The cenotes, caverns, and underground caves are among the great attractions of the Mayan Riviera. From the thousands of cenotes in the Riviera Maya, we have narrowed it down to the top 10 cenotes close to Playa del Carmen you can’t miss.
The Cristalino Cenote is near Playa del Carmen, in the middle of a mangrove forest, and has crystal clear water. It’s an open cenote, so it’s ideal for a fun visit with family or friends. The water is cold, although on the hottest days it’s very refreshing. It’s famous for its affordable entrance fees and because they allow you to bring your own food or buy snacks and refreshments right there. You can also bring your snorkeling equipment or rent it on site.
Less than 13 miles from Playa del Carmen, you will find Rio Secreto, an underground stream in the middle of the Yucatecan jungle full of cenotes and caverns. The most electrifying experience is to get to explore this Secret River to the fullest, touring the caverns. The route that most tour operators cover is approximately a third of a mile. Admire the stalactites and stalagmites formed by the constant dripping of calcareous water. Let yourself be carried away by a certified guide who knows all the safety measures of this stunning hidden jewel.
This majestic cenote is located between Tulum and Playa del Carmen and comprises a cave and two springs or water sources. The Cave of the Bats is a dark and intimidating space with no natural light. You have to enter with a certified guide, and you can swim, snorkel and dive inside the cenote. The “two eyes” or springs are connected, and you can practice your favorite water sport, but the journey between one and the other can only be made by diving underwater.
The Cenote Azul is 15 miles from Playa del Carmen, very close to Puerto Aventuras. It has wooden stairs for better access. There are several small natural pools formed by the same stream of groundwater, in which you can cool off, dive, snorkel, and observe marine life. In the surroundings of the cenote, there are cabins and palapas with rustic tables and benches, which can be rented.
This cenote near Playa del Carmen is a beautiful place, formed by two caverns, one small and illuminated with artificial light and another more prominent, with an opening that lets sunlight in. The small cavern has a stalactite roof that simulates a swarm of beautiful rock arrows about to “attack” you. Right in the middle of the second cavern, there’s a tree, and when the sun seeps through, it illuminates the branches, offering a beautiful natural spectacle.
This ecological park of cenotes, caves, and groundwater in the Mayan Riviera is 12 miles from Playa del Carmen. One of the best experiences on-site is touring the underground river in the company of a guide who will help you dispel any fears you may have. It’s a fantastic place you simply cannot miss.
Nohoch Nah Chich
Nohoch Nah Chich means “The Giant Bird” in the Mayan dialect. This system of cenotes is connected to the Caribbean Sea and is about an hour away from Playa del Carmen. Its maximum depth is 30 feet, and you can dive or snorkel to explore and admire the rock formations and the colorful marine fauna, including fish and turtles. You can go down holding on to a rope or by a wooden staircase.
Between Puerto Aventuras and Tulum, a few miles from Playa del Carmen is this beautiful place, also called Cenote Manati. The beach is very close, so the site is ideal for snorkeling or snorkeling in the cenote and then heading to spend some time at the beach. If you’re lucky, you might spot a manatee in the lagoon that connects the cenote with the sea.
Getting to this cenote is an adventure in itself, as you’ll walk several minutes through the jungle. It is accessed from Federal Highway 307 in the direction of Tulum. It’s deep, so expert divers often visit it. You won’t find restrooms or food and refreshments; it’s almost virgin territory. You’ll be able to do underwater exploration due to its beautiful clear waters.
On the Tulum- Cancun highway, this ecological park is 27 miles from Playa del Carmen. The site has a cavern that can be toured to admire the impressive vaults and the colorful rock formations between the floor and the ceiling. From the cavern, you can access the jungle. The cenote is underground, and its crystal-clear waters make it ideal for diving and snorkeling, which allows you to observe the ground formations with the help of underwater lighting.
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