Best Cenotes in Mexico

What are the best cenotes in Mexico? The Yucatan Peninsula is known to have the world’s most widespread range of underwater sinkholes and caves called cenotes. Some of these cenotes are open like a lake, others completely closed with only a small opening. There are more than 6000 of them in the Yucatan, so you have plenty of options to choose from.  Each cenote is inhabited by colorful fish, some have cliffs to jump from or you can even find a zipline. Whether you’re staying in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum or near Merida you can easily find a few cenotes around. Here is my list of best cenotes in Mexico – enjoy!  At the cenotes in Mexico, you’ll be asked to swim without any lotions or creams on your skin at all, as can poison fish, sea plants, and other delicate marine life. However, you can get a biodegradable sunscreen.  The best biodegradable, reef safe sunscreen is TotLogic Natural Sunscreen SPF 30.  To learn more about this area, read our Yucatan Peninsula Mexico post.

What To Take With You To A Cenote

Bring swimwear, biodegradable reef safe sunscreen, water, sandals/flip flops and a towel, and leave your valuables at home. Entrance fees are usually around $8 per person.  Due to their popularity, a lot of cenotes have changing facilities, plus flashlights, life vests and snorkeling equipment to rent.

Here are the best cenotes in Mexico:

Cenote Dos Ojos

Located just 15 minutes north of Tulum off Highway 307, or a one hour drive from Cancun Airport, Cenote Dos Ojos is a flooded cave system first discovered in 1986. Although it continues to be explored today, the cave system is known to extend at least 61km, and is one of the deepest known cave passages with a depth of 118 metres. Dos Ojos, meaning ‘two eyes’, refers to the two cenotes connected by a large cavern zone. One of these cenotes is clear blue water, giving snorkelers and divers high visibility. The other, named the ‘black eye’, is virtually light-free and visitors will need a flashlight to dive here. The area is very cramped however, and isn’t for everyone. There are also dry caves which divers can surface at, including the famous bat cave. Remember to bring food with you to this cenote, as there are no restaurants on site.  Stay in Tulum at the exceptional La Valise Tulum.

Cenote Azul

Just off the highway between Chichen Itza and Valladolid is the beautiful secluded Cenote Azul, situated in an ecological and archaeological park. The cenote is 26 metres deep, surrounded by vegetation, and has crystal clear water perfect for swimming in. The beautiful turquoise water and marine life also make this a divers dream.  If you aren’t a diver, there are still plenty of things to do here, such as jumping off the mini cliff into the water, wading through the shallow pools, or simply having a picnic in the beautiful area. From the nearby Playa Del Carmen or Tulum, visitors can take an inexpensive minivan or taxi to reach Cenote Azul.  Stay in Playa del Carmen at the awesome Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort.

Cenote Samula

Located in Dzitnup, this underground cenote is one of the most photographed cenotes in the Yucatan. The massive hole in the ceiling allows a huge system of roots to reach towards the water nearly 8 meters below.  To access the cenote, visitors must go down a stone staircase, followed by a wooden staircase that leads to a viewing platform. From here, you can swim through the crystal clear water. A series of ropes have been set up to make it easier to cross the water, and snorkeling equipment is available to rent. Stay in Valladolid at the exceptional Casa Marlene.

Cenote Ponderosa

For those who want to mix a little history into their holiday, Cenote Ponderosa is perfect for discovering some Mayan rituals. Also known as the Garden of Eden, this cenote was once the location of human sacrifices and the offerings of jade and gold, which were thrown into the water.  The cenote is 15 meters deep, and visitors will see shimmering fish flitting in and out of underwater caves. The area is covered partly by a rocky ceiling, as if chiseled from the side of the rainforest. Visitors can jump from the rocky ledge and swim out to the sunny freshwater pond for snorkeling, or experience cavern and cave diving.  Diving equipment is available to rent on site. Stay in Xpu Ha at the wonderful Hotel Esencia.

Cenote Grutas de Loltun

The largest and most interesting cavern on the Yucatan Peninsula, Grutas de Loltun is a treasure trove of data for archaeologists. Carbon dating has been used at this site, revealing that humans used these caves 2,200 years ago.  Murals of hands, faces, and animals have been found here, but sadly not many of these remain due to people touching them. Even if you don’t like swimming or diving, Grutas de Loltun allows visitors to view the area without having to get wet. Guides lead you through a network of caverns featuring tree roots bursting through the ceiling. These intricate caves create adventure and mystery, and an unforgettable experience.  You’ll need to pack some food for this cenote, as there isn’t anywhere to purchase food.  You can rent snorkeling equipment and flashlights on site.  Stay in Oxkutzcab at the Hotel Puuc.

