Some of the best cenotes in Mexico are located in and around the Cancun area. Cenotes of the Yucatan are perfect day trips from Cancun and offer a unique opportunity to explore one of the most interesting natural wonders in Mexico. Easy to visit Cancun Cenotes are as close as 30 minutes to an hour away from the downtown hotel corridor.  

What is a Cenote?

Cenotes are formed when limestone bedrock is eroded by rain and caves in, creating a hole in the earth that fills in with water over decades. This water could be rainwater or from underground rivers.

There are at least 6,000 cenotes in the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico.

The best-known cenotes in Yucatan, Mexico are large open water pools measuring tens of meters in diameter, like the ones highlighted below. Cenotes provided a stable supply of water for the ancient Maya people who settled there. The great city of Chichén Itzá was built around a cluster of these natural wells, including the one known as the Cenote of Sacrifice.

Cenotes are natural swimming holes formed by the collapse of porous limestone bedrock, which reveals a secret subterranean world of groundwater pools. The Mayans revered cenotes because they were a source of water in dry times.

What does Cenote Mean?

The name cenote means “sacred well”.

Map of Cenote Locations in and around Cancun

These are the main towns that the cenotes mentioned in this article are located.

map of cenote locations

13 Cenotes of the Yucatan (Cancun, Tulum, Merida & Valladolid)

cenotes Santa Barbara

Photo Courtesy of Chris from Punta Cana Travel Blog

 

For this cenote guide, I reached out to some of my favorite travel bloggers who are experts on Mexico travel. This guide includes the best cenotes in Valladolid, Tulum, Playa del Carmen, Merida, and beyond.

Each cenote section includes details about how much time you should plan for your visit, directions from Cancun, other nearby cenotes and much more. When I visited Cancun with my son, we rented a car and drove ourselves to several Mayan ruins and cenotes. We used rentalcars.com to reserve our car in advance. 

Hope you enjoy these cenotes of the Yucatan! 

Disclosure: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I may receive an affiliate commission. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

Cenote’s Near Valladolid

Cenote Oxman

Cenote OxmanContributed by Ilse of Digital Travel Couple 

Cenote Oxman is a fun and beautiful Cenote that is about a two-hour drive from Cancun. It is located at Hacienda San Lorenzo Oxman which is 4 kilometers outside of the beautiful town of Valladolid, which is also absolutely worth a visit!

Going to Cenote Oxman is a fun day trip as there is not only a Cenote on site but also a swimming pool, terrace, and restaurant which is part of Hacienda San Lorenzo Oxman. There are different entrance fee categories starting with 80 pesos for only the Cenote to 150 pesos to access the swimming pool of Hacienda San Lorenzo Oxman as well.

Cenote Oxman is one of the most beautiful cenotes of the Yucatan. This sinkhole or ‘open well’ Cenote and was used by the Mayas in ancient times for sacrificial offerings. But nowadays Cenote Oxman is a fun natural playground with hanging vines and lots of greenery around. There is even a rope swing where you can swing as many times as you want into the crystal clear waters of Cenote Oxman.

Cenote Oxman

Before swimming and snorkeling in the Cenote, you have to shower which is mandatory at every Cenote in Mexico. With this, you help to preserve the water as you can damage the natural environment in a cenote with all the chemicals on your skin (such as oils, lotions, mosquito repellent etc). This is also the reason why you should use biodegradable sunscreen!

Changing rooms and lockers are on-site so you can leave your valuable stuff there or take it with you inside the Cenote. Life vests are also available if you want to go swimming, but there is always a rope stretched across the width of the Cenote if you want to take a rest in the water.

Another Cenote that is close to this one and absolutely worth a visit is Cenote Suytun. On a 15 minute drive, you can find this spectacular Cenote which is famous for its astonishing beam of light that comes through a hole from the roof.

Distance from Cancun: 2 hours
Directions from Cancun: From the 180D take the México 295 exit and follow this road to Tizmin – Valladolid. At the round about take the first exit towards the México driveway to Merida. Then continue straight and turn left onto Calle 54 where you’ll see signs pointing towards Hacienda San Lorenzo Oxman.
Minimum Time to spend at Cenote: At least one hour
Closest Cenotes: Cenote Suytun
Closest Town: Valladolid 

Cenote Xkeken

Cenote XkekenContributed by Daphna Bar from A Tiny Trip

Cenote Xkeken, near Valladolid, is an underground cenote in a limestone cave. It is located in Dzitnup together with Cenote Samula.

