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On this submit, I'll checklist the most effective cenotes in Mexico you gained't need to miss. A shocking variety of guests to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula by no means expertise its most excellent pure function: cenotes.
However ask any frequent customer to the Yucatan, and so they’ll urge you to bask in a refreshing swim and snorkel in a cenote.
Licensed scuba divers could resolve that exploring the deep and slim caverns linked to cenotes is much more interesting than the world-class dive sites in the nearby Caribbean.
That was the case for me. I’m a scuba diver, however on my first visits to cenotes, I solely snorkeled in them. I used to be touring with buddies who didn’t dive.
A few years later, when I first dove in cenotes, my thoughts was blown. It wasn’t solely among the finest issues I’d achieved in Mexico, however among the finest issues I’d achieved anyplace, interval.
Now, I plan my journeys to the Mayan Riviera round scuba diving in cenotes. However even when you don’t dive, don’t miss out on a swim and snorkel on this distinctive geological surroundings.
On this article, I’ll checklist the 15 finest cenotes in Mexico and provides some details about the place to search out them, what to convey, and extra.
What's a Cenote?
Cenotes are sinkholes stuffed with freshwater which might be discovered all through Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
How have been cenotes fashioned?
Positioned within the southeast nook of the nation, the Yucatan Peninsula is a broad block of limestone with an unlimited community of caves underneath the floor.
In reality, the area comprises one of many largest cave systems in the world, with the invention that the Sac Actun and Dos Ojos programs (close to Tulum) have been linked.
The caves have been flooded round 11,700 years in the past, on the finish of the final Ice Age. Stalagmites, stalactites, and all types of bizarre rock formations have been completely preserved within the recent water, together with animal skeletons and proof of human inhabitation, together with fireplace pits.
Over the millennia, sections of the brittle limestone floor collapsed, forming cenotes. Some are extensive open swimming pools, whereas others are merely holes or cracks within the floor.
There are greater than 6,000 cenotes within the Yucatan Peninsula, most misplaced within the jungle. They have been essential sources of recent water and ceremonial websites for the traditional Mayans.
As an illustration, stays of sacrificed people and animals have been discovered within the two cenotes in Chichen Itza (which you'll’t swim in, solely admire from above).
Visiting cenotes as a vacationer
Cenotes which have been developed for tourism have entry charges (normally lower than $10 USD) and services for renting snorkel gear, life jackets, and different aquatic requirements. Usually they include eating places and provide different journey actions, equivalent to ATV leases and ziplining.
Licensed scuba divers can expertise cenotes in a complete different method, by exploring the caves winding underneath the floor. You’ll must go together with a divemaster, and established routes are marked by ropes. Some cenotes, together with Dreamgate, Angelita, and El Pit, require an advance certification.
If you wish to scuba dive in cenotes, it’s finest to rearrange a visit from a dive store in Playa del Carmen or Tulum. You may select a package deal that features gear, transportation, and as much as three dives, normally in two completely different cenotes.
For swimming and snorkeling, you may simply present up on the cenote and hire your gear proper there.
Greatest Cenotes in Tulum
Tulum is surrounded by cenotes, making it a wonderful base for exploring the most effective cenotes in Mexico.
You may mix your journey to a cenote with a go to to another attraction close to Tulum. For instance, Dos Ojos (and lots of different cenotes) are close to the Tulum ruins. You may go to them earlier than or after you discover the archeological website.
To the south, you possibly can spend half a day on the Kaan Luum lagoon after which journey onward to the Muyil archeological website. Or, after a protracted day on the intensive Coba ruins, you possibly can cease at Gran Cenote on the best way again to chill off earlier than returning to Tulum city.
1. Dos Ojos
Two side-by-side oval cenotes give Dos Ojos (Two Eyes) its title. It’s a implausible place for scuba diving, with two completely different routes main between the cenotes that include slim passages and plenty of stalagmites and stalactites.
With an overhanging cliff edge in each “eyes,” Dos Ojos can also be a great place for swimming and snorkeling. You will get a style of underwater cavern exploration with no need to strap on scuba gear.
2. El Pit (among the finest cenotes in Mexico for freediving and scuba diving)
El Pit shares an entrance with Dos Ojos and is situated farther again within the jungle. This deep cenote is all about scuba diving and freediving, and together with Angelita is likely one of the two finest cenotes close to Tulum for deep diving.
