Cenotes are a very special natural phenomenon in Mexico and especially in the peninsula of Yucatán. They are magically serene places where you can swim, snorkel or dive. If you are planning your holiday to Yucatán make sure you add these four most beautiful cenotes on your to-do list. You don’t want to miss this.
The origin of cenotes
A cenote is a cave or a pool that contains water. A cenote can be underground, but it doesn’t always have to be. The origin of these special natural phenomena goes back millions of years ago. A meteorite impact put an end to the era of dinosaurs, while at the same time making holes in the surface. These holes have been filled with water over the centuries, and are now called cenotes. In the province of Yucatán in Mexico you will find three thousand cenotes, scattered throughout the area.
Natural swimming pools
Nowadays cenotes are used as natural swimming pools where everyone wants to take a dip. Because Yucatán has so many of them, you are always close to one. However, there are big differences between all of the cenotes, one can be a small and dark lake, while the other one can be a mind-blowing underground swimming area where you can dive at the same time.
Some are free of charge (the remote ones), but for the best cenotes you have to buy an admission ticket to take a dip, the admission tickets differ from price but are mostly around 4/5 euro’s.
Here are the four most beautiful cenotes in Mexico:
#1 Gran cenote
Gran Cenote is located a couple of kilometers from Tulum pueblo and can be very crowded. However, if you go early you don’t have to share this magical place with large groups of tourists. This cenote was my absolute favorite and I spend a couple of hours here. The surroundings of this cenote are beautiful and once you are underwater you are surrounded with stalactites and stalagmites at great depths which will leave you speechless. Be prepared to bump into one or two turtles when you are swimming. These friendly creatures are in abundance at this cenote. The entrance fee is 180 pesos.
If you want to have a good look at the beauty of the cenotes, check out THIS video.
#2 Ik Kil cenote
Ik Kil cenote is located near the Mayan city Chichén Itzá, one of the new wonders of the world. The cenote is a public cenote, but you have to buy a ticket to be allowed to swim.
Ik Kil is also called the holy blue cenote, but the water is not very blue. The location is phenomenal: lianas hang down over tens of meters of height. And when you are at the bottom, you find yourself somewhere far away from civilization, in the middle of the jungle. That is of course not the case, but it makes swimming in this natural pool extra spectacular. You can walk down a staircase to take a dip in Ik Kil yourself.
Make sure you do not visit this cenote in the middle of the day, because due to the convenient location near Chichén Itzá this is a very popular and busy cenote. It is a good idea to arrive here early in the morning, when there is hardly anyone else.
#3 Cenote Dos Ojos
Dos Ojos means two eyes and that is exactly what this is: two caves with a surrounding water system, in the form of two eyes.
Dos Ojos is located in the province of Quintana Roo, just outside of Tulum. If you want to swim, snorkel or dive here you have to buy a ticket at the entrance, otherwise you will not get in. At the entrance there are a few options. There are some parts where everyone can swim in a kind of half-open cave with beautiful clear water. And there are some parts where you have to book a snorkeling tour. I would recommend doing the snorkel tour (or if you have a diving certificate, the diving tour).
The snorkel tour is very special. The guide will take you to the caves and you will be astonished by the beauty you are surrounded in. You should not be claustrophobic when you do this tour because there are small parts between the water and the stones above you. You will visit 2 caves and the second one is called the bat cave. It contains this name because the cave is inhabited by hundreds of bats which makes it extra special.
If you have to choose between a couple of cenotes make sure you visit this one because you will be sorry otherwise!
#4 Suytun cenote
The beautiful and incredible Suytun cenote is located near Valladolid. With a walkway right in the middle of the cenote, Suytun cenote must be the best Instagrammable cenote located on Yucatán.
During the summer season, a light beam shine’s right into the walkway which creates a magical and picturesque setting. The cenote is only 70 pesos per person.
If you need help planning you trip to Yucatán, check out THIS post.