Cenote Azul, Playa del Carmen: Ultimate Guide (2020)
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Cenote Azul in Playa Del Carmen is one of the best cenotes that we visited during our Mexico road trip. Cenote Azul is easily visited from Cancun, Playa del Carmen or Tulum and, as it’s so popular, it is important to plan your trip ahead of time and get the most out of your visit. This is our guide to visiting the beautiful Cenote Azul.
What are the Cenotes?
A cenote, pronounced seh-NO-tay, are water-filled sinkholes that naturally occur in limestone rock when an underground cave collapses in on itself and exposes the groundwater underneath. There are thousands of cenotes dotted around the Yucatan Peninsula and some of the more scenic ones are extremely popular with locals and tourists alike.
The water in the cenotes tends to be cool as the water comes from underground so they are great for a quick swim to cool off from the hot Mexican sunshine.
In Mayan times a number of the cenotes were used for sacrificial purposes and objects such as gold, pottery and even human and animal remains have been found at the bottom of some cenotes.
The cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula are a mix of open, semi-open or underground:
- Open cenotes: These are caves which have completely collapsed in on themselves and are exposed to the sky. These are our favourite as you can swim in the open air, the water is a pleasant temperature and there are usually lots of areas to relax by the water. Some of our favourite open cenotes near Tulum are Cenote Azul, Cenote Zacil-Ha and Car Wash Cenote.
- Semi-open cenotes: these cenotes are mostly underground but have small openings in the ceiling where light and fresh air come in. These cenotes can be particularly beautiful as the light beams illuminate the crystal clear water below. Our favour semi-open cenotes were Cenote Suytun, Cenote Hubiku and Cenote Xkeken.
- Underground cenotes: these cenotes are completely underground in a cave system and have no natural light to illuminate the cenote water. These cenotes tend to be more difficult to visit as they are deep in the limestone rock. The three cenotes near the Coba ruins (Multum-Ha, Tamchach-Ha and Choo-Ha) are amazing underground cenotes you can easily visit.
Cenote Azul, Playa del Carmen
Cenote Azul is a popular open air Playa Del Carmen cenote where the swimming area is open to the sky.
Cenote Azul tips: Cenote Azul is best for families, open-air swimming, chilling in the water and having some fun jumping from the relatively easy natural platforms.
Visiting Cenote Azul
Cenote Azul Location: Quinta Avenida sur. Mercado Xaman-Ha Loc 15, Aviación, 77710 Playa del Carmen
The ticket office for Cenote Azul is located adjacent to the car park at the road entrance to the cenote. After paying the entry fee (120 pesos for tourists) the cenote is accessed via a short stepped path surrounded by lush green.
The path leads down to the first set of two of the cenote’s pools. These two smaller pools are located one each side of the entrance path. These pools were quieter than the main pool and are great for relaxing at away from the crowds. They are also more shaded as they are surrounded by trees which is great if you want a break from the sun.
The shallower pool on the left as you enter is great for kids. The pool on the right is a little deeper and is great for a quick dip to cool off. You can also access the main diving pool area from this here.
The main swimming pools at Cenote Azul
The main Cenote Azul swimming area is divided into two pools with an elevated walkway separating the two.
One pool is shallow and perfect for relaxing in or taking a quick dip and is especially popular with families as older kids will be able to stand in the water. The second is a deeper pool with a low cliff jumping area and it is great for more general snorkeling and swimming. You can move between both pools by swimming under the walkway between the two pools.
Most visitors to the cenote hang out in the shallower pool area as it’s a perfect place to relax and cool down in the water. We found the water in this area to be a little warmer compared to the deeper pool. This pool has lots of submerged rocks around the edges to sit on and didn’t seem to get above 1.7 metres (around 5.5 foot deep) in the middle so it’s perfect for lounging around in! We were there with a toddler and this is where we spent a lot of time.
Cenote Azul tips: both pools have large white limestone rocks near the entrances to the cenote water. These rocks offer a lot more grip when walking into the water, however, once you step off these white rocks be careful as the other cenote rocks can be quite slippy due to the algae build-up.
There is an open cliff face on one side of the deeper cenote pool at Cenote Azul that allows visitors to jump off. The jump Is 3.5 metres from the top to the water and the cenote is around 6 metres deep at this point so it seems pretty safe to jump from. There were lots of people jumping in while we were there and it was great fun watching everyone getting cheered on by the crowds before their big leap!
Cenote Azul tip: like many of the Yucatan cenotes, the Cenote Azul waters have little fish which love to nibble on feet. It’s a funny sensation at first but our toddler didn’t really notice and we soon forgot they were even there!
What to bring with you when visiting Cenote Azul
Visiting a cenote is a little different to visiting a regular swimming pool and these are some things which we highly recommend taking with you when visiting Cenote Azul:
if you need to rent a life jacket or buy any snacks or drinks you’re likely going to need cash. Generally speaking, we found it easier to have pesos with us. Most venues also accept US dollars at a reduced exchange rate. Some of the larger cenotes may take credit card for entry, however once inside the cenote area cash is usually the only option.
Some of the larger cenotes offer towel rental however it’s much easier and cheaper to pack your own. A hotel towel might be an option but we found it easier using our large microfibre towels. Microfibre towels are fantastic as they pack small and dry super quick, making them great for the cenotes where you will be hopping back in a car after your swim. We take ours one every trip and we always end up using them – check prices on Amazon!
We missed bringing ours when we visited the Yucatan! You can snorkel in most of the cenotes in the Yucatan peninsula and, while you can rent them in some cenotes, having your own is invaluable. The crystal clear waters of the cenotes make for incredible snorkelling – check prices now!