Once you dive into cenotes, you not often go deeper than 5 – 6 meters, as a result of the caves run largely horizontally to the bottom above. El Pit (together with Angelita) is an exception, therefore the title, the Pit.
At El Pit, a deceptively small gap results in an enormous open chamber, the place beams of sunshine slant by the water in lots of shades of blue.
Alongside the edges of the chamber are a number of slim passages you may squeeze into, however don’t go too far, as a result of, like all cenotes, they result in a virtually infinite array of deeper chambers.
There’s no motive to go to El Pit for swimming, though when you’re already at Dos Ojos and are curious, you may stroll up the highway to test it out.
Angelita is far smaller than El Pit, only one semicircular pool heading straight down. As with El Pit, don't go there (and pay the doorway payment) except you’re scuba diving.
Angelita is exceptional for its halocline, a yellow cloud of hydrogen sulfate situated at 30 meters. A bump of earth is situated there, and damaged branches stick out of the cloud, trying like mist in an outdated horror film.
When you attain it, you may proceed descending into the cloud. The odor of sulfur fills your masks, and all you may see is the spooky yellow glow of your flashlight. You may’t keep lengthy beneath the halocline, as a result of it’s deep and also you’ll burn up your oxygen shortly.
Due to this expertise, Angelita is totally among the finest cenotes in Mexico for scuba diving.
4. Gran Cenote
Gran Cenote is inland from Tulum on the freeway to Coba. This was the primary cenote I visited in Mexico. I went there after a protracted, scorching day of driving a bicycle across the massive historical metropolis of Coba.
On the best way again to Tulum city, as soon as I noticed the signal, I requested the bus driver to cease at Gran Cenote.
Gran Cenote is in a good looking location within the dense jungle, with loads of locations to put out within the solar. It’s relatively shallow and has plenty of buildings to swim underneath and round. It’s additionally a great place for scuba diving, though most dive outlets will advocate Dos Ojos first.
5. Yax-Muul and Sac Tuunich Cenotes
For a cavern diving expertise with out scuba gear, head to Yax-Muul, situated about 10 minutes by automotive or bus north of the archeological website of Tulum.
Yax-Muul is an underground cenote with solely half-flooded caves, so you may snorkel or just swim by them, making it among the finest cenotes in Tulum for journey. The opposite cenote on website, Sac Tuunich, is the place Mayan ceremonies are carried out.
The journey continues above the water, with rappelling and ATV leases out there. You may also select to expertise a temazcal, a conventional sweat lodge ceremony. Make sure you bathe earlier than getting again within the cenote.
On the dive store, the primary time I deliberate to go scuba diving in cenotes, I flipped by a guidebook about the most effective cenotes close to Tulum. The dive grasp informed me about Dos Ojos, El Pit, and Angelita. They sounded nice.
I closed the e-book and requested, what’s the perfect cenote in Mexico for scuba diving? With out hesitation, he mentioned, Dreamgate.
It wasn’t within the e-book, so he opened his telephone to point out me pictures. They seemed like one thing from one other planet, rows of stalagmites and stalactites starting from the scale of your pinky finger to an enormous tree trunk, stretching out in all instructions and eerily distorted by the water.
Dreamgate has extraordinarily tight caverns, so a sophisticated dive certification is critical. What’s extra crucial, nonetheless, is whole management over your buoyancy, so that you don’t bump right into a stalactite and break it off.
Dreamgate has no entrance gate or services aside from a concrete outhouse. Arranging a visit with a dive store is crucial.
7. Kaan Luum Lagoon
Kaan Luum is an outlier, and it’s solely actually a cenote by default. Nevertheless it deserves to be thought of among the finest cenotes in Mexico as a result of it’s completely beautiful.
The glowing turquoise water of this in any other case shallow lagoon turns darkish within the center, the place a deep cenote lies. The cenote is blocked off by a rope and buoys, so you may’t swim into it, but it surely makes for a beautiful setting.
Two lengthy docks stretch out over the water, the place you may lay within the solar between swims. There are additionally a couple of picket swings within the water the place you may pose on your good picture.
Just a few suggestions for Kaan Luum: convey plenty of water and meals. It’s so fairly that you just’ll need to keep all day.
