34 Best Cenotes Cancun, Riviera Maya, Tulum, Playa del Carmen (Cenote Map)

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Cenotes Riviera Maya: The Riviera Maya region makes up the long coastline of the state of Quintana Roo, the easternmost part of the Yucatan peninsula. From Bacalar & Chetumal in the south to Cancun in the north, most of the best cenotes in Riviera Maya stretch from south of Tulum to just north of Playa Del Carmen. With most cenotes being a little inland from the coast.

Cenotes Cancun: There are no good cenotes in Cancun, but there are many great cenotes near Cancun.

The Yucatan peninsula has over 30,000 cenotes. Lush, clear water, with an irresistible turquoise, blue or green hue. Some are completely underground (Cenote caves), others are partially open, and some are more like small open lakes. Many are not accessible to the public, and many are still wild and overgrown. The small amount that has been cleaned up and opened for tourists are the safest and easiest to visit.

In this article, we feature the best cenotes in Riviera Maya, along the length of the coast, which are great for swimming and cenote snorkeling. You can even take a cenote tour from Cancun.

We have a second sister article which features more amazing cenotes in the neighbouring Yucatan state – many of which are also easy to reach from Cancun. Those cenotes are around locations like Valladolid, Chichen Itza, Merida, Uxmal and more. Some of the best cenotes are in that article, so make sure to read both articles before deciding which you will visit on your next vacation.

If you are specifically looking to scuba dive cenotes (which I highly recommend!), we also have a cenote article just for you for the 10 best cenotes for scuba diving near Tulum & Playa Del Carmen.

The best way to visit the Riviera Maya cenotes is to take a tour or to rent a car.

Disclaimer: This article contains some commission generating links. These help financially support our blog and do not cost you anything. Please use our links when making bookings, so we can keep creating great content like this.

Table Of Contents: Cenotes Cancun & Riviera Maya

Cenote Map (Free Interactive Map)

What is a cenote?

Cenotes Riviera Maya Central:

Cenotes Near Tulum

Cenotes Near Playa Del Carmen (South of Cancun)

Cenotes Coba

Best Diving Cenotes Riviera Maya (Opens in new window)

Cenotes Riviera Maya North:

Cenotes Near Cancun & Cenotes Puerto Morelos

Cenotes Riviera Maya South:

Cenotes Bacalar & Chetumal

More Yucatan Cenotes:

Cenotes near Chichen Itza (Opens in New Window)

Cenotes Yucatan State & Merida (Opens in New Window)

Cenote Map – Free Interactive Map of Yucatan & Riviera Maya

Our interactive Google map overlay lists the exact (verified) location of every cenote from this article – plus all the cenotes from our other two cenote articles – as well as many other points of interest/restaurants etc. for visitors to the Yucatan & Riviera Maya.

Get Free Access Now!

What is a cenote?

A Cenote is a naturally formed Mexican sinkhole in the Yucatan Peninsula. The word Cenote is derived from the local Mayan word “D’zonot”. Cenotes were considered sacred by the Mayans where they would make offerings to the Gods. Mayan artifacts are sometimes still seen today under the water of some cenotes.

But Cenotes are just an entry point. The water arrives there through massive cave systems connecting cenotes eventually to the sea.

The Yucatan Peninsula doesn’t have overland rivers. So the underground waterways provide an essential supply of fresh water for the locals. Almost every Mayan settlement, including the famous Chichen Itza, was built near a cenote.

Why does the Yucatan have so many cenotes? Scientists believe that the dinosaur killing asteroid that hit Earth 65 million years ago, struck the North of what is now the Yucatan Peninsula, forming the Chicxulub crater. This impact helped form the cenotes, along with millions of years of erosion, plus rising water levels after the last ice age which causes the caves to flood.

Types of Cenotes

Every cenote has a distinct personality all of it’s own. But to keep things simple, I’ll be classifying each cenote below within one of the following styles:

  1. Cave Cenote – These are underground with very little natural light (Perhaps a few holes where the sun pokes through). Those dancing bolts of light shining in can be magical! Others may only have artificial light and be deep underground.
  2. Collapsed top Cave Cenote – These are cave cenotes where the central dome has collapsed in leaving a wide opening with light flooding in.
  3. Open Cylinder Cenotes – These are cylindrical and fully open up top, but typically have steep sides going down many meters to the water level. Like a sunken swimming pool. Steep access ladders and/or stairs are normally taken to reach the water.
  4. Fully open cenotes – these cenotes could be mistaken for small lakes or ponds. Water is at ground level and easily accessible.

Entry Prices For Cenotes in Riviera Maya

The basic price to swim in each cenote varies from about 50 pesos ($3 USD) to about 200 Mexican pesos. Special cenotes, tours, and adventure activities are normally more. Any prices mentioned below are in Pesos but may change.

You can’t wear regular sunscreen in cenotes!