Swim shoes are great as they give you more grip on the wooden walk-ways around the cenotes. They also help a lot for the shallower entrances at some cenotes (like in Cenote Azul) where you have to walk on submerged rocks. Make sure to throw them in your bag before you visit the Yucatan! – check prices now!
While you cannot wear sunscreen or mosquito spray in the cenotes while swimming, you’ll likely spend some time chilling in the sun after your swim
An action camera such as a GoPro or an Osmo Action are great for snapping photos and video. We loved having our Osmo Action Waterproof camera with us when visiting the cenotes. It allowed us to take some really fun video and photos while swimming in the cenotes – check prices now!
Tips for visiting Cenote Azul
Below are our tips to help you make the most of your time at Cenote Azul:
Cenote Azul tips: You swim in all the cenotes at your own risk. If you are not comfortable swimming out of your depth we highly recommend renting a life-jacket. They are available for rent at all the cenotes. Although Cenote Azul is relatively calm, in a lot of the cenotes are very deep so you will be swimming in freshwater out of your depth. If you have not done this before or are not comfortable please rent a life vest!
1 | How to get to Cenote Azul
Cenote Azul is located between Playa del Carmen and Tulum on route 307 (the main road between Cancun and Tulum). There are a number of ways to get to Cenote Azul
This is the easiest way to get to all of the cenotes in Mexico. There is ample parking at Cenote Azul and finding a space shouldn’t be a problem. We rented a car for our time in the Yucatan and highly recommend it. Driving a rental car in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico was very straightforward and driving was easy. The roads are of good quality, the drivers are nice and traffic is relatively light. We drove to Cenote Azul and it was one of our favorite things to do in Tulum.
We’re huge fans of road trips and have driven rental cars in over 40 countries so we have a lot of experience renting cars in foreign countries. We recommend using RentalCars.com to reserve your car. They have the best selection and prices that we’ve found – check prices here!
Colectivo (local taxi-buses)
The colectivo’s depart from Tulum and Playa del Carmen and drop off and pick up on both sides of the road outside Cenote Azul. From Playa del Carmen get the colectivo heading south on main Cancun-Tulum road (route 307). From Tulum take the colectivo heading north to Cancun. In both cases tell the driver when you get on that you want Cenote Azul and they’ll drop you off at the right spot. Don’t forget to hail the bus down when you’re trying to get home!
2 | Cenote Azul cost
Entry to Cenote Azul costs 120 pesos (around $7 USD) for tourists, 100 pesos for locals) and kids aged 4-8 are 80pesos (5USD).
3 | How long to spend at Cenote Azul
Cenote Azul is very popular and family-friendly due to the shallow depths of parts of the cenote. It’s a great cenote to visit for a few hours to relax and cool off. The cenote itself is beautiful and you can mix up your time between the diving platform and the shallow chill-out area of the cenote.
There are some light snacks and refreshments for purchase.
We expect most people would spend 1-3 hours at Cenote Azul
4 | Best time to visit Cenote Azul
Like most cenotes in Mexico, it’s best to visit Cenote Azul in the morning on a weekday. This way you avoid the weekend crowds when locals and tourists descend on the cenote.
We visited Cenote Azul late in the afternoon and it was relatively busy. We still had fun and it was great with the kids, however your cenote experience is significantly better when there are fewer people swimming.
5 | What’s not allowed in Cenote Azul!
As we mentioned above, visiting the cenotes is a little different from a regular swimming pool so there are some different rules to follow when visiting. Cenote Azul rules were as follows:
- Flippers –were not allowed at Cenote Azul
- Hammocks –were not allowed at Cenote Azul
- Smoking – smoking is not allowed at any cenote
- Alcohol – all of the cenotes that we visited in Mexico did not allow alcohol in the cenote swimming area.
- Glass bottles – not allowed obviously for safety reasons!
- Sunscreen / Mosquito repellent: You are not allowed to wear sunscreen or mosquito repellent before you enter the water at the cenote. This is to preserve the quality of the water for everyone. There are showers available which you have to use before you enter the water.
- Drones – drones are not allowed at almost every site and cenote in Mexico so don’t try to fly! We decided not to take our drone to Mexico as drone use is quite restricted in the country!
- Don’t feed or harass the fish/animals – this goes without saying but don’t feed or harass the fish! Many of the cenotes have resident iguanas, and while they are great posers for photos do try to leave them in peace!
Facilities at Cenote Azul
6 | Changing rooms and bathroom
There are changing rooms available at the back of the complex and there is a 5 peso charger per person to use them. There are also showers you can use and bathrooms available for public use.
7 | Equipment rental
Life jackets are available at the back of the cenote (up beside the jumping platform) for 40 pesos per person. You’ll need to leave a form of id as a deposit, otherwise, there is a 400 peso deposit per jacket.
8 | Snorkeling at Cenote Azul
You can use a snorkel and mask in Cenote Azul, however, flippers are not allowed. Cenote Azul is not really a diving friendly cenote.
9 | Parking
There is ample parking both in front of the cenote entrance along the main road and to the rear of cenote.
10 | Diving and rope swings
There is a great natural diving platform in the main pool where many people jump off. There are no rope swings at Cenote Azul.
11 | Do I need to rent a wetsuit?
A number of cenotes in Yucatan offer wetsuits for rent to visitors but it wasn’t necessary at Cenote Azul when the temperatures are high.
12 | Food / snacks
There is a small stall where you can buy light snacks and drinks
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