Mexico is blessed with lush vegetation and incredible wildlife. There are several top tourist destinations to check out in Mexico, with one of the attractions being its cenotes. Cenotes are formations created when sedimentary limestone rock collapses, allowing water to seep through the resulting hole over the years. The result is a natural swimming hole in an open-air environment (e.g., a large opening that allows the sun to permeate through) or a closed environment (e.g., the cenote is underneath a cave). Either way, cenotes are not also swimming holes; they’re teeming with aquatic wildlife waiting for travelers to explore its underwater wonder.Cenotes can be found in Mexico, particularly around the Yucatan Peninsula. Though the exact number is debatable, there are estimated to be 5000 to 8000 cenotes in the region! That’s a lot of cenotes, making it hard for the traveler to choose which one is the best. Luckily, these are the 10 most amazing cenotes that travelers should visit during their Mexico trip.
10 Cenote Suytun
Expect visitors to take selfies here, as the Cenote Suyton has attracted attention due to its beauty. This cenote is notable for its spacious cave, a large platform surrounded by rich blue-green waters. The cenote is illuminated by a small squeeze of light at the very top of the cave. This cenote is gorgeous and is considered worthy of a visit (though travelers may want to arrive early in the morning to avoid crowds).
9 Cenote Dos Ojos
Meaning “two eyes,” this cenote is one of Mexico’s well-known and most beautiful cenotes, dazzling visiting snorkelers, and scuba divers alike. There are two sides, or “eyes” to this cenote: on one side, there are clear waters illuminated by the sun's rays, while the latter is a little darker, making it a popular scuba diving destination. Due to its popularity, the Cenote Dos Ojos can get a tad cramped while exploring, but there’s a reason why it’s so popular. Not only is it close to Tulum, but it’s studded with glistening stalactites and views of bats roaming around the area.
8 Cenote Choo-Ha
Nearby the Coba ruins lies the cenote choo-ha, a network of other small underground cenotes: Tamcach-ha and Multan-ha. The shallow waters of the Choo-Ha cenote make it a great destination for those traveling with children or those who are not comfortable in deep waters. Despite its tiny entrance of several meters, the cenote is notable for its cool, crystal clear waters that make for a refreshing swim after exploring the ruins.
7 Gran Cenote
The Gran Cenote is another swimming spot frequented by tourists, often the most visited in the Riveria Maya. Similar to Cenote Choo-Ha, Gran Cenote is a network of smaller swimming holes interconnected by accessible walkways. Visitors may encounter fish, turtles, and other aquatic wildlife at this cenote minding their own business. There are also plenty of spots to explore the turquoise waters through snorkeling excursions. To avoid large crowds, visitors should arrive early in the morning, where there’s ample time to explore an empty cenote.
6 Cenote Calavera
Also known as the “Temple of Doom”, calavera translates to “skull” Spanish. With nicknames like these, it makes the cenote sound menacing and scary. However, this swimming hole is one of the most popular attractions around Tulum. Visitors will note that the cenote has a narrow opening, with green-blue waters below, inviting them inside. They can also take an adrenaline-inducing plunge at this cenote! Otherwise, there is a ladder to bring people to and from the surface. The cenote calavera is also a popular site for scuba diving and snorkeling.
5 Cenote Azul
Located near Tulum and Playa Del Carmen, this open-air cenote is great for the entire family. Its rich blue (Azul) waters inspired its name, “the blue cenote”. This famous swimming hole is fairly large, providing ample swimming space while offering shade against the harsh summer sun. While enjoying their swim, visitors may spot some fish going about their day in the cenote. In addition, the cenote is equipped with a spot for cliff jumping into the water for the more adrenaline-seeking traveler!
4 Cenote Cristalino
Located in the Riveria Maya, the Cenote Cristalino is easy to get to for visitors staying in Tulum or Playa del Carmen. As a result, this cenote is pretty popular because of its accessibility. It’s also known for its signature blue-green waters and open-air nature. There’s also a designated diving platform for those who feel like getting a rush out of the excursion.
3 Cenote Chikin Ha
Located in the Chikin-Ha Cenote Park, this cenote is another family-favorite destination. Located south of Playa del Carman, this swimming hole is noted for its caves and stalactite formations. Though swimming is a popular activity in Chikin Ha, visitors can also explore the cenote through rappelling, which will take them to deep caverns and clear waters. After exploring the cenote, travelers may also fancy a ride on the zip line, which will take them across the cenote and the jungle. Visitors can also experience Mayan rituals, including the Temazcal, which makes up an integral part of a traditional purification ceremony. It’s also worth pointing out that the park has two other cenotes: X’tabay and Rainbow.
2 Cenote Ta’ak Bil-Ha
Those visiting the Cenote Ta’ak Bil-Ha may think they stepped into a whole new world, with its formation of stalactites and stalagmites, paired with its incredible aquamarine waters. This cenote also tends to be a little quieter than the Cenote dos Ojos, despite being a close drive from Tulum. The tranquil nature of Ta’ak Bil-Ha makes for a peaceful swimming spot and an ideal area for snorkeling and diving.
1 Cenote Caracol
The Cenote Caracol is a cool, underground cenote that’s not only great for swimming; it can be explored on foot. The area is equipped with wooden platforms to explore the area and admire the rock formations hanging about the caves. Located in Labnaha Park, this cenote is a little out of the way for many visitors due to its somewhat remote nature from Playa del Carmen and Tulum. However, visitors who can find the means to arrive here will be rewarded with incredible, breathtaking views of a cenote under the radar, making it a prime destination for exploring the non-touristy side of Mexico. This area is also a popular site for experienced and prepared cave divers.