I spent two weeks traveling around the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico exploring the beautiful beaches, visiting ancient ruins, and of course, checking out the Best Mayan Riviera Cenotes.
If you don’t know what a Cenote is, it’s basically a natural sinkhole filled with fresh groundwater which is typically a vibrant blue or crystalline color due to the surrounding limestone rocks.
In this guide, you will find my pick of the 9 Best Cenotes in Riviera Maya including where to find them, how much they cost, and what to expect at each one.
MAYAN RIVIERA CENOTES – OVERVIEW
I have broken down this list of Cenotes into two parts based on their location.
- Riviera Maya Cenotes in Tulum
- Riviera Maya Cenotes in Valladolid
MAYAN RIVIERA CENOTES IN TULUM
- Grand Cenote
- Cenote Calavera
- Clan Destino Cenote
- Cenote Encantado
- Laguna Kaan Luum Cenote
MAYAN RIVIERA CENOTES IN VALLADOLID
- Ik Kil Cenote
- Suytun Cenote
- Cenote Oxman
- Cenote Zaci
CENOTES RIVIERA MAYA TOURS
MAYAN RIVIERA CENOTES (TULUM)
Without further ado, here is my complete guide of the 9 Best Mayan Riviera Cenotes with all the visiting info you need to know before you go plus lots of photos to go with!
Let’s start things off with the best Cenotes in Tulum:
Grand Cenote is arguably the most popular Mayan Riviera Cenote located in Tulum which is why I have added it to the top of this list.
Grand Cenote is a short 10-minute drive, 25-minute bike ride, or a 1-hour walk from the center of Tulum town.
The entrance fee for Grand Cenote Tulum is 500 MXN, and that includes a snorkeling kit. There are lockers that you can get for 30 extra pesos.
Grand Cenote Tulum is open 7 days a week, from 8:00 am to 4:45 pm.
WHAT TO EXPECT
As I mentioned earlier, Gran Cenote is the most popular tourist attraction in Tulum and it gets VERY busy during the day. I recommend arriving before doors open to be the first in line and once inside, you’ll get around 30 minutes to 1 hour to enjoy swimming in this incredible Riviera Maya Cenote without hundreds of others around.
Believe me, it’s far more enjoyable with fewer people, and your photos will turn out great, arguably better than all other Maya cenotes Mexico offers!
There are two main swimming areas at Grand Cenote, one features a large open-air sinkhole and a wooden deck that is surrounded by crystalline waters. You can also spot freshwater turtles swimming around in the Grand Cenote.
The second area can be accessed by swimming through a natural tunnel that emerges in a smaller Cenote filled with turquoise waters and a little island of palm trees sits in the middle. This was my favorite spot to go for a dip and it wasn’t too crowded.
If you would like to book a join-in tour to visit this best cenote in Riviera Maya and other awesome attractions, see below for the most top-rated tour on Get Your Guide:
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Cenote Calavera, in my opinion, is one of the best Cenotes in Tulum. Although it’s not as large as some of the other popular cenotes, Calavera is one for the thrill-seekers!
Cenote Calavera is located along the main highway in the same direction as the Grand Cenote.
A short 10-minute drive, 25-minute bike ride, or a 1-hour walk from the center of town, you’ll see a big white sign on the right-hand side of the road that reads CENOTE – you can’t miss it!
The Calavera Cenote entrance fee is 250 MXN.
The opening hours for this Mayan Riviera Cenote are 9:00 am to 5:00 pm – 7 days a week.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Featuring an almost perfectly round sinkhole filled with freshwater, a wooden ladder, cliff jumps, and a chair rope swing, these are just some of the things that make Cenote Calavera so epic and photogenic at the same time.
Again, if you arrive early enough you will get to enjoy Cenote Calavera all to yourself. It’s a great spot for cliff jumping from the edges of the cenote or pin-dropping into the pool below through one of the cracks in the top.
When I visited there were a few scuba divers gearing up to dive down into the cenote, so it must be quite deep.
