I recently went on a vacation in Riviera Maya. I had so much fun! There are so many cenotes for you to explore and swim in, especially if you’re looking for something refreshing during the hot summer months. Here are 10 of my favorite Riviera Maya cenotes that are worth checking out when planning your next vacation.
Best Cenotes in Riviera Maya
There are so many cenotes in Riviera Maya, Mexico. The Yucatan Peninsula is famous for its cenotes, which are underground lakes formed by the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. The best Riviera Maya Cenotes are perfect for swimming and diving.
You can find the best cenotes in Riviera Maya, Playa Del Carmen, Cancun, Tulum, and the Costa Maya where you can swim and dive.
The Yucatan Peninsula is a peninsula in Southeast Mexico. It separates the Caribbean Sea from the Gulf of Mexico. The peninsula has an area of 90,000 square miles and is home to some 70 Maya cities including Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Coba, and Tulum.
Where is the Riviera Maya?
The Riviera Maya is a coastal strip of Mexico. The Riviera Maya, part of the country’s Yucatán Peninsula is located in Mexico. The area is so popular for tourists looking for some sun and sand that it has been dubbed “Mexico’s Caribbean” by many.
Riviera Maya is a top tourist destination. The Riviera Maya is known for its beaches, hotels, and resorts with all inclusive rates at the best prices guaranteed by booking.com.
The main pull for visitors to the Riviera Maya is its beaches. The coastline here stretches for more than 300 miles, with white sands and beautiful clear waters that are perfect for swimming in, all year round.
You should know that there are a lot of cenotes in Mexico. There is no way you will be able to swim all the best Riviera Maya Cenotes, but it’s definitely worth going through our suggestions.
The Cenotes in Riviera Maya
There are so many cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula that you can hardly go wrong. There are so many to choose from!
The cool thing about Cenotes is not only their beauty and mystique but also what they mean for history. Why do we think of it as a sacred place? Because this was where life began, perfectly preserved for us to see.
The best place to go cenote diving or snorkeling is in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, specifically the Riviera Maya area where you’ll find some of the following most beautiful and accessible Cenotes for swimming:
There are approximately 6000 cenotes in the Yucatan, that is about 6000 reasons to visit! In Riviera Maya there are roughly 1100 cenotes, so you’ll have a lot of variety.
What Are Cenotes?
Cenotes are natural, freshwater reservoirs that form where limestone bedrock of the groundwater meets the earth’s surface.
Cenotes are found all over the Yucatan Peninsula as well as in other areas such as Mexico and Central America (Belize, Guatemala). They’re often situated below ground which makes them difficult to locate above ground.
They can range from a meter deep to 300 meters deep and they can be explored for exploration by swimming or scuba diving using breathing apparatuses. The best time to see them is during the rainy season when rainwater seeps underground and erodes away at the limestone bedrock creating many peculiar shapes and reliefs up above on land thanks to different erosion rates for calcite (more resistant) and aragonite (more soluble).
As freshwater reservoirs, cenotes vary in temperature between 22 and 25 degrees Celsius with a high concentration of dissolved limestone. They’re rich in minerals such as calcium carbonate, magnesium, and gypsum which makes for very clear waters perfect for swimming. This is also the reason why they’ve attracted so many people – they’re clear, clean, and refreshing!
Cenotes are considered to be sacred by the Mayans as they were often used for sacrificial purposes. They’re also believed to be entrances into Xibalba (Mayan Underworld).
The largest cenote in the world is located in Quintana Roo, Mexico and it’s open for exploration. It was named after a ruler of Chichen Itza called ‘Chac Mool’ because that Mayan god was often depicted holding a golden jaguar which you can find at the bottom of this cenote!
It’s an absolute must-see if you’re in the area and it’s also one of the best Riviera Maya cenotes for your swim!
Types Of Cenotes
Many people are interested in the cenotes found within the Riviera Maya region. There are several major types of cenotes that are featured in this area. The cenotes all have a unique look and feel to them.
Cave pool cenotes– One of the most popular types of cenotes is a cave pool. These are formed when there is a slow drizzle of mineral-rich water that runs through limestone slabs. This drip effect slowly forms an underground river, which then creates these amazing pools beneath the Earth’s surface. The Sacred Cenote in Chichen Itza is one of the most famous examples of a cave pool.
Water holes– Another type of cenote that many adventurers enjoy visiting is water holes. This type forms when there is an opening in the limestone rocks, which then allows rainwater runoff to fill up this area below ground level. These types can be quite deep and often create a waterfall effect.
