With its idyllic white sand beaches, sprawling resorts and easy access to incredible Mayan ruins and crystal clear cenotes, Playa del Carmen is one of Mexico’s most popular tourist towns. From the shallow waters of Cenote Azul, one of Playa del Carmen’s cenotes, to the beautiful Zacil-Ha Cenote in neighboring Tulum, there are some amazing cenotes near Playa Del Carmen just waiting to be explored.
Having visited, and loved, so many amazing cenotes from Playa Del Carmen at the beginning of 2020, we wanted to share to our favorites – this is our guide to the 13 cenotes near Playa Del Carmen!
What are 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 Playa Del Carmen cenotes 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 refreshing 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 near Playa Del Carmen 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. Our favorite open cenote in Playa Del Carmen is Cenote Azul, Cenote Zacil-Ha in nearby Tulum and Cenote Oxman near Valladolid.
- 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 favorite semi-open cenote near Playa Del Carmen is Cenote Ik Kil which can be visited as part of a day trip to Chichen Itza and Cenote Samula, one of the cenotes near Valladolid .
- Underground cenotes: these cenotes are completely underground in a cave system and have no natural light to illuminate the cenote water. The three cenotes near the Coba ruins (Multum-Ha, Tamchach-Ha and Choo-Ha) are amazing underground cenotes you can easily visit from Playa Del Carmen on a longer stay.
11 Best Cenotes near Playa Del Carmen
These are our favorite cenotes near Playa Del Carmen – we think they are a great inclusion in any Playa Del Carmen or Yucatan itinerary!
1 | Cenote Azul
Best for: Cenote Azul is best for families, open-air swimming, chilling in the water and having some fun jumping from the relatively easy natural platforms.
The large open air Cenote Azul, with its shallow waters and fun cliff jump, is one of our favorite Playa Del Carmen cenotes. The main cenote is split into two swimming areas which are separated by a wooden boardwalk. The shallow side of the cenote, where younger kids can paddle in the clear waters, is popular with families. The deeper pool has a cliff perched above it which is great for having some fun jumping into the cenote. Snorkeling is also popular on this side.
Best Playa Del Carmen Cenotes tip: Cenote Azul is easily accessible from Cancun, Playa Del Carmen and Tulum and, as a result, gets very busy. We recommend visiting early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the peak crowds.
How to get to Cenote Azul: Cenote Azul is easily accessed by rental car (check prices now!), a local Colectivo or a quick taxi ride. Colectivos leave from 2nd street in Playa Del Carmen, just tell the driver you want to get out at Cenote Azul.
Cenote Azul ticket cost: entry to Cenote Azul costs $120 pesos per person
2 | Cenote Zacil-Ha
Best for: families
If you are planning a trip (and you most definitely should!) to nearby Tulum, make sure to visit Cenote Zacil Ha and its neighbor, Cenote Carwash.
Cenote Zacil-Ha is a small and beautiful open air cenote with crystal clear waters. There are lots of opportunities to jump from the sides or even zip line across and drop into the cenote from above! Other features include hammocks and regular swimming pools to lounge around!
How to get to Cenote Zacil Ha: Cenote Zacil Ha is a great inclusion to a Tulum or Coba day trip. It is easily accessed by rental car (check prices now!. If you are traveling by Colectivo from Playa Del Carmen, take a taxi or a second Colectivo in the direction of Coba when you arrive in Tulum. Colectivos leave from 2nd street in Playa Del Carmen, just tell the driver where you want to disembark.
Cenote Zacil Ha ticket cost: tickets cost $80 pesos
3 | Gran Cenote
Best for: snorkeling, diving, swimming
Gran Cenote is a large and popular cenote located outside Tulum. It is made up of a collection of caves, caverns and an open air cenote. It is one of the best diving cenotes on the Yucatan Peninsula.
The waters are crystal clear, so clear that it is often possible to spot turtles swimming in its waters. Gran Cenote is also incredible for snorkeling. It is relatively easy to swim and snorkel into the caves for a spectacular view of the light beams hitting the water through the cave opening and to check out the rock formations.
Best Playa Del Carmen Cenotes: Gran Cenote is really popular and we recommend visiting early or late in the day to avoid the crowds. The cenote is open from 8am to 4:45pm, with last entry at 4:15pm.
