Anyone who has been to Cancun knows that it is a beautiful place full of activities to do (like zip lining), places to marvel at (like the Mayan ruins), and experiences to enjoy (like the mouthwatering gastronomy). The fantastic beaches with turquoise waters, the spectacular natural attractions that make those who see them fall in love, and the exclusive resorts are just some of the reasons why Cancun is so memorable. For those who love to explore nature, swim in freshwater pools, and discover fascinating places, one of the best activities you can do is explore the amazing cenotes near Cancun.
Cenotes are basically sinkholes or giant cave systems that form when the roof of a cavern or the ground collapses in on itself, causing them to fill with clear, cool freshwater.
There are different types of cenotes, but the most common are open-air cenotes (when the roof has fallen into itself, exposing the sky), or a cave cenote (when most of the roof remains almost entirely). When you explore the cenotes, you will be amazed by everything you will see, such as multiple species of fish or turtles.
Thousands of cenotes have become trendy places for those who seek to have an adventure and be one with nature. Some of the cenotes have a small entrance fee, but it’s totally worth it.
Here is the list of the best cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula that you must go to feel like Indiana Jones, explore the magnificent jungle, and uncover the secrets it keeps!
Cenote Zaci, Valladolid
Cenote Zaci is very accessible since it is in the middle of the center of Valladolid –– where there are many activities that you can do, such as diving. It is a semi-open cenote that benefits from having a lot of natural light due to the fact that several parts of the ceiling of the cave have partially collapsed, which has a large swimming pool suitable for all kinds of activities.
Inside this cenote, you can find a great variety of fauna such as bats, lizards, fish of all colors, and other animals. You can also marvel at the imposing stalactites of the cave, as well as the exuberant vegetation (exclusive to Zaci). A great advantage is that it has an elevated perimeter path perfect for cliff diving and feeling the adrenaline.
Perhaps one of the most central cenotes you can find, since it is located just three blocks from the Valladolid’s historic city center.
Cenote Zaci is approximately 2 hours (each way) from Cancun, but it is a very enriching experience.
Cenote Dos Ojos, Tulum
There are many cenotes near Cancun, but Cenote Dos Ojos is one of the most beautiful you can find. It has a sizable ring-shaped opening that offers plenty of room to explore and many more activities. Something incredible about the cenote is that the afternoon sun illuminates the water giving a spectacular view of the waters and the place.
The best thing about Cenotes Dos Ojos are the beautiful cave formations, the wide variety of incredible stalactites and stalagmites, the lighting within the entire area, and the water’s depth.
It is ideal if you want to go snorkeling as you will find many friendly fish and turtles. After swimming, there are ample spaces to dry off and relax in the hammocks perched by the water. The cenote is one of the most accessible cave diving destinations.
Cenote Dos Ojos is approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes from Cancun.
Cenote Azul, Playa del Carmen
Cenote Azul is located south of Playa del Carmen, very close to the coastal highway. It is very famous though because it has no roof.
Its opening receives a large amount of sunlight that spreads through the jungle canopy at the top, and it has a great selection of freshwater pools with a stunning turquoise color that makes this cenote one of the most beautiful cenotes near Cancun.
The combination of beautiful shallow and deep pools makes it perfect for kids and non-swimmers alike. Also –– if you like adrenaline–– you have the opportunity to jump from the cliffs or observe the magnificent landscapes of the jungle, there are activities to entertain everyone.
If you get hungry, you will find several restaurants and picnic areas around Cenote Azul, making it a charming place for those who go with their families.
Cenote Azul is approximately 1 hour and 15 mins from Cancun.
Cenote Jardin del Eden, Playa del Carmen
Cenote Jardín del Edén gets its name in reference to the biblical Garden of Eden.
The cenote is hidden in the jungle, but once you find it, you will observe a beautiful open space full of varied vegetation and animals, and colors. It is an excellent place to either swim or lie down while relaxing under the warm sun. It has a large outdoor pool, surrounded by luxuriant green vegetation.
Cenote Jardin del Edén is approximately 1 hour and 15 mins from Cancun.
Cenote Cristalino, Playa del Carmen
Cenote Cristalino is a beautiful cenote that is above ground; it has a half cave with shallow pools, which are perfect for exploring and swimming as the water is shallow.
The area is open and surrounded by a lush green jungle, making the cenote a beautiful place to spend quality time with your friends or family and chill while looking at the clouds.
It has many activities that you can do, such as snorkeling, paddling in the cold water. If you are feeling very adventurous, you can jump from the cliff into the deepest sections of the cenote and get your adrenaline pumping.
A great advantage is that in the area where the Cenote Cristalino is, the Jardín del Edén and Azul cenotes are close by, which makes it the perfect day to go exploring cenotes.
Cenote Cristalino is approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes from Cancun.
Cenote Siete Bocas, Puerto Morelos
Siete Bocas Cenote has seven small entrances to its labyrinth-shaped caverns that flow into a beautiful turquoise pool.
Siete Bocas has several activities that you can do, such as jumping off cliffs, swimming in the turquoise pools, having a picnic in the area, or exploring the caves. You can do whatever you want!
It is surrounded by a vast jungle, but the cenote is very quiet and full of shady spaces suitable for resting for a while.
If you have a good sense of direction, you can go for a walk in the jungle and marvel at the surroundings.
Cenote Siete Bocas is approximately 1 hour from Cancun.
Gran Cenote, Tulum
Gran Cenote is considered one of the best open-air cenotes near Cancun to visit. Famous for the vast, colorful surrounding jungle and crystal blue waters, it has many caves and caverns to discover.
The Gran Cenote is a very picturesque and beautiful place. It has two large areas for swimming, which are connected by a cave.
There are many activities to do, such as swimming in the underground paths, diving between underground stalactites, or diving freely in the system of cenote caves.
The Gran Cenote has amenities like outside showers and private bathrooms, making it a top-notch destination for visitors to Tulum. It is always impeccable and clean.
Gran Cenote is approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes from Cancun.
Cenote Suytun, Valladolid
The incredible Cenote Suytun is one of the most beautiful and best cenotes near Cancun to visit.
Cenote Suytun has a famous stone path that leads to a circular platform surrounded by its large blue pool. You will experience a unique and incredible moment when you see how the sun shines directly on the cenote. The cave is illuminated with rays of sunlight, causing them to flow through the roof of the cenote to the circular platform below, making this a totally magical moment.
It has some imposing stalactites, the high walls are cream-gray, and the pools are blue, making this an excellent place to swim.
You have most likely seen Cenote Suytun on Instagram since everyone wants to take a photo standing on the famous stone platform in the middle of the water.
Cenote Suytun is approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes from Cancun.
If you want to have a great adventure, spend a fantastic time with your family or friends and explore the extraordinary jungle and wonderful cenotes, Cancun is the place to go.
To make your trip an incredible experience, Garza Blanca Resort & Spa Cancun is one of the best resorts you can stay at. It is close to several cenotes and just a 2-hour drive from many others.
If you’re excited to explore the beautiful cenotes, pack your snorkel and mask, towels, waterproof camera and flashlight, snacks, water, and lunch, and get ready to go cenote diving in beautiful Mexico!
When you see a cenote, you will fall in love and will want to discover more about all the wonders that Cancun has to offer. So, what are you waiting for?