To get to Cenote Xkeken from Cancun takes approximately two hours. Leaving Cancun, you will drive on the 180D toll road towards Valladolid and Merida. Exit to the regular 180 road toward Merida (Tizimin-Valldolid).

Once you are on Carretera Costera del Golfo/Valladolid, there is a left turn to Dzitnup where you will see signs for the cenote. Alternatively, you can take a bus to Valladolid, and from there is a short 15-minute ride in a taxi or collectivo (shared cab).

Cenote Xkeken is known for the light beams that shine down into the cave creating a magical turquoise blue effect in the water and is one of the most beautiful cenotes in Yucatan. You can visit either one of the cenotes or both. Visiting the cenote will take anywhere from an hour to two.

What is nice about these cenotes, is that the tourist amenities are totally built out. There are designated changing rooms and a shopping center with stalls selling souvenirs.

The best time of the day to visit will be mid-day when the sun is shining down into the cenote. There is a clearly marked path to walk down to the cenote from the changing rooms. However, there are many steps to get down and they get slippery when wet, so watch your step. When we went backpacking in the Yucatan, we carried our children down to be safe.

You can easily combine a visit to Cenote Xkeken with a walk around Valladolid historic center, or a visit to the Mayan ruins at Ek Balam! An easy and inexpensive visit would be to Cenote Zaci which is right in central Valladolid and an easy walk from the main plaza.

Distance from Cancun: 2 hours
Directions from Cancun: 180D toll road towards Valladolid and Merida. Exit to the regular 180 road toward Merida (Tizimin-Valldolid). Once you are on Carretera Costera del Golfo/Valladolid, there is a left turn to Dzitnup where you will see signs for the cenote.
Minimum Time to spend at Cenote: 1-2 hours
Closest Cenotes: Cenote Samula or Cenote Zaci
Closest Town: Valladolid 

Cenote Zací

Cenote Zací

Contributed by Lozzy from Cuppa to Copa Travels

Cenote Zací is located in the middle of the town of Valladolid, one of Mexico’s famous Pueblos Mágicos. It’s in the state of Yucatán, about a 2-hour drive from Cancún. Once you arrive in Valladolid, the cenote is only a few blocks’ walk east of the main plaza.

Zací is semi-covered, meaning it resembles a cave that opens up to the sky. The water is said to be 100m deep, though somehow retains a turquoise color throughout, and its temperature is beautifully cooling on a hot day. Avoid the middle of the day, as that’s when the majority of group tours arrive.

Depending on whether you want to get in and float for a while, jump off rocks into the water or just admire the cenote from the paths that go all the way around it, you’ll probably want to spend between 30 and 60 minutes here.

Afterward, take the stone stairs up to the restaurant that overlooks Cenote Zací and grab yourself lunch or a cocktail with an incredible view – it’s recommended to bring a microfiber travel towel so that you can dry off quickly, and a separate bag for wet clothes.

When you’re done enjoying Zací, the stunning town of Valladolid is well worth a couple of hours exploring, and you can make a full day of it by stopping at Cenote Suytun on your way back to Cancún.

This Yucatan cenote is fully covered, save for a small hole in the center of the roof which produces epic light beams to shine down onto a stone platform built out into the water.

Distance from Cancun: 2 hours
Directions from Cancun: Highway 180D west towards Valladolid. The cenote is a few blocks’ walk east of the main plaza.
Minimum Time to spend at Cenote: 30 minutes to 1 hour
Closest Cenotes: Cenote Suytun
Closest Town: Valladolid

Cenote Suytun

Cenote SuytunContributed by Shelley Marmor Travel Mexico Solo

Cenote Suytun is among the must-see Yucatan Peninsula destinations. It is located about two hours by car from Cancun, easily accessible by taking Highway 180D west until you’re near Valladolid, Mexico, and then following for the signs to Cenote Suytun.

The Suytun Cenote is well known as one of the best underground, or cave cenotes. To visit, you’ll walk down about 20 stairs to the cenote below. In the center, there’s a walking platform, which has made this a popular cenote for taking travel photos.

When you visit, water shoes come in handy, as well as a waterproof phone holder and GoPro or underwater camera. Since this is a popular cenote, try to visit on a weekday, or by 10am if you want the place all to yourself for photos and swimming.

