So that you’ve made it to Cancún, spent a complete day (or a number of) mendacity on the seashore, and also you’re searching for one thing else to do on the Riviera Maya. Fortunately, Cancún is a superb base for getting out and adventuring within the space.
One factor you undoubtedly gained’t need to miss out on is visiting the cenotes round Cancún. A cenote is a limestone sinkhole crammed from underground freshwater rivers. They are often closed and cave-like, semi-open with cliff overhangs, or fully open, resembling a pond from above.
Intrigued? Listed below are my prime picks for the very best cenotes which are simply accessible from Cancún:
This cenote is one a part of a system of three separate cenotes that open to the identical bigger physique of water and are related by underground rivers. It’s open on the floor, with rocky cliffs on one facet. Nevertheless it’s the epic underwater caves that entice guests and make it superb for divers. On condition that, it’s not as spectacular for those who can solely see it from the floor.
Some dive excursions, like this one from AcuatiCaribe, embrace dives by means of the 2 different related cenotes, Kukulcan and Little Brother. The tour will take you all the way down to see the haloclines and thermoclines, the layers of cloudlike substances the place freshwater and saltwater combine and create neat optical illusions.
- Price: 200 pesos ($10 USD)
- Hours: 9am to 5pm
- When to go: The perfect time to go to for diving is within the morning. As you go beneath the floor, the rays of the morning and early afternoon gentle are spectacular.
- How you can get there: The inland flip to get to Chac Mool is nearly a kilometer after Puerto Aventuras, on the appropriate. In the event you’re taking public transportation, you possibly can simply get dropped off at Puerto Aventuras and take a taxi to Chac Mool
- Professionals: The three-cenote system is a tremendous place to dive and an excellent bang to your buck.
- Cons: You aren’t allowed to take pictures underwater.
This cenote obtained its title when cave divers used a intelligent play on phrases. Its deep and wondrous caverns had divers referring to it because the “Taj Mahal” of cenotes. As “ha” means “water” within the Mayan language, Tajma-ha feels like a Mayan interpretation of “Taj Mahal.”
Tajma-ha is definitely nicely fitted to divers, particularly those that have a number of expertise. It boasts a maze of tunnels, limestone formations, and large chambers. For extra data on diving in Tajma-ha, take a look at Koox Diving.
You’ll discover this cenote simply 5 kilometers south of Puerto Aventuras; it’s simple to entry by automobile or public transportation.
- Price: 250 pesos ($12.50 USD) to enter; further prices to dive, relying on which diving firm you select.
- Hours: 8am to 5pm each day
- When to go: This cenote is barely widespread amongst divers, so for those who go only for a swim, don’t count on to see too many individuals there. Anytime of day is ok to go to, so make the most of the morning solar for a refreshing dip.
- How you can get there: 3 kilometers south of Puerto Aventuras, take a proper on the inland-bound Avenida Tajma-ha. You’ll discover a signal for the cenote about 2 kilometers in. In the event you’re taking public transportation, ask the motive force to drop you off at Xpu-ha; from there you possibly can both stroll or take a taxi to the cenote.
- Professionals: It’s among the finest dives within the space. In the event you’re going for a swim, there gained’t be as many individuals there.
- Cons: It’s best fitted to skilled divers, so for those who’re a newbie, this one won’t be the only option.
Chikin-ha is the largest of three cenotes on the identical property. It’s open, with underwater caves, making it a stellar location for diving. All through the flooded caves, there are a number of small openings that permit gentle in, altering the colour of the water as you swim by means of.
Even for those who don’t go for the diving, Chikin-ha is subsequent to 2 smaller cenotes, X’tabay and Ta’ak Bil-ha. X’tabay is an open cenote that’s nice for swimming, and Ta’ak Bil-ha is a ceremonial one which doesn’t permit guests to get into the water. All three of those are in a beautiful jungle setting and undoubtedly value a go to.
- Price: 350 pesos ($17.50 USD) for all three on-site cenotes
- Hours: 8:30am to 6pm
- When to go: Get there within the morning to beat the crowds and make the most of the stress-free ambiance.
- How you can get there: Only a couple kilometers after Puerto Aventuras, flip proper on the marker for kilometer 265 and comply with the highway till you get to the doorway. In the event you’re taking public transportation, let the motive force know you’re going to Chikin-ha and you may get out on the flip and stroll.
- Professionals: The diving is unimaginable and undoubtedly worthy of your bucket listing. The shut proximity to different cenotes can also be a plus.
- Cons: This cenote is sort of constructed up, because it’s a part of an eco-park, which isn’t everybody’s favourite factor. It’s not a seemingly untouched paradise like different extra distant cenotes.
Ruta de Cenotes
The Ruta de Cenotes is a stretch of freeway between Puerto Morelos (about half-hour south of Cancún) and the neighborhood of Leona Vicario. The 40-kilometer stretch of freeway goes inland from the coast and has over 60 cenotes alongside it. Many of those are privately owned and have increased entrance charges than the general public ones. They’re additionally rather more constructed up and have extra issues to do, corresponding to zip strains, ATV excursions, and horseback using.
