Cancun is a pretty popular resort city in Mexico, whether you’ve paid a visit or not. In that case, you know this is a beautiful place for exciting activities and water sports, breathtaking scenes like the Mayan ruins, and its divine gastronomy. But one of the best activities is exploring the Cancun cenotes.
Scattered in and around Cancun, these gorgeous cenotes will make your trip to Cancun worth it. In this guide, we’ve put together a list of the best cenotes in Cancun and some tips for getting the most out of this experience.
Check out our Mexico travel guides too, from Tulum, Playa del Carmen, Cancun, and many more. Enjoy your trip!
If you’re visiting Cancun cenotes, you must bring different supplies to make your trip more interesting. Although different vendors around these places offer you supplies, bringing yours will save money.
Here are some things you need to bring when visiting Cancun cenotes:
I get it, being in a crowded place, no matter how beautiful it is, you feel the need to explore some more, the edges of the city. But doing it on your own can be exhausting. Thankfully, there are now so many day trip tours you can find online.
Check your Get Your Guide’s day trips from Cancun Tours and make the most out of your Cancun trip.
Pronounced seh-NO-tays, these are water-filled sinkholes that naturally occur in limestone rock. Whenever an underground cave collapses in on itself, a cenote happens and exposes the groundwater underneath. Thus, it looks like an underground swimming pool.
Waters in cenotes are usually cool since they come from underground, making these places fantastic choices for swimming and cooling off. There are thousands of cenotes Cancun Mexico and around the Yucatan Peninsula.
In ancient times, Mayans used cenotes to make sacrifices, so people found gold, pottery, and animal and human remains in the present day. There are different types of Cancun cenotes, including open, semi-open, and underground cenotes.
Whenever you’re in Quintana Roo, you should consider visiting some of the best cenotes in Cancun. Take a look at our top 20 choices below.
Located in the heart of Valladolid, Cenote Zaci is an easily-accessible, semi-open cenote offering swimming and diving activities and lots of natural light. Different ceiling parts have collapsed, but it’s safe to visit and comes with an elevated perimeter path for cliff diving.
In this cenote, you can explore different fauna and wildlife, including colorful fishes, bats, lizards, and other animals. The Cancun cenote also features unique vegetation exclusive to this area and intimidating stalactites.
Cenote Zaci is approximately two hours from Cancun and three blocks from the historic city center in Valladolid.
Another one of the best cenotes in Cancun is Cenote Azul, located close to the coastal highway in the south of Playa del Carmen. The open cenote features a jungle canopy on the top and offers you a lot of sunlight. The sun makes the shallow waters turquoise, making them one of the most beautiful Cancun cenotes.
Cenote Azul features shallow and deep pools, so kids and non-swimmers can go for the former. You can also jump from the cliff to feel a rush of adrenaline or visit the different restaurants and other picnic areas around the cenotes.
The Cancun cenote is located 1 hour and 15 minutes away from Cancun.
If you’re looking for a unique cenote Cancun Mexico, Cenote Cristalino is an ideal choice. The beautiful cenote has a half cave and shallow pools above ground. It’s ideal for swimming with friends and family and exploring wildlife and vegetation.
There are so many fun things that you can do while in Cenote Cristalino, including swimming, snorkeling, paddling, and cliff diving into its deepest sections. The cenote is also close to Jardin del Eden and Azul so you can explore them all in a day’s work.
Cenote Cristalino is 1 hour and 15 minutes from Cancun.
Gran Cenote is one of the best cenotes in Cancun for those who want to explore an open-air cenote in the resort city. It is popular for its colorful surrounding jungle, a wide range of caves and caverns, crystal blue waters, and picturesque views.
Different fun activities in Gran Cenote include swimming in the underground paths, diving freely in cenote caves, and diving between underground stalactites. There are also various amenities available, like private bathrooms and outside showers.
Gran Cenote is a top destination in Tulum and is 1 hour and 45 minutes away from Cancun.
Cenote Dos Ojos is one of the most beautiful cenotes near Cancun, giving you an incredible view of the waters and its inhabitants whenever the afternoon sun reflects against it. The semi-open cenote features a sizable ring-shaped opening that lets the sunlight in.
Cenote Dos Ojos features amazing cave formations that you won’t get enough of, depth for swimming, and incredible stalagmites and stalactites. Aside from swimming, you can enjoy snorkeling in Dos Ojos and view their fish and turtles. There is also space for drying off or resting in the hammocks.
