North America Mexico 20 Best Cenotes in Mexico You Must Visit

20 Best Cenotes in Mexico You Must Visit


Mexico is famous for its cenotes – natural sinkholes filled with freshwater that have opened up below the earth’s surface.

These natural wonders are beautiful to see and refreshing to swim in. Hidden by jungle, or surrounded by Mayan ruins, a day out at a Mexican cenote is an experience as much as it is a sightseeing trip. 

The best cenotes to visit in Mexico are almost always found on the Yucatan Peninsula, where natural conditions and the geological history of the area have produced thousands of these spectacular, underground pools. 

To inspire your adventure, here are some of the best cenotes in Mexico!

Table of Content

What is a Cenote?

In short, cenotes are ancient sinkholes that have, over time, filled with fresh water. 

But this simple definition doesn’t exactly do a cenote justice, because they are much, much more than just a hole filled with water.

The word cenote derives from the Mayan word ts’onot which refers to any location with accessible groundwater. The majority of Mexico’s cenotes are found in traditional Mayan territory and have played an important role in Mayan history.

Cenotes are ordinarily filled with clear, fresh water, and are connected to large bodies of underground water that have collected over millennia. The soft limestone of the Yucatan has allowed cenotes to form when the ground above these water reserves collapses.

The Mayans saw these cenotes as a connection with the underworld and the afterlife and often used them as burial pits or places of ritual sacrifice. They were considered to be sacred and entire Mayan cities, such as Chichen Itza, were built around them.

Today, the religious aspects of the cenote have disappeared and they are instead important tourist attractions. They are used as swimming holes, natural adventure playgrounds, and even cave diving sites. 

Map of Cenotes in Mexico

Below is a map with all of the best cenotes in Mexico.

How to Get to the Cenotes

There are thousands of cenotes across Mexico, but the vast majority of them are found on the Yucatan Peninsula, where geological conditions have been perfect for their formation. In the Yucatan Peninsula, there are at least 6,000 recorded cenotes of varying size, and many more are likely hidden away deep in the jungles.

Luckily though, you don’t need to launch an expedition to find the best cenotes in the Yucatan, many of the most spectacular ones are located close to the tourist hub of Cancun, major towns and cities, or accessible Mayan archaeological sites such as Chichen Itza. 

If a cenote is situated next to an archaeological ruin, or close to a town, then you should be able to use colectivos or shared taxis to reach it. You will save yourself a lot of time and effort by renting a car though, as many cenotes are off the main roads and more difficult to reach by public transport. Especially if you want to visit more than one in a day. You can compare car rental deals and find the cheapest prices at

If you are scuba diving in a cenote (usually near Cancun) then your dive shop should organize transport to the cenote for you.

Best Cenote Tours in Mexico

If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of renting a car or hiring a taxi, consider joining a cenote tour instead. There are several cenote tours to choose from but the most popular ones are:

1. Chichén Itzá, Ik Kil Cenote & Valladolid All-Inclusive Tour

On this tour you will not only visit one of the most popular Mayan ruins in Mexico but also one of the most beautiful Mexican cenotes. Afterwards you get to enjoy a delicious buffet meal and take a stroll around the colonial city of Valladolid to complete your experience.

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2. Tulum, Coba, & Cenote Full-Day Tour

Visit the ruins of Tulum and Coba as well as a cenote all in one day. This tour is perfect for people interested in Mayan history and culture.

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3. Tulum & Dos Ojos Cenotes Guided Tour

Explore the history of the ancient Maya civilization with a visit to the archaeological site of Tulum and learn more about the former city and its landmark monuments. Then refresh at the most famous ‘cenote’ in the area: Cenote Dos Ojos.

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4. From Tulum: Scuba Diving in Cenotes

Discover the magical underwater world of Mexico’s world famous Cenotes. Take a 30-minute scuba diving course before plunging into these beautiful natural swimming pools.

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5. From Tulum: Four-Cenote Adventure

Visit four incredible cenotes in the middle of the pristine jungle beyond Tulum. Enjoy swimming, canoeing, zip-lines, and jungle trekking before heading to a Mayan village and trying some exquisite traditional Mayan cuisine.

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Things to Bring to a Cenote

  • Biodegradable Sunscreen: Southern Mexico is hot and the sun is fierce, so you’ll want to bring along sunscreen to protect yourself from burning. You can help protect the environment by bringing biodegradable sunscreen along on your trip.
  • Water Shoes: Cenotes often have rocky pathways leading down to the water, so to protect your feet you might want to consider investing in a pair of quality water shoes. You can also use them on the beaches of Cancun!
  • Quick-Dry Towel: Quick-dry towels are incredibly compact and easy to carry around, and will dry you off easily. Plus they won’t leave the rest of your belongings soaking wet when you throw them back in your bag at the end of the day. 
  • GoPro: Cenotes are incredibly photogenic, and a GoPro is a must if you want to capture some excellent action shots or video clips while you’re out adventuring.

