When I think of Cancún in sunny Mexico, the first thing that comes to my mind is water. The crystal clear, blue-green waters of the Caribbean Sea. And the dark, quiet waters of the great lagoon. But that’s not all. Because there are also the mysterious, deep waters in their underground caves. The famous cenotes. Here you can find out more about the most beautiful cenotes in Cancún and the surrounding area.

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How a cenote is formed?

The Yucatan Peninsula in southern Mexico is a karst area. It consists mainly of limestone. And it erodes very easily. Especially with the often short but heavy rainfall in the tropics. And just a few million years later – right now – the Yucatan Peninsula actually looks like Swiss cheese. That is to say, completely perforated.

Underground, the peninsula is crisscrossed by the largest known system of underground rivers in the world. It’s really thousands of kilometers long. Without exaggeration. And wherever the limestone soil has eroded and collapsed, an access to the waters underground has formed. These are the so-called cenotes.

Types of Cenotes - Open Cenote (Gran Cenote in Tulum)

Where are the most beautiful cenotes located?

That’s a good question. If you wanted to choose the most beautiful cenote, you would really have to make a difficult decision. All of them are rather unique in their own way and somehow magical. Therefore, I can only recommend you to visit several of them. Then you will quickly find out which one is the most beautiful cenote for you.

Most cenotes are located in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo along the Caribbean coastline. There are thousands of them along the coast from Cancún down to Bacalar in the far south.

But also, near the Gulf Coast in the neighboring State of Yucatan there are countless of these wonderful accesses to the underground rivers. There they are arranged rather in a ring around a huge crater left by the impact of a meteorite in the Gulf of Mexico over 60 million years ago. This catastrophe was probably also the reason for the formation of the extensive underground rivers.

About Cenotes - Facts and Guides

What can you experience at the cenotes in Cancún?

You can have a lot of fun at the cenotes in Cancún. That depends entirely on the type of cenote. Some of them are still located in their underground caves and can only be reached through narrow entrances. Others are located in the daylight and are surrounded by steep rock faces and dense vegetation. And still others look like open lagoons in the middle of the jungle.

In almost all cenotes you can refresh yourself with a bath in the crystal-clear water. The water has a temperature of about 26 ° C / 79° F degrees all year round. In many cenotes you will find colorful fish, turtles or sometimes wonderful flowering plants – under the water or on the surface. Therefore, these places are also perfectly suitable for snorkeling.

Some well-developed locations offer cool activities in the water: canoes, pneumatic tires, zip lines or the opportunity to enjoy assisted rappel into the water. In some places there are also platforms or suitable rocks for a jump into the cool water. In such locations, there is sometimes a kiosk that offers drinks and snacks, or maybe even a restaurant.

Scuba diving is particularly popular in many cenotes. There are places for easy dives in the large caverns, but also challenging dives for highly qualified cave divers in the narrow underwater tunnels. Read more about this in our article about diving in cenotes.

If you are traveling with children, you should choose a suitable cenote. It should be shallow enough to ensure their safety. Some sinkholes are more in the shape of a well shaft and can easily have a depth of 30 m. The deepest cenote known to date even reaches 119 m / 390 ft.

Things to do in Puerto Morelos, Mexico: La ruta de los cenotes

Attention!

If you’re traveling without an experienced guide at the cenotes in Cancún, never swim into the underground tunnels. Often the water level rises abruptly with the tides of the sea, and you can drown quite quickly. Apart from that, it is also very easy to get lost.

5 Beautiful cenotes in Cancún (Ruta de los Cenotes)

Of course, there are no cenotes directly in Cancún. But you can already find what you are looking for rather close nearby. More specifically, in the surroundings of Puerto Morelos. The place is located only a few kilometers south of Cancún. You can easily reach it with a rental car or simply enjoy the conveniences of a  guided tour to the cenotes.

At Puerto Morelos, the road to the little town Leona Vicario in the back country begins. It is also called Ruta de los Cenotes – the road to the cenotes. Along this road, many of the beautiful sinkholes are hidden in the jungle, and you can have a lot of fun. There are several parks with cenotes along this road. We have researched some examples for you here.

1. Cenote 7 Bocas

Cenote 7 Bocas is located on the Ruta de los Cenotes at km 15 west of Puerto Morelos. Its name 7 Bocas means “7 mouths”. This is due to the fact that the cenote can be reached via wooden stairs through seven entrances in its cave ceiling.