Listed below are the very best cenotes alongside the route:
Cenote Las Mojarras (aka Loma Bonita Park)
Named for the fish you’ll discover in freshwater cenotes and lakes, Las Mojarras is a big, open cenote with emerald water. It’s one of many greatest on the Ruta de Cenotes and has a six-meter-high platform to leap in from. There are tenting amenities on-site, together with loos and altering areas. You’ll additionally discover a enjoyable zip line that goes by means of the encompassing jungle and over the cenote.
- Price: 250 pesos ($12.50 USD) to swim, 950 pesos ($47.50 USD) for an ATV tour.
- Hours: 9am to 5pm
- When to go: Keep away from occurring the weekends. The perfect time to go is within the morning on a weekday. I recommend visiting this one first, as a result of it will get extra crowded than the others on the Ruta de Cenotes.
- How you can get there: Las Mojarras is at kilometer 12.5 and is the primary cenote on the route.
- Professionals: The water is beautiful and clear, so it’s excellent for swimming and snorkeling. The encircling jungle makes a picturesque scene, and the ATV and zip line actions are distinctive to this cenote.
- Cons: The value is excessive in comparison with others which are comparable.
Cenote Siete Bocas
Siete Bocas is a semi-open cenote with seven completely different entry factors from above, which permit daylight to pour into the semi-underground pool. There are ladders main all the way down to the water, however you can too take a leap by means of one of many mouths into the depths. There are some huge stalactites within the cenote which are particularly neat to take a look at.
- Price: 300 pesos ($15 USD).
- Hours: 9am to 5pm
- When to go: This one doesn’t are likely to get too crowded, so you possibly can go to anytime in the course of the day on a weekday and discover few guests.
- How you can get there: This one is at kilometer 15.5 of the Ruta de Cenotes. From there, comply with the signal for Siete Bocas, which can take you 2 kilometers additional inland on a mud highway, the place the cenote is.
- Professionals: Chances are you’ll get the place to your self, as a result of it doesn’t are likely to get very crowded, which is at all times a plus!
- Cons: The value is sort of steep compared with different cenotes within the space, which is usually a little bit of a deterrent.
Cenote Verde Lucero
This cenote will get its title from its uncommon inexperienced look. It’s open, with kayaks, a swing, and loads of room to swim and snorkel. This one is at kilometer 17 on the Ruta de Cenotes and stays comparatively uncrowded, so go to any time of the day for a pleasant, stress-free vibe. There’s additionally a zipper line and a cliff diving spot for my fellow daredevils.
- Price: 300 pesos ($15 USD) to enter
- Hours: 9am to 5pm
- When to go: Anytime throughout a weekday is ok, however weekends are usually extra crowded.
- How you can get there: This one is at kilometer 17 on the route, simply previous Siete Bocas.
- Professionals: The distinctive inexperienced shade is a pleasant change from the opposite deep-blue cenotes.
- Cons: The value is sort of excessive for what it’s, which is a peaceful swimming gap.
Zapote, situated inside an eco-park with the identical title, is a principally open cenote, with some caves to discover and platforms to leap in from. There’s additionally a zipper line that goes above the water.
It is usually among the finest alongside the route for diving, as it’s identified for its underwater stalactites (Campanas del Inframundo, or “Bells of the Underworld”). For extra details about diving, take a look at Koox Diving.
- Price: 700 pesos ($35 USD) to enter the eco-park, which incorporates entrance to the cenote.
- Hours: 8am to 5pm
- When to go: Due the associated fee to enter, there are hardly ever massive crowds right here. Be happy to go to any time of the day, any day of the week.
- How you can get there: The flip off the Ruta de Cenotes for Zapote is at kilometer 19. From there, the Zapote Ecopark is 6 kilometers in.
- Professionals: The diving is unimaginable and a novel expertise.
- Cons: This is without doubt one of the costliest cenotes I’ve seen. In the event you aren’t diving, I’d say skip it except you don’t thoughts the worth.
This semi-open cenote is cavelike, with two massive openings on the prime to let gentle in. It’s important to climb down some stairs to get inside, and there are a number of picket platforms to leap within the water from. In the event you’re feeling adventurous, you possibly can leap into the cenote from one of many openings above.
Kin-ha has one other open cenote referred to as Blanca Flor a couple of kilometer away, which is nice to cease at too.
- Price: 400 pesos ($20 USD) to swim, 1000 pesos ($50 USD) for an ATV tour.
- Hours: 9am to 5pm
- When to go: This cenote will get fairly busy within the late morning and early afternoon, so it’s greatest to go to within the morning proper when it opens.
- How you can get there: On the identical kilometer marker as Zapote (kilometer 19), there’s a separate flip for Kin-ha, so comply with the indicators.
- Professionals: The cavelike vibe of Kin-ha is admittedly outstanding, and it’s filled with enjoyable actions. You could possibly spend hours at each Kin-ha and Blanca Flor.
