So that you’ve made it to Cancún, spent a complete day (or a number of) mendacity on the seashore, and also you’re on the lookout for one thing else to do on the Riviera Maya. Fortunately, Cancún is a superb base for getting out and adventuring within the space.
One factor you positively received’t need to miss out on is visiting the cenotes round Cancún. A cenote is a limestone sinkhole stuffed from underground freshwater rivers. They are often closed and cave-like, semi-open with cliff overhangs, or utterly open, resembling a pond from above.
Intrigued? Listed below are my prime picks for the perfect cenotes which can be simply accessible from Cancún:
This cenote is one a part of a system of three separate cenotes that open to the identical bigger physique of water and are linked by underground rivers. It’s open on the floor, with rocky cliffs on one facet. Nevertheless it’s the epic underwater caves that entice guests and make it ultimate for divers. Provided that, it’s not as spectacular in the event you can solely see it from the floor.
Some dive excursions, like this one from AcuatiCaribe, embrace dives via the 2 different linked cenotes, Kukulcan and Little Brother. The tour will take you right down to see the haloclines and thermoclines, the layers of cloudlike substances the place freshwater and saltwater combine and create neat optical illusions.
- Value: 200 pesos ($10 USD)
- Hours: 9am to 5pm
- When to go: One of the best time to go to for diving is within the morning. As you go beneath the floor, the rays of the morning and early afternoon gentle are spectacular.
- How you can get there: The inland flip to get to Chac Mool is nearly a kilometer after Puerto Aventuras, on the fitting. If you happen to’re taking public transportation, you may simply get dropped off at Puerto Aventuras and take a taxi to Chac Mool
- Professionals: The three-cenote system is an incredible place to dive and a terrific bang to your buck.
- Cons: You aren’t allowed to take photographs underwater.
This cenote received its title when cave divers used a intelligent play on phrases. Its deep and wondrous caverns had divers referring to it because the “Taj Mahal” of cenotes. As “ha” means “water” within the Mayan language, Tajma-ha feels like a Mayan interpretation of “Taj Mahal.”
Tajma-ha is actually nicely suited to divers, particularly those that have a whole lot of expertise. It boasts a maze of tunnels, limestone formations, and big chambers. For extra info on diving in Tajma-ha, try Koox Diving.
You’ll discover this cenote simply 5 kilometers south of Puerto Aventuras; it’s simple to entry by automotive or public transportation.
- Value: 250 pesos ($12.50 USD) to enter; extra prices to dive, relying on which diving firm you select.
- Hours: 8am to 5pm each day
- When to go: This cenote is barely fashionable amongst divers, so in the event you go only for a swim, don’t anticipate to see too many individuals there. Anytime of day is okay to go to, so make the most of the morning solar for a refreshing dip.
- How you can get there: 3 kilometers south of Puerto Aventuras, take a proper on the inland-bound Avenida Tajma-ha. You’ll discover a signal for the cenote about 2 kilometers in. If you happen to’re taking public transportation, ask the motive force to drop you off at Xpu-ha; from there you may both stroll or take a taxi to the cenote.
- Professionals: It’s among the finest dives within the space. If you happen to’re going for a swim, there received’t be as many individuals there.
- Cons: It’s best suited to skilled divers, so in the event you’re a newbie, this one may not be your best option.
Chikin-ha is the largest of three cenotes on the identical property. It’s open, with underwater caves, making it a stellar location for diving. All through the flooded caves, there are a number of small openings that permit gentle in, altering the colour of the water as you swim via.
Even in the event you don’t go for the diving, Chikin-ha is subsequent to 2 smaller cenotes, X’tabay and Ta’ak Bil-ha. X’tabay is an open cenote that’s nice for swimming, and Ta’ak Bil-ha is a ceremonial one which doesn’t permit guests to get into the water. All three of those are in a beautiful jungle setting and positively value a go to.
- Value: 350 pesos ($17.50 USD) for all three on-site cenotes
- Hours: 8:30am to 6pm
- When to go: Get there within the morning to beat the crowds and make the most of the stress-free ambiance.
- How you can get there: Only a couple kilometers after Puerto Aventuras, flip proper on the marker for kilometer 265 and comply with the street till you get to the doorway. If you happen to’re taking public transportation, let the motive force know you’re going to Chikin-ha and you will get out on the flip and stroll.
- Professionals: The diving is unbelievable and positively worthy of your bucket listing. The shut proximity to different cenotes can be a plus.
- Cons: This cenote is sort of constructed up, because it’s a part of an eco-park, which isn’t everybody’s favourite factor. It’s not a seemingly untouched paradise like different extra distant cenotes.
Ruta de Cenotes
The Ruta de Cenotes is a stretch of freeway between Puerto Morelos (about half-hour south of Cancún) and the neighborhood of Leona Vicario. The 40-kilometer stretch of freeway goes inland from the coast and has over 60 cenotes alongside it. Many of those are privately owned and have larger entrance charges than the general public ones. They’re additionally rather more constructed up and have extra issues to do, corresponding to zip traces, ATV excursions, and horseback driving.