Most cenotes have banned the use of regular sunscreen as it is damaging the local ecosystem. If you want to protect your skin you will need to buy Biodegradable Sunscreen in advance of arriving in Mexico – it’s tricky to find here.

Cenotes Riviera Maya Central:

The biggest concentration of cenotes in Riviera Maya are south of Playa del Carmen, and around the town of Tulum. There are so many to choose from! But here are the best cenotes you should consider visiting in that area.

Cenotes Near Tulum

Tulum has quickly become the hipster capital of Riviera Maya. Lots of hipster bars and restaurants, backpackers etc. in the town, and a big selection of boutique hotels and guesthouses along the beach. The beach area is prettier than Playa Del Carmen. There are many cenotes near Tulum, north, south, and west, with the beach to the east.

The best cenote dives in Riviera Maya are in the cenotes near Tulum.

Casa Cenote Tulum

Cenotes Cancun & Cenotes Riviera Maya: Casa Cenote Tulum

Cenotes Riviera Maya: Casa Cenote Tulum

Casa Cenote is a fully open cenote with stunningly bright green water. It’s very close to the sea and hence has a lot of marine life coming in and out. You can see tiny crocs, turtles and more. Great for snorkeling, also a good place for first-time scuba divers.

Cenote Dos Ojos Tulum

Cenotes Cancun & Cenotes Riviera Maya: Cenote Dos ojos Tulum

Cenotes Riviera Maya: Cenote Dos Ojos Tulum

Cenote Dos Ojos Tulum is a cave cenote system with multiple caves and entry points. Natural light streams in from the various cave entrances, illuminating the perfect crystal blue water. White stalactites and other rock formations under the water reflect the light. A great place for snorkeling and scuba diving. “Dos Ojos” means “two eyes”. The cave system has two main entrances which, from above, look like eyes staring at the sky.

Gran Cenote Tulum

 

 

Gran Cenote Tulum is a partial cave cenote. The open entrances to the water lead into the cave. Potential to see turtles. A popular choice for swimming and snorkeling. (Also called “Grand Cenote” sometimes)

Actun Ha (Car Wash Cenote)

Cenotes Cancun & Cenotes Riviera Maya: Carwash Cenote Tulum

Cenotes Riviera Maya: Carwash Cenote Tulum

Car wash is an open green water cenote with a huge amount of aquatic life just under the surface. It’s good for cenote snorkeling as you are sure to see fish and curious plant life, also with the chance of turtles and little crocodiles (too small to bite humans – don’t panic!). Good for Scuba here too.

Cenote Zacil-Ha

Just around the corner from Car Wash, Cenote Zacil-ha is a smallish, open cylinder cenote. They have a short zipline and drop option for getting in (or you can use a ladder!) and a restaurant for snacks. Also, a hotel attached and a regular swimming pool.

 

Cenote Naharon / Cenote Cristal / Cenote Eskondido

Image: Cenote Cristal

Three open water cenotes all within close proximity to each other, just south-east of Tulum. Cenote Naharon has little hammock seat over the water. Cenote Cristal, a diving platform, and Escondido has slightly clearer water and some cool fish – ideal for cenote snorkeling. Some people list Cenote Cristal & Naharon as being the same cenote – but they are actually a few hundred meters apart. Cenote Cristal is slightly nearer to Tulum.

 

Best Diving Cenotes Riviera Maya (Opens in new window)

Cenotes Near Playa Del Carmen (South of Cancun)

Tajma ha

 

Cenote Tajma Ha is a beautiful underground cave cenote featuring twirling natural light in the water if you visit between May & September. The cenote is located at the end of a 2-mile dirt track. Option to swim/snorkel and scuba dive.

Cenotes Xcaret Park & Xplor Adventure Center

Cultural events meet natural wonders at the Cenotes Xcaret natural complex. If you are looking for a well developed, safe, family environment with lots of entertainment and food, as well as stunning natural cenotes and an underground river… Cenotes Xcaret, very near Playa del Carmen, has everything for a family fun day in one place.

The main Cenotes Xcaret park on the beach has access to the cenotes as well activities for all age. Just inland, the Xplor Adventure Center offers ATVs, ziplining and more for teens and adults looking a little bit more of an adrenaline rush.

Cenote Akumal (Cenote Yal-Ku)

Cenotes Cancun & Cenotes Riviera Maya: Cenote Akumal Playa Del Carmen

Cenotes Riviera Maya: Cenote Akumal Playa Del Carmen

Cenote Akumal, is known to the local Mayan population as Yal-ku. It’s a big, wide open cenote that is so close to the sea it feels more like an inlet than a cenote. Great for snorkeling as it is relatively shallow and features lots of marine life. It’s a well developed cenote with a welcome centre and full facilities and options to rent snorkel gear etc.

Some options for a cenote tour Cancun / Playa Del Carmen

Cenote Azul Playa Del Carmen

Not to be confused with Cenote Azul Bacalar. Cenote Azul Playa Del Carmen is just a 15 minute drive south of Playa Del Carmen. It’s a very popular choice so can get quite busy. But it has stunning clear blue water, and the mix of dark and white rock forms under the water gives an almost leopard print effect to the cenote.