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Best Cenotes in Mexico

Best Cenotes near Tulum

Cenote Dos Ojos in Quintana Roo, Mexico
Simon Dannhauer /

1. Cenote Dos Ojos

Located halfway between Tulum and Playa del Carmen, Cenote Dos Ojos is filled with sparkling, turquoise water and is one of the best cenotes in Tulum as well as one of the most famous on the Yucatan Peninsula. Wooden stairs lead down to the clear water, where limestone rocks hang low over the cenote. 

You can join a guided snorkeling tour through the caverns or take a trip with a dive company to really explore the dense network of underground tunnels. There are lots of facilities, including lockers and changing rooms at Cenote Dos Ojos.

Opening Hours: 8am to 5pm
Entrance Fees: 350 MXN

Underwater el Pit Cenote Yucatan Mexico
Sabrina Inderbitzi /

2. El Pit Cenote

One of the best cenotes to dive in Mexico is El Pit Cenote, which is found just 3 kilometers down the road from the entrance to Cenote Dos Ojos. 

El Pit Cenote reaches down to a staggering depth of 40 meters, which is a lot further than you’ll be able to actually dive. The name of the cenote really sums this place up, as it is quite simply a deep pit carved into the ground. 

A dive here is a surreal experience, as the water is remarkably clear and the rock formations around you appear ephemeral as you drift slowly downwards. 

Opening Hours: 8am to 5pm (occasionally open for night dives too)
Entrance Fees: 350 MXN (plus cost of scuba diving tour)

Cenote Calavera also called temple of Doom, Tulum, Mexico
Pavel Tvrdy /

3. Cenote Calavera

Cenote Calavera is found just outside the town of Tulum, making this one of the easiest cenotes to visit in the area. 

Calavera is the Spanish word for skull, which is what the cenote looks like from above. 

There’s a very narrow entranceway with a wooden ladder leading down into the water. The entrance hides an underground labyrinth of waterways and caves, so don’t be fooled by the outside look of the place. The real beauty lies below ground. 

Opening Hours: 9am to 4pm
Entrance Fees: 100 MXN

Aktun-ha or Carwash Cenote in Mexico
Isabellaphotography /

4. Carwash Cenote

10 kilometers inland from Tulum – along the road that leads to the ruins of Coba – you can find the unusually named Carwash Cenote. This is a cenote that’s never as busy as others near Tulum which is reflected in the much lower entrance price. 

There are also far fewer facilities, however. But what it lacks in facilities it makes up for in raw, rugged beauty. Carwash Cenote looks more like a lake than a cenote, as the water rises to groundwater and there are no steep ladders to climb down.

The cenote is deep though, and is a popular cave diving spot. The large, open space above also makes this one of the best cenotes to snorkel in Mexico. The origins of the cenote’s name is unclear, but it’s rumored to have once been used as a carwash stop by passing drivers before it became a protected site.

Opening Hours: 9am to 5pm
Entrance Fees: 50 MXN

The Gran Cenote in Mexico
Byelikova Oksana /

5. Gran Cenote

Just 5 kilometers along the road to Coba you can find another one of Tulum’s best cenotes. This is also one of the most popular cenotes in Tulum, so try to get there either quite early or just before closing time to avoid the crowds. 

The cenote is hidden away in the jungle, but there are modern changing facilities and lockers you can make use of. 

A wide, rocky overhang covers the clear water and forms the entranceway into this deep cave system. You can dive and snorkel, or just swim around and enjoy the natural beauty of Gran Cenote.

Opening Hours: 8am to 5pm
Entrance Fees: 180 MXN

Best Cenotes near Playa Del Carmen

Cenote Azul in the Riviera Maya, Yucatan Peninsula
Aysin Ozturk /

6. Cenote Azul

The most famous cenote close to Playa del Carmen could well be Cenote Azul. The ‘Blue Cenote’ is well-deserving of its fame and the crowds that are drawn to it (especially in peak season).

The cenote is just twenty minutes south of Playa del Carmen, just off the main highway that runs along the Riviera Maya coastline. There’s plenty of space for the crowds, and there’s a huge area of blue water. 

You can jump in from the limestone cliffs above or snorkel beneath them. There’s a mixture of deep, undercover water and shallow, open-air water to explore, so it’s popular with families as well as kids. 

Opening Hours: 8am to 5pm
Entrance Fees: 120 MXN

Cenote Jardin del Eden in Quintana Roo, Yucatan, Mexico
Iren Key /

7. Cenote Jardin del Eden

Cenote Jardin del Eden is named for the biblical Garden of Eden because it is a lush paradise of verdant scenery and blue water. The cenote is close to Cenote Azul and you can visit both on the same trip.

