12 beautiful Riviera Maya cenotes you should visit (2024)

If you’re planning a trip to the Yucatan Peninsula, make sure to add these magical Riviera Maya cenotes to your itinerary.

They’re not only great spots to cool off from the tropical heat but also offer a peek into the region’s natural beauty.

Whether you’re up for a swim, or a snorkel, or just want to take in the sights, these cenotes are must-visits.

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What are cenotes?

Cenotes are natural swimming holes, created millions of years ago when limestone bedrock collapsed and exposed a network of underground rivers.

These clear water pools were important to the Mayans for both water supply and religious ceremonies.

Found primarily on the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico, cenotes are great for swimming, snorkeling, and explore unique ecosystems and underwater caves.

Riviera Maya cenotes - Cenote Ik Kil

How many cenotes are there in Yucatan?

There are more than 6,000 cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Incredible, right?

The Riviera Maya alone boasts over 300 cenotes, ranging from popular swimming spots to quieter, more secluded locales.

4 types of cenotes

You’ll find cenotes throughout the Riviera Maya, and they fall into four main categories based on their structure:

1. Open Cenotes

These resemble natural swimming holes or lakes, just like Cenote Cristalino.

They’re directly exposed to the sky and are the result of the collapse of a cave ceiling. The edges can be lush with vegetation, making them feel like a hidden oasis.

2. Semi-open Cenotes

Semi-open cenotes have partially collapsed roofs that let in sunlight and air, making them partially exposed.

These will give you a mix of shade and light, often with stalactites and roots reaching down into the water.

3. Underground Cenotes

Completely roofed with just small openings, these cenotes are often accessed through a narrow entrance.

Inside, they’re like submerged caves and can be extensive and deep. The Dos Ojos Cenote is a renowned example, known for its underwater passages.

4. Cavern Cenotes

Cavern cenotes give you a bit of both worlds—with sections fully open and sections under a rock overhang or cave.

They show off impressive rock formations above and below the water. The Grand Cenote near Tulum is a famous one, popular for snorkeling and diving.

Top 12 Riviera Maya cenotes

1. Gran Cenote (Tulum)

Gran Cenote in Tulum is one of the most popular cenotes in Mexico. And it’s more than just a swimming hole!

You’ve got stalactites hanging overhead and stalagmites poking up from below.

Bats zip around in the air space above, and in the water, you’ll swim with tiny fish and maybe spot a turtle or two.

Riviera Maya cenotes - Gran Cenote

2. Cenote Dos Ojos (Tulum)

Picture two massive, connected sinkholes with underwater caves between them.

That’s Cenote Dos Ojos.

You’ll be swimming in clear blue water, eyeing up fish, and if you’re diving, exploring dark caverns. It’s part of one of the largest underwater cave systems around.

Riviera Maya cenotes - Cenote Dos Ojos

3. Cenote Azul (Playa Del Carmen)

Cenote Azul, just a stone’s throw from Playa Del Carmen, is an open-air swimming spot that has beautiful clear water.

It’s a family-friendly place where you can float, snorkel, and jump off rocks. No caves or tight spaces here—just an open sky.

Riviera Maya cenotes - Cenote azul

4. Cenote Suytun (Valladolid)

Cenote Suytun near Valladolid is known for its iconic limestone platform that seems to float in the center.

It’s got a single beam of light that hits just right for dramatic photos. You can swim if you want, but it’s more about that central platform.

Riviera Maya cenotes - Cenote Suytun

5. Cenote Zacil-Ha (Tulum)

If you’re looking for a more relaxed cenote, you’ll like Cenote Zacil-Ha near Tulum.

It’s got a zip line and platforms for jumping in, making it a fun hangout for both kids and adults. Clear waters and a chill atmosphere, plus it’s less crowded than some of the bigger cenotes.

6. Cenote Chac Mool (Playa Del Carmen)

Cenote Chac Mool, located near Playa del Carmen, is a dive-centric cenote known for its underwater caves and caverns.

