Woman looking over one of the cenotes in Riviera Maya, Mexico.

14 best cenotes in riviera maya

(Last Updated On: August 7, 2021)

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Among all the popular things to do in the gorgeous towns that comprise the Riviera Maya, taking a dip in the local cenotes consistently ranks among the best. So, which should you visit? The best cenotes in Riviera Maya depends on what you’re looking for: colorful fish, snorkeling, diving, or simply floating in a tranquil body of water for hours on end. Check out our list to determine which Riviera Maya Cenote is the right choice for you!

Related: Day Trip from Playa Del Carmen to Cozumel

what are cenotes?

Cenotes are underground chambers or caves that contain ground water. Basically, it’s a natural sinkhole where the cave’s ceiling collapsed

In Spanish, cenote is pronounced as “seh-no-tay, a translation of the Yucatec Maya word “D’zonot” or “Ts’onot”.

There are a number of different types of cenotes. The most common kinds of cenotes are cave, semi-open (young) and open (mature) cenotes. There are also dry cenotes, but they aren’t half as breathtaking!

These incredible sinkholes and caves are created when limestone bedrock collapses and reveals the groundwater below, creating the perfect swimming hole! Some have roof openings like fish mouths, while others have wide, open lakes. 

The world’s longest underground river runs deep beneath Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, connecting all the cenotes

The Mayans considered cenotes to be very significant. While cenotes were their main source of water, they were also considered an entrance into the underworld and a place where Mayan gods would visit. The importance of cenotes was so great, that many temples and villages were built near them or on top of them, such as Chichen Itza.

Thousands of these are in Mexico’s Yucatán, so if you’re as indecisive as I am, you’ll have a tough time narrowing it down. Fortunately, if you’re staying in Riviera Maya, your list narrows quite a bit. 

how to visit the cenotes in riviera maya

Cenotes can be difficult to reach. Traveling in a group, your leader may be able to help you with transportation. Colectivos, small buses, are available in some areas. Otherwise, take a taxi. They aren’t expensive and they save you quite a bit of time as well!

Of course, organized tours are always available if you want all of the dirty work done for you or plan on visiting multiple cenotes.

**In addition to the cenotes that line the shore of the Riviera Maya, we’ve also included some popular cenotes in Valladolid, given their close proximity and ease of travel.

best time to visit riviera maya

The turquoise blue waters of Cenote Ik Kil in Riviera Maya.

Riviera Maya’s best months to visit are March and April when temperatures are warm and rainfall is low. The second best options are May and July. There will be warmer temperatures, but more rainfall. 

The worst time to visit the cenotes in Riviera Maya are the months of September and October, followed by August and November. You can still enjoy the natural wonders during these months, however you’ll be in the high rain and hurricane season – make sure you purchase travel insurance!

things to know before visiting riviera maya’s cenotes

It is common to find opening hours and an entry fee at cenotes that are more popular with tourists. While secluded cenotes sound perfect in theory, avoiding entrance fees and restricted hours, they often include situations where you must swim at your own risk. I personally am not sure if I’m that brave!

Some cenotes require you to take a shower before you enter, and you cannot swim with lotions on your skin since they poison fish and sea plants. If you wear sunscreen daily, invest in a reef-safe sunscreen, a must-have for eco-friendly travel products.

best cenotes in riviera maya

1. cenote jardin del eden

Crystal clear waters of Jardin del Eden cenote, one of Riviera Maya's best cenotes.

A beautiful cenote set in the jungle, Jardin del Eden is surrounded by lush vegetation and wildlife.

The depths of these waters have been the home of many species of tropical fish, eels, and even turtles. There are submerged rocks in the middle of the cenote that you can stand on to rest – be forewarned, keep moving if you don’t want your feet nibbled on by tiny fish! They don’t hurt, just tickle really, but can be unnerving if you’re not expecting it!

Cenote Jardin del Eden is the best cenote for people who enjoy jumping into cool, clear water. Locals often climb trees to jump into cenotes and you shouldn’t be surprised if you see them doing so, oftentimes very young children!

The park offers bathrooms, snorkel and life vest rentals, as well as small palapas where you can enjoy a picnic. There is no food or drink available on site, so be sure to pack some snacks if, like me, you’re prone to hanger. Alcohol is not permitted.

