A cenote is a term that comes from the Maya word “Dzonot” meaning “abyss”( wells of freshwater created by the erosion of limestone). Mexico is home to some of the most beautiful cenotes in the world and also has the highest concentration and the greatest number of Cenotes in the world and specifically in the Yucatan.
There are more than 7,000 cenotes across Mexico, of which 3000 are estimated to be located in the Yucatan Peninsula and many are still undiscovered throughout Mexico.
It is worth mentioning that cenotes are generally formed when the soft limestone is eroded over hundreds of years. You can get the best travel experience if you ever get a chance to visit the Cenotes. We curated the list of best cenotes in the world that you must visit once in your lifetime.
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1. Grand Cenote, Tulum
Located outside of Tulum on the 307 highway, Grand Cenote is one of the best Cenotes you have ever visited. It encompasses plenty of stalactites in its crystal water and also fishes and turtles. This cenote is one of the most beautiful attractions in Mexico that attracts nearly 1 million visitors annually. It is a great destination where visitors can also enjoy a lot of sea life. But they have to cautious about not to touch the turtles.
How to reach: You can reach Grand Cenote from Tulum by Taxi or by car.
Best time to visit: December and January is the peak travel season.
2. Cenote Dos Ojos, Tulum
Located just three kilometers off the Highway 307, 22 km north of Tulum and 50 km south of Playa del Carmen, Cenote Dos Ojos is one of the most extravagant diving sites in the entire Yucatan. Meaning Two Eyes Cenote, Cenote Dos Ojos
is well-known for scuba diving, amazing landscape and impressive experience that can overwhelm everybody’s heart. Apart from this, it also offers fantastic snorkelling experience.
How to reach: You can visit this cenote by car or by private taxi. You’ll have to park at the main gate and walk 15 to 20 minutes through the jungle to reach the Cenote.
Best time to visit: The months from October to December is the best time to visit.
3. Chaak Tun, Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo
Hidden behind the jungle of Playa del Carmen, Cenote Chaak Tun is a natural paradise and one of the favorite cenotes of the tourists. Here visitors can enjoy many leisure activities including swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving in low-lit caverns with natural pools & stalactites. Also, Chaak Tun is one of the most visited cenotes in the Riviera Maya.
How to reach: Visitors can hire a private taxi and at the main gate and walk 15 to 20 minutes through the jungle to reach the Cenote.
Best time to visit: The best months to visit the region are April, May, and November. Since the waters of Cenotes Dos Ojos remain around 77°F year-round, and visitors can enjoy a pleasant experience.
4. Rio Secreto, Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo
Regarded as Mexico’s best Cenote, Rio Secreto is a stunning underground river with thousands of dramatic stalactites and stalagmites. Located 5 km south Playa del Carmen, this majestic cenote offers an array of activities to its visitors ranging from Hiking, swimming to just exploring the fantastic sea life along a turquoise river.
How to reach: Visitors can take one of the public transit vans located between 15th and 20th streets.
Best time to visit: The best time to visit is between April to July.
5. Cenote Jardin del Edén or Ponderosa, Playa Del Carmen
Cenote Jardin del Edén is an authentic giant pool surrounded by the most exuberant vegetation. It is an open swimming hole that offers excellent diving and good snorkeling spots to visitors to enjoy in the majestic city of Playa del Carmen. Encompassing an array of species including turtles, rivers eels and tropical fishes, it is a fantastic destination to relax and enjoy in Riviera Maya.
How to reach: You can hire public transportation from Playa Del Carmen to reach this cenote at a cost of about 30 pesos.
Best time to visit: The months from September to November is the best time to visit.
6. Cenote Angelita, Tulum
Being one of the most incredible cenotes in the Mexican State of Quintana Roo, Cenote Angelita offers a unique experience for professionals divers. With more than 30 meters of depth, this cenote makes the trip really a memorable one because of its incredible scenery and this unique feature makes Cenote Angelita the best-explored site by the experienced divers. Scuba Diving is the most amazing activity here. In order to dive here, one needs to be experienced and have made at least 20 dives before.
How to reach: Located 16 km south of Tulum, you can hire a private taxi and then you need to walk through the jungle for about five minutes after departing from the main road to reach this site.
Best time to visit: The best time to visit this cenote is between April to June.
7. Cenote Zacil Ha, Tulum
Surrounded by lush vegetation and rock formations, Cenote Zacil Ha is an incredible sub-aquatic ecosystem formed by many fishes and water plants such as lilies. The crystal clear waters of Ha are the perfect place for snorkelling. Also, it is a good cenote to visit for an afternoon swim and a short drive from the center of Tulum.
How to reach: You can use public transportation to reach this Cenote and then walk for a few miles from the main gate to reach this location.
Best time to visit: October to December is the best time to visit.
