So that you’ve made it to Cancún, spent a whole day (or a number of) mendacity on the seaside, and also you’re searching for one thing else to do on the Riviera Maya. Fortunately, Cancún is a good base for getting out and adventuring within the space.
One factor you positively received’t need to miss out on is visiting the cenotes around Cancún. A cenote is a limestone sinkhole stuffed from underground freshwater rivers. They are often closed and cave-like, semi-open with cliff overhangs, or utterly open, resembling a pond from above.
Intrigued? Listed here are my high picks for the very best cenotes which can be simply accessible from Cancún:
This cenote is one a part of a system of three separate cenotes that open to the identical bigger physique of water and are linked by underground rivers. It’s open on the floor, with rocky cliffs on one aspect. However it’s the epic underwater caves that appeal to guests and make it splendid for divers. Provided that, it’s not as spectacular should you can solely see it from the floor.
Some dive excursions, like this one from AcuatiCaribe, embody dives by means of the 2 different linked cenotes, Kukulcan and Little Brother. The tour will take you all the way down to see the haloclines and thermoclines, the layers of cloudlike substances the place freshwater and saltwater combine and create neat optical illusions.
- Value: 200 pesos ($10 USD)
- Hours: 9am to 5pm
- When to go: The perfect time to go to for diving is within the morning. As you go under the floor, the rays of the morning and early afternoon gentle are spectacular.
- How one can get there: The inland flip to get to Chac Mool is nearly a kilometer after Puerto Aventuras, on the suitable. Should you’re taking public transportation, you’ll be able to simply get dropped off at Puerto Aventuras and take a taxi to Chac Mool
- Execs: The three-cenote system is an incredible place to dive and a fantastic bang in your buck.
- Cons: You aren’t allowed to take images underwater.
This cenote obtained its identify when cave divers used a intelligent play on phrases. Its deep and wondrous caverns had divers referring to it because the “Taj Mahal” of cenotes. As “ha” means “water” within the Mayan language, Tajma-ha feels like a Mayan interpretation of “Taj Mahal.”
Tajma-ha is actually properly fitted to divers, particularly those that have a number of expertise. It boasts a maze of tunnels, limestone formations, and large chambers. For extra data on diving in Tajma-ha, take a look at Koox Diving.
You’ll discover this cenote simply 5 kilometers south of Puerto Aventuras; it’s straightforward to entry by automotive or public transportation.
- Value: 250 pesos ($12.50 USD) to enter; further prices to dive, relying on which diving firm you select.
- Hours: 8am to 5pm each day
- When to go: This cenote is barely widespread amongst divers, so should you go only for a swim, don’t count on to see too many individuals there. Anytime of day is ok to go to, so benefit from the morning solar for a refreshing dip.
- How one can get there: 3 kilometers south of Puerto Aventuras, take a proper on the inland-bound Avenida Tajma-ha. You’ll discover a signal for the cenote about 2 kilometers in. Should you’re taking public transportation, ask the driving force to drop you off at Xpu-ha; from there you’ll be able to both stroll or take a taxi to the cenote.
- Execs: It’s the most effective dives within the space. Should you’re going for a swim, there received’t be as many individuals there.
- Cons: It’s best fitted to skilled divers, so should you’re a newbie, this one may not be the only option.
Chikin-ha is the most important of three cenotes on the identical property. It’s open, with underwater caves, making it a stellar location for diving. All through the flooded caves, there are a number of small openings that allow gentle in, altering the colour of the water as you swim by means of.
Even should you don’t go for the diving, Chikin-ha is subsequent to 2 smaller cenotes, X’tabay and Ta’ak Bil-ha. X’tabay is an open cenote that’s nice for swimming, and Ta’ak Bil-ha is a ceremonial one which doesn’t permit guests to get into the water. All three of those are in a stunning jungle setting and positively value a go to.
- Value: 350 pesos ($17.50 USD) for all three on-site cenotes
- Hours: 8:30am to 6pm
- When to go: Get there within the morning to beat the crowds and benefit from the enjoyable environment.
- How one can get there: Only a couple kilometers after Puerto Aventuras, flip proper on the marker for kilometer 265 and observe the highway till you get to the doorway. Should you’re taking public transportation, let the driving force know you’re going to Chikin-ha and you may get out on the flip and stroll.
- Execs: The diving is unbelievable and positively worthy of your bucket checklist. The shut proximity to different cenotes can be a plus.
- Cons: This cenote is kind of constructed up, because it’s a part of an eco-park, which isn’t everybody’s favourite factor. It’s not a seemingly untouched paradise like different extra distant cenotes.
Ruta de Cenotes
The Ruta de Cenotes is a stretch of freeway between Puerto Morelos (about half-hour south of Cancún) and the neighborhood of Leona Vicario. The 40-kilometer stretch of freeway goes inland from the coast and has over 60 cenotes alongside it. Many of those are privately owned and have greater entrance charges than the general public ones. They’re additionally rather more constructed up and have extra issues to do, equivalent to zip strains, ATV excursions, and horseback driving.
