Want to visit the best Cenotes in Riviera Maya, Mexico?

As there are a whopping 7,000 cenotes scattered throughout the Yucatan Peninsula, here I have narrowed it down to the top 20 best Cenotes in Riviera Maya to visit and included practical information on visiting them (+ Mexico Cenotes Map).

If you’ve heard anything about traveling to Mexico, you will already know about its world-famous cenotes (natural limestone sinkholes formed from dissolving rock exposing underground water), and there’s a reason that visiting them is hands down one of the best things to do in the Maya Riviera!

Their crystal-clear waters make cenotes ideal for swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, or soaking in the truly pristine natural phenomenon of these sinkholes and their surrounding wildlife.

Cenotes also hold deep cultural and religious significance to the Mayan people, with ancient Mayans believing them to be sacred passages to the underworld.

cenotes Riviera Maya

Note from Sara: I’ve avidly traveling Mexico for over a decade now. I love this beautiful country and know it well, so if you have any questions, I respond quickly to comments!

It may be difficult to visit them all in one trip, but I’m giving you the keys so that you can choose between the most beautiful cenotes in Mexico, and include your favorites in your Mexico itinerary.

Did you know that in the Yucatan Peninsula there are more than 7000 cenotes? But very few can be visited, and among those that can be visited, for me, the most beautiful cenotes are Ik Kil, Oxmán, Suytun, and Xkeken.

Before starting with the list of the best cenotes in Mexico, I will tell you what a cenote is and what you will find if you visit one of them. It is an unforgettable experience!

Let’s jump in!

What is a Cenote?

If you are wondering what are cenotes, you have to know that they are geological formations that consist of a water source located at great depth, so basically, they are underwater caves in Mexico.

They are filled with water by the filtration of rain and by currents of underground rivers, in which the roof of the cave is partially or totally collapsed.

Did you know that the inhabitants of Yucatan called them dzonot? This means caves with water in the Mayan language, and they were sacred wells for the Mayans.

Types of cenotes

Depending on how collapsed the roof is, there are 3 main types of cenotes:

  • Open Cenotes, which are the oldest, like Cenote Carwash;
  • Semi-open Cenotes, like Cenote Ik-Kil; or
  • Closed Cenotes in caves, like Cenote Suytun, including diving caves in Mexico.

For the Mayans of the Yucatan Peninsula, where the largest concentration of cenotes in the world is located, they were much more than beautiful natural formations.

In addition to taking advantage of valuable freshwater reserves, they considered them sacred places.

Mexican Cenotes were the entrance to the Underworld or Xibalba; they were the home of Chaac, the God of water and rain; and they were, above all, places of offerings and rituals.

Best cenotes in Riviera Maya Map

If you’re wondering, What are the best cenotes near me right now?

You can check out this map of cenotes in Mexico so you can plan your trip and visit the ones that are closed to your travel destination.

Most Beautiful Riviera Maya Cenotes

Now, let’s see which are the 20 best Riviera Maya Cenotes that you cannot miss.

To make the information easier, I have divided the cenotes based on their location:

TRAVEL TIP: Make sure you get travel insurance before traveling to Mexico. Trust me, it’s one of those things you don’t want to leave home without. I recommend World Nomads, one of the best travel insurance companies; or SafetyWing, perfect for long-term travelers.

Best cenotes in Tulum

1. Gran Cenote

Gran Cenote Tulum Mexico

Quick Info:

  • Opening Hours: 10 am-5 pm Daily
  • Location: Gran Cenote Maps
  • Entrance Fee: $180 MXN ($9 USD)
  • Facilities: Toilets, lockers (30 MXN), lifejacket rental (50 MXN), snorkel gear rental (80 MXN), kiosk

Next up is Gran Cenote Tulum which is easily one of the best cenotes in Tulum, and very convenient to get to as it’s only 5km from the main town.

A cave cenote that boasts beautiful clear waters, Gran Cenote gets its name from the complex flooded cave system which creates the illusion that it’s one big cave.

The plants lining the cavern and wildlife including bats, turtles, and small fish make it one of Tulum’s most popular cenotes for scuba and snorkeling sites, and for good reason!

2. Cenote Calavera

Cenote Calavera Tulum Mexico

Quick Info:

  • Opening Hours: 9 am-5 pm Daily
  • Location:  Cenote Calavera Maps
  • Entrance Fee: 250 MXN ($12.50 USD)
  • Facilities: Toilets, showers, lifejacket rental, snorkel rental, sunbeds, bar, snacks, and drinks

Cenote Calavera Tulum (Skull Cenote) also known as Temple of Doom Cenote, is a semi-open cenote with a pool that is wider than the access holes above it, creating the illusion of the eyes and mouth of a skull.