This cenote is 1 hour and 45 minutes away from Cancun.
Named after the biblical Garden of Eden, Cenote Jardin del Eden is another beautiful cenote you can visit in Cancun. The cenote might be hard to find since it’s hidden in the jungle, but the walk is worth it once you find it.
You can explore a beautiful open space of different animals, vegetation, and colors in the Cenote Jardin del Eden! Amazing shades of green, blue, and turquoise littered the waters, especially when the sun was out. It’s a top place to swim or relax under the sun.
Cenote Jardin del Eden is 1 hour and 15 minutes from Cancun.
From cliff diving and swimming to picnicking and exploring caves, there’s so much you can do in Cenote Siete Bocas. One of the best cenotes in Cancun on our list, Siete Bocas, features seven small entrances that flow into a beautiful turquoise pool.
The Cancun cenote is surrounded by a vast jungle, making it a quiet and serene place to relax. The jungles also add shady places for resting. If you’re good with direction or taking a cenote tour Cancun, you can ask the tour guide to take you around the jungle.
Cenote Siete Bocas is about an hour away from Cancun.
Another one of the most beautiful cenotes near Cancun is Cenote Suytun, offering amazing scenery. It is popular for its stone path that you can follow to the large blue pool at the center of the cenote.
When the sun is out, you’ll be amazed by the incredible rays of the sparkling water. Cenote Suytun has different imposing stalactites, high walls, and blue pools. It’s one of the most popular cenotes, so you can easily find a cenote tour Cancun going to Suytun.
Cenote Suytun is about 2 hours and 45 minutes from Cancun, but the drive is worth it.
If you want a full experience while in Cancun, you should check out the Ruta De Los Cenotes. This has some of the best cenotes in Cancun, over ten along the route, and is 30 minutes away from Cancun (the closest cenotes to the resort city).
Some of the top cenotes in Ruta De Los Cenotes include Kin Ha, Las Mojarras, and Selvatica. Many of the cenotes on this route have been transformed into eco-adventure parks, offering horse riding, zip lining, and ATVs.
If you don’t want to go around Cenote and Quintana Roo to find cenotes, you can visit Ruta De Los Cenotes.
Although Chichen Itza is popular for its Mayan ruins, the nearby Cenote Ik Kil is another spectacular Cancun cenote to visit. It’s an open cenote, and you will see the tree roots cascading from the top into the waters, giving you a breath-taking scene.
It’s one of the busiest cenotes in Cancun, and you can visit it on a tour or your own. It also makes for a great day trip to the Mayan ruins and cenote.
Cenote Ik Kil is 2 hours and 45 minutes away from Cancun.
You can check out the Coba Cenotes if you enjoy exploring Mayan ruins in Cancun and are still curious about the cenotes. Three cenotes are close to the Coba ruins, including Choo-Ha, Multum-Ha, and Tamcach-Ha.
The series of cenotes are ideal for a refreshing swim after you explore the Mayan ruins in the jungle. All three cenotes are located underground, while Multun-Ha has a small opening on the roof that lets sunlight in. The easiest way to reach these cenotes is through tours.
The Coba Cenotes are some of the best cenotes near Cancun, about 2 hours away from the resort city.
Located beside Gran Cenote, Cenote Zacil Ha is an open-air cenote built in a swimming pool style. The gorgeous Cancun cenote features crystal clear waters, zip lines for excitement, and hammocks you can relax in.
Cenote Zacil Ha also features good facilities, including swimming pools for lounging and a small restaurant where you can enjoy your meal with friends and family. You can visit Gran Cenote and Zacil Ha on a day’s trip or book a cenote tour Cancun.
Zacil Ha is 1 hour and 45 minutes away from Cancun.
Another one of the top cenotes near Cancun is Yal Kul, located in the quiet beach town of Akumal. The beach town is known for its coral reef, resident turtles, sandy beaches, and the Yal Ku lagoon. But, it is also popular for the cenote Yal Ku.
This location is ideal for snorkeling and families, with shallow waters that lead to the Caribbean Sea. It’s an open-air cenote with abundant marine life that you can explore while in the cenote. You can easily rent a car or book a tour to see the cenote.
Cenote Yal Ku is located 1 hour and 30 minutes away from Cancun.