While Cenote Suytun is a great place to spend 2-3 hours, many also like to combine their visit with seeing some other nearby Yucatan sites — and luckily, there are several amazing places near this cenote.

As just mentioned, the pueblo magico (magic town) of Valladolid is less than 15 minutes away. It is known as one of the most beautiful colonial cities in Yucatan, with historic churches to admire and colorful streets to photograph.

Valladolid is also the closest town to many of the best cenotes near Cancun. A few of the other beautiful and popular Valladolid-area cenotes include Cenote San Lorenzo Oxman, Cenote Samula, and Cenote Zaci, all about 15 minutes from Cenote Suytun.

There are also nearby Mayan ruins, like Chichen Itza, Coba and Ek-Balam. While Chichen Itza is the most famous of the three, and one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Coba and Ek-Balam still offer an amazing off the beaten path experience.

Distance from Cancun: 2 hours
Directions from Cancun: Highway 180D west towards Valladolid and then follow signs to Cenote Suytun.
Minimum Time to spend at Cenote: 2-3 hours
Closest Cenotes: Cenote San Lorenzo Oxman, Cenote Samula and Cenote Zaci
Closest Town: Valladolid 

If you’d like to make Valladolid your home base for a few days, there is a lot to explore in this quaint, historic town. 

Cenote’s Near Riviera Maya & Playa del Carmen

Cenote Rio Secreto

Cenote Rio SecretoContributed by Elle MacRae from 5 Suitcases blog 

Located just an hour outside of Cancun is Mexico’s newest cenote, Rio Secreto.  Legend has it that in 2005, a farmer was chasing an iguana when he stumbled upon a hidden cave. Upon entering the cave, he found a secret underground river. The mouth of the cave opens up into several different rooms, a few of which are open for tours.

Rio Secreto is a preservation site so the tours are closely monitored and the number of visitors is limited each day. After a short hike through the jungle, an expert guide will lead your group through the cave. There are 15 different entrances to this cave system, which allows for a more intimate experience and allows you to really enjoy the caves. The depth of the water ranges from ankle deep to deep enough to swim.

There are lockers available on-site to store your valuables- including your camera. Unfortunately, there is no photography or video equipment permitted inside of the caves. During the expedition, a professional photographer will be there to capture your experience. The tour also includes the use of a wetsuit, life vest, and headlamp.

Visitors should plan on spending at least 3 hours at the park.

To access Rio Secreto from Cancun, simply head south on the Mexico 307. Once you pass through Playa del Carmen and Solidaridad you’ll be able to follow signs leading straight to the park.

While you’re in the area, be sure to stop by The Traveler’s Table for an incredible dining experience! Parque Xcaret and Xplor are two other popular eco-parks in the area. The Parque Xcaret is home to Xenotes, the only cenotes Riviera Maya tour that features the four types of cenotes that exist in nature: cavern, ancient, semi-open, and open.

Distance from Cancun:  1 hour 1o minutes
Directions from Cancun: South on the Mexico 307 toward Playa del Carmen and Solidaridad. Then, follow signs to the park.
Minimum Time to spend at Cenote: 3 Hours
Closest Cenotes: Xenotes at Parque Xcaret
Closest Town: Playa del Carmen

Cenote Azul

Cenote Azul near Playa del CarmenContributed by Ellie from Ellie’s Travel Tips

Cenote Azul is a refreshing cenote located in the Riviera Maya just south of Playa del Carmen—around 1.5 hours from Cancun with no stops. Catch a ride or drive down along the Caribbean coast via Chetumal-Cancun. After taking a slight right turn onto Boulevard Tulum, take the second exit at the roundabout to follow Avenue Rodrigo Gomez.

As soon as you know it, you will be at the breathtaking Cenote Azul, where you can relax and unwind on a hot day in Mexico.

Since Cancun is one of the trendiest destinations, the best time of day to explore Cenote Azul is in the morning to avoid the crowds. Walk the paths and discover unique places to swim (and maybe jump the overlooking cliff) for a couple of hours to experience Cenote Azul.

Unlike other cenotes near Cancun that are nestled in tight caves, the Cenote Azul is open and offers some shallow swimming spots—perfect for families. Make sure to pack snorkel gear as the Cenote Azul offers clear waters, colorful plant life, and various fish ideal for snorkeling.

Grab a bite to eat at Ferron’s Jerk Chicken restaurant after your cenote adventure. This delicious local spot offers affordable options with outdoor seating.