8. Cenote K’aak, Playa Del Carmen
K’aak meaning fire is an open cenote with underground currents, surrounded by vertical walls and interesting landscapes located in the middle of the jungle. Cenote K’aak offers several activities like hiking, snorkeling, diving across the jungle and encompasses exuberant vegetation. This cenote also features some Mayan tree species. Here visitors can enjoy the waterslide or do zip-lines and cliff jumping. This is cenote is also a part of the Tour Cenotes in Riviera Maya.
Best time to visit: For fantastic experience visit this cenote in April and May.
9. Cenote Ik-Kil, Playa Del Carmen
Located at a close distance to the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, it is one of the most beautiful cenotes of Mexico. Compared to other cenotes found in Mexico, Ik Kil has many facilities for visitors ranging from a restaurant on site to some cottages where one can spend a few relaxing days. Also, here visitors can enjoy numerous water sports such snorkel, swim, scuba dive and much more. But in order to reach the water visitors have to climb down 26 meters.
Best time to visit: The best time to visit between October and November.
10. Cenote Azul, Playa del Carmen
Also known as Blue Cenote, Cenote Azul is another classic of the Mexican cenote trail. Located in Playa del Carmen,
it is surrounded by lush vegetation and boasts crystalline waters in a pleasingly blue hue (hence the name ‘Blue Cenote’) which seem almost unreal. Encompassing a perfect mix of shallow pools filled with tiny fish and deeper waters, Cenote Azul attracts divers, swimmers, snorkelers, and visitors too.
How to reach: You can reach by using the public Colectivo vans, and hopping off on the highway i.e. 307 Highway south. Once you pass Puerto Aventuras you will go about 4 minutes more to reach this site.
Best time to visit: You can visit between April and May for the best experiences.
11. Cenote Yokdzonot, Yucatán
Located in a remote town just kilometers away from the famed archaeological site of Chichén Itzá, Cenote Yokdzonot is the freshwater Cenote run by a group of Mayan women. It offers a fantastic experience to its visitors as they can relax in the crystal cool water especially refreshing in contrast to the heat of the surrounding jungle. The most exciting thing about this cenote is that it offers on-site Yucatecan food which is just amazing.
How to reach: Once you reach the town you can descend the 18 meters on a staircase to a wooden platform, to reach the beautiful Yokdzonot cenote’s waters.
Best time to Visit: November and early December are the best months to visit the cenote.
12. Cenote Samula, Dzitnup
Cenote Samula, a sinkhole located near Valladolid in the Yucatan Peninsula, is truly an enchanting and k
One of the most photogenic sites of the entire Yucatá Also known as Cenote Dzitnup, it is a must-see attraction where visitors can enjoy in a true sense. The water in Cenote Samula is shallower and there is a rock island in the middle where visitors can take rest and relax peacefully.
How to reach: You can hire a taxi, cab from Valladolid to reach the site. After reaching the main gate of the cenote Samula, you climb down a set of narrow wooden stairs that take you directly into the water.
Best times to visit: For unforgettable experience visit during the months of September, October and November.
13. Cenote X-canche, Yucatan
Cenote X-canche is located in the archaeological site of Ek Balam, Yucatan. It is typical cenote of the region located just 1.5 km from the archaeological site where visitors can do many activities, ranging from rappel, swimming, snorkeling to zip lining. Here visitors can find an oasis of life in the midst of the surrounding deciduous forest, near the ruins of Ek Balam.
Best time to visit: November and early December are the best times to visit the Yucatan Peninsula.
14. Cenote Suytun, Yucatan
Cenote Suytun is one of the more photogenic cenotes in the Yucatan. Located just outside of Valladolid., Cenote Suytun is an underground cavern surrounded by stalactites, gristalinas shallow waters where visitors can explore the freshwater fishes living in it. Accompanied by all the amenities visitors can spend a full day in this beautiful place,
Best time to visit: November and early December are the best months to visit Cenote Suytun.
15. Sacred Cenote, Yucatan
Located at the pre-Columbian Maya archaeological site of Chichen Itza in the northern Yucatán Peninsula, Sacred Cenote was once a place of pilgrimage for ancient Maya people. It is a great historical site located near Chichen Itza and a must-see attraction in Yucatan. It also offers the opportunity of swimming in a beautiful sinkhole with additional opportunities for exploring, snorkeling and jumping.
Best time to visit: The best time to visit Sacred Cenote is from December to April.
Read more, Best Swimming Holes in the World
These are the few most beautiful and best cenotes around the world. If you are a water lover, do visit these natural cenotes once in a lifetime. You will forget all your worries and will get peace here.
Experts Answers to FAQs:
The most common types of cenotes are Cave, Semi-Open and Open Cenotes. You can also categorize cenotes as Cave, Young Cenote, Mature Cenote and Dry Cenote.
Well, this is a tricky question. You can ‘swim at your own risk’ in the cenotes. Every cenotes are different and has different rick factors.
Cenotes are filled with both fresh and salt water.