Cenote Yokdzonot

Amidst the Maya Jungle and just a 15 minute drive from the Mayan pyramids at Chichen Itza is the town of Yokdzonot. Follow the signs to the Ecological Park and you’ll find the beautiful freshwater cenote. The cenote is run by 18 local Mayan females, so ensure you take care when visiting this delicate area. The site itself is enchanting and the women who run it have set up several facilities including a restaurant, kitchen, and public bathrooms.  Stay in Mérida at the exceptional Villa Tievoli Bed & Breakfast.

Cenote Grand

Gran Cenote is just like a remote tropical beach in an underground cave! Wander down the path to the white, sandy shoreline at the bottom before descending through gardens of tropical foliage.  Snorkeling is the main attraction here, along with the fish, turtles, and stalagmites.  Stay in Tulum at the exceptional La Valise Tulum.

30 Comments

  1. Fabian Keresztfalvi

    Lots of useful info in one article on all these wonderful cenote locations. I have been looking into traveling to the Yucatan Peninsula, and had heard about Cenotes. So this information was great, I now know which ones to see and where to find my hotel. Great photos too! These are definitely bucket list items that I will be checking off soon!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      So glad this information was helpful for you and your upcoming vacation planning to the Yucatan Peninsula. Please let me know if you need any travel information in your planning. Thanks for visiting the Best Cenotes in Mexico.

      Reply
  2. Lyndsay

    Interesting article! I have never heard the term cenote before, but curious, how is it pronounced? I was reading it as “sea-note” is that correct?
    The one at Cenote Grutas de Loltun looks incredible and with the hole in the ceiling of the cave, shining through, It couldn’t be more perfect. Thanks for this information, it is good to know for our next trip!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are right Lyndsay, it is pronounced sea note 🙂  I agree that Cenote Grutas de Loltun could not be more perfect.  Wonderful really!  Thanks for visiting beachtraveldestinations.com.

      Reply
  3. sarah

    Amazing destinations, I will consider them for sure whenever I plan my holidays. Thank you so much for sharing this amazing touring guide on line. It is great and full of amazing ideas

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are welcome Sarah! They at amazing, and what is nice is anywhere you go in the Yucatan to vacation to, will have cenotes close by. There are so many of them! Thanks for reading about the best Cenotes in Mexico.

      Reply
  4. Penelope

    What a great post, you’ve done ALL of the work for me! I want to see all of these cenotes, but I think the dos ojos looks like the first stop on my tour. Caves are just incredible, I remember visiting mammoth cave in kentucky, and standing at the mouth of it on a hot summer day. It felt like I was standing in front of a huge walk-in refrigerator. No wonder primitive man found refuge in them!!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Exactly Penelope. Your description of it feeling like you were standing in front of a huge walk-in refrigerator is a perfect description. I love Dos Ojos. I think I could spend a month going from cenote to cenote in the Yucatan and still not be tired of seeing and experiencing them. I hope you can make it to the Yucatan Peninsula soon, so you can visit some of these wonderful places. Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  5. Paul

    Best Cenotes in Mexico-
    What an incredible first photo. It almost looks magic.
    Cenote Dos Ojos- that’s a nice detailed and helpful review of Dos Ojos. I wonder what the attraction is to dive in the ‘black eye’ when there is no visibility without a flashlight? I do love snorkeling in clear blue water. Although I haven’t done any in many years.
    Cenote Azul- Good idea to include the hotels and how travel around near the Cenotes. All of them seem beautiful enough to go see just for the views if you don’t dive.
    Cenote Samula- is this the one that is in many movies? I’ve seen one that sounds just like this in several. The wooden platform, you referred to as the viewing platform looks so familiar. I love the way you describe the way to get to the water. Sounds like a real adventure.
    Cenote Ponderosa-That sounds like a cool place. I’ve long been interested in those old Mayan rituals. Always wondered if the movies blew it out of proportion or did they really toss babies off in to the water?
    Cenote Grutas de Loltun- That’s so unfortunate that we destroyed that wall art. Sounds like a fun hiking adventure also.
    Cenote Yokdzonot- I wonder what the story is behind the 18 Mayan women who run this one.
    Cenote Grand- This one looks very large and beautiful also.
    Did you put together the video? It looks very nice.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I did not do the video….I wish I were that talented. I keep trying and they just don’t turn out professional looking to me. I am glad you enjoyed your digital vacation of the best cenotes in Mexico.

      Reply
  6. kay

    Hi there,

    Mexico is such a great place. To be honest, I never knew what Cenotes was until I came across yoru article. These destinations are so beautiful. I wish I can go there right now. I just love reading your articles, and I love to look at the picture you have, breathtaking.

    Cheers,

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Great Kay, I am glad you enjoy visiting my site, BeachTravelDestinations.com, and learning about cenotes. I think they are a great natural wonder!