The Cenote 7 Bocas has a length of about 150 m / 490 ft. It is well suited for snorkeling, as the water does not reach the ceiling of the cave. The seven openings in the ceiling create spectacular lighting effects inside at sunny weather. The cave is decorated with huge, impressive stalactites.

With its depth of about 40 m / 130 ft. The Cenote 7 Bocas is also very popular with divers. There are many fossils to see. At a depth of about 30 m / 98 ft there is a cloud of hydrogen sulfide, which is formed by the decomposition of organic material.

Activities: Swimming, snorkeling, diving, exploring the surrounding jungle

Facilities: Parking, toilets, showers, small palapas (straw huts) for your picnic – if you bring food and drinks. Rental of life jackets, masks, and snorkeling equipment.

Entrance fee: 300 MXN / 16 USD

The best Cenotes in Cancun - Cenote 7 Bocas

2. Cenote Lu’um – Xenotes Theme Park

Xenotes is a tour run by the operator of famous parks such as Xcaret, Xel-Há or Xplor. That means a fairly exclusive experience, as the tour in the park is offered only for small groups. You will probably not find cenotes crowded with tourists here.

Of course, snacks and drinks are also offered. There are sanitary facilities and showers, as well as the necessary installations and equipment for the various activities. Even a pick-up from your hotel is no problem. Four very different cenotes await you in the park.

Cenote Lu’um is a very young cenote with an age of about eight million years. It is located in a closed cave that is about 25 m / 82 ft high above the water level. It is connected to other parts of the underground rivers by tunnels and caves. The water of Cenote Lu’um has a beautiful deep blue color.

Activities: Assisted rappel from a height of 25 m / 82 ft, swimming in the closed cenote with its spectacular rock formations, diving (platform available for entry)

Facilities: hotel pickup, toilets, showers, necessary equipment for the activities in the cenote, snacks, drinks, guide, equipment for the assisted rappel

Entrance Fee: Depending on your tour and special offers

Cenotes in Cancún - Xenotes Cenote Luum

 3. Cenote Iik‘– Xenotes Theme Park

Cenote Iik’ is also located in the Xenotes Adventure Tour  and is only accessible to a limited number of visitors. It is a very old cenote with nothing left of the former ceiling of the cave.

Due to the many collapses, Cenote Iik’ is hardly connected to other underground watercourses. It is also not particularly deep, only about 10 – 13 m / 33 – 43 ft. With its dreamlike, emerald green waters, this cenote looks more like a lagoon. The underwater world in this place consists of magical gardens of flowering water lilies.

Activities: Swimming, snorkeling, zip lining, cliff jumping

Facilities: hotel pickup, toilets, showers, necessary equipment for the activities in the cenote, snacks, drinks, guide, 2 zip lines

Entrance Fee: Depending on your tour and special offers

Cenotes in Cancún - Xenotes Cenote Iik

 4. Cenote Ha‘ – Xenotes Theme Park

The third cenote in Xenotes Adventure Park  is Cenote Ha’ with a depth of about 9 – 15 m / 30 – 49 ft. It is a half-open cenote, about in middle age. Its opening is already very large, so that the round water level looks quiet and beautiful in the light of the sun.

Its water has an exciting sapphire blue color. The unique flora and fauna in the Cenote Há will also enchant you.

Activities: Swimming, Snorkeling, Kayak Tour

Facilities: hotel pickup, toilets, showers, necessary equipment for the activities in the cenote, snacks, drinks, guides, kayaks

Entrance Fee: Depending on your tour and special offers

Cenotes in Cancún - Xenotes Cenote Ha

 5. Cenote K’áak‘ – Xenotes Theme Park

K’áak’ is the last of the four cenotes in the Xenotes Tour. It is also quite old and completely open. Its high, steep rock faces are overgrown by the dense vegetation of the tropical jungle.

The water in cenote K’áak’ is about 7 – 9 m / 23 – 30 ft deep and of a beautiful, jade green color. You can reach it via a water slide or zipline and float through the cool water comfortably on large tires.