Or, when you’re feeling adventurous, you may journey to the archeological website of Muyil down the highway. The ruins are considerably small, however a number of mountaineering trails department out from them, main into the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve.
Assume twice when you’re tempted to journey a bicycle from Tulum city to Kaan Luum (like me). It’s a protracted and actually scorching journey.
Greatest Cenotes in Playa del Carmen
The 64 km stretch of freeway between Playa del Carmen and Tulum comprises quite a few cenotes, a few of which I’ve described above. Dos Ojos is nearer to Tulum, as an example, but it surely’s additionally simply accessible from Playa del Carmen.
That is additionally the case for the a number of cenotes close to Akumal, which is at roughly the halfway level between Tulum and Playa del Carmen. Others, like the 2 described beneath, are a lot nearer to Playa del Carmen.
1. Cenote Azul
Broad-open and surrounded by lush jungle, Cenote Azul is likely one of the finest cenotes in Mexico for swimming. Hire or convey your personal snorkel gear so you may take a look at the fascinating underwater buildings and faculties of fish. There’s even a small cliff you may leap off.
Cenote Azul is certainly one of 5 cenote parks about 20 minutes south of Playa del Carmen, throughout the road from the sprawling Barcelo resort.
The opposite 4 are Chikin Ha, Kantun Chi, Hunab Ku, and Jardin del Eden. These are undoubtedly the most effective cenotes close to Playa del Carmen.
Of those 5, Cenote Azul is the preferred as a result of it’s so massive and near the freeway. Throughout excessive season within the Mayan Riviera, particularly throughout a vacation, chances are you'll need to take a look at one of many different parks to keep away from crowds.
Every of the cenotes have separate entrance charges, all lower than $10 USD. If you happen to’re actually into cenotes, after Cenote Azul you may go to one other (or all) of them.
2. Cenote Jardin del Eden
Proper subsequent door to Cenote Azul is Cenote Jardin del Eden, one other massive, open cenote that’s nice for swimming and snorkeling. Jardin del Eden (Backyard of Eden) lives as much as its title with its colourful and tranquil setting within the tropical rainforest.
Jardin del Eden can also be in style with divers, making it among the finest cenotes close to Playa del Carmen for scuba diving.
Greatest Cenotes in Cancun
There aren't any cenotes in Cancun correct neither within the lodge zone nor town on the mainland.
The closest cenotes are within the Ruta de los Cenotes (Route of the Cenotes) in Puerto Morelos to the south, which is about midway between Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
For the opposite finest cenotes in Cancun, your finest wager is to go to ones close to Tulum or Playa del Carmen, or go to a cenote close to Valladolid in your strategy to the traditional Mayan metropolis of Chichen Itza.
1. Cenote Sol y Luna (Ruta de los Cenotes)
The Sol y Luna (Solar and Moon) Cenote is a part of the Ruta de los Cenotes, which follows a highway going inland from the beautiful seashore city of Puerto Morelos.
Journey companies and the Sol y Luna Hacienda can prepare a complete day of journey on this route, with mountain bikes, ATVs, or horses to journey on rugged jungle trails. Or, you may head straight to the cenote by taxi or rental automotive.
The cenote itself is an open cenote lined with low rocky partitions. It’s crossed by a zipline, and there are a couple of platforms the place you may sit and absorb the solar earlier than cooling off once more within the cenote.
Due to all of the actions, it’s a good selection for households with youngsters, and since it’s close to each Cancun and Playa del Carmen, it’s a good selection when you have restricted time.
2. Cenote Suytun
It’s really hours from Cancun, but it surely’s fairly near some of the in style locations that many individuals go to from Cancun: Chichen Itza.
Chichen Itza is the famed Mayan archeological site with the long-lasting blocky pyramid. If you happen to’re touring to the ruins from Cancun, you may simply cease at this Cenote Suytun on the best way again, and lots of excursions to Chichen Itza embody a go to.
Like Chichen Itza, Cenote Suytun comes with a draw back — it will probably get severely crowded.
Arriving early within the morning earlier than the tour teams is a good suggestion, particularly when you gained’t be going to Chichen Itza the identical day (since you'll most likely need to beat the tour teams there first).
Regardless of the crowds and the gap from Cancun, Suytun is likely one of the finest cenotes in Mexico due to its big underground chamber that’s lit up by a large beam of sunshine coming from a gap within the ceiling.