A long ladder coming from the “mouth” of the skull serves as the exit from the cenote while the preferred method of entry is an epic jump into the mouth.

You will find hundreds of small bats clinging to the roof of the cave, and this along with the surrounding wildlife and vegetation helps make it one of Tulum’s best cenotes and a fantastic spot to spend the day, and it is also one of the best diving caves in Mexico.

3. Car Wash Cenote

Quick Info:

  • Opening Hours: 9 am-4 pm Daily
  • Location: Car Wash Cenote Maps
  • Entrance Fee: $200 MXN ($10 USD)
  • Facilities: Toilets, showers, picnic tables, lockers (30 MXN)

Another beautiful cenote you can’t miss from this list is Carwash Cenote, only a 15-minute drive from Tulum, and very easy to access.

Its unusual name comes from local taxi drivers washing their cars here before it became so popular for visitors!

Its other name “Aktun Ha” means cave water in Mayan. One of the best cenotes near Tulum, Car Wash Cenote is excellent for swimmers, snorkelers, scuba divers, and underwater photographers and is home to turtles and even a small (friendly) crocodile!

Best cenotes near Tulum

4. Cenote Dos Ojos

Cenote Dos Ojos Tulum Mexico

Quick Info:

  • Opening Hours: 8 am-5 pm Daily
  • Location:  Cenote Dos Ojos Maps
  • Entrance Fee: 350 MXN ($17 USD)
  • Facilities: Toilets, changing rooms, showers, life jackets (included), snorkel gear rental (50 MXN), lifeguards, restaurant, picnic areas, massages

This list wouldn’t be complete without the world-famous, and easily one of the best cenotes in Mexico, Cenote Dos Ojos (Two Eyes Cenote), named so because of the two sinkholes that characterize this spectacular cenote.

A top scuba diving destination and its stunningly clear waters which are magical to swim in make this a top cenote to add to your bucket list!

5. Cenote Aktun Chen

Quick Info:

  • Opening Hours: 10 am-5 pm Daily
  • Location: Cenote Aktun Chen Maps
  • Entrance Fee: Included with tour
  • Facilities: Toilets, changing rooms, lockers, hammocks, guides

A tour of the emerald crystal-clear waters of Cenote Aktun Chen is one of the best cenote tours of the Riviera Maya!

Located within Aktun Chen Park (which also features several caves, zip lines, and a wildlife zoo) this cenote allows you to snorkel through the cave’s stalactite and stalagmite formations, making it the ultimate adventure cenote for your itinerary!

6. Cenote Tak Be Ha

Riviera Maya cenote scuba diving

Quick Info:

  • Opening Hours: 9 am-5 pm Daily
  • Location: Cenote Tak Be Ha Maps
  • Entrance Fee: 350 MXN ($17.50 USD) or 400 MXN with a guide
  • Facilities: Toilets, showers, life jackets (included), snorkel gear rental, tours

Cenote Tak Be Ha is one of the best cave cenotes in the Riviera Maya, and an excellent one to visit for your first cenote or if you’re new to snorkeling as most of the water is relatively shallow at less than 2m deep.

It boasts impressive stalactite and stalagmite formations, and crystal-clear bright blue waters that will enchant you to take a refreshing dip in them.

There are also deeper sections and cave systems to explore via scuba diving and a river-like section in this cenote which requires a guide and torch to swim through for 50 MXN extra, which is definitely worth checking out!

7. Cenote Arco Maya

Quick Info:

If you’re looking to escape the crowds at some of Tulum’s more well-known cenotes, the hidden Cenote Arco Maya is the secret gem you’ve been waiting for!

A little hard to find, it’s located just next to Cenote Encantado, close to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve entrance, a short walk off the main beach road in Tulum. Its still waters surrounded by jungle are perfect for swimming, kayaking, or stand-up paddle boarding.

Best Cenotes in Playa del Carmen

8. Cenote Chaak Tun

Cenote Chaak Tun, one of the best cenotes in Cancun Riviera Maya

Quick Info:

  • Opening Hours: 8 am-4:30 pm Daily
  • Location: Cenote Chaak Tun Maps
  • Entrance Fee: $600 MXN ($30 USD) includes tour and equipment
  • Facilities: Toilets, showers, lockers, snorkel gear rental, parking

Cenote Chaak Tun is a stunningly beautiful cave cenote just outside of Playa del Carmen.

The highlight of this cenote is its astonishing stalactite and stalagmite formations waiting to be discovered, so jump on a tour and snorkel the pristine waters and explore the incredible cave system of Chaak Tun!

