Free Guide: Top 5 Best Cancun Cenotes
Caribbean Mexico is famous around the world for its spectacular beaches, but there is an incredible amount to explore away from the coast as well. Cancun Cenotes are one of the top natural attractions in the area. You’ll find these underground, sinkholes to be an incredible way to cool off, find rope swings or even explore underground caves and rivers as you snorkel and scuba dive in the clear, fresh water. Cenotes also hold an important cultural significance for the Maya people, symbolizing a portal to the underworld. In fact, the word cenote comes from the Mayan term dzonot, which means well.
If you visit this part of the world and don’t take a Cancun cenote tour, you’ll miss out on a unique and unforgettable experience. But, as you begin looking into your options you might be overwhelmed by the hundreds of cenotes in the Yucatán Peninsula.
So, which cenotes are worth the trip? And, what should you know before you set out on your adventure? We have created our list of the best five Cancun cenotes to provide you with all the information you need to make the best decision!
1. Cenote Ik Kil, Chichen Itza
This Cancun cenote is one of the most famous ones in the region. Located in the Ik Kil Archeological Park, it is only minutes away from Chichen Itza, one of the 7 New Wonders of the World. Given this Chichen + Cenote combo is so close together, we think it’s well worth making the 2.5 hour drive from downtown Cancun.
A great plan is to visit the spectacularly preserved Chichen Itza and then head to Ik Kil afterward for a refreshing swim. Be careful when you go down! The way down to the spectacular underground natural pool is through a long set of stone stairs, which can be quite slippery.
Once at the entrance of this Cancun cenote, you will be able to swim in the impressive 130-foot deep pool. Bathe in the natural beauty as the light streaming in from above causes a magical effect. The spectacular waterfall along with the surrounding natural beauty puts this cenote at the top of our list! Checkout our recommendation on the best way to visit Chichen Itza and Ik Kil + a buffet and tequila tasting too! Keep in mind that if you plan to swim in the cenote they do require a life-vest for safety.
2. Cenote Siete Bocas
This incredible Cancun cenote has seven entrances connected through underground tunnels. There are ropes and lights to guide you while exploring these amazing structures. One of the entrances is ideal for scuba diving.
After swimming to your heart’s content, you can stay for a picnic or continue your exploration. Given it is located right next to a beautiful jungle, your guide might be able to help you explore this area without running the risk of getting lost. Unlike other Cancun cenotes on this list, Siete Bocas is only an hour away from downtown Cancun, making it a great option for a shorter, half-day visit. Life jackets are available onsite, but are not required for a swim in this Cancun cenote.
3. Cenote Azul
This Cancun cenote is a very well-known attraction and it’s perfect for a full-day family adventure. Cenote Azul is very large with many places for everyone to simply sit down and enjoy the sun. Oh, and did we mention that this cenote is entirely open? Unlike other more cave-like structures, this Cancun cenote sits up high and in the sun. It is a perfect spot for those that are curious about the cenote experience, but not a fan of enclosed spaces. This openness only adds to its beauty as the sun highlights the breathtaking colors of the place. Plus, it’s a great place to do some snorkeling if you want to.
Cenote Azul – or Blue Cenote – is also a good choice for those that may have mobility issues. There are fewer steps compared with Ik Kil or Siete Bocas. And while it is not wheelchair accessible, it can be much easier to walk to than others. This Cancun cenote tour will be a full-day experience considering Cenote Azul is about 3 hours away from downtown Cancun. You can also make it an overnight trip and take this opportunity to visit and stay in Playa del Carmen or Tulum, which are both very close!
4. Cenote Samula
This unique cenote offers the chance to visit at night! Take in the beautiful sight of the shimmering, purple lights that illuminate this Cancun cenote. By day, Cenote Samula offers the chance to connect deeply with nature as you lay back and enjoy the quiet of the cave. The cenote itself has beautiful turquoise waters, and while most of it is covered by a stone ceiling, there is an opening through which the sun illuminates the area.
It is located very close to Valladolid, about 2 hours away from downtown Cancun. A great option may be to visit Valladolid by day and then enjoy this evening experience at Cenote Samula as the sun starts to set. If you come by yourself, plan to bring a life-jacket or you’ll need to rent one there.
5. Cenote Dos Ojos
Perhaps the most famous of all the cenotes in the area is Dos Ojos – or Two Eyes – which can be found in documentaries and photography around the globe. As the name implies, these are two different cenotes interconnected by an underground river, which is over 1,000 feet long 300+ feet deep!
The two main areas are the Blue Eye and the Black Eye. The Blue Eye is the most popular and perfect to have some fun during a Cancun cenote tour. Here you can splash and dive into some of the most crystal clear blue waters around, enjoying the shimmering light that comes from the opening in the ceiling.
For the adventurous cenote seekers, the Black Eye, void of light, provides a more intense experience as there is little to no visibility! You’ll need waterproof lights to be able to find your way around. We recommend bringing a phone in a ziploc as a backup and a waterproof flashlight is even better. Here you’ll have the chance to enjoy the incredible stalactites and stalagmites that feel like the teeth of the large cenote.
This cenote is located about 20 minutes north of Tulum, which is perfect access for those staying south of Playa Del Carmen. If you are in Cancun or Cozumel, this cenote would be well-paired with a trip to visit the ruins in the famous town of Tulum.
Most of the Cancun cenotes require an entrance fee ranging from $4-19 dollars. If you take a tour, those fees will be included along with any needed equipment, snacks and a guide that can help lead you snorkeling or diving as well.
Other Cenote Experiences
While these are our top 5 recommended cenotes in the area, there are also some incredible tours that involve cenotes you won't want to miss. Adrenaline junkies can zipline down and splash into a cenote at Xplor Park near Playa Del Carmen. Here, you can also take a one or two-person raft to explore caves and stalactites in a safe and exciting environment.
If you want to pair a cenote visit with more action, checkout this extreme combo that allows you to snorkel, ride ATVs, ziplines and swim in a beautiful Cancun cenote. Or lastly, checkout the Tulum ruins, swim with turtles in Akumal and then visit an underground cenote in this incredible combo tour.
Visiting the cenotes is a unique experience that will allow you to connect with nature and make the most of your visit to Cancun. Feel free to reach out for more information on Cancun cenote tours, tips, tricks or other opportunities to see them while on another excursion.
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