      Reply
  7. Don

    I did not know what a Cenotes was until I read this article. The beauty of the earth is amazing. These destinations look inviting and I would like to go to one in the future.

    I really like your caution about the sunscreen. We should leave the earth as we found it, clean and undisturbed. Great suggestion on biodegradable sunscreen.

    Loved the article.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Great Don, glad you enjoyed reading. Yes, we do need to take care of these natural wonders so that they can be enjoyed for many years to come. Glad you enjoyed visiting beachtraveldestinations.com.

      Reply
  8. lance

    It’s so amazing that cenotes are a natural gift to the Earth.  They are great places for sure. We also have cenotes here, not large but I am curious how unique these cenotes in Mexico are.  They are breathtaking.   However, it is sad that some get damaged by visitors, you would think visitors would take care of this great natural gift. I have a good passion travling, and I am looking forward to my trip to Mexico.  

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, they are amazing, and it is sad that people disregard the signs and take away what other will never see.  Still worth enjoying for sure.  There are so many choices for visiting in this area.  If you need help on a particular destination, please feel free to contact me.

      Reply
  9. carol

    These cenotes are absolutely beautiful. I have been in caves before in Barbados and Jamaica and they are gorgeous. I must say however that these cenotes are breath taking. My plans to take a trip to Mexico seems more realistic now. I would love to visit the Cenote Grand as it offers the white sandy beach. Hope I can take a trip soon.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes the Cenote Grand is probably the #1 visited cenote. It is amazing, and you are right, having a white sandy beach there too makes it even better! Thanks for reading Carol.

      Reply
  10. Lee Ann

    I have always wanted to visit Mexico. These beaches and that water looks so inviting.
    It’s just sad that Grutas de Loltun murals have been damaged by the hands of visitors. I would love to see an ancient part of history as beautiful as that.
    All of the cenotes look beautiful. It makes it hard to figure out which one I would like to put on my bucket list. I think I will have to get the husbands input on this one.
    If I don’t stay away from your site, my bucket list will be nothing but beaches I want to visit.
    But that is ok with me. I have never been able to travel and I love beaches, so what better bucket list is there then one filled with the beauty of nature.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      If you plan a vacation, head to the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico. Most of the cenotes are found here. So you can pick a destination and see what cenotes are close. I am a bit partial to Campeche just for all it has to offer. If you have any more questions, please feel free to shoot me a message.

      Reply
  11. Anna

    Cenotes are beautiful! We were, I believe, in Cenote Samula the last time we stayed in Mexico! The water was chilly but it worth it! Cenote Grand looks amazing too! Where does this one locate? Also on the Yucatan Peninsula?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Grand Cenote is close to Tulum in the Yucatan Peninsula 🙂 Yes, the chilly water is well worth it. Invigorating actually! Glad you enjoyed your digital vacation of the cenotes in Mexico.

      Reply
  12. Mick

    WOW! I have never heard of cenotes before and I must admit they look fantastic. Mexico has been on my list of places to visit for a very long time now. This is certainly a place worth visiting!

    A great looking website which I am going to take a look at in more depth.

    Thanks for bringing these to my attention

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are welcome Mick. The best place for cenotes is anywhere in the Yucatan Peninsula. Here you will find them in abundance. My list would have been entirely too long if I had listed them all 🙂 Please let me know if you would need any additional information.

      Reply
  13. Steve

    This looks absolutely amazing. My wife and I went to Cancun years ago and took a day trip to Xel Ha. We had the same experience, where you are not allowed to wear sunscreen etc. These cenotes look like a really cool adventure, although it sounds like they are getting more and more popular. Either way, what a fun and different thing to do when you are on vacation. When we were in Cancun we also took a trip to Chichen Itza, but our tour didn’t stop at any of the water caves. It sounds like we missed out! Now we need to plan another trip just so we can see all of these awesome cenotes. Thank you for sharing, this is awesome.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are welcome Steve, and yes they have become quite popular for sure. Oh yes, you need to visit the water caves on your next visit for sure! Glad you enjoyed reading about the best cenotes in Mexico.

      Reply
  14. Clyde Coles

    Wow, before I read this, I didn’t even know what a Cenote was! Your pictures and text made me want to travel there now.

    I do love Mexico and now I love Cenotes!

    Clyde

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Cenotes are beautiful and fun Clyde. Well worth visiting them if you are heading to the Yucatan Peninsula. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

      Reply
  15. Tiffany

    What a beautiful website! I’m looking for a place to vacation this summer. I’m definitely going to bookmark. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Great, there is lots of wonderful beach destinations to choose from for sure. Thank you for visiting the Best Cenotes in Mexico.

      Reply

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