Listed below are the perfect cenotes alongside the route:
Cenote Las Mojarras (aka Loma Bonita Park)
Named for the fish you’ll discover in freshwater cenotes and lakes, Las Mojarras is a big, open cenote with emerald water. It’s one of many greatest on the Ruta de Cenotes and has a six-meter-high platform to leap in from. There are tenting amenities on-site, together with bogs and altering areas. You’ll additionally discover a enjoyable zip line that goes via the encompassing jungle and over the cenote.
- Value: 250 pesos ($12.50 USD) to swim, 950 pesos ($47.50 USD) for an ATV tour.
- Hours: 9am to 5pm
- When to go: Keep away from happening the weekends. One of the best time to go is within the morning on a weekday. I recommend visiting this one first, as a result of it will get extra crowded than the others on the Ruta de Cenotes.
- How you can get there: Las Mojarras is at kilometer 12.5 and is the primary cenote on the route.
- Professionals: The water is attractive and clear, so it’s excellent for swimming and snorkeling. The encircling jungle makes a picturesque scene, and the ATV and zip line actions are distinctive to this cenote.
- Cons: The value is excessive in comparison with others which can be comparable.
Cenote Siete Bocas
Siete Bocas is a semi-open cenote with seven completely different entry factors from above, which permit daylight to pour into the semi-underground pool. There are ladders main right down to the water, however you may as well take a leap via one of many mouths into the depths. There are some huge stalactites within the cenote which can be particularly neat to take a look at.
- Value: 300 pesos ($15 USD).
- Hours: 9am to 5pm
- When to go: This one doesn’t are likely to get too crowded, so you may go to anytime in the course of the day on a weekday and discover few guests.
- How you can get there: This one is at kilometer 15.5 of the Ruta de Cenotes. From there, comply with the signal for Siete Bocas, which is able to take you 2 kilometers additional inland on a mud street, the place the cenote is.
- Professionals: Chances are you’ll get the place to your self, as a result of it doesn’t are likely to get very crowded, which is at all times a plus!
- Cons: The value is sort of steep compared with different cenotes within the space, which could be a little bit of a deterrent.
Cenote Verde Lucero
This cenote will get its title from its uncommon inexperienced look. It’s open, with kayaks, a swing, and loads of room to swim and snorkel. This one is at kilometer 17 on the Ruta de Cenotes and stays comparatively uncrowded, so go to any time of the day for a pleasant, stress-free vibe. There’s additionally a zipper line and a cliff diving spot for my fellow daredevils.
- Value: 300 pesos ($15 USD) to enter
- Hours: 9am to 5pm
- When to go: Anytime throughout a weekday is okay, however weekends are usually extra crowded.
- How you can get there: This one is at kilometer 17 on the route, simply previous Siete Bocas.
- Professionals: The distinctive inexperienced colour is a pleasant change from the opposite deep-blue cenotes.
- Cons: The value is sort of excessive for what it’s, which is a peaceful swimming gap.
Zapote, positioned inside an eco-park with the identical title, is a principally open cenote, with some caves to discover and platforms to leap in from. There’s additionally a zipper line that goes above the water.
It’s also among the finest alongside the route for diving, as it’s identified for its underwater stalactites (Campanas del Inframundo, or “Bells of the Underworld”). For extra details about diving, try Koox Diving.
- Value: 700 pesos ($35 USD) to enter the eco-park, which incorporates entrance to the cenote.
- Hours: 8am to 5pm
- When to go: Due the associated fee to enter, there are hardly ever giant crowds right here. Be at liberty to go to any time of the day, any day of the week.
- How you can get there: The flip off the Ruta de Cenotes for Zapote is at kilometer 19. From there, the Zapote Ecopark is 6 kilometers in.
- Professionals: The diving is unbelievable and a singular expertise.
- Cons: This is likely one of the most costly cenotes I’ve seen. If you happen to aren’t diving, I’d say skip it until you don’t thoughts the worth.
This semi-open cenote is cavelike, with two giant openings on the prime to let gentle in. You need to climb down some stairs to get inside, and there are a number of picket platforms to leap within the water from. If you happen to’re feeling adventurous, you may soar into the cenote from one of many openings above.
Kin-ha has one other open cenote known as Blanca Flor a couple of kilometer away, which is nice to cease at too.
- Value: 400 pesos ($20 USD) to swim, 1000 pesos ($50 USD) for an ATV tour.
- Hours: 9am to 5pm
- When to go: This cenote will get fairly busy within the late morning and early afternoon, so it’s greatest to go to within the morning proper when it opens.
- How you can get there: On the identical kilometer marker as Zapote (kilometer 19), there’s a separate flip for Kin-ha, so comply with the indicators.
- Professionals: The cavelike vibe of Kin-ha is basically outstanding, and it’s filled with enjoyable actions. You possibly can spend hours at each Kin-ha and Blanca Flor.