You could easily spend a couple of hours hanging out at this epic Mayan Riviera Cenote as it’s one of the more adventurous things to do in the area!
Full Blog Post → Cenote Calavera
CLAN DESTINO CENOTE
Through word of mouth, I discovered the Clan Destino Bar and Cenote which turned out to be one of my favorite things to do in Tulum!
Clan Destino Cenote is situated right in the heart of it all, along Tulum’s south beach tourist area.
There is no entrance fee to swim in this epic Cenote in Riviera Maya, all they ask is that you purchase something from the bar or restaurant. The best seats in the house are the ones that are situated on the wooden deck on the very edge of the Cenote.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Clan Destino features its very own Cenote surrounded by lush jungle and it truly is a little hidden gem that I highly recommend checking out.
I spent around one hour sipping on a Michelada and swimming around in the crystalline waters. I honestly could have spent an entire day at Clan Destino but there were more cenotes near Riviera Maya to visit!
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EL CENOTE ENCANTADO
One of the best Cenotes in Riviera Maya is El Cenote Encantado because of its large size and fewer tourists at this epic spot hidden in the jungle.
El Cenote Encantado can be found at the very southern end of Tulum Beach, far away from the tourist areas, and probably why it’s uncrowded most of the time.
There are several entrances to this Mayan Riviera Cenote as it’s shared between a number of accommodations.
I personally entered via Maya Cabanas and walked along the wooden boardwalk to the back of the property to where this Cenote is located.
The entrance fee to El Cenote Encantado is 150 MXN per person, or 200 MXN with a kayak or a paddle.
WHAT TO EXPECT
El Cenote Encantado features a large natural swimming pool surrounded by mangroves and the water is crystal clear. There were some kayaks tied up at the end of the wooden boardwalk so I took one out for a paddle and spotted a group of friends throwing themselves off of a diving board at the other end of the Cenote. Not a bad way to spend a few hours!
I decided to fly my Drone Camera to capture an aerial perspective and I was really happy with the shots I got.
From above, El Cenote Encantado looks like the shape of South America and I could spot the other entrance trails leading through the jungle from the other accommodations.
If you’re up for an adventure-filled activity, be sure to include Cenote Encantado in your list of must-see cenotes Mayan!
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LAGUNA KAAN LUUM CENOTE
For all the drone pilots out there, Laguna Kaan Luum Cenote is drone heaven and seriously looks incredible from a birds-eye perspective! If you don’t have a drone, no worries, you can still visit the lagoon, go swimming, and marvel at the grandeur size of this epic Maya Riviera Cenote.
Laguna Kaan Luum Cenote is located 15km southwest of Tulum’s main town, approximately a 20-minute drive.
The entrance fee for this Cenote in Riviera Maya is 300 MXN and an additional 150 MXN if you wish to fly your drone.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Kaan Luum Lagoon Cenote features an almost perfect circle, a long wooden pier that stretches out into a shallow-watered area for swimming, and a drop-off into a very deep sinkhole that is around 80 meters deep.
This particular area of the Cenote is roped off to swimming but it’s possible to go scuba diving down there.
This Mayan Riviera Cenote is not quite as popular as Grand Cenote but it is known to get quite busy during the middle of the day, so try to time your visit early in the morning when it opens at 9:00 am.
RELATED ARTICLE → EPIC THINGS TO DO IN TULUM
MAYAN RIVIERA CENOTES (VALLADOLID)
So there you have a list of the best Cenotes in Tulum itself and now it’s time to move on to the best Cenotes located in Valladolid.
IK KIL CENOTE
Ik Kil Cenote is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and most popular Cenotes in this region so make sure you get there early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds!
From Valladolid, it’s approximately a 45-minute drive west to reach Cenote Ik Kil.
The Ik Kil Cenote entrance fee is 180 MXN.
Ik Kil Cenote is open Monday to Sunday, from 9:00 am till 5:00 pm.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Personally, I think what makes Ik Kil Cenote one of the top cenotes is that it resembles a fairy tale scene! Featuring leaves and vines hanging beautifully down from the top of the Cenote and covering the walls until they reach the water.
