10 of the Best Cenotes in Riviera Maya
If you’re spending time anywhere near the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, there’s a good chance visiting one of the many local cenotes is on your list. A cenote is a natural sinkhole that is formed as a result of collapsed limestone bedrock that exposes fresh groundwater underneath. People travel to this area to experience these stunning sights and enjoy activities within them such as kayaking, snorkeling, and even ziplining. Get your swimsuit and snorkel ready – it’s time to dive in to some of the best cenotes that Riviera Maya has to offer!
Reigning as one of the most sought-after cenotes in the Tulum area, Gran Cenote is covered in unique stalactites and its breathtaking water is the home to many tropical fish and majestic sea turtles. The water is so clear that even if you don’t plan on hopping in for a swim or taking a dive, you can still see the marine life from above the surface. There’s even a restaurant on site to feed hungry divers after they explore.
You’ll never experience anything quite like the underground river and crystal caves that Rio Secreto has to offer. A guide will take you through this popular attraction and point out all of the sights you won’t want to miss. Book your tour through their website or right from your hotel – life jacket, wetsuit, lamp, buffet and drinks included! Don’t miss the “Room of Peace” where a captivating light and sound show is projected on the cave walls.
Cenote Dos Ojos
While “Dos Ojos” is Spanish for “two eyes” and refers to two connected cenotes just north of Tulum, the entire Dos Ojos is actually made up of 51 miles of cave system with more than 25 known sinkholes! Pretty amazing, huh? This lengthy cave system attracts a lot of divers due to its crystal-clear waters that remain at a temperature of 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius) year-round.
Even though this cenote isn’t quite in Riviera Maya, we felt it was still worth a mention. This cenote takes a little bravery to access, but once you get through the vertical wooden staircase, you’ll reach a boardwalk that circles the swimming hole. The deep aqua colored water is cool and refreshing and guests can experience ziplining over this beautiful site or lounging in a hammock at the rest area. We recommend beating the crowd by visiting in the morning before heading to the nearby Ek Balam ruins site.
After walking a few hundred feet through a wooden walkway, you’ll find this cenote surrounded by lush green jungle and swarming with beautiful singing birds (and bats!). Keep your eyes on the lookout for a stone replica of the famous Virgin of Guadeloupe at the bottom while you snorkel. Many tour groups visit this popular cenote, so if you’re visiting on your own try to arrive in the afternoon after the groups have left.
Ik Kil Cenote
Usually included on tours to Chitzen Itza, Ik Kil is quite literally one large hole in the ground located 85 feet (26 meters) below the surface. Its water is so deep it’s become quite the diver’s paradise. And don’t be surprised if you find jewelry and bones at the bottom as Ik Kil was once considered sacred by the Mayans who used to use the site for human sacrifices.
Cenote Jardin del Eden
Prepare to jump in, literally. Although a little bit harder to find, this beautiful cenote offers a little bit of everything. It is completely open and surrounded by lush greenery and large rocks layered with moss and includes a few cliff spots that allow you to jump right in and experience refreshing, warmer than normal waters. This is a popular spot for divers and its small size makes it fill up quickly, so arrive early.
Ponderosa El Eden
This cenote is unique because it houses a large island in the center of it. Many visitors climb the large tree on the island and jump into the water. The visibility is so clear that you won’t be able to miss the tropical fish, eels and sea turtles that hang out here. Be sure to eat before you arrive because there is no restaurant at this location.
Primarily known for its open roof that brings in natural skylight and the roots of living trees to drink the fresh water, this cenote features exceptionally clear, turquoise waters. The pool is quite small and shallow, so diving is not recommended but snorkeling promises tropical fish sightings.
Have your cameras ready for this one! This beautiful cenote features a unique stalactite-covered ceiling and a convenient concrete viewing platform extending out into the massive swimming hole. If you’re lucky, you may be able to witness a show of Mayan music and dance performed by local students. Be sure to arrive early to avoid large crowds.
Before you visit:
- Keep in mind that most of the cenotes have a small entrance fee ranging from $5-10 USD.
- Some have restaurants close by, but we recommend packing a cooler with drinks and snacks. Don’t risk dehydration – pack water!
- If you can, bring your own snorkel gear. That will save you from having to rent it once you arrive. Bring water shoes for safety and comfort around the rocks.
- Respect the cenotes. Pay close attention to posted signs to protect the natural ecosystem.
Are you ready to visit these Riviera Maya cenotes? Pick your favorite ones and visit as many as you can – you won’t regret it! And if you’re looking for a place to call home within close proximity to these natural wonders, contact us today!