Listed here are the very best cenotes alongside the route:
Cenote Las Mojarras (aka Loma Bonita Park)
Named for the fish you’ll discover in freshwater cenotes and lakes, Las Mojarras is a big, open cenote with emerald water. It’s one of many largest on the Ruta de Cenotes and has a six-meter-high platform to leap in from. There are tenting services on-site, together with loos and altering areas. You’ll additionally discover a enjoyable zip line that goes by means of the encompassing jungle and over the cenote.
- Value: 250 pesos ($12.50 USD) to swim, 950 pesos ($47.50 USD) for an ATV tour.
- Hours: 9am to 5pm
- When to go: Keep away from occurring the weekends. The perfect time to go is within the morning on a weekday. I recommend visiting this one first, as a result of it will get extra crowded than the others on the Ruta de Cenotes.
- How one can get there: Las Mojarras is at kilometer 12.5 and is the primary cenote on the route.
- Execs: The water is beautiful and clear, so it’s good for swimming and snorkeling. The encompassing jungle makes a picturesque scene, and the ATV and zip line actions are distinctive to this cenote.
- Cons: The worth is excessive in comparison with others which can be comparable.
Cenote Siete Bocas
Siete Bocas is a semi-open cenote with seven totally different entry factors from above, which permit daylight to pour into the semi-underground pool. There are ladders main all the way down to the water, however you can even take a leap by means of one of many mouths into the depths. There are some large stalactites within the cenote which can be particularly neat to take a look at.
- Value: 300 pesos ($15 USD).
- Hours: 9am to 5pm
- When to go: This one doesn’t are inclined to get too crowded, so you’ll be able to go to anytime in the course of the day on a weekday and discover few guests.
- How one can get there: This one is at kilometer 15.5 of the Ruta de Cenotes. From there, observe the signal for Siete Bocas, which is able to take you 2 kilometers additional inland on a mud highway, the place the cenote is.
- Execs: It’s possible you’ll get the place to your self, as a result of it doesn’t are inclined to get very crowded, which is at all times a plus!
- Cons: The worth is kind of steep compared with different cenotes within the space, which is usually a little bit of a deterrent.
Cenote Verde Lucero
This cenote will get its identify from its uncommon inexperienced look. It’s open, with kayaks, a swing, and loads of room to swim and snorkel. This one is at kilometer 17 on the Ruta de Cenotes and stays comparatively uncrowded, so go to any time of the day for a pleasant, enjoyable vibe. There’s additionally a zipper line and a cliff diving spot for my fellow daredevils.
- Value: 300 pesos ($15 USD) to enter
- Hours: 9am to 5pm
- When to go: Anytime throughout a weekday is ok, however weekends are usually extra crowded.
- How one can get there: This one is at kilometer 17 on the route, simply previous Siete Bocas.
- Execs: The distinctive inexperienced shade is a pleasant change from the opposite deep-blue cenotes.
- Cons: The worth is kind of excessive for what it’s, which is a peaceful swimming gap.
Zapote, situated inside an eco-park with the identical identify, is a largely open cenote, with some caves to discover and platforms to leap in from. There may be additionally a zipper line that goes above the water.
It’s also the most effective alongside the route for diving, as it’s identified for its underwater stalactites (Campanas del Inframundo, or “Bells of the Underworld”). For extra details about diving, take a look at Koox Diving.
- Value: 700 pesos ($35 USD) to enter the eco-park, which incorporates entrance to the cenote.
- Hours: 8am to 5pm
- When to go: Due the fee to enter, there are not often massive crowds right here. Be at liberty to go to any time of the day, any day of the week.
- How one can get there: The flip off the Ruta de Cenotes for Zapote is at kilometer 19. From there, the Zapote Ecopark is 6 kilometers in.
- Execs: The diving is unbelievable and a singular expertise.
- Cons: This is without doubt one of the most costly cenotes I’ve seen. Should you aren’t diving, I’d say skip it until you don’t thoughts the worth.
This semi-open cenote is cavelike, with two massive openings on the high to let gentle in. You need to climb down some stairs to get inside, and there are a number of picket platforms to leap within the water from. Should you’re feeling adventurous, you’ll be able to soar into the cenote from one of many openings above.
Kin-ha has one other open cenote referred to as Blanca Flor a couple of kilometer away, which is nice to cease at too.
- Value: 400 pesos ($20 USD) to swim, 1000 pesos ($50 USD) for an ATV tour.
- Hours: 9am to 5pm
- When to go: This cenote will get fairly busy within the late morning and early afternoon, so it’s finest to go to within the morning proper when it opens.
- How one can get there: On the similar kilometer marker as Zapote (kilometer 19), there’s a separate flip for Kin-ha, so observe the indicators.
