6 cenotes that you cannot miss in Yucatán, Mexico

posted in: AMERICA | 2

Yucatán peninsula, in Mexico, is a popular tourist destination for several reasons. It is full of incredible Maya ruins, colorful villages, delicious food and splendid beaches. However, it has another thing that is truly unique: cenotes. These natural swimming pools have different forms. Some of them look like lakes, others are more like caves partially filled with underground water. They were formed by dissolution of rock and, the subsequent structural collapse.

We visited many of them and we bring you the list of those that made the strongest impression on us. These are the 6 cenotes that you cannot miss in Yucatán, Mexico.

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1. Dos Ojos

Cenote Dos Ojos
Cenote Dos Ojos

In case you visit Tulum make sure you don’t skip this system of two cenotes. You will find Dos Ojos north of Tulum right next to Highway 307.  The name in Mexican means Two Eyes. The two cenotes are connected by a complex of caves just like eyes. With its 61 kms it is one of the longest underwater cave systems in the world. It is possible to buy the entrance fee for just one of them but we highly recommend you to check them both. Don’t worry about the snorkeling equipment: for a small fee you can rent it directly at the cenote.

Dos Ojos is a paradise for those who love diving as in some points it is 17-meter deep. We had to satisfy ourselves with snorkelling and it was trully impressive. The water is crystal clear and swarming with tiny fish. The bottom of both pools is sandy and the visibility very good. This was the very first cenote that we explored in Yucatán and aftewards we wanted more!

2. Gran Cenote

Gran Cenote - View from the garden
Gran Cenote – View from the garden

Around 5kms from Tulum on Highway 109 lies a little piece of paradise. The cenote is located in a beautiful exotic garden full of colorful peacocks. You will spot the pool and its waters from above but before entering you will have to take a shower. They are trying to keep the water as clean as possible which means that those who take a swim must be clean as well. You can’t bath if you have sunscreen, perfumes and so on.

Gran Cenote

This place is worth visiting for several reasons. One of them is its particular structure divided into two parts by a cave. The only way you can get to the second part is by swimming through the cave. The experience is truly unique since there will be bats flying and screaming around you. Scary, right?

Another thing are the turtles. They are tiny, cute and totally not afraid of us humans. Certain parts of the pool are only accessible to them. However, you can observe them easily from the wooden pier. Wanna see by yourself? Look at our video!

3. Cenote Azul

Cenote Azul
Cenote Azul

This cenote is different from the previous two because it looks more like a lake. Located on Highway 307 close to Laguna Bacalar it is one of the cenotes that you cannot miss in Yucatán. There is a nice bar right at the entrance where you can have something fresh to drink before jumping into the water.

We found Cenote Azul a little scary. The reason is that it is 90-meter deep! The depth itself is not that unusual but it starts right from the concrete pier where you enter the pool. You cannot see the bottom and what is below you is oh so dark. A great idea is to rent a kayak and check the opposite side of the cenote with its beautiful vegetation.

The easiest way to visit cenotes of Yucatan is by car. Read here how to rent a car safely and cheaply!

4. Cenote Kankirixche

Swimming in Kankirixche
Swimming in Kankirixche

If you are one of those who like to explore hidden spots then this is something for you. The cenote Kankirixche is not easy to find. We got the tip from the owner of The Pickled Onion B&B. She regularly explores the area and knows more about it than some locals do. Although the instructions were clear we didn’t get there without difficulties.

Cenote Kankirixche - Entrance
Cenote Kankirixche – Entrance

The cenote lies close to the village Abala. A few kilometers out of town you will notice the only road sign posted at the entrance of the road. It took us a lot of time and driving around to find it but it was worth the struggle. You might have the whole pool all for yourself since it is not well known. Make sure you bring some food and water since there are no shops or restaurants around.

5. Sacred Cenote

Sacred Cenote
Sacred Cenote

Sacred Cenote or Cenote Sagrado lies in the most famous complex of Maya ruins: Chichen Itza. Another name often used for it is the Well of Sacrifice. Its history is scarier than the appearance. This cenote had a special significance for the Maya civilization. They believed that its bottom was one of the possible entryways to Xibalbá, or underworld. It is forbidden to swim there but most people wouldn’t dare to anyway.

The archeologists found a lot of human bones and objects at the bottom of the Sacred Cenote. The Mayans believed that the rain god Chaac lived inside the cenote and they offered countless sacrifices. A lot of human lives ended in its waters to appease him. The objects found in the cenote helped historians understand the Mayan culture better. For you it should also be one of the cenotes that you cannot miss in Yucatán.

6. Cenote Dzitnup and Samula

Cenote Dzitnup
Cenote Dzitnup

Just 10kms south of Valladolid lies a cave half filled with water: cenote Dzitnup. It is also called Xkeken and right next it to it there is another cenote Samula. Just like with Dos Ojos you can choose whether you pay the entrance to see both of them or just one.

Both cenotes are almost completely covered by cave walls. There is just a small opening on the top of cave through which the daylight falls upon the water. They are not exactly ideal for snorkeling as there is not enough light. However, you can swim as much as you want and there is an always present lifeguard.

Cenote Samula
Cenote Samula

There are much more cenotes in the area and each of them is different. You can find an extensive guide of the best cenotes of Mexico in this post of Anna Everywhere. It’s full of practical information: Take a look at her pictures and you will want to go there now!

This region is not only cenotes, though: If you love adventures, this guide about outdoor activities in Yucatan is for you!

We included those that we liked the most but we want to hear your voice, too! Are there any other cenotes that you would add to the list? Let us know in the comments and share the article with your friends! 🙂

2 Responses

  1. Laura
    | Reply

    Great guide! I’m hoping to go to Yucatan this year, 2017. And I’ve been reading about cenotes so I’m excited to see a few of these. Cenote Dzitnup and Samula in the caves just seem like a fantasy pool. It must’ve been really amazing to discover those for the first time.

    • Enri & Zuz
      | Reply

      Hi Laura, thanks! Cenotes are impressive, and we were literally astonished each time we visited one of them. Take your time and explore as much as you can 🙂 If you want to know more about Yucatan, be sure to check these two posts:
      – 2 weeks itinerary

      – Renting a car in Yucatan

      Happy traveling!

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