Cenote Ik Kil itself forms an almost perfect circular shape and there is an internal concrete staircase making it very easy to access the inside. On the way down the steps, there are a couple of viewpoints worth stopping at to take photos.
Once you reach the bottom, simply set your belongings down in a dry area against the wall and jump on in for a swim.
highly recommend swimming out to the middle of the natural pool, floating on your back, and marveling at the open-air circle above! I guarantee you will be in awe and it’s the perfect opportunity to simply take it all in.
The temperature of the water in this Riviera Maya Cenote is quite fresh but once you get swimming around you will warm up in no time. There is also a wooden ladder built-in making it easy to get in and out of Ik Kil Cenote.
Lastly, it’s worth noting that a stop at Ik Kil Cenote is included in most tours to Chichen Itza, and I recommend booking one to make the most of your time!
Full Blog Post → Ik Kil Cenote
BEST IK KIL CENOTE TOUR
Cenote Suytun is arguably one of the best cenotes in Riviera Maya and perhaps the entire Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico! Featuring a monolithic cave filled with shallow turquoise water and an idyllic stone pathway that stretches out into the middle of this amazing Cenote!
Cenote Suytun is a short 15-minute drive from the center of Valladolid in the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico. It’s pretty close to the city center and very easy to get to.
This awesome Cenote Riviera Maya is not that cheap but not overly expensive with an entrance fee of 200 MXN.
The opening hours are from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm – 7 days a week.
WHAT TO EXPECT
The reason why Cenote Suytun is so unique is that it’s a cave cenote with a spark of natural light beaming down into the middle of the cave through a hole in the roof. The cave is pretty dark inside though there are a few hanging light bulbs lighting the way down the steps.
There’s an idyllic stone pathway that stretches out into the middle of turquoise waters that you can walk on and it makes for some great photo opportunities.
There are various different angles to admire Cenote Suytun and the most popular perspective is from the top of the staircase. There’s also a little platform at the end of the staircase which will allow you to have the hole in the cave’s roof in your picture.
The best time to visit Cenote Suytun is in the early morning as soon as it opens at 9:00 am. It can get very crowded with tourists swimming in the water and everyone wanting to take photos on the platform in the middle.
Full Blog Post → Cenote Suytun
Cenote Oxman is another one of my favorite Cenotes in Riviera Maya and it is not to be missed during your visit! Featuring an enormous sinkhole with hanging vines, an epic rope swing, and a natural freshwater pool, Oxman Cenote makes for an epic half-day adventure from Valladolid.
It’s a short 15-minute drive or a 40-minute bike ride from the center of Valladolid to reach Oxman Cenote.
If you are driving or riding your bike, make sure to come from the highway because if you take the shortcut through the farmland you will have to ride through some unpaved and rocky dirt roads.
The entrance fee at this Rivera Maya Cenote is 150 MXN.
Cenote Oxman opening hours are from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm – 7 days a week.
WHAT TO EXPECT
I recommend arriving early in the day at the Mayan Cenote Oxman to avoid the crowds. You will also be able to take the best photos early in the morning before the sun hits the water inside as this tends to make it glary.
Once you make your way down the staircase, you’ll end up inside the sinkhole to what resembles an amphitheater that looks straight out into the Cenote.
The highlight at Cenote Oxman is without a doubt the rope swing. In fact, I didn’t see a rope swing in any of the other cenotes that I went to.
The rope swing is adequate for young and old, although the shorter kids had to be lifted up in order to reach the rope. But everyone that made the plunge into the water, climbed quickly back up the stairs and did it over and over again.
From the top of the wall, the drop into the Oxman Cenote is about 3 meters deep. You can either jump off the edge of the platform, enter the water via the rope swing, or use the staircase.
The water is about 45 meters deep with great visibility, so if you have some goggles I highly recommend taking them along with you to Oxman Cenote to take a look underneath the surface.
