for both professional and amateur cave divers.
Getting to Dos Ojos: Taxi or rental car. It’s a 1 hour 45 minute drive from Cancun and 1 hour from Playa del Carmen.
Entrance Fee: 450 pesos ($22 USD) for all the Cenotes that are located park or 350 pesos ($18 USD) for just the Dos Ojos Cenote
3. El Gran Cenote
Activities: swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving
The Gran Cenote is definitely a must-see. The breathtaking surroundings and the cenote’s massive crystal blue water will literally leave you speechless. Wooden boardwalks connect the caves, caverns, and open-air cenotes through the lush foliage of this Mexican natural wonderland.
Swimmers, divers, and snorkelers come from all over to view Gran Cenote’s magnificent grandeur.
Gran Cenote is an open-air cenote with two snorkeling portions on either side. You can also see many turtles swimming in the calm waters of the cenote. This is one of the best cenotes in Tulum for scuba dive.
Getting to Gran Cenote: Taxi or rental car. It’s a 1 hour 45 minute drive from Cancun and 1 hour from Playa del Carmen
Activities: families with kids, swimming pool style cenote
Zacil Hais a gorgeous open-air cenote with water so clear it rivals any man-made swimming pool. It is also very conveniently located near the breathtaking Cenote Carwash.
Everything about this place astounded us! You can jump into the pristine waters or even zipline across the cenote!
If you want something more relaxed, you can rent a hammock for the day. This is one of the best cenotes in Tulum.
Getting to Zacil-Ha: Taxi or rental car. It’s a 1 hour 45 minute drive from Cancun and 1 hour from Playa del Carmen.
Entrance Fee Zacil-Ha: 200 pesos ($10 USD) and 10 pesos ($0.5c USD) for the zipline
5. Cenote Carwash, Tulum
Activities: swimming, cave diving, easy access and relaxed cenote experience
Cenote Ak Tun Ha is often referred to as the Carwash Cenote since it used to be a car washing, is a must-see outdoor attraction.
Prepare to be amazed as you immerse in this underwater environment packed with rock formations and aquatic fauna. You will be swimming with fish and turtles – not to mention the small resident crocodile who may make an unexpected appearance! The accessible swimming area is near a parking lot, and the cenote’s deep waters can go 50 feet.
Getting to Cenote Carwash: Taxi or rental car. It’s on Ruta de cenotes 1 hour 45 minute drive from Cancun and 1 hour from Playa del Carmen.
Activities: swimming, families and kids, easy access and relaxing in the blue water and fun jumps
Cenote Azul‘s is large open-air cenote divided by a wooden boardwalk into two distinct swimming areas. The Cenote appeals to both thrill seekers and families. On one side, children can play safely in shallow waters, while on the other side, divers leap over a cliff!
Cenote Azul has many activities, so it’s easy to see why it’s popular all year.
Getting to Cenote Azul: Taxi or rental car. It’s on Ruta de cenotes an 1 hour 15 minute drive from Cancun. Cenote Azul is a very popular Cenote and can get very crowded due to its close proximity to Cancun, Tulum and Playa del Carmen.
The Cenote Jardin del Eden, also known as Cenote Ponderosa, is located between the towns of Tulum and Playa del Carmen and stands out for its unparalleled beauty.
As you step into the Garden of Eden-like open-air swimming pool it’s easy to see why this cenote has been the darling of many Instagram influencers and travelers. The cenote is surrounded by lush flora and the waters are sparkling blue
The adrenaline seekers will for sure try cliff jumping or diving in its pristine depths. And if you’re a seasoned diver looking for something unique, the cave system in Cenote Jardin Del Eden is a must.
Getting to Jardin del Eden: Taxi or rental car. It’s on Ruta de los cenotes a 1 hour and 15 minute drive from Cancun. Cenote Jardin is very popular with tourists and locals and can get very crowded due to its close proximity to Cancun, Tulum and Playa del Carmen
Getting to Cenote San Actun, El Pit and Nicte-Ha: Taxi or rental car. It’s a 1 hour and 15 minutes drive from Cancun.