How to get to Cenote Gran:Gran Cenote is a great inclusion to a Tulum or Coba day trip. It is easily accessed by rental car (check prices now!). If you are traveling by Colectivo from Playa Del Carmen, take a taxi or a second Colectivo in the direction of Coba when you arrive in Tulum. Colectivos leave from 2 street in Playa Del Carmen, just tell the driver where you want to disembark.
Cenote Gran ticket cost: tickets for Gran Cenote cost $180 pesos
4 | Cenote Carwash
Best for: swimming, diving, those looking for an easily accessible and chilled cenote experience
A neighbor of the previously mentioned Zacil- Ha, the small and relaxed Cenote Ak Tun Ha is also known the Carwash Cenote as it was once used for exactly that, washing cars! The cenote has a large open air pool which is just feet from the car park and a variety of wildlife lives within its waters.
Fish and turtles swim in an underwater world of stalactites and stalagmites and a little resident crocodile occasionally makes an appearance. The undergrowth leads to a cave section. Cenote Carwash reaches up to 50 feet in depth and it is common to see divers emerging from its waters.
How to get to Cenote Carwash: Cenote Carwash is a great inclusion to a Tulum or Coba day trip. It is easily accessed by rental car (check prices now!. If you are traveling by Colectivo from Playa Del Carmen, take a taxi or a second Colectivo in the direction of Coba when you arrive in Tulum. Colectivos leave from 2nd street in Playa Del Carmen, just tell the driver where you want to disembark.
Cenote Carwash ticket cost: tickets cost $50 pesos
5 | Cenote Dos Ojos
Best for: divers, swimming, snorkeling
Located between Playa Del Carmen and Tulum, Cenote Dos Ojos is one of the best diving cenotes on the Yucatan Peninsula.
Its name translates as Cenote Two Eyes in reference to the double sinkholes connected by a boardwalk which take the appearance of two eyes. The double sinkholes join to form an underground cavern. Many visitors opt to join a snorkeling tour down into the caves. With its deep cave system, Dos Ojos is very popular with divers.
How to get to Cenote Dos Ojos: Cenote Dos Ojos is most easily accessed by rental car (check prices now!). If you are traveling by Colectivo from Playa Del Carmen, the drop off point is on highway 307 at the entrance to the Dos Ojos park – be aware, it is a 30 minute walk along a dirt road to the cenote. Colectivos leave from 2nd street in Playa Del Carmen, just tell the driver where you want to disembark.
Cenote Dos Ojos ticket cost: tickets are $450 pesos and this includes all cenotes in the Dos Ojos park – both Sac Actun and Nicte Ha are also incredible and worth a visit if you have time. Individual tickets for Dos Ojos only are $350 pesos.
6 | Cenote Cristalino
Cenote Crisatlino is located very close to previously mentioned Cenote Azul and is definitely worth a stop. This cenote is an open air cenote and home to some of the most beautiful crystal clear blue waters in Mexico.
How to get to Cenote Cristalino: Cenote Cristalino is easily accessed by rental car (check prices now!), a local Colectivo or a quick taxi ride. Colectivos leave from 2nd street in Playa Del Carmen, just tell the driver you want to get out at Cenote Cristalino. It can easily be combined with a visit to the nearby Cenote Azul and Cenote Jardin Del Eden.
Cenote Cristalino ticket cost: entry to Cenote Cristalino costs $150 pesos per person
7 | Cenote Jardin Del Eden
Together with the neighboring Cenote Azul and Cenote Cristalino, Cenote Jardin Del Eden is one of the most popular Playa Del Carmen cenotes.
Upon entering the cenote, which also goes by the name Cenote Ponderosa, it’s instantly apparent how it was named the Garden of Eden – the large open air swimming pool is surrounded by lush green vegetation and looks exactly like you’d imagine the Garden of Eden to be.
As well as swimming in its clear waters, Cenote Jardin Del Eden is great for cliff jumping and snorkeling. It’s cave system is very popular with scuba divers.
Playa Del Carmen cenotes tip: some parts of Cenote Jardin Del Eden are extremely deep so be careful.
How to get to Cenote Jardin Del Eden: Cenote Jardin Del Eden is easily accessed by rental car (check prices now!), a local Colectivo or a quick taxi ride. Colectivos leave from 2nd street in Playa Del Carmen, just tell the driver you want to get out at Cenote Jardin Del Eden
Cenote Jardin Del Eden ticket cost: entry to Cenote Jardin Del Eden costs $100 pesos per person.
