There’s something magical about swimming in a cenote. Perhaps it’s the feeling of being surrounded by nature or the sense of adventure that comes with exploring an unknown place. Whatever the reason, Mexico is home to some of the best cenotes in the world.
What Is a Cenote?
Before we dive into the best cenotes in Mexico, let’s first answer the question: “What is a cenote?” Cenotes are natural swimming holes formed when limestone collapses, revealing a hidden pool of water.
While there are many different types of cenotes, the two most common are above-ground and underground. Above ground, cenotes are typically open to the sky and have a small pool of water at the bottom.
On the other hand, underground cenotes are completely enclosed and often much larger. Now that we know what cenotes are, let’s look at some of the best ones in Mexico.
The 12 Best Cenotes in Mexico in 2023
Mexico is home to some of the most stunning cenotes in the world. However, with so many to choose from, it can be hard to decide which ones to visit. We’ve put together a list of 12 of the best cenotes in Mexico so you can make sure you see the very best that this country has to offer.
From the world-famous Gran Cenote to the lesser-known but equally beautiful Angelita cenote, there’s something for everyone on this list. Whether you’re looking for a place to cool off on a hot day or somewhere to explore, you’re sure to find the right one for you.
1. Dos Ojos – Tulum
Dos Ojos means “two eyes” in Spanish, and this cenote lives up to its name with two large sinkholes connected by a long underwater cave. Dos Ojos is one of the most popular cenotes for scuba diving, and it’s easy to see why.
It’s an underwater paradise with crystal clear water, a variety of fish and other marine life, and some of the most impressive cave formations in Mexico.
If you’re not a certified diver, don’t worry. Dos Ojos also offers snorkeling tours, so you can still enjoy all the beauty this cenote offers.
2. Gran Cenote – Tulum
Located just minutes from the bustling town of Tulum, Gran Cenote is a popular destination for both locals and tourists alike. This enormous underwater cave system is home to various plant and animal life.
And its crystal clear waters are ideal for swimming, snorkeling, and exploring. While Gran Cenote does get crowded, it’s still worth a visit. Just be sure to arrive early to avoid the worst of the crowds.
3. Cenotes Yaxmuul – Tulum
Cenotes Yaxmuul – Tulum is one of the most popular cenotes in the area. It is a large, open cenote with a deep pool of clear water. Cenotes Yaxmuul is also popular for its fish.
You can see many different kinds of fish swimming in the clear water, including some that are unique to this cenote.
If you are looking for a fun and unique experience, Cenotes Yaxmuul – Tulum is the perfect place for you. Just be sure to bring your swimsuit!
4. Casa Cenote (Cenote Manatí) – Tulum
Casa Cenote is located just off the coast of Tulum, and it is one of the many cenotes that dot the landscape of this region. This particular cenote is open to the sky, making for stunning photos.
The water in Casa Cenote is crystal clear, and it is perfectly safe to swim in. There are also plenty of fish that call this place home.
So don’t be surprised if you get a little nibble while you’re swimming! If you’re looking for a fun and unique experience in Tulum, be sure to add Casa Cenote to your list!
5. Cenote Oxmán – Yucatan
Cenote Oxmán is a truly magical place. It’s easily accessible and offers a variety of activities for visitors to enjoy. The main feature of Cenote Oxmán is its hanging roots, which create an otherworldly atmosphere.
Visitors can swim in the refreshing waters, explore the unique rock formations, and even swing on a rope swing into the cenote.
There are also several points of interest nearby, including a Mayan ruin and Cenote Suytun. Cenote Oxmán is a must-visit for anyone traveling to the Yucatan Peninsula.
6. Cenote Angelita – Tulum
Cenote Angelita is one of the most popular cenotes in Mexico. It is located just a short drive from Tulum. The main feature of Cenote Angelita is the famous cloud of hydrogen sulfate that hangs over the water.
This strange phenomenon is caused by the interaction of fresh and saltwater in the cenote. Cenote Angelita is also popular for its clear water and beautiful underwater caves. Visitors can swim in the cenote, but it is not recommended to dive due to the depth of the water.
Unless, of course, you’re an experienced diver! There are a few things to consider before visiting Cenote Angelita. First, the hydrogen sulfate can be harmful to your skin and eyes, so it is important to wear a shirt and sunglasses.
Second, the water is very deep, so it is not recommended for weak swimmers. Finally, the cenote can be very crowded during peak times because of its popularity.
7. Cenote Ponderosa – Quintana Roo
Cenote Ponderosa is one of the most popular cenotes in the Riviera Maya. Located just a short drive from Tulum, it’s perfect for a day trip or an afternoon excursion.
Cenote Ponderosa is a large, open cenote with a deep pool of clear water. The main feature of Cenote Ponderosa is the dramatic cliffs that surround the cenote. These cliffs are perfect for cliff jumping.
There are a few things to bear in mind before visiting Cenote Ponderosa. First, the cenote is very deep, so weak swimmers would not be advised to enter. Second, the cliffs are high, so cliff jumping is only for experienced jumpers.
If you’re looking for an exciting and unique activity in the Riviera Maya, be sure to add Cenote Ponderosa to your list. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget!
