Chichen Itza Cenote - Best Cenotes Near Chichen Itza - 2023 Guide
Table of Contents
Located in the heart of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, Chichen Itza is a magnet for tourists with its abundance of cenotes scattered around. In this article, I will share all there is to know about these sacred sinkholes near Chichen Itza and how you can visit them during your journey! With up to 15,000 visits per day in high season – it’s no doubt that Chichen Itza remains one of the world’s most visited archaeological sites.
El Castillo and other impressive temples from the Mayan civilization make Chichen Itza an incredible site to behold, so don’t allow oppressive heat or dense crowds stop you from visiting this beautiful historic landmark. You can tour Chichen Itza with a guided group, take a bus ride there, or rent your own car (which I’ve found to be much more convenient).
We have also put together guides for the best cenotes for families in Cancun, Tulum and Playa del Carmen
From Cancun, Tulum, Playa del Carmen and Merida – a trip to Chichen Itza is an entire day excursion. To make the most of your journey, it’s always beneficial to add on a visit to one of the nearby cenotes close by as well as Valladolid while you are there. All organized tours integrate sightseeing at Chichen Itza with time spent observing a cenote during their tour plus making way for an invigorating moment in historic Valladolid – home of Colonial Yucatan!
Embedded in the center of Valladolid is a breathtaking cenote, consisting of an enormous hollowed-out cavern that meets with the sky. On one side, tall stalactites and stalagmites hang from the rocky ceiling, while on its opposite lies lush vegetation climbing up towards ground level. Stone steps lead you to the water’s edge for unsurpassable views– it truly is remarkable how such a majestic destination can nestle into urbanity!
After a day of marveling at the great Mayan ruins, come take in Cenote Zaci – located only 8.5 km from Tulum along the Coba- Tulum road – and plunge into its glistening turquoise waters! This stunning open-air cenote looks just like a magnificent swimming pool, with two crystal pools to help you beat the sweltering tropical heat. It’s an unmissable opportunity for those seeking some respite and refreshment! Come to Cenote Zacil Ha for an unbelievable adventure and a sense of serenity! With depths averaging three meters, this natural pool is ideal for families looking to take a dip. For those up for the challenge, make sure your open water or cavern diving certification is valid; you will then gain access to explore its otherworldly connected caves with Cenote Carwash only being one of them!
2. Cenote IK Kil
Cenote IK Kil is a must-visit destination while in the Valladolid area, and it’s no surprise that many Chichen Itza tours include this location. This attraction earns its popularity for two main reasons: Its proximity to Chichen Itza, and its spectacular scenery! While some might consider it one of the best cenotes near Chichen Itza, crowds can be unavoidable here due to heavy visitation. Nevertheless, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to take beautiful pictures surrounded by lush vegetation cascading down into the cenote – making every moment instaworthy!
If you’re visiting this area, make sure to indulge in its luxurious amenities such as showers, lockers and a restaurant. serving food like tacos and refreshments and cold beer. At Chichen Itza, it’s always crowded unless you arrive first thing in the morning – so if possible, plan your visit over two days – that way you can witness both attractions without having to battle through mobs of people! This cenote gets swamped during peak times; therefore I’d recommend securing an early start for the best experience.
Entrance fees – 180 MXN
Opening hours – Daily from9 am to 5 pm
3. Oxman Cenote
If you’re daring and feeling adventurous, take a 4 km journey south of Valladolid to the secreted Hacienda San Lorenzo. Here lies an incredible underground cenote that can only be accessed by descending many spiral stone steps – its opening hidden from sight. When you reach its depths, your reward awaits in the form of a thrilling rope swing and fresh blue waters ideal for swimming beneath trees roots and vines which dangle delicately above like curtains of wonderment steadily dripping cool water into this tranquil paradise below! After you’ve finished swimming in the cenote, lounge by the hacienda’s outdoor pool and enjoy a cold drink at its bar – with refreshing beverages offered at cost-friendly prices! Set up your beach chair or table nearby to bask in the sunshine.
Nestled in the depths of Hacienda San Lorenzo Oxman, Cenote Oxman is a stunningly tranquil paradise. Though it may not be as widely recognized as other cenotes in Valladolid, this hidden gem is truly something special. With its natural light streaming through and tree roots cascading down to its waters below- you can’t help but feel captivated by its beauty! As we fell head over heels for Cenote Oxman after our own visit here are some tips that will make your experience just as magical—and unforgettable: don’t forget to take a swing on their rope swing!
5. Cenotes Xkeken (Cenote Dzitnup) and Cenote Samula
At a mere seven kilometers south of Valladolid, you can find two cenotes that will take your breath away. Underneath the rocks and between tree roots lies an entrance to these underground wonders filled with mesmerizing stalactites on the ceiling, fascinating rock formations around every corner, bats flying above your head and little black catfish swimming in harmony with you. Don’t forget to look up for some sunshine peeking through too! Both cenotes are simply gorgeous – so don’t miss out on this one-of-a-kind experience.