If you are looking to visit other cenotes on your adventure, this area is a great choice. There are four different cenotes located directly next to each other, including Azul, Cristalino, Jardin of Eden, and Kantunchi.

Distance from Cancun: 1.5 hours
Directions from Cancun: Coastal route: Chetumal/Carr. towards Tulum 307. After taking a slight right turn onto Boulevard Tulum, take the second exit at the roundabout to follow Avenue Rodrigo Gomez.
Time to spend at Cenote: 1-2 hours
Closest Cenotes: Cristalino, Jardin of Eden, and Kantunchi
Closest Town: Playa del Carmen (Just south of Puerto Aventuras in the Riviera Maya, about a 20-minute drive from Playa del Carmen. )

Cenote’s Near Chichen Itza

Cenote Ik Kil

Ik KIl Cenote

Contributed by Claire from This Travel Lover

Ik Kil is about 2 and a half hours from Cancun, but the journey is worth the effort. It is probably the most visited cenote in the Yucatan, due to its proximity to Chichen Itza. Ik Kil is often combined with the Archaeological site as part of a day trip from Cancun and is a must-visit on any Yucatan itinerary.

The route to Cenote Ik Kil from Cancun is very straightforward, straight down the 180D which is the main highway towards Merida. Take the junction to Pisté (great for finding some lunch) and the entrance to the Cenote is just off the main road, past Chichen Itza.

The best time to visit the cenote is first thing in the morning when it opens before the tour groups arrive, and you could even have the cenote to yourself. Most of the day tours to Chichen Itza will come here after visiting the ruins, so the afternoon is the busiest time. Alternatively, if you wait till later on in the day when the tour groups have left it will be quieter too.

It is a fairly small cenote, but beautiful. To reach the water you have to descend about 25 meters down stone steps, where a deep round pool awaits. The wide opening above the water lets in the sunshine and plants hang down from above creating a magical feel. An hour is probably enough to enjoy a swim and take some photos.

Cenote Ik Kil does have a grim past though, as the cenote was sacred to the Mayans and used for human sacrifices to their rain god, Chaac. Archaeologists found bones and pieces of jewelry in the cenote, but the beauty of the pool will take your mind of that thought.

The nearest cenote is inside the Chichen Itza complex, although you can’t swim in that one it was also used for sacrifices, so it is interesting to compare the two!

Distance from Cancun:  2.5 Hours
Directions from Cancun: 180D highway towards Merida. Take the junction to Pisté and the entrance to the Cenote is just off the main road, past Chichen Itza.
Minimum Time to spend at Cenote:  1 hour
Closest Cenote: Sacred Cenote at Chichen Itza
Closest Town: Pisté 

Cenote’s Near Tulum

Casa Cenote 

Casa Cenote in Yucatan

Contributed by Claire from Tales of a Backpacker

Casa Cenote is on the outskirts of Tulum, about 1 hour and 45 minutes away from Cancun. Take the main road 307 towards Tulum and just before reaching the Tulum ruins it is on the left, close to the beach.

Casa Cenote Tulum is special because it is very close to the beach and has a system of caverns that lead right out into the sea. Inside the cenote, this creates a bizarre situation where the fresh water in the cenote meets the saltwater. The Cenote is also part of the largest system of underwater caves in the world, which stretches through Quintana Roo.

When diving in Casa Cenote, you can see the layers where the salt and fresh water don’t quite mix, and the water turns hazy as you look through it – a phenomenon known as halocline. There is excellent visibility for diving, apart from in the patches of halocline. The cenote often has a green color to it, and the mangroves around the edges reach their roots deep under the water.

The cenote resembles a lazy river in a way, it curves through the jungle and there is a slight current. You can also paddleboard, kayak, snorkel or go for a swim here, and don’t be too alarmed if you see the “friendly” crocodile called Pancho, probably sunning himself on a rock. There is other wildlife you could spot here too, such as coatis on the mangroves, and fish and crabs in the water.

An hour or two should be enough time to explore the cenote, although if you plan to dive here I’d also recommend some extra time to snorkel on the surface too.

You could combine your trip with another cenote as there are plenty dotted all over the area around Tulum. Dos Ojos and Cenote Calavera are two of the most popular that you could visit. On the way back to Cancun, you could also stop off at Akumal beach to go snorkeling with turtles.

