The Yucatan Peninsula is full of unique experiences from Mayan ruins and swimming with sea turtles to jumping into enormous natural swimming pools: cenotes. Cenotes are really a highlight to any Cancun vacation or road trip around the Yucatan and we’ve chosen our favorites, the best cenotes to visit in Mexico.
This handy how-to guide is also full of information about what you need to bring for a day in the cenotes, what to expect with the many types of cenotes, and our top tips for photographing cenotes and all the fun you can have.
What is a cenote and how do I visit?
Cenotes are a type of cave or sinkhole. They are typically formed in the same manner as caves with fresh water percolating through the earth and meeting up with the aquifer, or underground river. This erosion creates small and large holes in the earth’s surface and gives access to the beautiful, crystal clear waters of the aquifer.
What to expect at different cenotes
Because each cenote is different from the next, you’ll have totally different experiences. The cenotes near Cancun and Playa del Carmen are more built up around the exterior to make it easier for tourists to visit, but then as you go inland you’ll find cenotes that are much more rugged and surrounded by jungle.
One cenote near Playa del Carmen, Cenote Azul, is very open with many different fresh water pools surrounding a large one, yet Cenote Dos Ojos near Tulum are very dark caves with a slow flowing river moving you through the caverns. Some cenotes have fish in them and bats flying overhead and others are just a grand bubbling spring like you might find in Florida.