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14 Incredible Cenotes to Discover in Riviera Maya

SmarterTravel

Cenotes, or natural, water-filled sinkholes, are an important part of Maya history. These natural formations are usually part of a linked, underground cave system found in the Yucatan Peninsula. Believed to be an opening to the underworld by the ancient Maya, cenotes were used for sacrificial offerings. Tucked in the inland jungles of the Riviera Maya, these cenotes are found between Tulum and Cancun, so they make for an easy day trip from these popular resort areas.

The Best Cenotes in Riviera Maya

There are over 3,000 cenotes in Mexico, so this is only a small selection of the country’s offerings. They vary in size and activities, and some are more crowded than others, so use this guide to find the perfect cenote in Riviera Maya for your trip.

Make sure to have Mexican pesos on hand when you visit a cenote in Riviera Maya. And if you’re looking to avoid crowds, visit during the week. Another important note: Many cenotes only allow biodegradable sunscreen, or no sunscreen at all, so make sure you pack accordingly. 

Cenote Dos Ojos and El Pit

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Known as “Two Eyes,” Dos Ojos is great for snorkeling and diving, and has onsite restrooms. Down the road (about a mile away) is El Pit, which is mainly a dive site but has incredible cavernous overhangs and an adventurous point of entry.

Closest Resort Area: Tulum

 

Cenote Cristalino, El Jardin del Eden, and Azul

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These three cenotes in Riviera Maya are located about 15 minutes away from Playa del Carmen. Cristalino is home to friendly fish and cliff jumping; El Jardin del Eden is known for its open waters (more like a traditional swimming hole than a cenote since the roof is now underwater); and Azul is great for kids as it’s both shallow and open.

Closest Resort Area: Playa del Carmen

Cenote Kin-Ha and Flora Blanca

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These two cenotes are located in an adventure park (though you’re free to just  explore the cenotes on your own). A ticket to the ecopark gets you ATV rides, cenote access, and snacks, drinks, life jackets, and a guide. Kin-Ha has an underground playground of sorts and is more enclosed, while Flora Blanca is open with a zip line and diving platform.

Closest Resort Area: Puerto Morelos

 

Cenotes Zapote Ecopark

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Explore three different cenotes at this park. You can dive, zip line, swim, and jump off platforms at Zapote and Palmas. The third cenote, El Abuelo Che Che, is a closed cavern—you can swim and snorkel inside the caves.

Closest Resort Area: Puerto Morelos 

Chikin-Ha Park

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You’ll find not one, but three cenotes here, as well as two caverns. At the park you can dive, snorkel, zip line, and rappel at these natural rock formations. This park provides an easy, family friendly way to discover cenotes in Riviera Maya safely with children.

Closest Resort Area: Playa del Carmen

Gran Cenote

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This cenote in Riviera Maya is known for its clear waters–so clear, in fact, that you don’t even need snorkel gear to appreciate it, Lockers and bathrooms are available on site, and you can grab a bite to eat before or after your swim at one of the food stalls located near the entrance.

Closest Resort Area: Tulum

Casa Cenote

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Casa Cenote is like the lazy river of cenotes, since there is a naturally formed route where you can snorkel that goes into the surrounding mangrove jungle. The shallow waters are incredibly clear, so this cenote is great for snorkeling. 

Closest Resort Area: Tulum 

Cenote Zacil-Ha and Carwash

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These two cenotes are about a quarter mile away from each other on the road out of Tulum. Carwash is aptly named as it was once a spot where people used to wash taxis and cars since it’s so close to the road. Carwash has open water and some deeper areas for diving. Zacil-Ha looks the most like a pool because it’s surrounded by platforms and a deck; it’s also shallow and on the smaller side, so it’s great for families.

Closest Resort Area: Tulum

Cenote Calavera

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Dive right into this cenote via three holes—or use the ladder access point. Cenote Calavera is great for both snorkelers and divers, and is also known as “Temple of Doom” for its Maya artifacts and enclosed nature.

Closest Resort Area: Tulum

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