Distance from Cancun: 1 hour and 45 minutes  
Directions from Cancun:  Take road 307 towards Tulum and just before reaching the Tulum ruins it is on the left, close to the beach.
Minimum Time to spend at Cenote: 1-2 hours
Closest Cenotes: Dos Ojos and Cenote Calavera 
Closest Town:  Tulum

Cenote Calavera

Cenote CalaveraContributed by Charlotte Pignatelli of Char’s Footsteps
Photograph by Patryk & you can find him on Instagram @  P.go7

Cenote Calavera is famous for its scuba diving and impressive underground caves, gaining a reputation as one of the most popular diving holes in the world. Translated to skull in Spanish, Calavera has three openings resembling two eyes and a mouth.

Located 131km south of Cancun, this unique looking Cenote makes for a perfect day trip. The scenic Highway 307 takes you directly from Cancun center to Tulum in 1 hour 40 minutes, passing through Playa del Carmen. You’ll find Calavera located 5 minutes west of Tulum.

The best things to do at Cenote Calavera includes jumping 12 feet through its skull-like holes into the water below, snorkeling with the small fish, and exploring the underwater caves. Be sure to swim on your back to see the bats sleeping upside on the ceiling. The sunlight provides incredible patterns underwater through the holes, so bring snorkels/masks.

Cenote Calavera, otherwise known as Temple of Doom, is pricey. Expect to pay $350 mxn pesos (about $17 American dollars) per person just to enter. Furthermore, photographers will be faced with an extra charge of $200mxn to enter with a GoPro or professional camera AND $300mxn to fly a drone.

To enjoy the cenote peacefully, consider going as early as possible. There will be people there from the crack of dawn to be there first. Expect it to be very busy by the afternoon!

If the price and crowds put you off, check out Cenotes Tankah and Gran Cenote. Both located very close to Calavera, they offer the good snorkeling and swimming opportunities along with similar facilities.

Other things to bring include mosquito repellent, sun cream, towels, water shoes, a change of clothes, and cash. There are ATMs in Tulum, but this will require a detour!

Facilities you can expect to find here include parking, showers, tables, and chairs. There are also hammocks dotted around the Cenote that are perfect for relaxing in the sun or enjoying a book.

Distance from Cancun:  1 hour 40 minutes (131 Kilometers)
Directions from Cancun:  Highway 307 toward Tulum. It’s located 5 minutes west of Tulum.
Minimum Time to spend at Cenote: 3 hours to swim/snorkel and relax in the hammocks 
Closest Cenotes: Cenotes Tankah and Gran Cenote
Closest Town:  Tulum

Gran Cenote

Casa CenoteContributed by Kristin from Snorkel and Hike

Gran Cenote, just outside of Tulum, is one of the prettiest cenotes in the area with lush foliage surrounding the entrances and wooden walkways connecting the paths and sinkholes. Offering both open-air and cave swimming and diving, Gran Cenote has plenty to explore.

Just over an hour and a half drive from the Cancun Hotel Zone, Gran Cenote is worth the trip on its own, but there are many other cenotes, like Casa Cenote along the way to explore as well.

From Cancun, take the main highway to Tulum, Highway 307, and you will find Gran Cenote just a couple of miles outside of Tulum Pueblo along the road to Coba. A bus to Tulum and then a collectivo or taxi to Gran Cenote is also an option for those not planning to rent a car.

Gran Cenote is a popular spot for scuba diving in addition to swimming and snorkeling with both above and below surface caves and caverns. If planning to dive, allow for 2-4 hours to explore the labyrinth of deep and decorative caverns. However, snorkelers and swimmers may be fine with just an hour or two.

The nearby town of Tulum is well known for the eco-lodges dotting the beach in the hotel zone, but make sure to check out the incredibly beautiful Tulum Ruins located right along the ocean, grab a taco at one of the small local places in Tulum Pueblo, and stop off at the secluded Tankah Bay for some of the best snorkeling in Tulum.

Distance from Cancun: 1 hour 30 minutes
Directions from Cancun: Highway 307 towards Tulum. Located outside of Tulum Pueblo along the road to Coba.
Minimum Time to spend at Cenote: 1-2 hours. 
Closest Cenotes: Casa Cenote
Closest Town: Tulum

El Pit Cenote 

El Pit Cenote Contributed by Campbell and Alya from Stingy Nomads

Cenote El Pit is on the bucket list of many Scuba divers, a hole in the jungle floor and gateway to fantastic cavern and cave dives. The beautiful cenote is located about 22km from Tulum and 120km from Cancun, about an hour and 45 minutes drive.