- Cons: It has extra of a busy ambiance, as a result of it tends to get crowded within the late morning and early afternoon.
Cenote La Noria
La Noria is a way more secluded and low-key semi-open cenote. It has lovely turquoise waters which you can attain by climbing down the picket stairs into the open cavern. The stalactites hanging from the ceiling make the place really feel such as you’ve stepped into the underworld, they usually’re shut sufficient to the water which you can stand up shut to take a look at them.
La Noria is alongside the identical street as Kin-ha and Zapote, however only a bit nearer to the freeway. It’s nice for a fast cease earlier than or after an journey at both of the opposite two larger parks.
- Value: 200 pesos ($10 USD)
- Hours: 9am to 5pm, closed on Mondays
- When to go: Anytime in the course of the day is okay, because it doesn’t are likely to get very crowded. Take into account visiting after going to Kin-ha or Zapote.
- How you can get there: At kilometer 19 of the Ruta de Cenotes, comply with the indicators for La Noria, which is earlier than the entrances to Kin-ha and Zapote.
- Professionals: It’s quieter, extra laid again, and cheaper than a lot of the cenotes on the Ruta de Cenotes.
- Cons: There isn’t very a lot to do there moreover swim and calm down.
Bonus: Cenote Ik Kil
Though this cenote is likely one of the most touristy I’ve ever visited, I nonetheless suppose it’s probably the most lovely. The water is about 26 meters (85 ft) beneath floor degree, and the massive opening on the prime has vines hanging down from it, making a mystical ambiance.
The steps across the fringe of the cenote result in a cool jumping-off level. Life jackets are really helpful however not required, and there’s ample area to swim round. Though it’s the furthest cenote from Cancún on this listing (a 2.5-hour drive), it’s a must-see whereas visiting this a part of Mexico, and because it’s near Chichén Itzá and Valladolid, it makes a terrific day journey.
- Value: The doorway price has two package deal choices: Ik Kil Package deal 1 for 150 pesos ($7.50 USD) contains admission, plus a life jacket and a locker. Package deal 2 is 350 pesos ($17.50 USD) and contains admission, a life jacket, a meal (with 5 choices to select from), and a beverage.
- Hours: 9am to 5pm; the doorway closes at 4pm.
- When to go: If you wish to keep away from the inevitable crowds as a lot as doable, get there proper when it opens. Even 10 minutes early is nice. Tour teams get there round 11am, so attempt to get your go to in earlier than then.
- How you can get there: Ik Kil is close to the freeway that goes from Cancún to Mérida and is barely 3 kilometers from Chichén Itzá. The best option to get there through public transportation is to take a Chichén Itzá–certain ADO bus from Cancún and taxi to Ik Kil from there.
- Professionals: The place is attractive, and the worth is affordable. It’s a particular must-see whereas visiting Cancún, Valladolid, or Mérida.
- Cons: The crowds are intense from 11am onward. It’s additionally fairly built-up and developed so it doesn’t have that very same off-the-beaten-path really feel that many different cenotes do.
Pointers and Greatest Practices
- Sunblock: Most sunblocks include chemical substances which can be very dangerous to the the ecosystem of cenotes, lagoons, and the ocean. Actually, lots of the chemical substances in conventional sunblocks are partially accountable for coral bleaching. Yikes! Both omit sunblock, or go for one that claims “reef protected” or “eco-park pleasant” on the label. These are mineral sunblocks and don’t trigger harm the way in which chemical ones do.
- Rinsing off: At some cenotes, like Ik Kil, for instance, you’ll see an open bathe space. Generally there are indicators instructing guests to rinse off earlier than moving into the cenote, however final time I visited the realm, lots of them didn’t have an indication. Be certain to maintain an eye fixed out for these bathe areas, so you may rinse off any residue in your pores and skin from lotions, soaps, and many others.
- Go away no hint: Would you need to roll as much as your chosen cenote and discover a ton of trash there, floating round within the water? In fact not! Be conscious of every thing you deliver with you, and ensure to not depart any trash behind.
- Respect the native tradition: Cenotes had been and proceed to be, in some instances, locations of worship for the Mayan folks. As you may see above, with Ta’ak Bil-ha, these sacred sinkholes have a wealthy historical past and immense cultural significance. Maintain this in thoughts while you go to, and be form to the employees working there.
- Convey money: A few of the extra fashionable cenotes have card readers, however the smaller ones will solely take money. Be certain to deliver sufficient pesos to your entrance price, transportation, and snacks.
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Visiting cenotes close to Cancún is a superb option to get near nature and find out about native tradition on the identical time. These are positively value visiting in the event you take pleasure in swimming, snorkeling, or diving. Whereas there are many different issues to do in and round Cancún, I like to recommend making a cease at one (or all!) of those cenotes whilst you go to.
Need extra cenote data? We even have a terrific roundup of Tulum’s greatest cenotes and a whole information to Gran Cenote!