8. Cenote Suytun – Valladolid
Cenote Suytun is a must-see for any visitor to Valladolid. This natural wonder is a cave cenote, meaning that it is a freshwater sinkhole that has been formed by the collapse of limestone bedrock.
The main feature of Cenote Suytun is its crystal-clear water, which is illuminated by a shaft of sunlight that streams down from the opening at the top of the cave.
Visitors can swim in the cenote or simply take in the breathtaking views. There are also several smaller caves and rock formations to explore, making Cenote Suytun an ideal spot for a day of adventure.
9. Cenote Zaci-Ha – Valladolid
Cenote Zaci-Ha is a refreshing oasis in the Mexican town of Valladolid. Visitors can expect to find a large, deep pool of water surrounded by towering cliffs. The main feature of the cenote is a half cave, which provides shade and relief from the hot sun.
There is also a small waterfall that cascades into the pool, adding to the refreshing atmosphere. Cenote Zaci-Ha is a popular spot for swimming and sunbathing, so visitors should be prepared for crowds during peak hours.
10. Cenote Azul – Playa del Carmen
Cenote Azul is another lovely spot that comes highly recommended by travelers to Playa del Carmen. This cenote is located just a short drive from the city center and is perfect for a day trip.
Cenote Azul is a large, open-air cenote with crystal-clear water. Visitors can swim, snorkel, and explore the caves and cliffs surrounding the cenote.
There are also several platforms where you can jump into the cenote, providing an adrenaline-pumping experience. So whether you’re looking to cool off on a hot day or get your heart racing, Cenote Azul will give you an unforgettable experience.
11. Cenote Siete Bocas – Puerto Morelos
Cenote Siete Bocas is located in the town of Puerto Morelos, just a short drive from Cancun. Visitors can expect to find a large, deep pool of water surrounded by mangroves and jungle.
The cenote’s most notable feature is a series of seven different openings, or “bocas,” which allow sunlight to filter into the water.
As a result, the caves are illuminated by sunlight that filters in from the surface, providing an ethereal experience. Cenote Siete Bocas is a popular spot for snorkeling, diving, swimming, and relaxing.
12. Cenote Calavera – Tulum
Cenote Calavera, also known as the Temple of Doom, is one of the most famous cenotes in the Riviera Maya. It is located in a large cavern with high ceilings. It is illuminated by sunlight streaming through a hole in the ceiling.
The main feature of Cenote Calavera is its ladder, which leads up to a platform where you can jump into the cenote. There is also a rope swing for those who want to add a bit of adventure to their experience.
Cenote Calavera is a great option for those looking for a fun and thrilling cenote experience. However, it is important to keep in mind that the ladder can be slippery, so be sure to wear proper footwear and take your time climbing up and down.
Things to Consider
When visiting any of the cenotes mentioned above, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Cenotes are often located in remote, rural areas. Be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks and a map of the area.
- Cenotes are typically unguarded, and there are no lifeguards on duty. Swim at your own risk and be aware of your surroundings.
- Cenotes are fragile ecosystems. Be respectful of the environment and do not touch or disturb any plant or animal life.
- Many cenotes require a small entrance fee. Be sure to bring enough cash to cover the cost of admission.
- Cenotes are often crowded, especially on weekends and holidays. Be prepared for large crowds and long lines.
What to Bring
When visiting a cenote, be sure to bring the following items:
- Swimwear: You will likely want to swim, so bring a swimsuit.
- Towel: A towel is always a good idea, especially if you plan on swimming.
- Sunscreen: The sun can be intense in Mexico, so be sure to apply sunscreen before spending time in a cenote.
- Bug spray: There are often bugs near cenotes, so it is good to bring bug spray to keep them at bay.
- Life jacket: If you are not a strong swimmer, it is good to bring a life jacket.
- Water shoes: Water shoes will protect your feet from the rocky bottom of a cenote.
- Snorkel and mask: If you plan on snorkeling, be sure to bring a snorkel and mask.
- Camera: Cenotes are incredibly photogenic, so don’t forget to bring your camera!
Frequently Asked Questions
These are some of the frequently asked questions related to cenotes:
Why are cenotes so clean?
The water in cenotes is clean because it is filtered by the limestone rock and then replenished by underground springs.
Where are most of the cenotes in Mexico?
The majority of cenotes are located in Playa del Carmen and Tulum. However, there are also a number of cenotes in Valladolid and Puerto Morelos.
Are there sharks in Cenotes?
Yes, there have been reports of sharks in some cenotes. However, these reports are rare, and it is unlikely that you will encounter a shark while swimming in a cenote.
Can you swim in a cenote?
Yes, you can swim in most cenotes. However, some cenotes may have restrictions on swimming or diving. Be sure to check with the staff before entering the water.
How deep is the water in a cenote?
The depth of the water varies from cenote to cenote. However, most cenotes are at least 10 feet deep.
So, What Are the Best Cenotes in Mexico?
Overall, each cenote has its own unique beauty and offerings, so it depends on what you’re looking for in your perfect cenote experience. If you want to swim in crystal clear waters surrounded by stunning stalactites and stalagmites, perhaps the Gran Cenote is the best choice for you.
Or, if you’re looking for an adventure-filled day of jumping off platforms and swinging into the water, Cenote Oxmán might be more your speed.
So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to Mexico today, and make sure you include a visit to one (or more!) of these amazing cenotes!