The name of the cenote is the perfect description; the entrance to the cenote is a fairly small hole in the jungle floor, a cylindrical cavern, a pit, with a diameter of about 10m. Swimming is allowed in Cenote the Pit and some do, but this cenote is one of the most popular cenotes for scuba diving.

This is a deep dive, most divers descend to about 32 meters and an advanced qualification is required. There is a ladder to climb down to a platform on the surface to enter the water, your gear can be sent down to the platform.

The cenote opens wider as you dive deeper and at about 10m you can swim under the cavern roof with some stalactites. 

The highlights of diving in The Pit are the bright rays of turquoise light that dance around to 30m below the surface in the crystal clear water, the halocline layer at about 10 meters of depth where the less dense fresh water from the land forms a layer over saltwater from the ocean.

The Pit is located inside the Dos Ojos Park, close to Cenote Dos Ojos. Follow highway 307 towards Tulum, enter the park about 6 km before reaching Tulum. Continue driving past Dos Ojos to a parking area for The Pit. Registration is upon entrance, if you are diving with a dive shop they will register for you.

Distance from Cancun: 1 hour and 45 minutes
Directions from Cancun: Follow highway 307 towards Tulum, enter the park about 6 km before reaching Tulum. Continue driving past Dos Ojos to a parking area for The Pit. 
Minimum Time to spend at Cenote: 2 hours
Closest Cenotes: Dos Ojos
Closest Town: Tulum

Dos Ojos Cenote

Dos Ojos CenoteContributed by Janine of Janine in the World

Dos Ojos cenote is located south of Cancun between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. It takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes to drive there from Cancun, and, with so many attractions in the vicinity, it makes an awesome day trip from Cancun. 

To get to Dos Ojos, follow Highway 307 South toward Tulum for about 100 km. Just after you pass the turn off for Xel-Ha Park, you’ll see signs for Dos Ojos Cenote Park. The turn off is on your right. 

Dos Ojos is just one cenote attraction within the Dos Ojos Cenote Park which also holds Cenote Jaguar, Cenote Nicte-Ha, and others. When you arrive at the park you will have to pay an admission fee of about $250 pesos before you venture down the dirt road to the cenotes.

You can reach this park by colectivo, a popular method of public transportation in the Riviera Maya but since the dirt road to the cenotes is so long, you will have an easier time in a rental car. There are bikes for rent at the entrance if you choose to skip the rental car.

The wonderful thing about visiting Dos Ojos is that there are 3 cenotes to explore in the immediate vicinity.

There is Bat Cave cenote, which is relatively shallow and home to floating plants. Part of the cenote is covered by a low rock ceiling which is undoubtedly home to bats, hence the name.

Then, you have the Dos Ojos (two eyes) cenote. These two cenotes are connected by a cave system and you can book a cave diving tour if you wish. Or, you can swim or snorkel in them and admire the underwater rock formations. 

The Dos Ojos cenotes are partially covered, which protects you from sunburn but also means the water is a little on the chilly side. No worries though, if you get chilled, just get out and lay in the sun until you warm up.

You can rent life jackets and snorkeling equipment onsite, or bring your own with you. You’ll also find rest rooms and a snack bar on site where you can purchase ice cream, sandwiches, fresh water, and more.

To make the most of your visit to this cenote, get there early in the day, as it can become crowded. Once you tire of swimming, head into Akumal for a beachside bite to eat at the Lol-Ha restaurant before you head back to Cancun. 

Distance from Cancun: 1 hour and 45 minutes
Directions from Cancun: Follow Highway 307 South toward Tulum for about 100 km. Just after you pass the turn off for Xel-Ha Park, you’ll see signs for Dos Ojos Cenote Park. The turn off is on your right. 
Minimum Time to spend at Cenote:  2 hours
Closest Cenotes: El Pit and Nicte-Ha 
Closest Town: 30 minutes to Playa del Carmen and 20 minutes to Tulum

Cenote’s Near Mérida

Cenotes Santa Barbara

cenotes Santa BarbaraContributed by  Chris from Punta Cana Travel Blog

For an extended day-trip or a multi-day trip from Cancún, the area around Mérida offers hundreds of cenotes as the city is surrounded by the “ring of cenotes”, formed by the edge of the massive Chicxulub crater. A particularly high number of cenotes can be found near the little villages of Homún and Cuzamá, a 3-hour drive away from Cancún. The towns are located close to the highway between Valladolid and Mérida.

