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The Ultimate Guide To Exploring Top Cenotes Near Cancun

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Cenotes are one of the main tourist draws in the Mexican Caribbean. A cenote is basically a cave or an open-air sinkhole containing permanent water. All cenotes vary in depth (with some depths even unknown!), size, and experiences for travelers. 

diver underwater in Cenote Tajma Ha near Cancun, cave opening and light above.

No longer hidden gems but amazing regardless, these cenotes are beautiful places to explore (keeping safety in mind) during your trip to Cancun whether you’re looking to snorkel, dive, take some pics for your social media accounts, or just cool off from the Mexican sun. 

We’ll outline how to explore the cenotes near Cancun, from the guidance to follow when you’re there, the best ways to organize your cenote trip, and information on the top cenotes near Cancun for any type of tourist, including costs and distance from Cancun.

Half underwater shot in a cenote (Cenote Ponderosa, Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Yucatan, Mexico)

Everything You Need To Know About Visiting Cenotes In Mexico

These stunning sinkholes have been preserved for centuries, and the international travel community is embracing their existence. You’ve probably seen at least a few images and reels of tourists visiting these gems, and they truly are just as beautiful in person.

That being said, there are a few important things to note before visiting a cenote in Mexico, including:

  • Don’t wear sunscreen: You’ll most probably see at least a few signs near the entrance of a cenote that will read ‘no sunscreen’, so make sure to follow this rule and put on your sunscreen after your time visiting the cenotes. And yes, even ‘eco-friendly’ sunscreen is a no-no, as it can still harm the precious wildlife down below.
  • Take a shower before entering: Lots of cenotes will have an outdoor shower area to use to clean yourself off before going into the cenote. These tend to run cold, so beware!
  • Wear a lifejacket if required: Know that some cenotes will require all guests to wear lifejackets for protection. The smaller ones typically don’t have that requirement. If you’d like one, you can usually rent one, but it isn’t required.
  • Don’t bring your drone: Lots of cenotes have already outright banned drone use, so keep that in mind. For more information, here’s a guide to drone laws in Mexico.
  • Stay safe: In recent months, there have been reports of some cenotes being infected with e.coli, so always check the latest updates to make sure the cenote(s) you plan on visiting are safe.

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Green paradise cenote azul with palm trees and ruins at bottom of the water in the Riviera Maya, Yucatan Peninsula

What To Bring: Cenote Guide For Travelers In Cancun

One thing to keep in mind before visiting some cenotes near Cancun is to get your packing list in order. Here are a few must-haves to make your cenote adventure a little easier:

  • Cash in the local currency: We’ve yet to visit a cenote that accepted credit cards for payment, so it’s a good idea to take those pesos with you (especially smaller bills) because this will make it much easier to pay your entrance fee and any extra like parking fees or for any snacks sold on-site. 
  • Towel: Preferably a handy quick-dry towel for easy transport to and from the different cenotes.
  • Change of clothes: If you’re visiting a few cenotes, you’ll likely be leaving your clothes just outside of the water before taking a dip. Our tip is to bring an extra t-shirt and shorts so that you aren’t wandering around in between cenotes in wet clothes.
Cenote Dos Ojos in Quintana Roo, Mexico. People swimming and snorkeling in clear water. This cenote is located close to Tulum in Yucatan peninsula, Mexico. (Cenote Dos Ojos in Quintana Roo, Mexico. People swimming and snorkeling in clear water.
  • Bathing suit: Don’t forget this one! As it’s forbidden to wear sunscreen in a cenote, we also recommend wearing a long sleeve shirt and/or long bottoms for that extra sun protection if you’re worried about those UV rays.
  • Dry bag: For keeping any electronics and valuables safe (on that note, limit your valuables and just bring what you need).
  • Snorkeling equipment: Some of the bigger cenotes are great for snorkeling so bring your gear if you have it. The cenotes that do allow snorkeling will also likely rent out snorkeling equipment as well (typically around 50 pesos).
cave view in Cenote Dos Ojos

Cenotes Near Cancun: How To Get There

There are a few ways to visit these cenotes near Cancun. You can opt for a self-guided trip or book a full-on tour or something in between. Whichever way you choose, it’s sure to be an incredible day.

  • Book a tour: Cancun and the surrounding region has no shortage of cenote tours. Check the prices and if they include the entrance fee, hotel drop off/pick up, and if any meals or beverages are included in the tour price.
  • Take a colectivo: Another way that lots of budget travelers like myself use to visit cenotes is to get to Playa del Carmen or Tulum and take a colectivo to some cenotes from there. Colectivos leaving from the highway in Playa del Carmen will take you to popular cenotes located just off the highway, like the Jardin del Eden. Just make sure to always check with the driver beforehand.
  • Rent a car: Another great way to visit the cenotes near Cancun is to rent a car and drive. You can park by the cenote entrance for free or for a fee, depending. Plus, you’ll be able to find some hidden gems that way!
Beautiful mexican Cenote Cristalino with turquoise water and jungle plants

Best Cenotes Near Cancun

Ready for your cenote road trip? Here’s a look at the top cenotes to check out near Cancun, including cost information and how far they are from Cancun.

  • Cenote Dos Ojos: A great choice for snorkeling and diving. Distance from Cancun is 1 hour and 45 minutes, and it’s 350 MX pesos for entrance.
  • Cenote Azul: There are actually a few ‘Cenote Azul’ in the Riviera Maya, but this one is located in Cancun. It’s a small cenote located in a cave. The cost for entry is 150 pesos.
  • Cenote Jardin del Eden. Located close to Playa del Carmen, this is one of the top cenotes for tourists in the Riviera Maya. Approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes from Cancun and 200 pesos for entry.
  • Cenote Cristalino: An open-air cenote and great for swimming, this is another popular cenote for tourists. Located 1 hour and 15 minutes from Cancun, 150 pesos entry.
  • Cenote Tajma Ha: This is a cenote to visit near Cancun if you’re a diver. If you’re certified, book a diving tour of this underwater wonder. About 1 hour’s drive from Cancun, 100 pesos entry (extra for dives and equipment).

Please note that all prices are subject to change.

open air cenote near cancun during the day

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