Relax and cool off in the crystal clear waters of Cenote Xkeken, where you can sit by the edge with your feet dangling in and allow the little fish to nibble away at any dead skin cells. Swimming around this cavern is a treat as some areas are narrower than others, making it an adventurous journey past stalactite formations!
Cenote Samula boasts its own unique beauty- shallower water levels make for easy swimming even on hot days, plus there’s a rock island resting comfortably in its center- perfect for taking respite during your cenote journey. This circular cenote provides plenty of space to explore amongst open swimming area too!
6. Cenote Yokdzonot
Cenote Yokdzonot, located only thirty minutes away from the majestic Chichen Itza and conveniently close to Merida too, is an unbelievably large open-air cenote. This breathtaking landmark takes its name after the nearby town where it’s managed by a local community that strives to keep this site immaculate for visitors. Adding more fun to your experience here, they have a zipline set up with rappelling opportunities as well! To top off all of these amenities, there is also a delightful eatery serving scrumptious traditional dishes awaiting you upon arrival!
Enjoy the convenience of descending wooden stairs into this cenote, or challenge yourself with a daring plunge from its expansive leaping platforms. Feel secure in knowing that you are harnessed to a rope as you traverse across its immense size and, for your peace of mind, life jackets are always required. Don’t forget to stop by the artisan shop at the entrance, where you can purchase authentic Mexican souvenirs!
Entrance fee 150 MXN
Opening hours – daily beetween 9 am to 5 pm
Zip Line – 70 MXN
Rappelling – 70 MXN
6. Tsukán Santuario de Vida
Located only 20 minutes away from Chichen Itza, Tsukan is a private cenote that has opened its doors recently. Surrounded by lush botany and interpretative paths, this place provides great amenities such as an eatery serving regional cuisine, luxurious bathrooms and showers, plus a shop with fashionable t-shirts and other accessories. The highlight of the attractions here would be the captivating cave cenote filled with sparkling turquoise water! Though it does get crowded at times due to its limited entryway size not ideal for larger groups.
Despite its high price tag, so many people miss out on experiencing this magical cenote. A mere 180 steps away from the entrance is worth every step as you enjoy a breathtaking view of nature. What’s even more special about this place are the Mot Mots that inhabit it – said to be sacred birds for the Mayans with their vibrant feathers and long tails swaying like pendulums. I was lucky enough to spot three during my visit; however, they were too distant for me to capture them in my camera lens!
Entrance fee: 230 MXN
Opening hours: 9 am – 5 pm
For your own safety and peace of mind, a life jacket is mandatory when visiting the cenote. Please note that they are included in the price but you will need to sign a responsibility release form before entering since it’s particularly deep.
7. Cenote Kax Ek
Seek an adventurous escape from the traditional Chichen Itza route and explore Cenote Kax Ek, just 40 minutes away. However, be aware that it’s less visited by tourists due to its off-the-beaten-path location – requiring a 5 km journey along a bumpy dirt road before arriving at the cenote. And if you’re traveling with your four legged friend, unfortunately they won’t be allowed in as per most cenotes’ regulations.
The Cenote Kax Ek is huge and even though the water may appear murky from a distance, it’s remarkably transparent when you dip beneath the surface – its clarity contingent on atmospheric conditions. Even in such an isolated location, all pre-requisites are provided; showers, dressing rooms and restroom facilities are maintained to guarantee maximum sanitation. Not to mention that personnel guards always patrol these grounds so if you find yourself feeling uneasy about venturing here alone – fear not! You’re never without company at the cenote.
Entrance fee: 150 MX
Opening hours: 9 am to 5 pm
8. Cenote Lol-ha
If you are on a day trip to Chichen Itza, then don’t miss out the opportunity of visiting Cenote Lol Ha. Located in Yaxuna, it is an excellent chance to appreciate Mayan culture first-hand! This open cenote has easy access into its waters and platforms for thrill seekers who yearn to jump right into its magical underworld. I haven’t been there yet but soon will – rest assured that when I do visit this mesmerizing place, pictures capturing my adventure shall be shared here as well!
A cenote should always be respected, and that includes a mandatory shower before entering. Sadly, the current cenote only offers toilets but not showers; however, I’m hopeful this will soon change so visitors can clean off any body lotion residue or chemicals from their skin to prevent water pollution.
Entrance fee – 100 MXN (7.5 USD)
Opening hours – daily 10 am to 5 pm
Ensure your safety in the water with our life jacket rental service that is free with your addition fee.