Best Cenotes near Playa del Carmen

9. Cenote Jardin del Eden

Cenote Jardin del Eden Playa del Carmen Mexico
Scuba diving at the Cenote Jardin del Eden in Mexico

Quick Info:

  • Opening Hours: 9 am-5 pm Sun-Fri
  • Location: Cenote Jardin del Eden Maps
  • Entrance Fee: 200 MXN ($10 USD)
  • Facilities: Toilets, showers, spa cabañas, sun decks, lifejacket rental (25 MXN), snorkel gear rental (25 MXN), kiosk

The first cenote on this list is Cenote Jardin del Eden (Garden of Eden Cenote), also known as Ponderosa or Cenote Eden.

This open cenote is surrounded by vegetation and filled with aquatic plants and fish, and this along with the crystal-clear waters and incredible cave system makes it the perfect place to snorkel, take pictures and swim.

Though most visitors just come to swim and enjoy the surface waters of the cenote, the underwater cave system also makes for an amazing scuba diving experience!

10. Cenote Cristalino

cenotes Riviera Maya

Quick Info:

  • Opening Hours: 8 am-6 pm Daily
  • Location: Cenote Cristalino Maps
  • Entrance Fee: $150 MXN ($7.50 USD)
  • Facilities: Toilets, showers, lockers, sun beds (70 MXN)

Next on the list of the top cenotes in the Riviera Maya is Cenote Cristalino, a stunning open cenote located halfway between Tulum and Playa Del Carmen.

It’s not only the sheer beauty of this cenote that makes it so popular, it also has a rocky platform to relax on, a cave to explore and a 3.5m jumping platform to try out, and its clear emerald waters are perfect for snorkeling.

11. Casa Cenote

Casa Cenote Tulum Mexico

Quick Info:

  • Opening Hours: 8 am-5 pm Daily
  • Location:  Casa Cenote Maps
  • Entrance Fee: $150 MXN ($7.50 USD)
  • Facilities: Toilets, lockers, snorkel rental, lifejacket rental, kayaks

The next cenote I have to recommend to you is Casa Cenote, a truly unique cenote located next to the ocean, right in the middle of a mangrove system, making swimming and diving here an incredible jungle experience.

One of the best cenotes in Yucatan, Casa Cenote connects the longest underwater cave system “Sac Aktun” with the ocean, and the resulting halocline, along with the huge mangrove shoots, and mix of fresh and saltwater underwater life make this cenote a phenomenal scuba and snorkeling experience not to be missed!

Outside the cenote, you can find an abundance of birds and other wildlife including raccoon-like Tejon.

12. Cenote Chac Mool

Underwater Caves in Mexico
Diver in Chac-Mool Cenote, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Quick Info:

  • Opening Hours: 8:30 am-5:30 pm Daily
  • Location:  Cenote Chac Mool Maps
  • Entrance Fee: Included with a dive tour
  • Facilities: Changing area, showers, tables, restaurant, parking

Are you a scuba diver looking to explore the underground Riviera Maya cenotes? One cenote on this list you cannot miss is Chac Mool!

When you dive into Chac Mool cenote, you’ll be diving through three different cenotes – Chac Mool, Little Brother, and Kukulkan, all connected by one underground cave system.

The combination of the halocline, rock formations, and crystal-clear waters all make for an unforgettable diving experience.

13. Cenote Azul

Cenote Azul Riviera Maya

Quick Info:

  • Opening Hours: 8:30 am-5 pm Daily
  • Location: Cenote Azul Maps
  • Entrance Fee: 150 MXN ($7.50 USD)
  • Facilities: Toilets, showers, changing rooms, life jacket rental, snorkel rental, kiosk, parking

One of the largest and most beautiful Mayan cenotes, Cenote Azul has got to be on your list to visit!

A cenote perfect for all the family, here you can swim, snorkel, scuba dive, jump from the dive platform, explore an underwater cave, have a picnic, or just relax and simply soak in the splendor.

Being located right near cenotes Cristalino and Jardin Del Eden (also on this list), as well as Playa Xpuha, makes a convenient day trip to all of these sites.

14. Cenote Chikin-Ha

Quick Info:

  • Opening Hours: 8 am-6 pm Daily
  • Location: Cenote Chikin-Ha Maps
  • Entrance Fee: 350 MXN ($17.50 USD)
  • Facilities: Toilets, toilets, changing rooms, life jackets (included), snorkel gear rental, kiosk

Cenote Chikin-Ha (meaning ”water from the east” in Mayan) is a nature park complex consisting of three different cenotes:

  • Cenote Chikin-Ha,
  • Cenote X’taba, and
  • Ta’ak Bil-Ha.

The first two cenotes offer the perfect environment for swimming, cave diving, and relaxing, while the third is only used for ceremonies honoring ancient Mayan traditions (but you can still check it out and marvel at its beauty and history).

