Trip Ideas grass water outdoor Nature reflection formation cave geology underground lake rock fluvial landforms of streams narrows escarpment watercourse outcrop mineral spring landscape sea cave cliff bedrock karst landforms wadi
Trip Ideas

8 Best Cenotes in Riviera Maya

Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula is home to more than 6,000 cenotes—subterranean limestone pools full of crisp groundwater, stalagmites, stalactites, and endemic wildlife (think: bats by the colony and fish by the school). Next time you find yourself in Riviera Maya—be it Tulum, Playa del Carmen, or Puerto Aventuras—excuse yourself from the resort infinity pool to check out these 8 natural swimming holes.

A Brooklyn-based writer and editor, Chelsea's work has appeared in Matador Network, The Huffington Post, the TripAdvisor blog, and more. When not planning her next trip, you'll usually find her drinking way too much iced coffee (always iced—she’s from New England) or bingeing a Netflix original series.

See recent posts by Chelsea Stuart

Cenote Ik Kil, Chichén Itzá

Not far from the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, in the Ik Kil Archeological Park, Cenote Ik Kil is popular with daytrippers looking to cool down after taking to the daunting steps of El Castillo. The subterranean swimming hole reaches a depth of about 130 feet, but the water is bright thanks to natural light let in from its open top. Unlike other nearby cenotes, Ik Kil also has its own restaurant, changing rooms, and cottage accommodations.

Hotels Trip Ideas water Nature green body of water vegetation water resources Waterfall nature reserve watercourse water feature reflection stream tree Forest landscape Jungle River formation grass rainforest pond old growth forest mineral spring creek tributary

Cenote X’Canche, Valladolid

Just a couple miles down the road from the Ek Balam archaeological site, Cenote X’Canche is a popular side trip post-ruins. Located about a mile into the dense jungle surrounding Ek Balam, the cenote is hard to access and requires a little courage as visitors take to a near vertical wooden staircase that leads to a boardwalk which circles the entire swimming hole. Pro tip: get there before noon as the cenote swells with visitors every evening.

Trip Ideas rock outdoor water landform geographical feature cave Nature sea cave pit cave formation stone pond surrounded
Adventure Outdoor Activities Trip Ideas dark underwater diving marine biology underwater light freediving diving Scuba Diving biology darkness outdoor recreation water sport recreation sports swimming reef ocean floor
Adventure cenote Chichen Itza Cultural Outdoor Activities Scenic views Trip Ideas cave geographical feature Nature landform reflection formation Jungle

Cenote Dos Ojos, Tulum

While the name “Dos Ojos” (Spanish for “two eyes”) refers to two connected cenotes just north of Tulum, greater Dos Ojos actually encompasses 51 miles of flooded cave system with more than 28 known sinkholes. Popular among divers, the cave system has been featured in numerous IMAX films and Discovery Channel and BBC shows. Visitors appreciate the crystal clear water (it’s finely filtered through limestone) which maintains a year-round temp of 77 degrees Fahrenheit.

Trip Ideas water sky outdoor Nature Coast Sea shore Ocean body of water Beach vacation cliff rock bay caribbean cove cape terrain islet tropics landscape material Island
Trip Ideas outdoor geographical feature landform cave Nature reflection formation sea cave stalactite
Hotels Mexico Travel Tips Trip Ideas Weekend Getaways water Nature green body of water outdoor vegetation nature reserve watercourse formation fluvial landforms of streams reflection coastal and oceanic landforms stream sea cave Sea rock Lagoon swimming pool water resources underground lake water feature landscape tree mineral spring tropics pond swimming cave surrounded

Grand Cenote, Tulum

Twenty minutes inland from Tulum, on the road to Coba, Gran Cenote—with its verdant jungle locale, crystal clear water (you can see the fish without even getting in the water), and plentiful dive sites—is one of Mexico’s most popular swimming holes. Branching off of the cenote you’ll also find a handful of accessible caverns filled with stalagmites and stalactites.