- Execs: The cavelike vibe of Kin-ha is basically exceptional, and it’s filled with enjoyable actions. You may spend hours at each Kin-ha and Blanca Flor.
- Cons: It has extra of a busy environment, as a result of it tends to get crowded within the late morning and early afternoon.
Cenote La Noria
La Noria is a way more secluded and low-key semi-open cenote. It has stunning turquoise waters that you would be able to attain by climbing down the picket stairs into the open cavern. The stalactites hanging from the ceiling make the place really feel such as you’ve stepped into the underworld, they usually’re shut sufficient to the water that you would be able to rise up shut to take a look at them.
La Noria is alongside the identical highway as Kin-ha and Zapote, however only a bit nearer to the freeway. It’s nice for a fast cease earlier than or after an journey at both of the opposite two larger parks.
- Value: 200 pesos ($10 USD)
- Hours: 9am to 5pm, closed on Mondays
- When to go: Anytime in the course of the day is ok, because it doesn’t are inclined to get very crowded. Take into account visiting after going to Kin-ha or Zapote.
- How one can get there: At kilometer 19 of the Ruta de Cenotes, observe the indicators for La Noria, which is earlier than the entrances to Kin-ha and Zapote.
- Execs: It’s quieter, extra laid again, and cheaper than a lot of the cenotes on the Ruta de Cenotes.
- Cons: There isn’t very a lot to do there moreover swim and loosen up.
Bonus: Cenote Ik Kil
Though this cenote is without doubt one of the most touristy I’ve ever visited, I nonetheless suppose it’s some of the stunning. The water is about 26 meters (85 toes) under floor stage, and the massive opening on the high has vines hanging down from it, making a mystical environment.
The steps across the fringe of the cenote result in a cool jumping-off level. Life jackets are advisable however not required, and there’s ample area to swim round. Though it’s the furthest cenote from Cancún on this checklist (a 2.5-hour drive), it’s a must-see whereas visiting this a part of Mexico, and because it’s near Chichén Itzá and Valladolid, it makes a fantastic day journey.
- Value: The doorway payment has two package deal choices: Ik Kil Package deal 1 for 150 pesos ($7.50 USD) consists of admission, plus a life jacket and a locker. Package deal 2 is 350 pesos ($17.50 USD) and consists of admission, a life jacket, a meal (with 5 choices to select from), and a beverage.
- Hours: 9am to 5pm; the doorway closes at 4pm.
- When to go: If you wish to keep away from the inevitable crowds as a lot as doable, get there proper when it opens. Even 10 minutes early is nice. Tour teams get there round 11am, so attempt to get your go to in earlier than then.
- How one can get there: Ik Kil is close to the freeway that goes from Cancún to Mérida and is barely 3 kilometers from Chichén Itzá. The simplest method to get there through public transportation is to take a Chichén Itzá–sure ADO bus from Cancún and taxi to Ik Kil from there.
- Execs: The place is beautiful, and the worth is affordable. It’s a particular must-see whereas visiting Cancún, Valladolid, or Mérida.
- Cons: The crowds are intense from 11am onward. It’s additionally fairly built-up and developed so it doesn’t have that very same off-the-beaten-path really feel that many different cenotes do.
Tips and Greatest Practices
- Sunblock: Most sunblocks include chemical substances which can be very dangerous to the the ecosystem of cenotes, lagoons, and the ocean. Actually, most of the chemical substances in conventional sunblocks are partially answerable for coral bleaching. Yikes! Both omit sunblock, or go for one that claims “reef secure” or “eco-park pleasant” on the label. These are mineral sunblocks and don’t trigger injury the best way chemical ones do.
- Rinsing off: At some cenotes, like Ik Kil, for instance, you’ll see an open bathe space. Generally there are indicators instructing guests to rinse off earlier than entering into the cenote, however final time I visited the world, lots of them didn’t have an indication. Be sure to maintain a watch out for these bathe areas, so you’ll be able to rinse off any residue in your pores and skin from lotions, soaps, and so on.
- Depart no hint: Would you need to roll as much as your chosen cenote and discover a ton of trash there, floating round within the water? In fact not! Be aware of the whole lot you deliver with you, and ensure to not depart any trash behind.
- Respect the native tradition: Cenotes have been and proceed to be, in some instances, locations of worship for the Mayan individuals. As you’ll be able to see above, with Ta’ak Bil-ha, these sacred sinkholes have a wealthy historical past and immense cultural significance. Preserve this in thoughts once you go to, and be form to the employees working there.
- Deliver money: A number of the extra widespread cenotes have card readers, however the smaller ones will solely take money. Be sure to deliver sufficient pesos in your entrance payment, transportation, and snacks.
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Visiting cenotes close to Cancún is a superb method to get near nature and find out about native tradition on the similar time. These are positively value visiting should you get pleasure from swimming, snorkeling, or diving. Whereas there are many different things to do in and around Cancún, I like to recommend making a cease at one (or all!) of those cenotes whilst you go to.