Cenote Azul Bacalar: Complete Travel Guide [Updated 2024]

written by local expert Renata Martin

Renata is a culture, sports, art, travel, and ocean enthusiast who lives in Mexico. Hiking and photographing her way around the world, she's a self-published author, specializing in editorial and creative writing.

Planning to visit Cenote Azul Bacalar? In this article, I will walk you through my top tips on how to visit this place.

First things first, if you’re planning a trip to the Mexican Caribbean, you simply can not miss Bacalar! It’s one of the most beautiful places in the whole country, as it offers nothing less than paradise.

In fact, it is listed as a Pueblo Mágico, which is a recognition given in Mexico to certain towns with cultural richness and important historical heritage.

Located in the state of Quintana Roo, Bacalar is famous for its crystal-clear turquoise waters, deep green jungles, and soft, white sands that will make your trip unforgettable.

As you can imagine, in Bacalar, you can do many outdoorsy activities to get in touch with nature. One of them is visiting the breathtaking Cenote Azul Bacalar, which is an enormous open cenote of 200 meters long and 90 meters deep.

It really looks like a small lake, but unlike a lake, the water flows into and from the world-famous Bacalar Lagoon – it is, in fact, the only cenote in the area that is outside the lagoon.

From swimming and kayaking to scuba diving, snorkeling, or stand-up paddle boarding, there are so many fun things you can do here. You can easily spend the whole day in the cenote, and time will go by so fast you won’t even notice.

There’s also a full-service restaurant where you can eat and drink, so there’s no need to leave the place.

Also, it’s super close to the downtown area of Laguna de Bacalar, so it’s really easy to get there (unlike other cenotes that are in the middle of the jungle and may be more difficult to access).

I’ll talk you through some of the key points you don’t want to miss when visiting this magical place.

An aerial shot of Cenote Azul Bacalar in Mexico
Cenote Azul Bacalar is the best place for your next tour!

Cenote Tours in Bacalar

  • Explore Bacalar’s Cenotes If you’re looking for a convenient way to see the best cenotes in Bacalar, this local tour is the perfect way! With the help of a local guide, he will share his knowledge on this local phenomenon.
  • Bacalar Eco Boat Tour Around CenotesThis fun local tour takes you around cenotes in Bacalar on a fun boat tour with a small group. You will end your tour in a beach club where you can swim and kayak!
  • Want more Bacalar Tours? Check out our full post highlighting the top tours in the area!

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How to get to Cenote Azul Bacalar

Getting to Cenote Azul Bacalar is simple.

If you’re driving from Cancun (or anywhere in Riviera Maya), take the highway to Chetumal. Once you’re in Chetumal, head towards Felipe Carrillo Puerto. Keep driving for about 40 kilometers and you’ll get there.

It is located right at the main entrance to Bacalar, and you can easily see it from the highway so you’ll spot it right away.

Travel time from the Riviera Maya, depending on the specific starting point, is 3.5 hours. From Chetumal, it is about 30 minutes.

If you’re already in Bacalar and driving, you can access from either the main road or the coastal road. You can also take a taxi that could charge you around $50 pesos (just over $2 USD) or take public transport for a slightly lower fee. Of course, the latter is not the comfiest choice.

Oh, and there’s free parking available! Something less to worry about if you’re arriving by car. Here is the Google location pin for Cenote Azul.

Cenote Azul Bacalar Map

Map of Cenote Azul which is located near Cenote Cocalitos

Cenote Azul Bacalar: Opening Times, Rules, and Regulations

You can visit Cenote Azul Bacalar every day of the week from 10 AM to 6 PM, and you’ll have to pay a cheap $25 pesos entrance fee (it’s just about $1.3 USD). A good idea is to visit early in the morning so that you avoid the crowded not-so-happy hour crowd.

A reminder when visiting any cenote is that products such as sunscreen and mosquito repellents can cause damage to these places’ natural conditions. Even if they’re “biodegradable”, their chemicals can negatively affect marine life and the water itself.

Locals encourage travelers to avoid anything that could hurt the cenotes, so please be mindful of that!

A good alternative to protect yourself from the sun’s rays when visiting this Bacalar cenote is by wearing special anti-UV swimming gear. This way, you protect both your skin and the environment.

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Snorkeling in Cenote Azul Bacalar

One of the many activities that you must try when visiting this Bacalar cenote is snorkeling!

Truth is, the water here is not as see-through as it may be in other spots in Bacalar, but it’s still worth the try since many species of beautiful fish swim all around the place.

Nothing to be scared of, by the way. These are all harmless little fish that are sharing their beautiful home with you and the rest of the travelers. You might as well say hi to them!

A good tip is to bring your own snorkeling gear, especially if you’re going to many different snorkeling spots. That way, you’ll spend way less than you would on several equipment rentals.

An underwater shot of Cenote Azul Bacalar

Scuba Diving in Cenote Azul Bacalar

Unlike snorkeling, there’s no scuba diving rental equipment in Cenote Azul Bacalar.

If you’d like to experience this, you need to contact a scuba dive center beforehand. The expert guides will show you around Cenote Azul’s mysterious and impressive depth.

The reason why it’s not something that you can just do upon arriving it’s because this is a challenging diving destination.

First of all, out of the 90-deep meters, divers only go as far as 70-ish. On top of that, what makes this place interesting is also what makes it so difficult to explore. It may seem like a small lake, but it’s way more complex!