Full Blog Post → Cenote Oxman
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Cenote Zaci, in my opinion, is one of the best Cenotes in Rivera Maya and I highly recommend adding it to your list of things to do!
Featuring a cave-like cenote filled with freshwater, cliff jumps, and an on-site restaurant, Cenote Zaci is a great place to hang out for a few hours during your visit!
Cenote Zaci is located in the middle of Valladolid which makes it one of the easiest Cenotes to visit while you are in town. It is so conveniently located within the city center that anyone can reach it easily.
The entrance fee to Cenote Zaci is 60 MXN which makes it one of the most affordable cenotes.
The opening hours are 8:00 am to 5:30 pm – 7 days a week.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Once you’ve purchased your ticket at the ticket office you’ll be able to go down the stone staircase that leads into Cenote Zaci. All along the staircase, there are great photo opportunities as Cenote Zaci is only half covered and there’s always sunlight coming in.
If you want to go for a swim you can simply leave your valuables on the ledge of Cenotes Zaci and dive on in. If you don’t feel like swimming then you can just sit by the ledge and dip your toes into the cool water.
Cenote Zaci is very unique compared to others because its shape resembles a massive cave, but only half of it is covered, which means that there is a lot of sunlight shining through.
If scuba diving in Riviera Maya is something you’d be interested in, it’s best to inquire at one of the dive shops in town.
If you’re up for an adrenaline rush then you can jump off the platform which is about 8 meters high. Otherwise, you can enter the water quite easily via the numerous staircases on the edges of the swimming hole. Beware that the staircase might be slippery when wet.
Feeling hungry? Grab a bite to eat at the Zaci Cenote restaurant and on the way out, you can go shopping for souvenirs at the market stalls located near the exit.
Full Blog Post → Cenote Zaci
CENOTES IN RIVIERA MAYA – FAQ
Now that we’ve discussed all the best cenotes Riviera Maya has to offer, let’s answer some questions from first-time visitors.
WHAT IS A CENOTE?
A cenote is a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath.
They are particularly associated with the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, where the Mayan civilization developed, and this is why the Mayan Riviera cenotes are so famous.
The term ‘cenote’ comes from the low-land Yucatec Maya word ‘ts’onot’, which refers to any location with accessible groundwater.
HOW MANY MAYAN RIVIERA CENOTES ARE THERE?
The exact number can vary, but it’s estimated that there are over 7,000 cenotes in the Yucatán Peninsula. While it can seem like a lot, this list of best Mayan Riviera cenotes is everything you need to have a great time around!
WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF CENOTES IN RIVIERA MAYA?
There are indeed 4 main types of cenotes: open, semi-open, cave, and ancient or underground:
Open Cenotes: As the name suggests, these cenotes are entirely open and are usually the most accessible. They are formed when the roof of a cenote collapses, exposing the water to the sky. They often look like natural swimming pools and are popular for swimming and snorkeling.
The most popular open cenote is Gran Cenote.
Semi-Open Cenotes: These cenotes are partially covered with openings in the roof that allow sunlight to filter through. They are often surrounded by lush vegetation and provide a unique ambiance for swimming and snorkeling.
The most popular open cenote Mayan Riviera offers is Ik Kil Cenote.
Cave Cenotes: These cenotes are completely enclosed with a roof overhead. They are often accessed through a small opening or tunnel. The inside can be dark, as they’re illuminated only by shafts of light from the entrance. Cave cenotes are often popular with divers and some of them are really deep.
The most popular cave cenote is Cenotes Sac Actun.
Underground Cenotes: These cenotes are the oldest type and have been completely filled in with sediment and debris over thousands of years.
The most popular underground cenote is Cenote Suytun.
Each type of cenote provides a unique experience, whether it’s swimming in the open air, exploring an underground cavern, or diving in a submerged cave system.
HOW TO GET AROUND RIVIERA MAYA?
There are a number of ways of getting around to the Cenotes in Riviera Maya and they are by car, taxi, bicycle, or on foot.
