Top 8 Best Cenotes near Playa del Carmen
Playa Del Carmen has beautiful beaches, some of the finest restaurant establishments, and some amazing beach clubs. It also is home to some amazing cenotes. The best cenotes near Playa del Carmen are all less than a 30-minute taxi ride.
Playa del Carmen is located on the Caribbean Sea and situated in the Quintana Roo state of Mexico.
It’s a popular tourist destination that is only continuing to grow more attention, due to its beautiful beaches and cenotes.
With its clear, blue waters and powdery, white sand, it’s no wonder why it’s a loved travel destination.
It is also just a quick taxi ride from the Cancun airport. Playa del Carmen has beautiful beaches, amazing Mexican food, and of cenotes
What are Cenotes?
The Yucatán Peninsula where Playa del Carmen is located is home to thousands of cenotes.
Cenotes are beautiful underground cave-like formations with inviting crystal clear water to swim in. They are natural sink holes, that used to be caves, but the top of the cave has collapsed in, leaving them exposed to natural sunlight.
This makes them very inviting, as they are perfect for a refreshing swim, unique scuba diving, and Instagram worthy pictures.
Cenotes are underwater swimming hole establishments that are formed when a collapse of limestone bedrock creates a sinkhole of fresh groundwater.
They get their name from the ancient Mayan people who used the cenotes as a water supply and for sacrificial purposes.
The term was conjured from a regional word meaning a location with accessible groundwater.
There are at least 6,000 cenotes on the Yucatán Peninsula. The water is clean and clear because it comes straight from rainwater that filters into the ground.
The types of cenotes include underground cenotes, semi-open cenotes, and open cenotes:
These cenotes do not see any daylight because they are enclosed bodies of water in an underground cave system.
They can be accessed by a land entrance and once you make your way through, it opens up to an underground pool.
These can be fun because they’re quiet and very cave-like.
This type of cenote is mostly underground but has an opening where fresh air and sunlight can pass through.
It is particularly beautiful when a sunbeam passes through and glistens against the clear water.
An open cenote is a cave that completely collapsed on itself and opens to the sky. The water is warmer since it gets sunlight and it’s a great place to relax. The type of cenote is essentially an in-ground swimming pool.
It usually has high limestone walls and the sunshine right above to still feel like a very unique experience.
What to do at a Cenote
Cenotes aren’t only magnificently unique and jaw-dropping but they’re also quite fun.
If you’re looking for an adventure, spending the day cenote hopping can be great because there are many activities to enjoy.
Some have both shallow and deep ends so you can swim wherever you are comfortable.
If you want to check out the fish that live in cenotes, bring your snorkeling gear and explore. It’s easy to see underwater life because the water is very clear.
Scuba diving is also very popular at cenotes. Some are quite deep and provide a great space to explore the uncharted waters.
Depending on the way the cenotes fall, some have natural cliffs that you can jump off if the water is deep enough and you’re feeling adventurous.
What to Bring to a Cenote
Cenotes are really beautiful and make for a fun adventure if you’re prepared.
You’ll want to bring insect repellant since most are in the jungle and there can be mosquitos.
Make sure to wear biodegradable sunscreen to respect the delicate ecosystem of cenotes.
If you have it, you’ll want to bring snorkel gear and goggles if it’s something you’re interested in doing.
Some cenotes will have rental equipment so you won’t have to bring your own gear.
The 8 Best Cenotes near Playa Del Carmen
1. Cenote Azul
This cenote has a unique set up that makes it popular among families and adventurers.
The water is separated by a wooden boardwalk down the middle so that kids and families can enjoy swimming on the shallow side. There is also a deep side that has a small natural cliff that you can jump from, which is as high as 10 feet for the more adventurous.
It’s an open cenote so it gets a lot of air and sun and it sits in the middle of the jungle.
This cenote can get pretty busy among tourists from Playa del Carmen, Cancun, and Tulum so it’s recommended you go early in the morning or late afternoon.
It costs 120 pesos which is roughly $6. It’s accessible by taxi, rental car, or possibly by service at your hotel and roughly 25 minutes from downtown Playa del Carmen.
It’s a favorite since it has both shallow and deep water and it’s easily accessible.
2. Cenote Cristalino
This cenote is located just before Cenote Azul if you’re coming from Playa del Carmen. It’s also an open air cenote and has some of the most crystal and clear blue waters. I
It’s a great place to relax and enjoy the fresh water and warm sun.
This cenote is well equipped with a bathroom, snack shop, gear rental, and changing rooms which makes it a great option.