This beam falls right into a broad semicircular pool the place a platform has been constructed. Throughout are walkways dug into the cave partitions that take you all the way down to the water.
3. Cenote Oxmán
4 cenotes are situated very shut to 1 one other to the fast southwest of the picturesque colonial town of Valladolid: Cenote Saamal, Cenote Xkeken, Cenotes Dzitnup, and Cenote Oxmán.
All 4 are beautiful — principally, all cenotes are beautiful — so Cenote Oxmán is likely one of the finest cenotes in Mexico due to the colourful hacienda close by. The restaurant on the hacienda serves native delicacies and has a bar subsequent to a pool.
The cenote is an open basin underneath steep, rugged cliffs with walkways constructed into them. Lengthy vine-like roots grasp from the bushes on the tops of the cliffs, reaching into the water beneath.
Greatest Cenotes in Merida
Merida is a cenote hotspot, with a number of the finest cenotes in Mexico throughout. If you happen to don’t have a rental automotive, then you will get to most of them by bus or colectivos (passenger vans), most of which depart from the bus station in central Merida.
Beneath are a number of the finest cenotes close to Merida, with choices not discovered elsewhere within the Yucatan Peninsula, equivalent to horse-drawn carriages and centuries-old haciendas.
1. Cuzuma Cenotes
The small city of Cuzuma offers quick access to a number of of the most effective cenotes in Yucatan, and never solely due to the cenotes themselves (that are pretty), however due to the technique of transportation you'll take to get to them.
Close to Cuzuma, a horse pulls a small carriage over slim practice tracks to 3 completely different cenotes deep within the jungle. The realm was a sugarcane plantation, and the practice tracks have been made for transporting the crops.
Now, they’re used to move swimmers between the cenotes. At instances, the horse will get transferring fairly shortly, making for an thrilling journey.
The cenotes themselves are simply a number of the finest cenotes in Mexico. One is a gigantic chamber with a large pool beneath and a ledge for leaping up above. You enter one other by descending a picket ladder down a shoulder-width gap within the floor.
2. Cenote Yaxbacaltun
At Yaxbacaltun, a protracted staircase results in a platform above the water within the middle of the round open cenote.
The water is sort of deep, so convey your snorkel gear or hire it there. Alongside the cliffs are some picket platforms to leap off and a giant rope swing.
A number of caverns prolong far underground with sufficient house above to paddle a kayak by. You may also enterprise into these caverns on the picket staircases that weave by them.
Yaxbacaltun is about an hour away from Merida on public transportation, just a bit farther away than Cuzuma. There’s a restaurant and campsite there, and it’s close to different cenotes and caves. It’s an awesome start line to go to extra of the most effective cenotes close to Merida.
3. Cenotes Hacienda Muchuyché
Cenotes Hacienda Muchuyché is greater than a cenote, however an expertise. You’ll discover a Seventeenth-century hacienda close to ruins, a wild jungle setting, and two massive cave cenotes with crystal clear water. There’s even a slim canal for swimming or floating between them.
It’s additionally considerably dearer than a number of the different finest cenotes in Mexico, with present costs at about $30 USD for normal admission.
However visiting the hacienda is a full-day tour. Apart from exploring the cenotes, you may eat on the restaurant, study the historical past of the hacienda, and take guided walks by the jungle.
What's the Greatest Cenote in Mexico?
It is a exhausting query to reply. Some cenotes have a humongous open pool, some have a big interior chamber, and a few result in deep caves, which means that cenotes may be large in three alternative ways.
A cenote assembly all three of those standards might be deep within the jungle and inaccessible to vacationers, if not undiscovered. However, based mostly on those we all know of, the reply could be the Sac Atun system together with Dos Ojos when it comes to size.
What's the Deepest Cenote in Mexico?
Humorous sufficient, the deepest cenote in Mexico isn't situated within the Yucatan peninsula! At a depth of 282 meters, Zacatón, within the state of Tamaulipas is the deepest cenote in Mexico.
What's the Most Stunning Cenote in Mexico?
That is completely subjective, after all. Relating to pure aesthetics, not awe or surprise (like Dreamgate or Angelita), I imagine El Pit is the most effective cenote in Mexico for astounding magnificence.