Best cenotes near Valladolid

15. Cenote Suytun

Cenote Suytun Riviera Maya Mexico

Quick Info:

  • Opening Hours: 8 am-5 pm Daily
  • Location: Cenote Suytun Maps
  • Entrance Fee: 120 MXN ($6 USD)
  • Facilities: Toilets, showers, changing rooms, lockers (35 MXN), lifejacket rental (30 MXN), lifeguards, parking

Next up on my list of the best cenotes in the Mayan Riviera, and the first in Valladolid is Cenote Suytun. This cenote is right near the popular ruins of Chichen Itza and should be visited on the way there.

The cenote is inside a large cave where sunlight enters only through a small hole above, creating a magical illuminating effect throughout the cenote, and there is a platform in the middle of the water where you’ll definitely need to grab a photo standing in the middle of such beauty!

16. Cenote Ik Kil

Cenote Ik Kil cenote near chichen itza

Quick Info:

  • Opening Hours: 9 am-5 pm Daily
  • Location: Cenote Ik Kil Maps
  • Entrance Fee: 150 MXN ($7.50 USD)
  • Facilities: Toilets, showers, lockers (30 MXN), life jackets (included), lifeguards, kiosk, sun beds, hammocks, souvenir stalls, food stalls, parking

Another cenote to check out if you’re traveling around Valladolid and Chichen Itza is Cenote Ik Kil, an open cenote filled with vines and roots dangling down the steep cave walls into the bright blue water, creating an astonishing visual effect.

The cenote reaches down to over 40m and archaeological evidence has been found that the site was used for ancient Mayan sacrifices!

17. Cenote Zaci

Quick Info:

  • Opening Hours: 8 am-5:30 pm Daily
  • Location: Cenote Zaci Maps
  • Entrance Fee: 30 MXN
  • Facilities: Toilets (5 MXN), life jackets, café/restaurant

Next up in the top cenotes in the Riviera Maya is Cenote Zaci, a cenote that stands out from the rest as it is right smack bang in the city of Valladolid, meaning there’s no excuse not to stop by if you’re visiting the town!

Its cool, refreshing waters and impressive depth make it the perfect place to take a dip, and the eyeless black fish swimming in the cenote only add to the magical experience of visiting this cenote.

18. Cenote Xkekén

Cenote Xkeken cenotes near valladolid

Quick Info:

  • Opening Hours: 8 am-6 pm Daily
  • Location: Cenote Xkekén Maps
  • Entrance Fee: 80 MXN ($4 USD)
  • Facilities: Toilets, showers, changing rooms, lockers, life jacket rental, lifeguards, food stalls, tables

Another Valladolid cenote and also one of the best Riviera Maya cenotes is Cenote Xkeken.

Xkeken sits right next to another popular cenote, Cenote Samula (next on this list), and the two are connected by an underground river system.

Cenote Xkeken is a small but impressive cenote and has a mystical atmosphere with sunlight entering through one opening in the roof of the cave and exquisite stalactite and stalagmite formations.

19. Cenote Samula

Cenote Samula Riviera Maya

Quick Info:

  • Opening Hours: 8 am-7 pm Daily
  • Location: Cenote Samula Maps
  • Entrance Fee: 80 MXN ($4 USD)
  • Facilities: Toilets, showers, changing rooms, lockers, lifejacket rental, food stalls, souvenir stalls

Cenote Samula, located right next to Cenote Xkeken is another stunning cave cenote with dazzling light effects that illuminate the bright blue waters, compelling you to take a swim and explore what’s underneath.

This cenote offers more facilities than most cenotes and you will find plenty of places to buy food or souvenirs.

You can access both Cenote Xkeken and Cenote Samula for 120 pesos, or 80 pesos for each one.

20. Cenote Oxman

Cenote Oxman best cenotes in mexico

Quick Info:

  • Opening Hours: 10 am-5 pm Daily
  • Location: Cenote Oxman Maps
  • Entrance Fee: 80 MXN ($4 USD)
  • Facilities: Toilets, showers, lifejacket rental, restaurant/bar, swimming pool, picnic tables, sunbeds

Last but certainly not last on my list of the 20 best Mayan Riviera cenotes is Cenote San Lorenzo Oxman, better known simply as Cenote Oxman, situated just outside of Valladolid.

This cenote features a rope swing, a man-made swimming pool, and a restaurant, meaning that you can spend the whole day here, relaxing, enjoying nature, and using the facilities.

Final thoughts: Best Cenotes in Mayan Riviera

I hope you’ve enjoyed my list of the 20 best Mayan Riviera cenotes and hopefully, you’ll be able to visit as many of them as possible on your trip to Mexico!

When planning your Riviera Maya itinerary, don’t forget to use this map of cenotes to see which ones are in close proximity to each other, so you can visit a few in one day.

Let me know what you think, and comment below which are your favorite cenotes from this list!

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