After paying and getting set up, you will walk a few minutes through the jungle to a smaller cenote. Once you pass this small cenote, the jungle opens up to the beautiful and large Cristalino.
It has a high cliff jump and a cave. The cave can get very dark so don’t go too far down if you’re scared of enclosed spaces.
It’s a popular spot to check out the sea life in the shadows and explore near the opening or free-dive down into the cave.
Similar to the previous cenote, it can be reached by car from Playa del Carmen in roughly 25 minutes. It costs 150 pesos or roughly $7.50.
3. Cenote Jardin Del Eden
This cenote is also known as Cenote Ponderosa and it’s located between Azul and Cristalino.
It has a large open area as well as lush, green vegetation which gave it its name, The Garden of Eden.
Once you arrive at the area, you will go on a 10-minute walk through the jungle to get to this cenote. It’s very sunken into the ground with cliffs all around which makes it very unique and beautiful.
To get into the water, you can either walk down the wooden steps or jump in from a marked natural cliff hang.
When the limestone bedrock collapsed, it created different features in this cenote like mini caves, natural seats, and places to stand.
It’s popular among scuba divers and a great place for snorkeling, cliff diving, and swimming.
This cenote can be very deep in some parts so it might not be as great of an option for families or small children.
This cenote can be accessed by car from Playa del Carmen in roughly 25 minutes. It costs 100 pesos which is roughly $5.
It’s a great cenote to visit for adventurers.
4. Cenote Tajma Ha
This cenote got its name from people calling it the Taj Mahal. It has mesmerizing natural beauty and is a semi-open cenote very popular among scuba divers.
It’s up to 40 feet deep and produces a beautiful light show during certain times of the day when light beams can pass through and hit the water.
Once you’ve gone through other caves and tunnels, you’ll get to the large area where you can see the jungle above and the sun hits the dark waters to create a beautiful and bright effect.
There are a lot of stalactites and stalagmites and an undead forest of mangler which is a type of tree that grows in water.
Several companies offer scuba diving tours at this cenote and it’s best for intermediate to advanced divers.
This cenote is located roughly 30 minutes by car from downtown Playa del Carmen.
5. Cenote Rio Secreto
This cenote is a very magical place and was only found in the last decade. It’s an underground cave with stalactites and stalagmites everywhere.
Stalactites are formations that hang from cave ceilings and stalagmites rise from the cave floor.
They are both pointy and skinny features that are delicate and beautiful. This cenote also has several cave chambers with bats and fish.
It has become a popular tourist destination and is now a park that will provide you a guided tour, a buffet lunch, and gear.
It costs $79 but it’s a unique cenote and very beautiful. It’s located roughly 15 minutes from downtown Playa del Carmen.
6. Cenote Dos Ojos
This cenote is located roughly an hour from Playa del Carmen which is a bit further than the others but it’s well worth it.
It’s one of the largest cenotes to explore and go its name (Two Eyes) because there are two large sinkholes connected by a passageway to explore.
It’s an underground cave but has good lighting which makes it great for snorkeling.
7. Cenote Nic Te Ha
This cenote is slightly less well known which makes it a great option because it’ll be less busy than some of the others.
It’s an open cenote and feels like a natural swimming pool. It has beautiful blue water and pretty lilies that float on the surface and it’s surrounded by the jungle and lush vegetation that easily allows the cenote to feel enclosed by the greenery. It’s a relaxing and quiet spot.
Nic Te Ha is located about 45 minutes from Playa del Carmen and rather close to Cenote Dos Ojos.
8. Gran Cenote
This cenote is very popular because it consists of several smaller cenotes. The cenotes are connected by a wooden walkway so there is more than enough area to swim and explore.
The water is very clear which makes snorkeling pretty popular at this cenote. It’s located roughly 50 minutes from downtown Playa del Carmen and can be reached by car.
Playa del Carmen is a favorite vacation spot among so many people because of the pristine beaches that cover miles of coastline and its unique features like the beautiful cenotes.
There are thousands of these underwater pools all around the Yucatan Peninsula and in the surrounding areas near Playa del Carmen.
They make for fun day adventures that allow you to do something a little different than sitting on the beach or swimming in the ocean.
They are worth experiencing because it’ll be a swim like no other. Playa del Carmen is a beautiful destination in Mexico and these cenotes are the cherry on top.
Hopefully, some of the cenotes in this article have caught your attention and you’re ready to experience some of the best cenotes near Playa del Carmen for yourself!