8 | Casa Cenote
Casa Cenote, on the highway between Playa Del Carmen and Tulum, is one of the most unique cenotes near Playa del Carmen. The crystal clear turquoise waters are surrounded by lush trees and mangrove and it can be combined with a visit to the beach, a short distance away. Visitors can swim, kayak or paddle board in the cenote and, at only 6 meters deep, it is family friendly. Snorkeling is popular at Casa Cenote and it also attracts divers with its underwater cave system which leads directly to the ocean.
How to get to Casa Cenote: Casa Cenote is easily accessed by rental car (check prices now!), a local Colectivo (if you don’t mind the walk from the highway) or a taxi ride. Colectivos leave from 2nd street in Playa Del Carmen, just tell the driver you want to get out at Casa Cenote – it is about a 20 minute walk along a dirt road surrounded by jungle.
Casa Cenote ticket cost: entrance to Casa Cenote is $120 pesos.
9 | Cenote Tajma Ha
Best for: intermediate/advanced divers
Cenote Tajma Ha was originally known as Cenote Taj Mahal by cave divers mesmerized by the natural wonder. It is most popular with divers as it’s one of the best cenotes near Playa Del Carmen for scuba diving. There are a number of companies that run dive tours into the cenote and the fresh water dives are most suited to intermediate and advanced divers. If have a diving certification, Cenote Tajma Ha is the best one to try.
How to get to Cenote Tajma Ha: Cenote Tajma Ha is easily reached (around 30 minutes) by rental car from Playa del Carmen (check prices now!), a local Colectivo or a quick taxi ride. Colectivos leave from 2nd street in Playa Del Carmen, just tell the driver you want to get out at Cenote Tajma Ha.
Cenotes to visit on Day Trips from Playa Del Carmen
Most visitors to Playa Del Carmen want to experience at least one of the ancient Mayan ruin sites that are located around the Yucatan Peninsula. We wanted to include these incredible cenotes which are easily included in a trip to some of the Yucatan’s most famous ruins: Chichen Itza, Coba and Ek Balam.
10 | Cenote Ik Kil at Chicen Itza
Best for: those who want to experience one of the most beautiful cenotes in Mexico
Chichen Itza is one of the most popular day trips from Playa Del Carmen and the nearby Cenote Ik Kil is one of the most beautiful cenotes on the Yucatan Peninsula.
The roof of Cenote Ik Kil has collapsed entirely and tree roots cascade into the cenote waters making for a spectacular scene. Gazing up at the open sky while swimming in Cenote Ik Kil is a surreal experience and we absolutely recommend including it in a visit to Chichen Itza. It’s easily accessible from Playa Del Carmen and, even if you don’t have your own transport, most tours include a stop at Cenote Ik Kil.
Best Playa Del Carmen Cenotes tip: Cenote Ik Kil can get very busy in the middle of the day with the many tours and individuals which arrive as part of a trip to Chichen ItzaWe recommend arriving at Cenote Ek Kil early – it is best to arrive at 9am for the cenote opening. One of the easiest ways to do this is to stay nearby. We stayed at the Mayaland Hotel and Bungalows in order to visit Chichen Itza at sunrise followed by a visit to Cenote Ik Kil which is a 5-minute drive from the hotel –book your stay now!
How to get to Cenote Ik Kil: Cenote Ik Kil is easily reached by rental car (check prices now!). It is also possible to take the dedicated ADO coach which travels from Playa Del Carmen to Chicen Itza although be prepared for an almost 4 hour journey time. Probably the easiest way (aside from a rental car) to visit Cenote Ik Kil is part of a tour to Chichen Itza. There are a number of tours from Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum that include Cenote Ik Kil as part of a day trip itinerary – check prices now!
Cenote Ik Kil ticket cost: Cenote Ik Kil entry is $80 pesos per person.
11 | Cenote Xcanche at Ek Balam
Best for: independent travelers as many group tours do not allow time to visit, those seeking a refreshing swim after exploring the ruins, adventurers who like jumping and ziplining
Ek Balam is a popular excursion with many visitors to Mexico wanting to experience a less well known Mayan ruin. A beautiful cenote, the Ek Balam Cenote Xcanche, is located in the same village and is accessed close to the entrance of the Ek Balam archaeological zone.
Cenote Xcanche is a stunning open cenote with a waterfall streaming into the cenote. As well as swimming, zip-lining and swing jumps are also popular at this quiet cenote.