At the Garden of Eden you will find an open cenote surrounded by greenery, hidden away in the jungle. It’s a great place for swimming and simply sitting back and relaxing in the sun. 

Opening Hours: 9am to 5pm
Entrance Fees: 200 MXN

Cenote Cristalino near Tulum, Mexico
Iren Key /

8. Cenote Cristalino

In the same area as the above cenotes is the equally beautiful Cenote Cristalino. Like the other cenotes here, Cenote Cristalino is above ground. 

The shallow, open water is surrounded by lush, green jungle, making this a beautiful spot to spend the day relaxing and paddling around in the cool water. 

There are also a few cliff jumps into the deeper sections of the cenote.

Opening Hours: 8am to 6pm
Entrance Fees: 150 pesos

Cenote Chaak Tun, in Playa del Carmen, Mexico
mundosemfim /

9. Cenote Chaak Tun

If you’re looking for a more cavernous space more typical of Mexican cenotes, head inland from Playa del Carmen to Cenote Chaak Tun. 

This cenote is underground and is not wide open like the others close to Playa del Carmen. The largest cave at Cheek Tun has just one source of light, which is a narrow hole in the limestone ceiling and creates an enchanting underground atmosphere.

The two main caves are linked, and it’s a great place to explore. You are given a life jacket and hard hat at the entrance, so this is one for the more adventurous travelers.

Chaak Tun entrance fees are quite steep for a cenote but include snorkeling equipment as well as a guide. There also aren’t too many other tourists around, so it’s worth the costs if you’re looking to find a hidden gem on the Riviera Maya that hasn’t been overrun by tourists. 

Opening Hours: 9am to 3pm
Entrance Fees: 500 MXN (Includes equipment and a guide!)

Best Cenotes near Cancun

Underwater Casa Cenote Yucatan Mexico
Sabrina Inderbitzi /

10. Cenote Verde Lucero

Cenote Verde Lucero is located halfway between Cancun and Playa del Carmen and you’ll quickly see why it’s been given the Spanish name ‘Bright Green’. 

Cenote Verde Lucero, which is home to ziplines and jumping platforms is definitely the best cenote in Cancun for an outdoor adventure. 

You can zip across the bright green water, surrounded by tall rocks and jungle, or you can just float in the refreshing water. 

Opening Hours: 8am to 5pm
Entrance Fees: 200 MXN

Cenote La Noria in Mexico
David Beyer /

11. Cenote La Noria

Cenote La Noria is just a few kilometers down the road from Cenote Verde Lucero, and you can easily visit both natural sites in the same day trip from Cancun if you have your own vehicle. 

Throw yourself into the deep, startlingly blue water of Cenote La Noria to cool off from the humidity of the Cancun jungle by swinging off one of the rope swings.

Opening Hours: 8am to 5pm
Entrance Fees: 200 MXN

Best Cenotes near Chichen Itza & Valladolid

Ik-Kil Cenote near Chichen Itza, Mexico.
Jose Ignacio Soto /

12. Cenote Ik Kil

Chichen Itza is a must-visit Mayan archaeological site while you are in the Yucatan, but just outside the entrance, a twenty-minute walk or short collectivo ride along the road, you can also find one of the peninsula’s best cenotes. 

This enormous cenote is almost perfectly circular, with steep walls hiding the deep blue water below. Found in the jungle, long vines and creepers hang from the trees high above, creating a cenote of unique natural wonder. 

Although it’s now a popular swimming spot and a great place to cool off after a long day in the heat of the Chichen Itza ruins, Cenote Ik Kil was once one of the most sacred places in the Mayan world, a place steeped in legend, ceremony, and tradition. 

Opening Hours: 9am to 5pm
Entrance Fees: 80 MXN

Cenote Suytun at Valladolid, Yucatan - Mexico
Simon Dannhauer /

13. Cenote Suytun

Cenote Suytun is a fifteen-minute drive outside of Valladolid, and it’s a great place to take an epic photo.

At Cenote Suytun you can find a stone walkway leading into the middle of a deep cave, illuminated by the natural light that creeps through the cracks in the rock. The walkway is surrounded by deep blue water, and is a truly unique setting. 

You’ve probably seen Cenote Suytun on Instagram because standing on the stone platform in the middle of the water makes for a truly awesome photo. There’s usually a queue for this spot though, so arrive early if you don’t want to spend an hour waiting in line just for the ‘gram!

It’s not all about the photographs though, and you should take a dip in the cold water too. 