- Cons: It has extra of a busy ambiance, as a result of it tends to get crowded within the late morning and early afternoon.
Cenote La Noria
La Noria is a way more secluded and low-key semi-open cenote. It has lovely turquoise waters which you can attain by climbing down the picket stairs into the open cavern. The stalactites hanging from the ceiling make the place really feel such as you’ve stepped into the underworld, they usually’re shut sufficient to the water which you can rise up shut to take a look at them.
La Noria is alongside the identical highway as Kin-ha and Zapote, however only a bit nearer to the freeway. It’s nice for a fast cease earlier than or after an journey at both of the opposite two greater parks.
- Price: 200 pesos ($10 USD)
- Hours: 9am to 5pm, closed on Mondays
- When to go: Anytime in the course of the day is ok, because it doesn’t are likely to get very crowded. Think about visiting after going to Kin-ha or Zapote.
- How you can get there: At kilometer 19 of the Ruta de Cenotes, comply with the indicators for La Noria, which is earlier than the entrances to Kin-ha and Zapote.
- Professionals: It’s quieter, extra laid again, and cheaper than a lot of the cenotes on the Ruta de Cenotes.
- Cons: There isn’t very a lot to do there apart from swim and chill out.
Bonus: Cenote Ik Kil
Although this cenote is without doubt one of the most touristy I’ve ever visited, I nonetheless suppose it’s one of the vital lovely. The water is about 26 meters (85 toes) beneath floor degree, and the big opening on the prime has vines hanging down from it, making a mystical ambiance.
The steps across the fringe of the cenote result in a cool jumping-off level. Life jackets are really helpful however not required, and there’s ample area to swim round. Although it’s the furthest cenote from Cancún on this listing (a 2.5-hour drive), it’s a must-see whereas visiting this a part of Mexico, and because it’s near Chichén Itzá and Valladolid, it makes an excellent day journey.
- Price: The doorway price has two package deal choices: Ik Kil Bundle 1 for 150 pesos ($7.50 USD) contains admission, plus a life jacket and a locker. Bundle 2 is 350 pesos ($17.50 USD) and contains admission, a life jacket, a meal (with 5 choices to select from), and a beverage.
- Hours: 9am to 5pm; the doorway closes at 4pm.
- When to go: If you wish to keep away from the inevitable crowds as a lot as doable, get there proper when it opens. Even 10 minutes early is nice. Tour teams get there round 11am, so attempt to get your go to in earlier than then.
- How you can get there: Ik Kil is close to the freeway that goes from Cancún to Mérida and is barely 3 kilometers from Chichén Itzá. The best solution to get there through public transportation is to take a Chichén Itzá–sure ADO bus from Cancún and taxi to Ik Kil from there.
- Professionals: The place is beautiful, and the worth is cheap. It’s a particular must-see whereas visiting Cancún, Valladolid, or Mérida.
- Cons: The crowds are intense from 11am onward. It’s additionally fairly built-up and developed so it doesn’t have that very same off-the-beaten-path really feel that many different cenotes do.
Pointers and Finest Practices
- Sunblock: Most sunblocks include chemical compounds which are very dangerous to the the ecosystem of cenotes, lagoons, and the ocean. In reality, lots of the chemical compounds in conventional sunblocks are partially answerable for coral bleaching. Yikes! Both omit sunblock, or go for one that claims “reef secure” or “eco-park pleasant” on the label. These are mineral sunblocks and don’t trigger harm the best way chemical ones do.
- Rinsing off: At some cenotes, like Ik Kil, for instance, you’ll see an open bathe space. Typically there are indicators instructing guests to rinse off earlier than getting into the cenote, however final time I visited the realm, a lot of them didn’t have an indication. Be certain to maintain a watch out for these bathe areas, so you possibly can rinse off any residue in your pores and skin from lotions, soaps, and so forth.
- Go away no hint: Would you need to roll as much as your chosen cenote and discover a ton of trash there, floating round within the water? In fact not! Be conscious of all the things you deliver with you, and ensure to not go away any trash behind.
- Respect the native tradition: Cenotes had been and proceed to be, in some circumstances, locations of worship for the Mayan individuals. As you possibly can see above, with Ta’ak Bil-ha, these sacred sinkholes have a wealthy historical past and immense cultural significance. Hold this in thoughts while you go to, and be type to the employees working there.
- Deliver money: A few of the extra widespread cenotes have card readers, however the smaller ones will solely take money. Be certain to deliver sufficient pesos to your entrance price, transportation, and snacks.
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Visiting cenotes close to Cancún is an excellent solution to get near nature and study native tradition on the identical time. These are undoubtedly value visiting for those who get pleasure from swimming, snorkeling, or diving. Whereas there are many different issues to do in and round Cancún, I like to recommend making a cease at one (or all!) of those cenotes when you go to.
Need extra cenote information? We even have an excellent roundup of Tulum’s greatest cenotes and a whole information to Gran Cenote!