Opening Hours: Sunday-Friday from 7:00-17:00; Closed Saturdays (Sundays will be the busiest!)

Admission: 200 MXN adults; 100 MXN children ($10 USD / $5 USD)

2. cenote ik kil

Looking up at the partial hole above cenote Ik Kil in Riviera Maya.

As it is close to the amazing ruins of Chichen Itza, this is one of the best cenotes in Riviera Maya and among the most beautiful in the area. Given its awe-inspiring natural beauty, you’ll typically have a lot of other guests sharing the space, so it’s not the best choice if you want to escape the crowds.

Leaves and vines hang from the top of the cenote and cover the walls until they reach the water.

This structure is almost perfectly circular and has an interior concrete staircase, making access very convenient. Several viewpoints are worth stopping at while you’re walking down the steps.

Take a swim to the middle of the natural pool, float on your back, and marvel at the open-air circle above! It’s the perfect opportunity for you to sit back, relax, and take it all in.

It is quite cool in this Riviera Maya Cenote, but once you start swimming around, you will soon warm up. A wooden ladder built into Ik Kil Cenote makes entering and exiting easier.

Cenote Ik Il has changing rooms, restaurants and toilets, which is rare as most smaller cenotes do not have these facilities.

Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday from 9:00-17:00

Admission: 80 MXN ($4 USD)

3. cenote x’canche

Small wooden walkway along the side of Cenote X'Canche in Riviera Maya, Mexico.

A magnificent and wild cenote, Cenote X’canche – sometimes called the Ek Balam Cenote because of its proximity to the famed ruins – is a must-see when visiting Riviera Maya.

This magnificent cenote, built in ancient times by the Mayans, has crystal blue water, tree roots that snake down deep into the earth, stone walls, wood staircases, a swing bridge, a zip line, and iguanas that scurry along the walls.

There are showers right next door to the cenote, so it’s very easy to pop in before going swimming. Be sure to rinse off any non-biodegradable lotions, creams, or sprays you may be wearing.  

The entrance area to both Ek Balam and Cenote X’Canche is the same. You can get a combined ticket or pay for each separately.

The cenote is a 2km (easy and accessible) walk from the parking lot, but if you don’t feel like walking, you can hire a pedicab or bicycle.

Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday from 9:00-17:00

Admission: From a basic ticket which just covers entrance to the cenote for 70 pesos to around 400 pesos for bike rentals, rappelling, and ziplining. If you just want to swim and aren’t up for walking or biking to the cenote, get the 150 peso ticket – this includes a round-trip pedicab ride to the cenote. The Ek Balam ruins are among the most expensive in the area (over 400 MXN), so plan accordingly if you wish to visit both.

4. cenote dos ojos

Dos Ojos Cenote in Riviera Maya, Mexico.

Dos Ojos Cenote is a pair of connected cenotes (dos ojos translates to ‘two eyes’ in Spanish) popular with scuba divers and snorkelers. It is also safe to swim here. A comfortable 25 degrees keeps the water constantly clear and refreshing.

Insider Tip: Use the lighter colored ‘eye’ for snorkeling and swimming, which is not as deep, and the other ‘eye’ for diving, a much deeper blue. 

Dos Ojos offers some of the most unique snorkeling and diving in the area. Cenote Dos Ojos is located just 15 minutes from Tulum; it is one of the deepest, with a depth of 118 meters!

As this is an extremely popular cenote, the earlier you arrive the better.

Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday from 9:00-17:00

Admission: 350 MXN (around $18 USD)

5. cenote suytun

Cenote Suytun, a cave cenote in Riviera Maya.

Cenote Suytun is arguably the best cenote in Riviera Maya, and perhaps even in all of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula! Its most notable features include a monolithic cave filled with turquoise water and an idyllic stone pathway that leads out to the middle of this fascinating cenote.

A cave cenote like Cenote Suytun is unique since it has a hole in the roof which allows natural light to enter the cave. Although a few hanging lights illuminate the cave’s interior, the steps themselves are quite dark. 