If a panoramic jungle setting is what you’re after, then I counsel the Cuzuma cenotes or Gran Cenote close to Tulum. For these Instagram-worthy photographs, Cenote Suytún is a superb possibility.
If you happen to’re enthusiastic about having fun with some spectacular structure and historical past along with your time within the water, take a look at Cenotes Hacienda Muchuyché.
5 Suggestions for Visiting Cenotes in Mexico
Crucial tip is extra of an unwritten rule. Don’t placed on sunscreen or insect repellant earlier than getting into a cenote. It’s unhealthy for the recent water.
Be sure to have a hat to guard you from the solar and lengthy sleeves to guard you from mosquitos. As quickly as you’re achieved swimming, liberally apply each sunscreen and mosquito repellant.
Cenotes are sometimes in distant jungle settings and generally require a little bit of a stroll on sandy roads to get to from public transportation drop-off factors, so sturdy footwear could also be a more sensible choice than flip-flops.
If you happen to plan on doing quite a lot of snorkeling throughout your journey to Mexico, convey your personal gear. You’ll lower your expenses on leases wherever you go, whether or not at cenotes or seashores like Akumal. You should purchase an inexpensive set at Walmart or one other large field retailer.
Convey your personal meals and ingesting water to save cash on the overpriced drinks and snacks on the cenotes. Convey a digicam, an underwater one if doable, and in addition a flashlight that works underwater, when you’re actually enthusiastic about getting some cool pictures.
Is It Secure to Swim in Cenotes?
Sure, it’s completely secure to swim in cenotes. If you happen to’re not a robust swimmer, you may hire a life jacket or convey your personal. In lots of cenotes, in truth, life jackets are necessary.
Some cenotes have excessive ledges to leap from. Earlier than doing so, swim round beneath the ledge to verify for big rocks. Though the water is crystal clear, the sunshine may not be adequate to see what’s precisely beneath the floor.
If it’s a preferred cenote, and also you see folks lined as much as leap off the ledge, in that case, you don’t actually need to fret about it.
Greatest Cenote Excursions in Mexico
A go to to the cenotes is commonly finest mixed with a visit to historic sights or cities. Listed here are a few nice day journeys to cenotes from Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum.
Discover Cenotes and Keep away from Crowds
This experience isn't solely very extremely rated however there's some thriller to it! The corporate decides which cenotes to go to based mostly on the day — there are 10 that they rotate between.
You'll go to two lovely cenotes and luxuriate in a superb lunch as effectively. The pickup level is in Tulum. Take a look at pictures, learn opinions and discover out extra here.
Most Picturesque Cenotes
In case your aim is to not solely swim and expertise lovely cenotes but in addition get that good shot, then this tour is for you. Go to three beautiful cenotes that supply lovely backdrops (Suytun, Oxman and yet another…), adopted by a connoisseur Yucatan-style meal in Valladolid. Discover out extra here.
Biking and Cenotes
If you happen to'd prefer to get some train in your vacation, this tour is for you. Though not overly strenuous, this expertise takes in a complete of round 10 kilometers of biking. Cool off in two lovely cenotes and luxuriate in a Mexican lunch.
This journey is very rated and really reasonably priced. The assembly level is in Tulum. Study extra here.
Chichén Itzá, Valladolid & Cenote Tour
On today journey, you'll go to probably the most well-known ruins in Mexico (Chichén Itzá), swim within the Saamal cenote, get pleasure from a tasty lunch and discover the city of Valladolid.
Pickups can be found from Tulum, Playa del Carmen and Cancun. Discover out extra about this cenote journey here.
Now You Know the Greatest Cenotes in Mexico
As talked about earlier, there are greater than 6,000 cenotes within the Yucatan Peninsula. Subsequently it’s fairly doable that the most effective cenote in Mexico isn’t even on this checklist. It’s most likely buried within the jungle, solely recognized to locals, who guard the key rigorously.
Fortunately, you don’t have to fret about that. You’ll by no means discover a unhealthy cenote — virtually by definition, they’re lovely, refreshing, and unique.
If you recognize one other of the most effective cenotes in Mexico that didn’t make the checklist, please inform me within the feedback. I’ll you should definitely go there sometime.
Support author of this article and visit his post, originally published HERE
This post is originally published at Goats On The Road blog and it's not owned by this site! Respect content authors!