It’s not your typical swimming hole; it’s more for divers! You’ll find stunning light effects, haloclines, and even air domes inside.

  • Entrance fee: Diving prices vary, but expect to pay for both the dive and cenote access.
  • Opening hours: Diving tours are typically scheduled, so check with local dive shops for exact times.
  • 🐠 Book a tour: Two Cenotes Diving
Riviera Maya cenotes - Cenote Chac Mool

7. Cenote Eden (Ponderosa) (Playa Del Carmen)

Cenote Eden, also known as Ponderosa, near Playa del Carmen, is a great spot for snorkeling and diving with a vast open water area and an extensive underwater cave system for the adventurous.

It’s one of the larger cenotes in the Yucatan and offers clear waters, fish, and a lush surrounding garden.

  • Entrance fee: About 11 USD
  • Opening hours: Typically open from 8 AM to 5 PM, but it’s closed on Saturdays
Riviera Maya cenotes - Cenote Eden

8. Cenote X’Canche (Near Ek Balam)

Cenote X’Canche, located near the Ek Balam ruins, is a semi-open cenote.

It’s a bit of a hidden gem with clear blue water for swimming, a zip line, and even cabins for rent if you want to stay overnight.

The cenote is surrounded by lush greenery, giving it a more natural and less commercial feel.

Riviera Maya cenotes - XCanche

10. Cenote Calavera (Tulum)

Cenote Calavera is a smaller cenote known for its three holes that resemble a skull (hence the name “Calavera,” which means “skull” in Spanish).

It’s a popular spot for both swimming and diving into the underground river system. Adventurous visitors can jump through the smaller holes, while others may enter via a ladder.

The cenote offers a mix of sun and shade, with roots and vines on the water’s surface.

  • Entrance fee: The general entrance fee is about 250 MXN, which is approximately 12.50 USD
  • Opening hours: Cenote Calavera is open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, seven days a week

11. Cenote Cristalino (Playa Del Carmen)

Cenote Cristalino, located close to Playa Del Carmen, is an open cenote with amazing clear waters, ideal for swimming and snorkeling.

It’s a family-friendly spot with a natural setting that includes a small cliff for jumping.

The cenote is part of a network of cenotes in the area and is known for its accessibility and beauty.

  • Entrance fee: The exact price varies, but it’s generally cheap
  • Opening hours: Daily from 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM, but check for the most current information
  • 🐠 Book a tour: Underwater Photo Shoot Experience in Cenote
Riviera Maya cenotes - Cenote Cristalino

12. Cenote Ik Kil (Near Chichen Itza)

Cenote Ik Kil, near the famous Chichen Itza ruins, is one of the best cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula.

This picturesque, open-top cenote is surrounded by hanging vines and lush vegetation, creating a unique natural atmosphere for swimming.

The cenote is about 40 meters deep and has a carved stairway down to the swimming platform.

  • Entrance fee: 80 MXN / 4 USD
  • Opening hours: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Arrive early to avoid the crowds – it’s a popular stop for tourists visiting Chichen Itza.
  • 🐠 Book a tour: Chichen Itza, Cenote Ik Kil, and Coba Ruins
Riviera Maya cenotes - Ik-kil

FAQ – Riviera Maya Cenotes

Does Riviera Maya have cenotes?

Yes, the Riviera Maya is home to many cenotes, such as Cenote Dos Ojos, Gran Cenote, and Cenote Azul.

Is it safe to swim in cenotes in Mexico?

Swimming in cenotes in Mexico is generally considered safe, but it’s important to follow safety guidelines, such as not touching marine life, using biodegradable sunscreen, and being cautious if you’re not a strong swimmer.

Some cenotes have also shown high levels of contamination, so it’s wise to research specific cenotes before visiting.

What is the best cenote in Mexico?

Gran Cenote in Tulum is one of the best cenotes for its clear waters and beautiful surroundings.

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