The Cenotes of the Yucatan

By Viator, May 2016

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Visiting the Yucatan, you might here this word in passing: cenotes. It is actually an ancient Mayan word meaning “well,” but nowadays refers to the rocky sinkholes that pepper the Mayan Peninsula. Some of the cleanest and freshest water in the world is located in these cavernous underground rivers and sinkholes, and every local seems to have an opinion on which one of the roughly 7000 in the area is the best for diving, swimming and snorkeling.

Technically, the cenotes derived from eons of rainfall slowly eating away at the porous limestone base of the area, but that does little credit to the wonder and majesty they inspire. A blessed place for the indigenous people, the cenotes of the Yucatan were a primary source for fresh water and so revered as sacred. Any visit to the cenotes of the Yucatan will affirm that belief – their beauty and serene majesty is unrivaled.

Quintana Roo boasts the best cenotes for exploring, and luckily are located close to Cancun and Playa del Carmen. If you’re in the Yucatan, visiting a cenote is a must-do experience. Here are three of the best.

Ik-Kil is  one of the most popular cenotes being just 2 miles away from world-famous Chichen-Itza. Also known as the “Sacred Blue Cenote,” this is one of the most picturesque cenotes with hanging vines and waterfalls surrounding the main almost iridescent blue. The well itself is over 130 feet deep, so don’t worry about trying to touch bottom.

Los Ojos, located by Tulum, is world-famous for its diving. Over 500 meters of underwater caves are available for exploration. The area is interesting enough that IMAX thought to shoot some of its “Journey Into Amazing Caves” there.

Cuazma isn’t a cenote, but a town known for its large number of cenotes. Chelentun is the most beautiful in the area, though tours will likely take you to visit several. Look for incredibly blue waters and stalagmite and stalactite formations climbing the walls.

Tours & Tickets

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Cancun 2-Tank Cenote (Cave) Dive

4.5 star rating: Recommended 3 Reviews

Spend a day in Puerto Aventuras exploring the underwater world of cenotes, the largest underground cavern system in the world. See the fascinating limestone ...  Read more

Location: Cancun, Mexico
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

From USD $178.99

Cenotes Tour in Cancun with Round-Trip Airport Transfer

Visit some cenotes on this tour. These crystalline springs are connected by a network of underground rivers and can vary in shape and characteristics. They are ...  Read more

Location: Cancun, Mexico
Duration: 9 hours (approx.)

From USD $150.99

Cancun Combo Tour: ATV and Zipline with Cenote Swim

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 48 Reviews

Set out on an eco-adventure through the Cancun jungle via zipline and ATV on this exciting combo tour, including a visit to a refreshing cenote! Soar through ...  Read more

Location: Cancun, Mexico
Duration: 5 hours (approx.)

From USD $134.99
$154.99 Save $20.00

Xenotes: Adventure Tour at Mayan Cenotes

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 16 Reviews

Leap into four different cenotes (flooded sinkholes) amid a jungle oasis in the Yucatan – all in one day! Rappel and zipline over rock walls into the ...  Read more

Location: Cancun, Mexico
Duration: 10 hours (approx.)

From USD $118.99

Los 7 Cenotes Private Adventure Tour from Merida

The private reserve of Los 7 Cenotes offers wonderful closed, open, and semi-open Cenotes, each beautiful and well cared for. On this tour, you'll get to ...  Read more

Location: Merida, Mexico
Duration: 9 hours (approx.)

From USD $99.99

Coba Tulum and Cenote Tankach-Ha with Lunch

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 1 Reviews

Seize a full day by visiting the three most know places: Tulum and Coba Ruins, the Cenote Tankach-Ha and enjoy a Lunch Buffet. Visit these two unique ...  Read more

Location: Cancun, Mexico
Duration: 1 day (approx.)

From USD $89.00

Traditional Yucatan Haciendas and Natural Cenotes Tour

Visit the traditional San Pedro Chimay and Uayalceh haciendas (Mexican estates) to discover the rich history of the henequen (agave), the Yucatan's green gold. ...  Read more

Location: Merida, Mexico
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

From USD $60.00

Haciendas and Cenotes Cultural and Outdoor Adventure from Merida

Enjoy a wonderful trip to the past and present of Yucatan. You will see a lot of history as you see haciendas on the route, including Yaxcopoil. You'll then ...  Read more

Location: Merida, Mexico
Duration: 7 hours (approx.)

From USD $55.00

Acanceh Ruins and Cuzama Cenotes Tour from Merida

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 11 Reviews

Dive into the clear waters of three Cuzama cenotes on this day trip by minivan from Merida. Stop en route at the Mayan site of Acanceh to view the excavated ...  Read more

Location: Merida, Mexico
Duration: 7 hours 30 minutes (approx.)

From USD $49.99

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