Just finished a week-long roadtrip down Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula to find cenotes. We flew to Cancun Airport, and then slowly made our way to Tulum, the fashion capital of Mexico. Although there are rumored 30,000 cenotes within the area, not all are open to the public. You should not use sunscreen to the cenotes, unless it is biodegradable. You’ll be amazed at how clear the water looks. Below are my recommended cenotes to snorkel.
Cenote Jardin del Eden
The Garden of Eden, an open-air cenote located off the main Highway 307 just after Puerto Venturas, is known as. Cenote Azul and Cristalino are the three cenotes found here. We visited Azul, Jardin del Eden and were disappointed in Azul. Azul is composed of several small, shallow pools. We were surrounded by screaming 4 year-old children when we visited.
1 Images from Cenotes from Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula
The gate charge was 60 pesos and rentals are limited. Cenote’s layout is an oval-shaped area with a place for cliff jumping or putting your towels down. This cenote is great for sunbathing. This cenote is very warm and requires no diving skin. A life jacket is recommended for snorkeling in deep water. If you are tired of swimming, there are rocks to rest on.
Gran Cenote (or Grand Cenote) is located on the road to Tulum, west towards the Coba ruins. Although it was relatively expensive at 100 pesos (about $100), the experience is definitely worth it. This cenote is perfect for beginners. The cenote is dark, so it can be scary. Pay the entrance fee and then walk down the stairs. You can rent lockers and make your own.
Despite it being 100 degrees outside, I found the water to sometimes be quite cold. If you don’t have a snorkel, renting one is a good idea. There are 4 turtles, a catfish, and bats in the water. Gran cenote’s setup is divided in 2. You will find more dramatic stalactites on one side and deeper water on the other. Divers are most likely to be seen if you look down. You will find shallower water on the opposite side. This tunnel-like appearance will take you to open air. This shallow side was home to many hanging bats, which allowed for some very cool swimming.
Cenote Ik Kil is about 3km away from Chichen Itza. This cenote is very popular. After you leave Chichen Itza you may be approached by men who want to sell you tickets Ik-Kil. They’ve managed to make it into a tourist trap, which is a shame because this cenote was the most beautiful I saw during my trip. Ik-Kil entry costs 80 pesos
You will be greeted by a resort-like assortment of shops, showers, and other amenities when you pull up to the Ik-Kil parking area. Do not let this discourage you! Continue following the sidewalks until you reach the back of the property. Here is where you’ll find a staircase leading down to Ik-Kil. There is not much space for your belongings at the cenote’s base. You can access about 1/4 of the cenote’s circumference by “landing” on it. You can also jump off the cenote! It was beautiful, dark and creepy. It was unique among the other cenotes that we visited because of its roots.
You can enjoy a pleasant (non-touristy!) time at Ik-Kil if you arrive before 11AM.