Cenotes of Mexico cover image

The 7 Best Cenotes in Mexico

Mexico’s beautiful cenotes are definitely no longer a secret. But with over 6 thousand cenotes in the Yucatan peninsula alone, it can be very tricky to pick the right ones to visit.

I certainly spent a long time researching the best cenotes in Mexico, and with even 2 weeks to travel around the Yucatan peninsula I didn’t feel like I had enough time to even see the ones I’d picked!

The biggest piece of advice I can give regarding visiting cenotes is to have your own mode of transport. If you visit them with a tour you certainly won’t enjoy it, as most of them are small and crowd quickly. Many can be reached by bicycle from Tulum, but by car is most convenient.

The Most Beautiful Cenotes of Mexico

Now that I’ve been there and done it, these are, in my opinion, the best cenotes in the Yucatan:

1. Cenote Calavera

The picturesque and surreal Cenote Calavera

This cenote is right next to the Grand Cenote, but most people go straight past it. Don’t! It’s small, but so much fun. This is the main “hole” so to speak, but there are two other smaller holes that open into the same pool through with you can jump. I’ve seen pictures of people swinging off that rope hanging off the side, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how or why that would be comfortable.

2. Grand Cenote

The quiet side of Grand Cenote

When I first arrived at Grand Cenote I was a very underwhelmed. We arrived at 10am and it was super crowded. But after a little exploring I realised there were two parts to the Grand Cenote: the main bit where most people swim with little turtles on the side, and a much quieter shallow part off to the side where the photo above was taken.

At every cenote you should shower before entering as products/creams/sprays on our bodies and hair damage the ecosystem. But here they take it very seriously and you absolutely must shower.

3. Casa Cenote

This cenote is so different to the others. It’s a mix of sweet and salt water as it’s right by an opening to the ocean. The colour of the water here is absolutely ridiculous, and you have to see it to believe it. Snorkeling or diving here is a totally unique experience. You can swim along “canals” or water paths between mangrove trees and above white sand.

4. Cenote Ik kil

This is one of the more famous Cenotes, and for good reason. But it’s fame and its location right next to Chichen-Itza make it also one of the businest Cenotes. If you want to catch it quiet, make sure you go first thing in the morning, or just before it closes.

5. Cenote Azul

Cenote Azul spreads quite widely with many pockets, some busier than others.

There’s plenty of small fish (the kind that nibble on you in a fish spa) amongst some bigger more interesting fish. Cenote Azul has quite a variety of pool depths and jumping options, as well as sunny spots to lounge around in.

Cenote Azul is a mix between open shallow pool, and a deeper cave section with low cliff jumping options.

It’s one of the closer Cenotes to Playa del Carmen, so in my experience also one of the busier cenotes.

Azul is a fun day out, especially for families.

6. Cenote Taj-Mahal

Cenote Taj-Mahal is one for the divers. You can see their torch lights going into the cave opening.

Cenote Taj-Mahal is a much quieter and lesser known cenote. It’s difficult to take a picture of the place to do it justice. It’s essentially a large circular sinkhole with an island in the middle and water all around the outside.

There are cave openings under the water that many divers go through, which open into another cave opening inside. This kind of cave cenote diving is for people with Advanced open water certificates, but definitely a once-in-a-lifetime place to dive!

Cenote Taj-Mahal is between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, easily accesible from both.

7. Cenote Carwash

Swimmer at surface of cenote with Water lilies (Nymphaeaceae), Cenote Car Wash, Aktun Ha, Mexico Yucatan peninsula February 2013

Cenote Carwash is unique in that it looks like an underwater garden. The dense water lilies make a great habitat for fish, so it offers exceptional snorkelling fauna. Cenote Carwash is part way between Tulum and Valladolid, so if you’re heading that way, just do it on the way!

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