Deep sinkholes– Deep sinkholes are often created by rainwater runoff from an area higher up on the surface of the Earth. A subsurface water level that is high creates this type of cenote, which then goes lower as it carves out its underground river below ground level. The Cenotes Angelita is a good example of this type.
Fully open cenotes– This type of cenote is often called a “blue hole”. These are created by huge cracks or breaks within the limestone rocks, which creates an opening on the Earth’s surface. The water that fills this underground river has no limits and can be seen from above ground.
Limited view cenotes– Another popular type of cenote to visit are the ones that feature a limited view. This occurs when there is an opening at ground level, but it continues to narrow as it goes deeper into the Earth’s surface below. Many people enjoy seeing these types of cenotes because they have never seen anything like them before.
Cave-like sinkholes– A cave-like sinkhole is a type of cenote that has the appearance of being a cave. These are known for their narrow, tube-like structures and often appear to be dark with no visible light at the end. An example of this is the Cenote Sagrado.
10 Excellent Cenotes To Visit In Riviera Maya
1. Cenote Ik Kil
The Ik Kil Cenote is one of the most well-known cenotes in Mexico. It can be found at Chichén Itzá, which is near Tulum. This particular site is not only historical but also very unique because you can find many different types of wildlife there as well as explore Mayan ruins. The Ik Kil Cenote is a beautiful, natural wonder and you can find many different types of fish as well as turtles.
Ik Kil Cenote was said to be the home to a Mayan god named Chaac Mool. It’s also known for its crystal clear water that extends down to 80 feet. The surrounding of the cenote is maintained to keep its natural beauty and you can snorkel, swim, or scuba dive around it for hours without running out of things to see.
There are three different entrances at Ik Kil Cenote that take you downstairs where there is a depth gauge on each one so divers are able to determine which area is best for them. There are also lifeguards on duty so you don’t have to worry about safety there either.
Ik Kil Cenote has different rates depending on what you want to do down at the cenote, but snorkeling and scuba diving will cost around $80 USD per person. There are lots of different tours that will take you there and allow you to explore, so it’s a good idea to research the ones that fit your needs best before going down there.
2. Cenote Dos Ojos
The Cenote Dos Ojos is located 5.8km south of Tulum on the highway to Coba. It is a well-known cenote because of its two great caverns and underwater cave system. The water is crystal clear, tranquil, and very deep in places (over 100m). Visitors can snorkel or scuba dive through the caverns into an even bigger network of caves that go on for miles.
The Cenote Dos Ojos is incredible for diving. The variety of both plant and animal species is amazing, making it a great spot to see turtles, huge tarpon (Megalops atlanticus), eagle rays, nurse sharks (Ginglymostoma cirratum), and many more fish species. There are also small eels living among the roots of the trees, and a lot of coral.
The Dos Ojos is one of the most popular cenotes in Tulum. It has a natural entrance which you can swim through to get into the caverns area where you will find two large entrances that lead down into different areas with stalagmites hanging from the ceiling and beautiful crystal clear water.
3. Cenote Jardin del Eden
Jardin del Eden is one of the most popular cenotes in Riviera Maya. It’s an easy 15 minute walk from town and is worth the trip. Calling the place a ‘garden’ might be over-selling it, but there are small trees to provide some shade if you need it. The cenote itself is gorgeous, deep blue waters and large rocks on the bottom make it a perfect place to jump in.
Jardin Del Eden is an open cenote with no roof, but there is a fence along the perimeter. It’s a great place to cool off, but it’s not recommended for swimming. The cenote is deep and there are some rocks on the floor that make footing a little difficult at times.
On your visit try out the amazing cliff jumps. There are a couple of different heights for all levels. You can also make your trip more interesting by exploring the jungle around you, there is lots to see and do here!
4. Cenote Xcacel
Xcacel is one of Riviera Maya’s most impressive cenotes with some amazing natural beauty that makes it a real stand out.
Xcacel is about an hour’s drive from Tulum, but the journey there is worth it when you see the place in person. The cenote isn’t very big, but its beauty makes up for any of that lost space. It’s easy to spend hours just admiring all around you!
Xcacel is perfect for swimming, there’s a rope swing and plenty of room to cool off. It’s not recommended for cliff jumping due to the depth of the cenote near that area. The water is also very deep in some areas so watch your footing.
Xcacel has been known as one of Mexico’s most beautiful places for a reason, it’s also popular in the area for weddings and other special events. Reservations are highly recommended if you plan to visit on a weekend or during high season!
5. Cenote Multum-Ha
Multun Ha is one of Mexico’s most beautiful cenotes with some amazing features that make it very unique. It’s located in Akumal, one of Mexico’s most popular beach destinations!