Previously called Cenote Taj Mahal, Cenote Tajma Ha is another mesmerizing Cancun cenote. It is a popular location for cave divers since it’s one of the top cenotes near Cancun for scuba diving.
Different companies offer cenote tour Cancun, especially offering dive tours into the cenote. The freshwater dives are ideal for intermediate and advanced divers, making it an ideal place for those with a diving certification to visit.
Cenote Tajma Ha is located 1 hour and 15 minutes away from Cancun. The cenote is easily accessible by a rental car.
Ek Balam is another popular excursion site in Cancun, known for its Mayan ruin and the cenote Xcanche. The cenote is located in the village, easily accessible at the entrance of the Ek Balam archaeological zone. You can visit the ruins and cenote independently since the cenote is located before ticket checks for Ek Balam.
Cenote Xcanche is a breathtaking open cenote and will mesmerize you with the waterfall streaming from the top into the cenote. This makes it a perfect location for swimming, swing jumps, and zip-lining. It is also ideal for relaxing after seeing the Ek Balam ruins.
Cenote Xcanche is located 2 hours and 30 minutes away from Cancun.
Another unique cenote Cancun Mexico is Casa Cenote, offering you crystal clear turquoise waters, lush trees and mangroves, and a nearby beach that you can include in your visit. While at this cenote, you can swim, paddle, or kayak.
Since it is only 6 meters deep, it is also family-friendly. One of the most popular activities in Casa Cenote is snorkeling, which also features an underwater cave system for divers. The cenote leads directly to the ocean.
Casa Cenote is 1 hour and 15 minutes away from Cancun.
You should also consider visiting Cenote Sac Actun while in Cancun. One of the top Cancun cenotes, Sac Actun, is an underground cenote in Mexico’s longest underground cave system. It is also close to Cancun Dos Ojos, with a system connecting the two cenotes.
You can access Cenote San Actun by rental car and must pay for an entry ticket. You will be accompanied by a guide and be provided with snorkeling equipment and a life jacket.
Cenote Sac Actun is 1 hour and 45 minutes away from Cancun, although a bit more expensive to visit.
Cenote Calavera is another unique cenote in Cancun, located in Tulum. The name means ‘skull,’ referring to the three sinkholes open over the cenote. The sinkholes look like two eyes and a mouth.
From the open space, it’s about four meters into the water. There is a ladder at the edge of the cenote, or you can dive right in if you enjoy cliff diving. If you enjoy diving, you need to pay extra for it. You can easily get to Cenote Calavera by rental car or taxi or ask to join a tour.
Another cenote near Cancun is the Cenote El Pit, known as the deepest cenote in Quintana Roo. The cenote is at 390 feet, making it an ideal place for scuba diving, and no swimming or snorkeling is allowed. The semi-open cenote is a hole in the jungle floor going into a cavern.
Before diving in Cenote El Pit, you need to be dive certified. This is the ideal place to visit if you enjoy caves or cenote diving. The location only has a wooden staircase that leads to the underwater cave, with no other facilities.
Cenote El Pit is about 2 hours away from Cancun.
Cenote La Noria is the final Cancun cenote on our list, with a beautiful and natural scene you can take in. You can easily see fish swimming beneath you while peering at the crystal clear water.
Since the Cenote La Noira is a cave, you can also view the stalactite rocks hanging on top. The dirt road that leads to this cenote is pretty rough, so you need to rent an off-road vehicle that works.
Cenote La Noira is about 1 hour away from Cancun.
Every cenote in Cancun is different, so you’ll enjoy varying experiences. Whether you’re visiting those in Cancun or the cenotes near Cancun and Playa del Carmen, you can expect spots for relaxing and transparent waters.
The cenotes also offer water sports like snorkeling, kayaking, swimming, and diving. There is also wildlife and vegetation that you can expect in the different cenotes.
There are different ways to check out Cancun cenotes. You can take a bus, join a taxi ride, or book a rental car. It’s also possible to book a cenote tour Cancun that takes you to the location you want.
With our guide to the best cenotes in Cancun, you can make the most of your visit to this exciting resort city. Whether visiting with friends and family or taking a tour alone, there’s much to experience in these amazing works of nature.
Enjoying this guide, share it with others, give us a tip, or simply follow us here on backpackingwithabook.com, where storytelling, authenticity, and traveling merge in to one safe and fun digital space.