In saying that, I highly recommend renting a car in Riviera Maya to get around as taxis are very expensive and some Cenotes are too far away from the town to go by bicycle or on foot.
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WHAT IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT RIVIERA MAYA?
The best time to visit Riviera Maya is during the winter season from December to April. During this time there is little to no rainfall and the temperatures are just perfect.
The rainy season in Riviera Maya is typically between May and October which sees higher temperatures due to the humidity. The only plus side to visiting Riviera Maya during these months is there will be fewer tourists and prices are less inflated.
WHERE TO STAY IN TULUM?
You are spoiled for options when searching for where to stay in Tulum with cheap hostels, luxury hotels, and beachside resorts! Tulum has it all to suit the needs of budget backpackers, luxury travelers, and everyone in between.
The majority of the accommodation in Tulum can be found in 3 main tourist areas: The Main Town, Tulum South Beach, and Tulum North Beach.
I have put together a complete guide on Where To Stay In Tulum which you should definitely check out.
If you’re in a hurry, I have listed a few Tulum accommodations below that I can personally recommend:
Luxury: The Beach Tulum
Receive the celebrity treatment at The Beach Tulum with this adult-only, beachfront resort in South Tulum. With an outdoor pool, a beach club, an onsite restaurant, and even a spa. This really is the height of luxury and one of the best things to do in Tulum in itself.
Each luxurious, beach-front room has stylish, minimalist décor, air-conditioning, free wifi, and a seating area. These deluxe rooms come with large comfortable beds, private entrances, and ensuite bathrooms, and are right on the shoreline in the South Beach area, surrounded by shops, cafes, and restaurants.
Mid Range: Playa Esperanza Hotel
This eco-sensitive hotel and resort boasts unique cabins made from natural materials and is located right on the shoreline of Tulum’s North Beach. With 15 different styles of rooms to choose from, natural interiors, large comfortable beds, and private bathrooms.
Enjoy the free wifi, beach bar, and ocean views. This is great for a group of friends traveling together or couples. Choose between a room with 2 single beds or one with a double bed. Book directly through the hotel and get every 3rd night free!
Budget: Che Tulum Hostel & Bar
One of the most top-rated hostels in Tulum! With an outdoor pool, a lively bar, and a large green area to hang out. Free wifi is available throughout and even lockers to keep your belongings safe.
Each bedroom has been modeled to offer natural lighting and features private bathrooms, air-con, new beds, and mattresses. With a huge range of rooms on offer, pick from one of the many dorm rooms or private rooms. This budget hostel in Tulum is great for travelers used to that hostel life.
FOR ALL OTHER PLACES TO STAY IN TULUM, SEARCH ON BOOKING.COM
WHERE TO STAY IN VALLADOLID?
Valladolid has hundreds of accommodations to choose from so I have narrowed it down to a few of the best places to stay in Valladolid to suit the needs of luxury travelers, budget backpackers, and everyone in between.
See the list of accommodations below that I personally recommend:
Luxury: Mayan Majesty Boutique Hotel
Mid Range: Hotel Los Frailes
Budget: Hostal Tunich Naj
FOR ALL OTHER PLACES TO STAY IN VALLADOLID, SEARCH ON BOOKING.COM
WHAT TO PACK FOR MEXICO?
When visiting Mexico, here is a list of items I highly recommend bringing with you:
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FINAL THOUGHTS – CENOTES RIVIERA MAYA
Some of the best adventures to be had in Mexico are visiting these awesome cenotes Mayan Riviera and I guarantee you will enjoy these natural beauties just as much as I have!
Just remember to try to visit these Riviera Maya Cenotes as early in the morning as possible to avoid the busy midday crowds.
If you have any questions about any best cenote Riviera Maya, please leave a comment below this post and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.
For a quicker response, be sure to join Jonny Melon’s Travel Tribe on Facebook and post your questions or recommendations of cenotes in the Riviera Maya to our awesome community.
TRAVEL RESOURCES FOR YOUR NEXT TRIP
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THANKS FOR READING
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