Chichen Itza cenotes: Cenote Xcolot and Sacred Cenote
Located at the Chichen Itza archeological site are two cenotes: Cenote Xcolot and Sacred Cenote (Cenote Sagrado). Although you cannot swim in it, the latter is a breathtaking sight to behold within the grandeur of this ancient Mayan city. Nestled beyond thick vegetation near the Mayaland hotel stands Cenote Xcolot; although its presence may be significantly hidden, this mysterious location truly captivates any onlooker who visits.
The Mayans revered all cenotes, and they were used not only as sources of water but also for ceremonial purposes, with Chichen Itza Cenote having the most prominent position in human sacrifice rituals. While it may be shocking to some, being sacrificed was a great honor for the ancient Mayan people. To reach this sacred site from El Castillo, you’ll have to tread about 1 km through vendors hawking their goods – an experience akin to walking the streets of shame!
Rather than a meditative experience to the Sacred Cenote, it becomes an exciting challenge to reach without buying anything. When you eventually arrive there, take your time sitting in the calming shade of these ancient trees and search for the esteemed Mot Mot bird – also revered by Mayans. On my last journey to Chichen Itza, I was fortunate enough not only to spot some (see photo below), but this trip around I wasn’t as lucky.
Rent a Car
For an unforgettable experience, I always recommend exploring the Yucatan Peninsula in a rented car. It’s one of Mexico’s safest areas and you’ll have access to some magical gems that public transportation won’t take you to. With a Mexican SIM card (which is a must-have!) and Google Maps downloaded onto your device, navigating around will be a breeze! You’ll never get lost again—and on top of that, discover incredible places for accommodation and food with ease along the way—you’re guaranteed an amazing time!
Do I need to book a tour to visit Chichen Itza?
Absolutely, visiting Chichen Itza is completely secure – just like all the other important tourist locations in Mexico. You’ll be surrounded by people who share a similar purpose as you: sightseeing! The only thing to watch out for are pickpockets – though it’s unlikely that you will find them onsite. To be extra cautious, make sure your valuables stay with you at all times or use the lockers near the entrance to keep them safe and secure.
The basic cenote rules
When exploring a cenote, there are certain protocols to observe for the safety of both yourself and the environment.
Always shower beforehand if possible – even if no such facility is available at the site, you should still avoid using any form of lotion or repellent that could potentially damage your surroundings.
Additionally, never hold on to tree roots nor touch any stalactites or stalagmites in order to preserve their golden sheen and structural integrity.
To further show respect for nature’s gifts, do not collect anything from its depths; lastly, be sure to always take your trash with you when leaving so as not to leave behind an unpleasant reminder of human presence!
Remember to be mindful of your surrounding environment, and those around you.
Respect the natural beauty that surrounds us all by asking permission from Aluxes – the mischievous guardians of nature who protect cenotes and caves – before venturing into it.
Keep in mind they can cause harm if not properly respected, so remember to think before you act!
What to Pack for the Cenotes
To guarantee your visit to the awe-inspiring Cenotes is an unforgettable one, make sure you have packed these must-haves so that you can enjoy a tranquil and problem-free trip!
Swimwear: Don’t miss out on an unforgettable cenote experience – make sure you have this essential item before embarking on your journey!
Snorkel Mask or Goggles: Ready your snorkeling gear and take a journey of wonderment as you dive into the magnificent depths of these mesmerizing sinkholes! Put on your mask and goggles and prepare to be captivated by sights that will leave you in awe. Don’t miss out – equip yourself with all the necessary tools for an unforgettable experience.
Water Shoes: If you’re considering a trip to explore the enchanting cenotes of Mexico, make sure to invest in some quality water shoes. With their jagged rocks and slick surfaces, exploring these grottos can be dangerous if your feet are unprotected – but with reliable footwear, you’ll feel secure enough to take in this amazing experience! Additionally, having waterproof items is essential when visiting the coral reef and going snorkeling. So don’t let footing issues prevent you from an exhilarating journey – get yourself some strong water shoes for an unforgettable adventure!
Water Bottle: Don’t forget to bring along your trusty, reusable water bottle! The humidity and heat in the area make drinking unclean tap water a risky proposition. Make sure you have an incredibly sturdy container that can survive any adventure or better yet, opt for a LifeStraw filter bottle. This way not only will you stay hydrated but also guarantee clean liquid consumption with each sip – all while reducing your plastic waste footprint too!
Camera: The captivating beauty of cenotes is simply too marvelous to not take photos and videos. Bring along your waterproof camera or GoPro so that you can capture stunning shots while submerged in the depths! Not only will these images be extraordinary, but they’ll also serve as a lasting reminder of this remarkable experience for years to come.
Is there Uber in Cancun, Tulum, Valladolid or Playa del Carmen?
Unfortunately, no. Even though the app is functional there has been a lot of push-back from the local taxi-mafia and some violence so for your safety, we would suggest against using it.
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