It’s hard to picture a more idyllic way to spend a vacation than soaking in a cenote — an underground limestone cave filled with glimmering aquamarine waters. Though present in several regions of the world, they’re most closely associated with the Riviera Maya and the Yucatán Peninsula’s coastal aquifer system: It is here that the rainwater famously mixes with saline groundwater, creating a hazy, dreamlike, light-dappling effect. Read our tips below to make the most of your time among these magical natural attractions.
Narrow Down Your List
There are more than 6,000 cenotes throughout Mexico, so it’s helpful to begin your cenote-hopping journey with some kind of a plan. Review our list of top Riviera Maya diving spots and cenotes, and decide whether you’ll embark on a tour, provide your own transportation, or enjoy some combination of the two. If you’re staying at Mahekal Beach Resort, we recommend starting with Cenote Dos Ojos and Gran Cenote. Also, make sure to gather the necessary items beforehand. At all cenotes, it will be necessary to wear shoes that adequately protect your feet but are also waterproof. Also make sure that any sunscreen or insect repellent you wear is biodegradable. If traveling with a camera, speaker, or other device, take a dry bag. Entry fees can be paid in advance through the hotel concierge.
Pick Your Water Sport
Due to varying amounts of light, some cenotes are better for divers equipped with headlamps, while others are most popular among snorkelers and paddleboarders. Tulum’s Casa Cenote, for instance, typically draws those who wish to explore around the surface of the waters and surrounding jungle, while Dos Ojos and Gran Cenote appeal to divers who wish to see those fish who dwell among the deeper chambers and passages. Before picking your points of interest, determine how you wish to experience your cenotes of choice.
View this post on Instagram
[ 🇺🇸] 𝗙𝗲𝗲𝗹 𝗹𝗶𝗸𝗲 𝗷𝘂𝗺𝗽𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗶𝗻𝘁𝗼 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘄𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗿? 💙 Casa Cenote (aka Cenote Manatí) is one of the very best spots in the Mexican Caribbean to cool off on a hot day. The fresh, crystalline water and elaborate canals make this a place you'll want to experience in person. [ 🇲🇽] ¿𝗔 𝘁𝗶 𝘁𝗮𝗺𝗯𝗶𝗲́𝗻 𝘀𝗲 𝘁𝗲 𝗮𝗻𝘁𝗼𝗷𝗼 𝗺𝗲𝘁𝗲𝗿𝘁𝗲 𝗮𝗹 𝗮𝗴𝘂𝗮? 💙 El Cenote Manatí o Casa Cenote es uno de los mejores lugares para disfrutar de un día de calor en el Caribe Mexicano. El agua cristalina, fresca y los elaborados canales hacen de este lugar un punto que vale la pena conocer. 📷: @lunasabatini #Tulum #CaribeMexicano #MexicanCaribbean
Avoid the Crowds
Cenotes have become quite popular attractions among visitors, so we recommend that you pick your spots based on the crowds they attract. Although there is indeed a way to beat the tour buses at big cenotes, mainly by arriving early or staying late in the day, it’s advisable to scope out some lesser-known cenotes entirely.
Part of the magic of cenotes is that they evoke nature at its most primitive and untouched. As you prepare to experience the Rivera Maya, you will be asked to treat these natural attractions with the utmost respect. To whatever degree possible, avoid wearing non-biodegradable sunscreen and, if possible, avoid sunscreen at all. (Even zinc- and titanium oxide-based varieties pose a threat to the resident fish and are discouraged by the local government.) In certain cenotes, you may also be asked to keep down the volume, as loud or dramatic movements can startle the fish.
If you’re ready to dive into these cenotes for yourself, check out the latest offers at Mahekal Beach Resort and start planning your stay.