Ik Kil cenote near Cancun, Mexico

Cenotes to explore near Cancun, Mexico

If you’ve never heard of cenotes, you’re probably wondering what they are, so let’s start there!  Cenotes are natural sinkholes or pits in the earth that are filled with water.  Cenotes are very common in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, with an estimated 6000 in the region. To sum it up, cenotes are incredibly beautiful holes in the ground, that make great swimming spots.  If you’re visiting Cancun, you should dedicate some time to exploring cenotes.  

Ik Kil cenote near Cancun, Mexico

Cenotes in the Cancun area

From Cancun, there are plenty of cenotes to visit.   With so many cenotes to discover, we decided to rent a car and explore a few while visiting Chichen Itza, Isla Mujeres and Cancun.  You can also join a tour group to take you to some of the popular cenotes from Cancun.   With thousands of cenotes to be explored from Cancun, here are a few to get you started on your adventure.

Palomitas & Agua Dulce

Palomita Cenote near Cancun

Cenote Palomita

Conveniently, Palomita and Agua Dulce are located on the same property making them an easy pair to visit.   These cenotes are deep underground, and you’ll quickly feel as if you’ve been transported to another world.  Both of these cenotes are stunning with small patches of light dripping in through holes in the roof.    The water in Palomita and Agua Dulce is a deep shade of turquoise blue and looks very inviting. 

Agua Dulce Cenote near Cancun

Cenote Agua Dulce

You’ll find that Agua Dulce is located very close to the main entrance and Palomitas is a 5 minute walk away.  While we were visiting these cenotes, Palomitas was very quiet with no one around and Agua Dulce had plenty of visitor.  We enjoyed both of these cenotes and they cost 100 Pesos (~ $7 CAN) each to visit.

Suytun

Suytun is located very close to the city of Valladolid (about 2 hours from Cancun) and costs 120 Pesos (~$8.50 CAN) to visit.  This cenote is popular amongst visitor due to the  man-made walkway leading out into the water.  The water here is quite murky compared to other cenotes, but you will still find people enjoying a swim. This wasn’t my favourite cenote and  I thought it was overpriced, but you’ll have to visit and decide on your own.

Samula

Samula was my favourite cenote out of the bunch that we visited. This cenote feels magically enchanted by the way rays of light cast down upon the turquoise water.  Samula is lit only from sunlight entering through the top of the cenote.  If the sun shines at just the right angle, the entire cenote becomes illuminated.  This cenote is equipped with viewing platforms that give you amazing views as you make your way towards the water.  The water here is cool, but it is very refreshing for a swim.

** Cenotes Samula and X’Keken are located on the same grounds and can easily be visited together.  You can choose to either visit one cenote for 80 Pesos (~$6 CAN) or visit both cenotes for 125 Pesos (~$9 CAN).

X’Keken

X’Keken is also lit only by sunlight, but through a much smaller hole in the top of the cenote. It is best to visit X’Keken later in the day, when the sun is high in the sky if you want  to see it illuminated.  This cenote is far underground and feels very much like a cave with long pieces of stalagmite hanging from the roof. 

Cenote Zaci

Zaci cenote near Cancun, Mexico

Cenote Zaci was another favourite and also the cheapest cenote that we visited, for 30 Pesos (~$2 CAN).  Zaci is located right in the centre of Valladolid.  This cenote is quite large with emerald water and an open cave like appearance.  Around the perimeter of Zaci, you will find lush greenery and stairs carved into the earth.  The stairs and trails around Zaci allow you to walk around the entire cenote and take in some incredible views.  There are also designated jumping spots that many people were using to leap into the water.  This cenote is a great place to spend an afternoon swimming and relaxing at.

Ik Kil

Ik Kil cenote near Cancun, Mexico

Ik Kil is one of the most popular cenotes to visit from Cancun due to its proximity to Chichen Itza.  As Ik Kil and Chichen Itza are approximately 10 minutes apart, many tour group bundle these two spots together.   You can visit this cenote on your own for 80 Pesos (~ $5.50 CAN).  This cenote is deep in the ground and has stairs leading down into the centre of the cenote.   Ik Kil is unique in that the roof of the cenote is non-existent making for great views from ground level.

Ik Kil is very beautiful, but the amount of people visiting is slightly overwhelming and makes it very difficult to enjoy.  If you plan on visiting Ik Kil, I’d suggest visiting first thing in the morning or right before it closes to help avoid the crowds.

Cenote Zaci

Cenote Zaci

We found the location all of the cenotes mentioned above by simply plugging them into an offline map and following the directions.  Each of these cenotes were easy to find and we had no trouble along the way.

Cenotes are very beautiful and are a unique site to see.  With thousands of cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula you could easily spend all your time exploring.   If you’re visiting Cancun, take a day to leave the beach behind and discover some of the amazing cenotes in the area. 

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