10 Dreamy Cenotes to Visit in the Yucatán Peninsula
Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula region is filled with more than 6,000 subterranean limestone pools, known as cenotes.
These mysterious and alluring sinkholes are all unique, but most offer an exciting opportunity to swim and cool down from the region’s hot, sunny climate. Some cenotes are completely open, allowing you to soak up the sun’s rays as you swim, while others are partially collapsed and underground, meaning you may have to adventure down for access.
From echoey caves featuring low hanging stalactites formations to shallow, crystal-clear ponds teaming with wildlife, there are plenty of cenotes to visit in the Yucatán Peninsula. To save you choosing from the whopping 6,000 cenotes in the region, we’ve picked out some of our favorites for you to visit.
In no particular order…
- Cenote Jardin del Eden, Puerto Aventuras
Located in between Playa del Carmen’s buzzy tourist town and the hipster’s paradise of Tulum, Cenote Jardin del Eden, close by to Puerto Aventuras, is a classic to visit and an excellent first-time choice.
The dazzling cenote is completely open and surrounded by verdant vegetation and craggy rocks, so you can embrace nature as you paddle across the translucent waters. The cenote attracts plenty of cliff jumpers, so if you’re feeling brave, dare to jump straight from one of the mossy rock faces.
- Cenote Ik Kil, Chichén Itzá
Cenote Ik Kil lies close to the ancient Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza in the Ik Kil Archeological Park, making it ideal for visiting after a sweaty day exploring.
The subterranean swimming hole is approximately 130 feet deep, but the water is bright and blue as the natural sunlight pours in from its open top.
Popular with tourists, Cenote Ik Kil has a restaurant, changing rooms, and cottage accommodations.
- Cenote Yax Kin, Tulum
Escape the crowds and head to the charming swimming hole of Cenote Yax Kin for a more local experience. A 15-minute drive away from Tulum, you’ll often spot families frolicking and playing in the green-blue waters.
While Cenote Yax Kin is small, it’s an ideal spot to relax and while away a sunny afternoon surrounded by nature. Plus, you can avoid the heaving amounts of tourists that other more popular cenotes attract.
- Casa Cenote, Tulum
Another cenote close to Tulum is Casa Cenote. The sparkling turquoise waters are surrounded by lush tropical vegetation, including mangrove trees.
Casa Cenote is unique in that it has an underwater cave system that flows directly into the ocean. Because of this, many snorkelers and divers enjoy exploring all the cenote has to offer. Casa Cenote has a resident crocodile called Pancho who frequents the waters but don’t worry; local morelet’s crocodiles have no desire to feast on humans.
As well as sharing the waters with Pancho and his fishy friends, visitors can also kayak or paddleboard in Casa Cenote for a different perspective.
- Gran Cenote, Tulum
Twenty minutes inland from Tulum, Gran Cenote is perhaps one of the most popular in the area.
Located on the highway to the ancient ruin city of Coba, Gran Cenote is huge, filled with accessible caverns with fascinating stalagmites and stalactites rock formations. Don’t forget to bring your snorkel (or you can rent one there) because there is plenty of fish and even turtles to spot gliding through the refreshing waters.
Be warned, though; Gran Cenote does attract plenty of tourists, so don’t expect your visit to be a quiet one. We suggest visiting bright and early in the morning before the day-trippers arrive.
- Ojo De Agua Yalahau Cenote, Holbox
Ojo De Agua Yalahau Cenote is a quiet spot, mainly because you need to take a day trip from the colorful island of Holbox to reach it. A calming pool of blue, Ojo De Agua Yalahau Cenote is ideal to visit for some relaxing swimming and sunbathing in the sun.
Typically, this cenote is included on a three islands tour from Holbox, and a visit makes for a perfect pit stop between adventuring.
- Cenote Samula, Valladolid
Just outside Valladolid, Cenote Samula is famous for its open roof that fills the cenote with gleaming natural sunlight. Through the open hole, you’ll notice the roots of living trees creeping down into the cenote to drink the freshwater.
While the shallow pool is small, it’s clear and filled with fish, making for decent snorkeling.
- Cenote Dos Ojos, Tulum
‘Dos Ojos’ is Spanish for ‘two eyes’, relating to the two connected cenotes sitting just north of Tulum. Impressively, Cenote Dos Ojos contains 51 miles of flooded cave systems with 28 known sinkholes. As you can imagine, this cenote is favored by divers and has even been featured in various IMAX films and Discovery Channel and BBC shows.
- X’Keken Cenote, Valladoid
The only light source of the X’Keken Cenote flows through a small hole in the roof, so be sure to visit during the middle of the day.
Sunlight streams down onto the water beautifully, and as you swim around the light-infused waters, you may feel like you’re in a fairytale. There’s a small island in the middle of the cenote you can lounge on, and captivating tree roots hang from the earth above, almost touching the water.
But thanks to its heavenly-like beauty, X’Keken Cenote is extremely popular, so you may have to share the glow with plenty of other visitors. There’s even a lifeguard present to ensure your safety as you paddle.
Try visiting during the off-season, from May to October, for the best chances of a solo swim.
- Cenote X’Canche, Valladoid
Another cenote found in the Valladolid region is Cenote X’Canche. Located some miles down from the Ek Balam archaeological site, a refreshing swim in this cenote is popular after a day of sightseeing.
Unlike most cenotes, this one is quite hard to access, and you’ll need to climb down a vertical wooden staircase and onto a boardwalk to reach the pool. Get there before noon before all the swarms arrive.