Xcanche is the perfect place to relax and cool off after a busy morning exploring Ek Balam ruins and we highly recommend taking the time to visit this cenote.
Best Playa Del Carmen cenotes tip: the cenote entrance is located before the ticket checks for Ek Balam so you can visit the ruins and the cenote independently.
How to get to Cenote Xcanche: Cenote Xcanche is located around 2 km from the entrance to Ek Balam ruins. You can walk, cycle or take a bike taxi. We took a bike taxi over after exploring the Ek Balam ruins. From Playa Del Carmen, Ek Balam is easily accessed by rental car (check prices now!) or by taking a bus to Valladolid and making the rest of the journey by colectivo or taxi.
Cenote Xcanche ticket cost: a ticket to Cenote Xcanche is $70 pesos. The return taxi bike, including the entrance ticket, cost us $150 pesos in total.
12 | Cenote Suytun
Best for: experiencing the light beams cascading into the cenote cave, Instagrammers
The spectacular Cenote Suytun became Instagram famous a few years ago. Cenote Suytun is famous for the beautiful light beams that stream down through the roof of the cenote onto the circular platform below. This cenote definitely lives up to the hype – it really is as beautiful in person as it is in photos. A visit is easily combined with a trip to the Coba ruins and only adds around an hour to the return journey from Playa Del Carmen.
Visitors are also allowed to swim in Cenote Suytun but many just stop by for the purpose of capturing some memorable photos. Swimmers are required to wear life jackets.
Playa Del Carmen Cenotes tip: For most of the Playa Del Carmen Cenotes we recommend an early or late visit as the best way to avoid the crowds. However, the light beams at Cenote Suytun mean that a late morning/afternoon visit is best – this is when the light beams are most likely to shine directly onto the circular platform, a magical experience. The afternoons at Cenote Suytun can be busy with tour buses but sometimes busy can be best!
How to get to Cenote Suytun: Cenote Suytun is easily accessed by rental car (check prices now!). Alternatively, take an ADO bus to Valladolid and, from there, a local Colectivo or a quick taxi ride will take you to the ruins. There are also a number of tours from Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum that include Cenote Suytun as part of a day trip to Chichen Itza – check prices now!
Cenote Suytun ticket prices: entry is $120 pesos per person.
13 | The Coba Cenotes
Many visitors to Playa del Carmen make the day trip to the incredible Mayan ruins at Coba and there are 3 great cenotes located close to the Coba ruins entrance: Cenote Choo-Ha, Tamcach-Ha and Multum-Ha are a series of small cenotes which are perfect for a refreshing swim after exploring the incredible jungle ruins.
Cenote Choo-Ha, Tamcach-Ha and Multum-Ha are all underground cenotes: two are caves while Multum-Ha has a small opening in the roof.
Choo-Ha, with its crystal clear waters and interesting rock formations was our favorite and the shallow waters make it perfect for a family visit. Tamcach-Ha, just a few hundred meters away, is equally as beautifully and the jumping platforms add a fun element to a swim. Cenote Multum-Ha takes a little more effort to get to as it’s a few kilometers away but its deep waters and light beams which descend through the small hole in the roof, are lovely to experience.
Best Playa Del Carmen cenotes tip: The Coba cenotes are not heavily visited by tourists so they are super quiet. We had two of them entirely to ourselves when we visited which was amazing!
How to get to Coba cenotes: These cenotes are most easily reached by rental car from Playa del Carmen (check prices now!) as part of a day trip to the Coba ruins. Some tours to the Coba ruins include some of the cenotes but not all. For this reason we highly recommend renting a car in Cancun.
Coba Cenote ticket cost: a ticket covering all three cenotes is $100 pesos.
What to bring when visiting the Playa del Carmen Cenotes
Visiting a cenote is a little different to visiting a traditional swimming pool and we highly recommend taking the following when visiting the cenotes near Playa Del Carmen
Many of the cenotes are cash only and do not accept credit cards. Some of the cenotes accept cash at the entrance but not for incidentals such as food, drinks and life jackets.
Some of the larger cenotes offer towel rental however it’s much easier and cheaper to simply take your own with you. 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 – check prices on Amazon!
Swim shoes are great as they give you more grip on the walk-ways around the cenotes and prevent the fish from nibbling your feet! They also help a lot for the shallower entrances at some cenotes where you have to walk on submerged rocks. They’re super cheap and light so 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 is 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. The wide-angle lens was great for capturing the entire view of the cenotes – check prices now!