The cenotes of Cancun and the Riviera Maya have a notable reputation among tourists who visit this Mexican destination every year, but the reality is that very few people know the importance and cultural significance of these bodies of water located throughout the Yucatan Peninsula.
The cenotes are water ponds that were formed thousands of years ago, when the rainwater seeped through the subsoil, connecting them into underground rivers. Throughout the Riviera Maya, as well as in various areas of the Mexican state of Yucatan, there are thousands of cenotes. Some of the ponds have a cave structure, while many others are semi-open or open, revealing how ancient they are.
These cenotes are also formed by stalagmites and stalactites, rock formations that are produced from the crystallization of salts when filtered by the limestone rocks of the cenotes.
The Mayan civilization is well known for settling around the cenotes as they were their main water source. They were also religious places to perform rituals of sacrifice offered to their gods. Nowadays, the contemporary Mayans also believe that the cenotes are guarded by “Aluxes“, a type of guardian elves, the protectors of the entrance to the Mayan underworld, the Xibalbá.
The best cenotes you should visit on your next vacation in Cancun
The Cenote Azul is approximately a one-hour drive from Villa del Palmar Cancun and 20 minutes from Playa del Carmen, very popular for its lush natural landscape. Its contrasting waters combine with the foliage of the tropical rainforest, making it a perfect place to relax and get in direct contact with nature.
This beautiful cenote is quite wide and open, although there are certain areas with cavernous structures and shallow areas. There are many sections for free swimming. More adventurous travelers will have a blast diving into the cenote from a small cliff.
In the Cenote Azul it is very common to find local people, especially on weekends since the cost of admission is relatively cheap. The admission fee is mainly used for maintenance and care of the cenote.
Additionally, in the Cenote Azul visitors can take their own meals and non-alcoholic drinks to have a delightful picnic, or purchase snacks and water in a small store that is run by the local Mayan community who also take care of these beautiful water wells.
The Cenote Cristalino is located next to the Cenote Azul, a few minutes from Playa del Carmen and has practically the same characteristics: it is an open cenote with crystalline waters and relaxing spaces to rest.
This low-budget cenote is perfect for travelers who want to enjoy a beautiful tourist attraction in the Riviera Maya. Cenote staff also allow you to bring snacks, meals and non-alcoholic drinks.
Cenote Garden of Eden
Knowing the cenotes of the Yucatan Peninsula is truly a privilege for those who visit Cancun, Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya.
However, for those who wish to make the most of their day, there is an area known as the Ruta de los Cenotes (The Cenotes Route) in Puerto Morelos, an extensive corridor where you can find magical open and semi-open cenotes, some with underground rivers perfect for diving.
The Ruta de los Cenotes corridor is located 50 minutes from Villa del Palmar Cancún and approximately 25 minutes from Playa del Carmen.
Among the most famous cenotes that you can visit in Puerto Morelos are the Cenote Siete Bocas, the Cenote La Noria and Cenote Boca del Puma where you can enjoy various activities, including zip lines and a visit to a Mayan village that produces chewing gum.
The cost of admission to the cenotes on the Cenotes Route is a bit higher than it is at the cenotes in the Riviera Maya since they offer more facilities and activities, tour guides and in some cases, transportation from your hotel.
Tips to make the most of your visit to the cenotes near Cancun and the Riviera Maya
Visiting the cenotes near Cancun and the Riviera Maya is really a relaxing experience. Getting yourself into refreshing waters that are surrounded by the flora of the area, is without a doubt, a magical experience that you have to enjoy on your next vacation to Villa del Palmar Cancún.
It is important to keep in mind some recommendations during your visit to any cenote:
- If your tour includes a travel guide, it is important to follow all their instructions as some cenotes may have very strong underwater currents
- Take your snorkeling equipment with you because some cenotes do not have equipment for rent or sale
- Always wear a life jacket, especially in grotto cenotes
- Take a waterproof camera or mobile phone case with you
- Use ecological sunscreen and insect repellent
- Do not drink alcoholic beverages
- Do not drink cenote water to hydrate.
Do you recommend any cenote that we have not mentioned? Share it with us for the second part of the most visited cenotes near Cancun and the Riviera Maya.