Opening Hours: 8am to 6pm
Entrance Fees: 120 MXN

Cenote Zaci - Valladolid, Mexico
Diego Grandi /

14. Cenote Zaci

One of the best cenotes in Yucatan is Cenote Zaci, a spectacular cenote found deep underground, with a winding pathway leading down towards the water. The cliffs are high and the water can be tricky to get in and out of, but you’ll see many locals and travelers simply jump or dive in off the high ledges. 

All this may sound like many other cenotes in the Yucatan, but Cenote Zaci is literally in the center of Valladolid. Walk-in off the busy street, and you’re in the midst of the cenote. 

Valladolid was built around this natural cenote, and for centuries it’s been the secret center of this now busy tourist town. Explore the sights of Valladolid, then have a swim to cool off, all for just 30 pesos, 

Opening Hours: 8am to 5.30pm 
Entrance Fees: 30 MXN

Crystal blue water in Cenote XKeken (XQuequen) in Dzitnup village near Valladolid city - Yucatan Peninsula - Mexico
Simon Dannhauer /

15. Cenote X’keken

You can find Cenote X’keken just a short ten-minute drive outside of Valladolid, on the road towards the town of Dzitnup (Cenote X’keken is also often called Cenote Dzitnup!).

This is a stunning cenote to visit, with blue water lit up magically by the rays of sunlight bursting through the limestone rocks. Vines and creepers hang low over the water, while ancient stalactites and stalagmites complete the picture. 

Opening Hours: 9am to 6pm
Entrance Fees: 80 MXN

Cenote Samula Dzitnup near Valladolid, Yucatan, Mexico
Simon Dannhauer /

16. Cenote Samula

Cenote Samula is actually found right next to Cenote X’keken and confusingly, is often also called Cenote Dzitnup. Generally, though, when locals use the name Dzitnup they will be referring to the wider area where both cenotes are located. 

Cenote Samula is just as magical as its neighbor, and you can find vibrantly turquoise water in the middle of a deep cave. A single hole in the ceiling of the limestone rock lets in the natural light that illuminates the surrounding cavern. 

Opening Hours: 9am to 6pm
Entrance Fees: 80 MXN

17. Cenote Hubiku

Cenote Hubiku is found 20 minutes to the north of Valladolid on the way to the ruins of Ek Balam, an archaeological site that has nowhere near the number of tourists that Chichen Itza has. 

Cenote Hubiku is enormous, and it’s enclosed by a grand cave that has just a few entrances for natural light. It’s a great place for swimming or snorkeling and you can also find a restaurant and a few souvenir shops on site which generally cater to the odd tour bus that turns up on its way to Ek Balam.  

Opening Hours: 9am to 5pm
Entrance Fees: 100 MXN

Best Cenotes near Merida

18. Cenote Sambulá

If you’re looking to escape the more touristy areas of the Yucatan you can find the most underrated cenotes within reach of the peninsula’s largest city, Merida. 

Cenote Sambula is arguably the most spectacular cenote in the region, a startlingly beautiful place to visit, where the turquoise water shimmers in the rays of sunshine that creep through the cracks in the rock above. 

A small island of rocks rises in the center of the cave, surrounded by water and long vines reaching down to the island from the roof of the cave. 

Opening Hours: 9am to 5pm
Entrance Fees: 50 MXN

Cenote Xlacah situated in Dzibilchaltun zona archeologica area in Mexico
Pe3k /

19. Cenote Xlacah

Located just a few kilometers north of Merida, Cenote Xlacah is unique because it’s not underground, but at ground level. 

Cenote Xlacah is more like a large lake, or pond, but the water extends quite deep, all the way to where the cave system is just as elaborate as any other on the Yucatan Peninsula. 

The cenote is made all the more spectacular by the fact that it’s located amongst the archaeological ruins of Dzibilchaltun.

Explore the ancient Mayan city, then cool off with a refreshing dip in Cenote Xlacah.

Opening Hours: 8am to 5pm
Entrance Fees: 120 MXN (entrance to the archeological site included)

Cenote X'batun in Mexico
Patricia Roman /

20. Cenote X’batun

Cenote X’batun is found a one hour drive south of Merida, and it’s hardly the most well known cenote in the Yucatan. 

That’s perfect if you’re looking to get off the beaten track, and you’ll quickly find that Cenote X’batun can match any of the more popular cenotes near the Riviera Maya in terms of natural beauty. On weekends though, it can get busy with locals escaping the city. 

There are actually two cenotes here that you can swim in, and both are incredibly deep, and flanked by rocky, jungle-clad cliffs. 

Opening Hours: 8am to 5pm
Entrance Fees: 50 MXN

There are thousands of cenotes across Mexico, and we’ve only listed the top 20. You can easily spend a lifetime searching out these natural sinkholes across the Yucatan and southern Mexico, and you’ll find that each one is as spectacular as the last!



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