Activities: Swimming, snorkeling, water slides, zip lines, pneumatic tires

Facilities: hotel pickup, toilets, showers, necessary equipment for the activities in the cenote, snacks, drinks, guide, water slide, zip line, floating tires

Entrance Fee: Depending on your tour and special offers

Cenotes in Cancún - Xenotes Cenote Kaak

Even though we only mention a few cenotes in this article, there are many more of these wonderful places on the Ruta de los Cenotes. You can take a look at them and find out which are the most beautiful cenotes near Cancún for you. Here is a little guide for you.

Ruta de los Cenotes - Guide
Ruta de los Cenotes – Street Map

How can you reach the cenotes from Cancún?  

Even if the cenotes are not far from Cancún – you can get to Puerto Morelos very quickly by public bus… but then there is the actual road to the cenotes. Public transport is therefore not quite the ideal solution here.

Therefore, you have two options: either you take a taxi. But the driver has to wait for you while you refresh yourself in the cool water. And that can be expensive. But how else would you like to make your way home?

The second option is the better one: You can easily reach the cenotes in Cancún by rental car. This way, you are free and independent. You can explore different locations according to your mood and design your trip according to your wishes.

By the way, if you opt for the cenotes tour of the Xenotes Adventure Park,  you don’t have to worry about getting there. On this tour you can easily be picked up from your hotel.

Ruta de los Cenotes

9 things to keep in mind when visiting a Cenote

1. Never use sunscreen, insect repellent or make-up before you get into the water in a cenote. Not even biodegradable products. They contaminate the crystal-clear water terribly and harm the plants and animals that live there. Many cenotes with facilities have showers where you can wash off before swimming. Inform yourself before your visit – if there are no showers, please refrain from such products in advance.

2. In some cenotes there are activities that require special equipment. For example, life jackets, safety helmets for zip lines and more. If safety equipment is needed, you should use it. There is a reason why it is offered.

3. You should dispose of your waste without any exception in the designated places. If there are no such places at your cenote, take your garbage back to the city and dispose of it there. This applies not only to “bigger” things like bottles or cans, but also to “small items” such as cigarette butts.

4. It should be taken for granted, but still – don’t perpetuate your visit to a wonderful place. Unless in your photos. Your scratched name is absolutely inacceptable in the rocks of a cenote or the trees of the surrounding area.

5. If you are lucky enough to swim in a cenote with stalactites and stalagmites, do not touch them. And try not to bump into them when snorkeling or diving. You can easily break them off and then they are lost. Remember, they took millennia to form. It takes them 100 years to grow by about 1 cm / 0,4 inches. And for this it took an ice age, when due to the strong glaciation the sea level was 130 m / 430 ft lower than in our days.

6. In most cenotes, pets should not be brought. If you’re an international air traveler, that should not be an issue. But if you are a local traveler with your dog, inform yourself in advance.

7. For reasons of safety, some cenotes in Cancún have an absolute ban on alcohol. A strict smoking ban also applies at some locations.

8. Opening hours: Most Cenotes in Cancún are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

9. Money: Most Cenotes do not accept credit cards for entry or any activities, food or drinks. Just bring Mexican pesos!

Cenotes and the Maya in ancient times

Packing list for your visit to a cenote

You will definitely get into the water when you visit the cenotes in Cancún. In addition to your swimwear, a towel would be handy. Bath towels made of microfiber are particularly suitable. They are available in many colors and sizes. They dry rather quickly and are very light. This is good for the weight of your suitcase when checking in at the airport. And of course, also if you have to carry them through the jungle.

On some cenotes, which are especially great for snorkeling, the necessary equipment is offered to the visitors. But let’s be honest – do you really want to use other people’s devices? After all, the pandemic has taught us completely new standards in terms of hygiene. You may feel much more comfortable with your own snorkel set.

Not all people want or can swim with fins. For my part, I don’t feel comfortable with them. And in the Cenotes, there is no strong current. So, it should be enough to protect your feet from the stony ground with swim shoes. At least if you are not diving.

Conclusion

You see – to find great cenotes in Cancún, you don’t have to drive far. So, there is nothing that keeps you from having a wonderful day in the refreshing, crystal-clear waters. We hope our tips have helped you a bit to find a great spot. And well… Have fun!

Attention!

The Cenotes in Cancún are part of the natural environment and can change easily due to current weather conditions or human impact. We try to describe the circumstances as well as possible. However, we cannot guarantee that exactly the described conditions will be found on a certain day.

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