RELATED: The Best Bohemian Beach Getaways—Beyond Tulum

City Mexico Trip Ideas Tulum tree outdoor vegetation Nature nature reserve green water old growth forest rock watercourse stream rainforest Jungle Forest valdivian temperate rain forest fluvial landforms of streams formation tropical and subtropical coniferous forests biome ravine plant organism moss riparian zone water resources state park landscape creek cave riparian forest surrounded

Cenote Jardin del Eden, Puerto Aventuras

There are two types of swimmers: those who ease into the water, and those who jump right in. At Cenote Jardin del Eden—a completely open cenote surrounded by lush vegetation and moss-covered rocks, you’ll find a lot of the latter thanks to jarringly-cool waters and tempting cliff jumps.

Hotels Trip Ideas Nature green ecosystem underwater Forest rock tree marine biology coral reef organism underwater diving Jungle reef old growth forest Scuba Diving surrounded

Cenote Chaak Tun, Playa del Carmen

Two clandestine caves make up Cenote Chaak Tun—one which is completely closed with a centuries-old stalactite-covered ceiling, and one which has a slight opening at the top which scatters a few beams of natural light. Though it’s certainly not for the claustrophobic—or those afraid of bats—travelers who are adventurous enough to enter will want to do so with a headlamp or powerful flashlight. For those diving the site, rumor has it there’s a stone replica of the Virgin of Guadalupe hidden in the depths of the first cave.

See All Mexico Hotels

Trip Ideas tree outdoor vegetation Nature body of water watercourse ecosystem stream botany River pond flower water rapid Garden plant surrounded
City Mexico Trip Ideas Tulum tree outdoor water Nature nature reserve plant watercourse Jungle water feature Fence landscape rainforest stream Forest state park area empty surrounded wooded

Cenote Samula, Valladolid

Cenote Samula—in Dzitnup, just outside Valladolid—is best known for its open roof—a natural skylight through which the roots of living trees on the cave’s surface hang down to drink in the fresh water. Though the pool is small and definitely not suited to diving, snorkeling is still on the table as exceptionally clear and shallow waters lend themselves well to fish sighting.

Trip Ideas water outdoor Nature body of water Sea sky rock sea cave coastal and oceanic landforms reflection formation River watercourse Lagoon Ocean landscape cliff stream tropics fluvial landforms of streams underground lake water resources cove tree water feature cave bay karst landforms computer wallpaper night
Trip Ideas tree outdoor vegetation plant nature reserve ecosystem woodland Forest rainforest Jungle old growth forest flora leaf water trunk branch biome deciduous valdivian temperate rain forest moss watercourse non vascular land plant rock Wildlife wood wooded lush
Trip Ideas grass water outdoor Nature reflection formation cave geology underground lake rock fluvial landforms of streams narrows escarpment watercourse outcrop mineral spring landscape sea cave cliff bedrock karst landforms wadi
Trip Ideas outdoor sky water Sea shore Nature Coast geographical feature Beach body of water vacation Ocean rock bay tourism cove cape tower islet terrain cliff

Cenote Suytun, Valladolid

On the road from Coba to Valladolid, Cenote Suytun attracts visitors with a stalactite-covered ceiling and concrete viewing platform which extends into a massive swimming hole. The spot is especially popular with Chichen Itza tours, so stop by early to avoid crowds.

RELATED: 72 Hours in Mexico City

Trip Ideas tree grass outdoor Nature water body of water vegetation nature reserve watercourse formation rock reflection landscape water resources water feature geology fluvial landforms of streams stream cave plant mineral spring area Forest
Trip Ideas water outdoor grass Nature reflection formation cave rock underground lake pond watercourse water resources geology mineral spring water feature landscape sea cave swimming
For info on these editor-selected items, click to visit the seller’s site. Things you buy may earn us a commission.

Want more?



All products are independently selected by our writers and editors. If you buy something through our links, Jetsetter may earn an affiliate commission.