Multun Ha is about 15 minutes drive from the town center and can be a little difficult to find. The cenote itself has some amazing features including an underwater cave with plenty of places for cliff jumping, the water is also very blue and crystal clear.
Multun Ha isn’t recommended for swimming because it has a lot of rocks on the floor that can be tricky to maneuver around in some areas, but it’s a great place for cliff jumping and exploring. The cenote itself is very deep so be careful on your way down! This cenote is great if you want something a little different from your normal swimming hole!
6. Cenote Samula
Cenote Samula is on the outskirts of Valladolid. It features clear blue water with a diameter of about 20 meters and 13 meters deep. The cenote has a pool on one side and on the other, there are two stairways that lead down to the water. There are also some interesting stalactites on the ceiling, which can be examined closer with a flashlight.
Cenote Samula is ideal for swimmers. The pool is small and the water is clear, making it easy to see the bottom. There are no stairs or rocks on the pool’s floor, which makes it suitable for swimming laps as well.
Cenote Samula is open during daylight hours and there is an admission fee of 50 Mexican pesos per person. There are also changing facilities available where you can leave your things while enjoying the cenote.
Cenote Samula is one of many beautiful Cenotes found in the Riviera Maya region. It makes for a great spot to spend an afternoon or morning swimming and admiring nature’s beauty.
7. Cenote X’Canche
Cenotes X’Canche could be one of the best cenotes because it’s secluded and not as heavily trafficked as some other places. The water here is also a little bit different than other cenotes. It has a slightly greenish hue to it, so it looks really pretty.
Cenotes X’Canche also has a wide opening, so you can swim inside without having to duck your head. The depth of the water is mostly shallow as well and it’s not too difficult to stand up or walk around in here because there are quite a few rocks on the bottom where you can easily grip onto them and pull yourself back up.
The cenote can be hard to access because of a steep wooden staircase, so you have to be aware of that. But once you get there, there’s a nice little spot where you can sit and relax for a bit.
Cenote X’Canche is an excellent place to visit if you’re looking for something that doesn’t have too many people around, but still has some great features that make it worth your time!
8. Grand Cenote
The Grand Cenote is located in the heart of Tulum, which is a Mayan site. This Cenote has been revered by the Maya ever since they first settled in this region, which was over 2000 years ago. The floor of the Grand Cenote is about 20 meters from the water level to the wall of the cenote.
The Grand Cenote stands out to most visitors because it can be seen from far away and has a staircase that leads down to it. This means that there is no need for any other transportation to get you and your family members to this amazing site.
Another excellent feature about this cenote is its rich biodiversity and so many interesting plant and animal life present there. The Grand Cenote is filled with brackish water which means that it can be used for both fresh and saltwater swims.
The Grand cenote has a wide opening, so you do not have to worry about being uncomfortable or claustrophobic when swimming into this natural pool.
This cenote is also a great option for those who enjoy diving and snorkeling in their swims because there are so many nooks and crannies to explore.
9. Cenote Manatí
One of the most popular cenotes in this area is Cenote Manatí which is located north of Tulum. The site features a freshwater pool with a large, deep open-air cavern. In addition to swimming, there are also facilities for camping and an on-site shop where you can purchase drinks and snacks.
The cenote is large and open allowing for multiple swimmers to enjoy the water at one time. Giving you the option to rent canoes to explore the cenote, or simply stay near the surface of the water.
Due to this area’s close proximity to the open ocean, there are some great snorkeling opportunities for all levels!
You can explore the mangroves and sea life found in the area. With an average depth of three meters, it is perfect for beginners looking to practice snorkeling skills.
10. Aktun Chen Caves
Aktun Chen Caves is a series of natural subterranean water-filled caves with a natural opening to the sea. The location for this cave is on Mexico’s Caribbean coast and it is located in the municipality of Akumal.
This cenote has an area that ranges from 1,000 meters by 100 meters all the way to 20 meters by 4 meters. A lot of marine animals can be found in this cave, some good examples are large schools of fish, octopuses, reef sharks, and great barracuda.
If you have ever wanted to try zip lining then this is the right place for you. There are seven platforms that can be found in this cave and it will take around an hour to reach all of them.
If you want to visit Cenote Aktun Chen, then make sure your trip takes place between October and April because during these months there is a strong current which makes swimming difficult.
This is a great place to visit with friends or family, but you must make sure that everyone in the group knows how to swim.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about the amazing cenotes to visit in Riviera Maya. There are so many cenotes in the area, it was hard to narrow them down, but l believe these are the best.