Cenote Cristalino Playa Del Carmen

Cenote Cristalino is right next door to Cenote Azul and they are both similar in style with clear blue water and white & dark rocks below the surface. Options for diving if you bring your own gear.

Cenote Chikin Ha

Image: Cenote x’tabay – one of 5 cenotes at the Chikin ha eco park (cenotes near playa del carmen)

Cenote Chikin Ha is an eco park featuring 5 cenotes altogether – including amazing underground cave cenotes with stalactites and open cenotes with picturesque blue water and reflections of surrounding trees. Includes restaurant and facilities, plus adventure activities options – rappelling, cycling, scuba diving and more. Learn more from the Chikin Ha website.

Coba Cenotes

Coba is an ancient ruin complex 45 minutes drive inland (north-west) of Tulum. If you are taking a trip, then stop at a Coba Cenote to cool off while you are there.

Cenote Tankach-Ha

Coba Cenote Tankach Ha is a large cave cenote accessed by a long wooden spiral staircase. A big pool of crystal blue water makes that a great choice for a swim.

 

Cenote Multum Ha

Coba Cenote Multum Ha is another deep underground cave cenote – with a water depth of over 30 meters. You need to descend 18 meters below ground to reach the water level. This cenote also has perfect crystal blue water.


 


Cenotes Riviera Maya North:

Cenotes Cancun & Cenotes Puerto Morelos

Puerto Morelos is a beach town just 15KM south of Cancun. The Ruta de los cenotes Puerto Morelos features 19 cenotes along a 30KM route from Puerto Morelos inland to Leona Vicario. You can hire a car [LINK] and drive it, or take a tour [LINK].

For Cenotes Cancun, these are the closest.

Cenote 7 Bocas (Cenotes near Cancun)

7 different cenotes all in one small area.

K’aak / Lu’um / Lik’ / Ha Alux – Exclusive cenote tour Cancun

4 cenotes near Cancun managed by one company.

Book this cenote tour Cancun Xenotes Oasis Maya to visit 4 different cenotes and enjoy fun activities like Kayak, Zip-line, Rappel, and Snorkel. Save 15% if you book online in advance.

Learn More & See Prices – discount for purchasing online in advance

Cenote Popol Vuh (Cenotes near Cancun)

This is a cylindrical open cenote with pretty green water. This one has a high water level, rather than being a deep sunken pool. It’s attached to a hotel, but non-guests can access it too. 70 Pesos.

Stay overnight at Cenote Popol Vuh – See Prices.

 

Cenote Zapote (Cenotes near Cancun)

Round open cenote with blue-green water and tree canopy shading the cenote from above. This cenote is also popular with scuba divers as you can dive to see the “Hells Bells” – giant bell shaped rock formations.

 


Easily find all these cenotes and many more of our top picks for attractions, accommodation, and restaurants, with our interactive cenote map & tourism map of Riviera Maya & The Yucatan peninsula. Get free access now:

 


Cenotes Riviera Maya South:

Cenotes Bacalar & Chetumal

There aren’t so many cenotes in this area. But if you want to jump into that beautiful blue water, there is one option…

Cenote Azul (Bacalar)

Different from Cenote Azul Playa Del Carmen, of course. This is a big, round and dark blue cenote that is very open without any shade. It’s right next to the massive lake Bacalar where you can also swim, take boat trips and get involved in watersports. Restaurant options nearby.

 

BUT WAIT! There are more cenotes near Cancun!

We’ve listed the best cenotes Riviera Maya, but some of the best cenotes in the Yucatan are Inland from Cancun – and well worth the drive. If you’ll be taking a trip to Chichen Itza, Merida, Valladolid, or just want to make a special trip to visit some of the most incredible cenotes, don’t forget to check out our guide to Cenotes Yucatan.

 

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Cenotes Cancun & Best Cenotes Riviera Maya which are easy to reach from Cancun, Tulum, Playa Del Carmen, Puerto Morelos and Bacalar - we include a free cenote map. Stunning cenotes near Tulum, like the underwater cave cenote Dos Ojos. And cenotes near Playa Del Carmen like cenote Azul. Cenotes Cancun & Best Cenotes Riviera Maya which are easy to reach from Cancun, Tulum, Playa Del Carmen, Puerto Morelos and Bacalar - we include a free cenote map. Stunning cenotes near Tulum, like the underwater cave cenote Dos Ojos. And cenotes near Playa Del Carmen like cenote Azul. Cenotes Cancun & Best Cenotes Riviera Maya which are easy to reach from Cancun, Tulum, Playa Del Carmen, Puerto Morelos and Bacalar - we include a free cenote map. Stunning cenotes near Tulum, like the underwater cave cenote Dos Ojos. And cenotes near Playa Del Carmen like cenote Azul.

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