As we have mentioned before in our Cenotes: Natural Havens in Cancun and the Riviera Maya blog article, the cenotes in Mexico are natural pools that were formed thousands of years ago and have significant cultural importance for the ancient Mayan culture.
As in southern Mexico, there are no rivers or lakes. The cenotes run throughout the Yucatan Peninsula as underground rivers that were formed as the rain filtered through the limestone rocks. In the Yucatán Peninsula there are more than 30,000 cenotes.
Take a look at our list of suggestions for cenotes to visit near Cancun, the Riviera Maya and the Yucatan, during your next stay at Villa del Palmar Cancun.
Cenotes near Cancun and the Riviera Maya
Río Secreto is an underground river with impressive stalactites and stalagmites. You will have the opportunity to walk, float and swim through clear, freshwater and connect with nature and thousands of years of history in a crystal cave. This natural spot is approximately a 10-minute drive from Playa del Carmen. To get to Río Secreto from Villa del Palmar Cancun, you can either rent a car or reserve transportation for an additional cost when you book your tour.
El Gran Cenote (the Great Cenote) is a popular cenote that you should include a visit to on your next travel itinerary to Cancun. El Gran Cenote is located between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. It is known for its beautiful jungle backdrop and clear blue water. Here visitors can enjoy swimming, diving and snorkeling, but the water is so clear you can see fish swimming even without your snorkel mask.
Casa Cenote is uniquely beautiful. There are jungle mangroves on both sides and in some parts you can see the mangrove roots reaching down to the water and many colorful fish. It is also a great spot to go diving, swimming or snorkeling. You can also rent kayaks or paddleboards and admire the natural beauty all around. Casa Cenote is about 65 minutes from Villa del Palmar Cancun.
Aktun-Chen is an impressive natural park with endless activities for adventure seekers in Cancun and the Riviera Maya. Dare to explore an underground cave or practice snorkeling among ancient species. After a refreshing swim, you can go zip lining and take in the views of the lush tropical surroundings or sample exquisite Mexican dishes at the restaurant.
This wide-open cenote also known as Zacil Ha is only 20 minutes from the picturesque town of Tulum and about a 75-minute drive from Villa del Palmar Cancún. The Mayan translation of Zazil Há is “Clear Water” and on a visit to this amazing cenote, you can practice snorkeling or visit the natural cave of “Las Lágrimas” (The Tears) for its impressive stalactite and stalagmite rock formations.
A visit to the Kantun-Chí Eco-Park is the real deal! Here you can enjoy five cenotes and a gorgeous underground river. Get to know interesting facts about the Mayan culture and delight your palate with regional dishes at the restaurant.
This beautiful hidden cenote is located 5 minutes from the town of Tulum and about 90 minutes from Villa del Palmar Cancun. During your visit, you can admire lush nature and fauna, including monkeys, tropical fish and freshwater turtles. If you are in the mood for adventure, try diving into the cenote from the cliffs.
Cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula
You can visit two cenotes here: Xkeken and Cenote Samula. These natural water ponds are located 5 miles from the city of Valladolid, about 2 hours from Villa del Palmar Cancun. Cenote Samula is in a limestone cave with a small opening at the top where sunlight streams through producing a beautiful lighting effect on the water. This isn’t the place to go diving but it is perfect for taking a refreshing swim in pristine turquoise waters. Xkeken has an impressive underground cave system with a massive stalactite formation that will amaze your eyes. It is a great spot to take a selfie.
If you are planning a trip to the Chichen Itzá archaeological site to explore the Mayan ruins, the Ik-Kil cenote is a top cenote to put on your bucket-list during your next vacation to Cancun. This cenote is a semi-underground cave that was formed thousands of years ago. Cenote Ik Kil is covered in vines that reach to the water below, which makes it a stunningly beautiful location to visit. There are always two lifeguards on duty and different platform heights where you can jump into the cenote. If that is a little too adventurous for you, you can spend some time lounging on a hammock.
Part of the Cuzamá cenote circuit, the Celentún cenote is a semi-closed cenote 50-feet deep, about a 2-hour drive from Villa del Palmar Cancun. Its turquoise hues and refreshing waters are perfect to take a dip or find your favorite spot to relax and take tons of selfies.
Bolom cho’ jol Cenote
The Bolom cho’jol cenote is a refreshing water pond with an average temperature of 80 degrees, making it perfect to visit all year long. A visit to this cenote in the Yucatan is sure to be a memorable experience.
Dzonot – Tzik
Located on the road to Telchac Port, also known as the Cenote Bravo, is this amazing cenote that is perfect to take a refreshing dip, admire the tropical fish. Additionally, bird watching is a common activity for nature lovers.
Travel Tips when visiting the Cenotes in the Riviera Maya and the Yucatan
- Bring Cash for tips
- Bring a waterproof photo or video camera
- Bring your eco-friendly lotions and repellants
- Don’t forget your snorkel equipment and towels
- Bring a change of clothes
- Don’t touch the vines at any cenote, this may cause some damage to the natural environment
- Obey the safety rules
- We don’t recommend drinking alcohol while visiting cenotes
If you are planning a visit to the cenotes in Cancun, the Riviera Maya or the Yucatan Peninsula, we highly recommend that you always follow the instructions of your tour guide and wear a life jacket at all times.
Have you visited any other cenotes near Cancun, the Riviera Maya or the Yucatan Peninsula? Share with us your favorites!