On the stone path extending out into the turquoise waters, you can walk and take some amazing photos. From various angles, it is possible to view Cenote Suytun, but the most popular view is from the top of the staircase

Cenote Suytun is best visited early in the morning, starting at 9:00 – try to be first in line if you want the Instagram-perfect photo with no one else in the picture. Tourists swim in the water and everyone wants to take photos on the platform in the middle, so it can get very crowded.

Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday from 9:00-17:00

Admission: 120 MXN (around $6 USD)

6. cenote chaak tun

You should definitely take some time to visit Cenote Chaak Tun if you are visiting the beautiful town of Playa del Carmen. Warning: this is not a cenote for the faint-hearted. As it is almost completely covered (with only a slight opening), you’re likely to see bats lurking – and not much else, given how dark it is! 

A 15-minute drive from Playa del Carmen, Cenote Chaak Tun is the closest cenote to the popular resort town. The cenote can only be accessed via guided tours due to safety concerns – the tours last approximately two hours.

Cenote tours provide visitors with valuable information about cenote formations and their history, as well-trained tour guides take them through some of the most stunning caves.

Safety helmets and life jackets are included with the admission price. Despite its (relatively) eerie vibes, Cenote Chaak Tun is still super popular.

Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday from 9:00-15:00; Sunday 9:00-13:00

Admission: 500 MXN (around $26 USD) – GUIDED TOUR ONLY!

7. cenote azul

Clear blue waters of Cenote Azul with the shadow of surrounding jungle reflected on the water.

The beautiful open Cenote Azul lies approximately halfway between Playa Del Carmen and Tulum. Cenote Azul is renowned for its clear blue water (hence its name), which makes it perfect for swimming. 

Given its natural beauty and close proximity to both Playa del Carmen and Tulum, you can imagine how busy it can get. However, its stunning clear blue waters and the mix of dark and white rock formations underwater make it a worthy contender on the list of best cenotes in Riviera Maya.

There are bathrooms, changing rooms, and a small shop available on-site.

Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday 6:30-17:30

Admission: 120 MXN (around $6 USD)

8. escondido cenote

A view of secluded Escondido Cenote

Another great cenote in the Riviera Maya is Escondido. Cenote Escondido translates as “Hidden Cenote,” which makes sense considering it has far fewer visitors than some of its neighbors.

Visit in the early hours and you are all but guaranteed to have this swoon-worthy tropical haven all to yourself. Many of the small fishes can be seen under the water without a snorkel being used, making the waters perfect for swimming.

You can enjoy a rope swing at the cenote’s edge if you’re looking for a taste of adrenaline. Located only a few meters high, it does not swing too far, making it the perfect place to bring kids when visiting Riviera Maya.

If you prefer to sit and relax rather than swimming in the cenote or flying off the rope swing, there are plenty of spots available to do so.

Mosquitoes are very common here, but make sure your repellant is biodegradable if you plan on going in the water – otherwise, skip the repellant until after you are done swimming.

The underwater scenery of Cenote Escondido makes it a popular diving and snorkeling spot in Riviera Maya.

Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday 9:00-17:00

Admission: 120 MXN (around $6 USD) & includes access to Cenote Cristal

9. cenote cristal

Woman floating in Cenote Cristalino in Riviera Maya, Mexico.

Located practically adjacent to the aforementioned Cenote Escondido, Cenote Cristal offers visitors a peaceful soaking experience in its refreshing waters. In addition to swimming in the cenote, there is a popular diving platform where adventurous visitors can jump into the sparkling waters below.

The lush, tropical vegetation of Riviera Maya is idyllic for those who wish to relax and enjoy the picture-perfect landscape. You will also find a number of picnic tables to take in the natural beauty of the area and enjoy some refreshments (bring your own).

Cenote Cristal is slightly more popular than its neighbor, Cenote Escondido, yet still offers more peace and seclusion than some of the other cenotes on this list.

Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday 9:00-17:00

Admission: 120 MXN (around $6 USD) & includes access to Cenote Escondido

10. cenote oxmán

Long vines hanging into the blue waters of Cenote Oxman with man ziplining into the water.