Some of the most beautiful cenotes in this area are the cenotes Santa Barbara, which consist of three different gorgeous cenotes: Cenote Cascabel, Cenote Chacksikín and Cenote Xooch. They can be visited on either a guided tour via horse cart or on your own by bicycle. The entrance fee for both options is 150 MXN (approx. 7.50 USD), the tour takes around 1.5 to 2.5 hours. It includes all three cenotes + the horse cart or the bicycle. They also have plenty of washrooms, showers, and picnic areas, so you can take your time to enjoy the beautiful surrounding.

As you will see during the trip, the 3 cenotes are some of the most beautiful you can find in the area – and very manifold. Cenote Cascabel is a closed cenote that is illuminated from artificial light in the water. Cenote Xooch is an open cenote, which can be accessed through a unique tunnel filled with water – quite an adventure.

Finally, Cenote Chacksikín is a beautiful half-opened cenote with natural light from above, giving the water an incredible turquoise color. You can swim and snorkel in all three of the cenotes and even see some fishes. They are also suitable for children (with supervision) as all cenotes have areas with shallow water.

Once in Homún and Cuzamá, you can visit plenty of other stunning cenotes. Cenote Santa Rosa is a beautiful water-filled cave that can be visited for just 50 MXN (approx. 2.50 USD) entrance fee, directly in the village of Homún.

The Cenotes of Cuzamá are another trio of photogenic cenotes reachable by horse cart for a fee of 600 MXN for up to 4 guests. And when visiting the Cenotes X`Tohil, you even get 4 incredibly gorgeous cenotes. However, they come with a price tag of 600 MXN (approx. 30 USD) per person for a guided tour.

In case you decide to stay for a couple of days in Mérida (a peaceful and gorgeous city), you can visit further cenotes in the North and the South of the city, all less than one hour away. Among them are the Cenotes Dzonbacal and X’batun in San Antonio de Mulix, the cenotes around the little village of Mucuyché and the Cenote Xlacah, located within the limits of the archaeological site Dzibilchaltún.

Distance from Cancun: 3 hours
Directions from Cancun: Take highway No. 180 and 180D from Cancún westbound. In Tahmek you leave the highway & from there it’s just a 17-kilometer drive until Homún and the Cenotes Santa Barbara.  
Minimum Time to spend at Cenote: 1.5-2.5 hours at each
Closest Cenotes: Cenotes Dzonbacal, X’batun and Cenote Xlacah
Closest Town: Mérida

What to Bring to the Cenote

  1. Mosquito repellent like the DEET Free Murphy’s Naturals Lemon Eucalyptus Spray 
  2. Sunscreen like Reef Repair biodegradable SPF 50+  
  3. Towel
  4. No-slip water shoes
  5. Snorkel Gear
  6. Change of clothes
  7. Cash

Heading to Cancun? Check out my printable packing checklist for Cancun!

Best Cenote Tours

Prefer an organized tour rather than exploring on your own? Below are the best cenote tours as well as tours that include a cenote visit. 

Cancun with Kids – Tour Recommendations

  • The best kid-friendly tour in Cancun is the Cenote Day Tour which takes you to four amazing cenotes where you will swim, snorkel, and zipline. (Kids need to be 6 years or older.) Swimming in a cenote (a sinkhole filled with cool fresh water) is the highlight of any trip to the Yucatan and this is an easy way to see four really unique ones. Tour includes hotel pickup, lunch, snorkel gear, and life vests.
  • Another fun kid-friendly tours is the Tulum Ruins & Turtle Swim Combo Tour. This 6-hour package combines 2 amazing activities. First, you’ll step back in time at the Tulum Mayan ruins. Later, you’ll swim and snorkel close to the marine turtles and a variety of multi-colored fish in the protected environment of the Caribbean sea.

The Best Time To Visit Cancun

Cancun is a good year-round destination but the best weather for a family vacation is between December and April. Summer can get fairly hot and late summer also adds the possibility of hurricanes. You can visit the cenotes of the Yucatan any time of year. 

Recommended Cancun Travel Resources

Pin for Later!This guide of Cenotes of the Yucatan includes the best cenotes in Valladolid, Tulum, Playa del Carmen, Merida, and beyond with detailed information to visit.

 


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3 Day Baja Mexico Cruise from Long Beach on Carnival Imagination 

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