Entrance Fee Sac Actun, Cenote Nicte-Ha & Cenote El Pit: 450 pesos ($22 USD) for all the Cenotes that are located in the park or 350 pesos ($18 USD) for just the DOs Ojos Cenote
9. X’Canche Cenote
Activities: swimming, sunbathing, leaping into water, zipline
Cenote X’Canche is a big open-air cenote with a small recreational area near the Ek Balam Archaeological Site. Decks are available for sunbathing and leaping into the vast pool and clear blue waters.
A short zipline is also available for thrill seekers!
Getting to X’Canche Cenote: Taxi or rental car. It’s a 2 hour and 25 minutes drive from Cancun.
Entrance Fee X’Canche Cenote: $150 pesos ($8 USD)
10. Cenote Cristal & Cenote Escondido
Activities: swimming, relaxing and laid back experience
If you’re looking for a calm ambiance and magnificent greenery, Cenote Cristal and Cenote Escondido are the best cenotes for you!
These two open-air cenotes, located just south of the town of Tulum, are linked by an underwater tunnel running under the two opposite sides of the road.
You can enter both cenotes with the same ticket, but Cristal is undoubtedly our favorite due to the cenote’s excellent and great wooden leaping platforms. These are some of the best cenotes in Tulum.
Getting to Cenote Cristal and Escondido: Taxi, rental car. It’s on Ruta de los cenotes a 1 hour and 50 minute drive from Cancun.
Entrance Fee Cenote Cristal and Escondido: 150 pesos ($8 USD)
11. Cenote Oxman
Activities: swimming, relaxed experience
Cenote Oxman is one of the most beautiful cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula, as it is surrounded by hanging vines and high cave walls that will immediately give you a wow feeling.
It is located near Valladolid in the Hacienda San Lorenzo Oxman, offering also a pool and a restaurant. A fantastic way to spend an afternoon in this stunning underground cenote.
Getting to Cenote Oxman: Taxi, rental car. It’s a 2 hour and 20 minute drive from Cancun.
Option 1: $70 pesos.Simply entry to the Oxman cenote. Visitors can use the pool for free, but they must purchase food or drinks to use the palapas and loungers.
Option 2: $100 pesos. This package includes entrance to the cenote and pool area as well as a $50 pesos food/drink credit.
Option 3: $150 pesos. Admission to the cenote and a $150 peso food and beverage credit for the bar/restaurant, as well as full usage of the pool area.
How to get to the Cenotes?
Renting a vehicle is the most versatile option if you want to explore or visit some of the best cenotes as they are usually in isolated areas. The map below will assist you in finding all of the other cenotes listed here.
A great alternative to renting a car is to hire a driver for the day who will take you to any and all the other cenotes you like for a fixed fee.
You can do this by asking for a driver referral from your hotel or bargaining a day rate with one of the town’s cab driver. Another great way to visit some of the most remote cenotes.
Various cenotes tours are available from Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum. Some are included in tours to Tulum, the mayan ruins of ancient mayan city of Chichen Itza, or Coba, while others combine cenote visits with ziplining, ATV rides, or other adventure sports. Combining a visit to a cenote with the mayan ruins of Chichen Itza is in our opinion the way to go for a memorable cenote tour. Chichen Itza is just stunning.
Some of the Tulum’a amazing cenotes, as well as those near Valladolid, can be reached by bicycle.
Cenote is pronounced “sen-No-tay” in Spanish. It is the term used to describe a naturally occurring sinkhole with water. The Mayan name for it, “d’zonot,” meaning “well” and is the basis of the Spanish word.
Yes! Swiming is one of the most popular and best activities in any of the big Cenotes.
Contrary to the ocean’s big waves and strong undertow, cenotes are encased within caverns that protect the calm waters from the elements. Due to this, they are frequently the ideal setting for a tranquil swimming session.
No! You can go freely and independently to a cenote if you wish to save money and be flexible with your plan. The best cenotes are in beautiful but secluded areas, so you’ll need to rent a car to get there. This is something to remember.
Cenote Dos Ojos is a breathtakingly gorgeous cenote. The answer depends on your preferences and what you expect to see or do in Cenote. Each cenote provides a unique experience and set of activities (snorkeling, swimming, diving)