Another favorite cenote in Riviera Maya is Cenote Oxmán, which you should not miss while in town! The Oxmán Cenote offers an epic half-day adventure from Valladolid. It features an enormous sinkhole with hanging vines, an epic rope swing, and a natural freshwater pool

The best time to visit Cenote Oxmán is early in the morning to avoid crowds. Taking the best photos will also be easier early in the morning. Try taking photos before the sun hits the water, which inevitably causes a glare

Cenote Oxmán’s rope swing is a definite highlight. Both adults and children can enjoy the rope swing, although smaller children need to be hoisted to be able to reach. 

It is approximately three meters below the top of the wall before you drop into the Oxmán Cenote. There are a few different options to enter the water. You can jump off the edge of the platform, use the rope swing, or use the staircase.

I highly recommend bringing goggles to Oxmán Cenote if you want to explore below the surface of the water. The water is about 45 meters deep, and there is great visibility.

Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday 8:00-18:00

Admission: 80 MXN (around $4 USD)

11. cenote x’keken

Beautiful cavernous wall of stalagmites and stalactites dipping into the teal waters of Cenote Xkenken.

Local legend has it that the X’keken cenote was discovered when a farmer’s pig fell into it while walking. X’keken is the Mayan word for ‘pig’. During the day, the top of this cenote is bathed in a stream of light that creates some swoon-worthy photo opportunities.

With its limestone cave and only one opening, Cenote X’Keken provides the perfect spot for rays of sunlight to penetrate the water, displaying its natural beauty. 

The water itself is cool and refreshing, even though there is a lot of heat and humidity in the cavern. It is a unique and atmospheric place to cool off from the Yucatán’s heat, complete with small black fish swimming in the water and limestone formations hanging over the water.

If you look at the photos, the colors look artificial or filtered. The truth is, they really aren’t. The reflection of sunlight through the ceiling hole causes the water to actually appear that blue. There are some artificial lights inside to enable visibility, but they don’t have color to create a dramatic effect. 

The swimming hole at Cenote X’Keken is truly unique. There is an extension of ropes across the water for those who aren’t confident swimmers, and a wooden walkway spans one side of the water.

Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday 8:00-17:00

Admission: 150 MXN (around $8 USD)

12. gran cenote

One of the most popular in Riviera Maya, the large swimming area at Grand Cenote.

One of the best cenotes in Riviera Maya, the Gran Cenote is only four kilometers from Tulum’s town center and accessible to boot. At Gran Cenote, you can snorkel, dive, see turtles, bats that flit through the caves, see tiny fish, palm trees, and water lilies. In January or February, it’s not unusual to see toucans popping their bright yellow beaks out of the surrounding jungle!

Aquatic life can be seen even when you aren’t in the water! Divers and snorkelers will find the Gran Cenote to be an otherworldly experience.

On either side of the water are caverns that have epic stalagmites and stalactite formations for photographing. 

An on-site restaurant, changing rooms, and toilets are available.

Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday 8:00-16:45

Admission: 200 MXN ($10 USD)

13. cenote calavera

Cenote Calavera is among the most dramatic cenotes in Riviera Maya. Calavera means ‘skull’ in English, but don’t worry, you won’t find any skulls here. This water feature was named after the arrangement of two small pools and one large pool that resemble the eyes and mouth of a skull

In just five minutes, you can reach Calavera, located only three kilometers from downtown Tulum. It’s easy to get there by taxi, bicycle, or walking!

It is possible for visitors to enter the cenote by climbing the wooden ladder or by jumping right in. Cenote Calavera is actually one of the most popular places to go rock jumping

Cenote Calavera has it all, whether you want a picturesque location for your Instagram photo, a place to swim, rock jump, or just sunbathe! It can be crowded during the day, so be sure to arrive early!

Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday 9:00-16:00

Admission: 100 MXN ($5 USD)

14. clan destino cenote

This epic cenote in Riviera Maya is free to swim in, all you have to do is purchase something from the bar or restaurant. Seats on the wooden deck at the very edge of the cenote are the best in the house. Or, of course, the rope swing in the middle – but you can’t bring your beverage with you.

The Cenote of Clan Destino is surrounded by lush jungle, and it is truly a hidden gem worth visiting.

Swim in the crystal-clear waters and relax while sipping some cervezas or mezcal margs. Clan Destino was such a magnificent place that we could easily have spent an entire day hanging out, but there were so many other Riviera Maya cenotes to visit!

Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday 13:00-23:00

Admission: Free, but you have to make a purchase at the bar.


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