We are talking about a subaquatic universe, with labyrinths formed by intertwined roots and trunks, passages and caverns that you will want to go through, and rock formations and sloping walls that truly pose a challenge even for experienced divers. This is a big cenote, so it could take days to get to see it all.

The local guides have been there many times and their instruction is extremely valuable because they know Cenote Azul as the palm of their hand.

Equipment Rental

For most of the activities that you can do at Cenote Azul Bacalar, you can rent equipment. If you want to explore every spot in the cenote without getting too wet, consider renting a kayak. If you wish to immerse instead, you can rent snorkel gear (but you can bring your own too).

Additionally, if you prefer to travel and bring your own gear, check out our guide on the best snorkeling gear for our top recommendations.

Renting a life jacket for only $40 pesos (around $2 USD) is a great way to stay safe. It’s recommended because even if you’re a strong swimmer, this cenote is quite long and it’s best to avoid accidents.

There’s a large rope that crosses the cenote from side to side, and although you can also rely on that, it’s not a replacement for the safety offered by a life jacket.

Unfortunately, there is something that you can’t rent here, and that is lockers. I know this can be inconvenient because it means you’ll have to be extra careful with your belongings.

A good idea is not to bring anything valuable that you may have to leave unattended or carry a small dry bag with you to carry your wallet and phone.

Sunny weather at Cenote Azul Bacalar
Cenote Azul Bacalar on a sunny day

What to Bring When Visiting the Bacalar Cenote

The must-bring list isn’t very long, but still, you should take note:

  • Swimming suit to enjoy the warm water
  • Anti-UV swimming gear to protect from the sun
  • A towel
  • A spare change of clothes (keep in mind it is hot out there)
  • Water shoes to avoid slipping
  • Waterproof camera, or waterproof phone case (or both!)
  • Cash to pay the entrance fee, the food, souvenirs, or anything you plan on buying.

As a general rule, when it comes to visiting natural attractions, do not rely on them accepting card payments. It’s always best to bring cash.

I insist you should avoid bringing any valuable items if you can’t keep an eye on them! You never know what could go missing, so it’s better to avoid unpleasant surprises.

A beautiful blue sea of Cenote Azul Bacalar

Cenote Azul Restaurant

This is a full-service restaurant that goes beyond the food and drinks menu. It may be well-known for its seafood, but there is so much more to it.

The place has a craft store where you can get your souvenirs, and there’s also a massage service available – ideal for exhausted travelers.

If you’re a fan of spicy food, there are gourmet habanero salsas for sale. Or maybe you’d like to pass on the spice and prefer to lay down and rest by renting a palapa (little beach hut). The restaurant also gives access to the eco-restrooms and offers free wifi.

Now, the restaurant has mixed reviews: some people liked it, and others didn’t. The thing is, it is the only restaurant there, so If you’re hungry and feel like eating somewhere else you’ll have to search outside. You can check some of the Google Reviews for Cenote Azul Restaurant here.

It’s not that hard though, since you can find many other options just a few minutes away from Cenote Azul.

If you do choose to eat here, finding a free spot shouldn’t be an issue, because the restaurant has a capacity for around 300 hungry visitors.

Just know that it isn’t a fancy five-star restaurant, so keep that in mind during your trip.

Other Cenotes in Bacalar

Bacalar cenotes are all as beautiful and interesting as Cenote Azul, and at the same time, each one is unique in its own way. Some of the most popular are:

Cenote Negro (Black Cenote). Also called Cenote de La Bruja, which translates as “the witch’s cenote. The nickname comes from the legend that a Mayan witch inhabits its coasts. Also, it is called “Black Cenote” because of the darkness of its waters at a depth of 90 meters. It’s a pretty cool spot to paddleboard, snorkel, and scuba dive with a certified guide.

Cenote Cocalitos. It is a large cenote of turquoise water that stands out for its small rock formations ( known scientifically as “stromatolites”). Here you can eat, camp, kayak, snorkel, and relax in the colorful hammocks set in the middle of the water.

Cenote Esmeralda. It has a captivating emerald-like shade of blue, hence the name. It is up to 70-meters deep, and its most famous trait is its breach from which the water flows right through the Bacalar lagoon. This one is a very popular destination too, cherished both by locals and travelers from everywhere in the world.

You can always look for tours that offer cenotes-packages.

These make it easy to go from one cenote to another and are usually convenient because you only have to pay one general fee that includes all (or most of) the related costs.

Other Cenote Azul in Mexico

So if you made it this far in the article, you’ve noticed we’re talking about Cenote Azul in Laguna Bacalar, Mexico. To avoid any confusion, keep in mind there is another cenote that goes by the same name, but is one of the top cenotes in Playa del Carmen.

Feel free to check out our other guides for more information on the popular Cenote Azul near Playa del Carmen & Tulum.

A beautiful spot in Mexico
Cenote Azul in Playa del Carmen Mexico

Cenote Azul Bacalar FAQ

How deep is the Blue Cenote of Bacalar?

It’s about 90 meters deep – that’s nearly 300 feet. That’s why it’s a favorite of scuba divers: not only is it beautiful, but pretty challenging as well!

Heads-up for divers: it’s a guided dive and it goes as far as 70 meters approx. Still pretty deep if you ask me!

How to enter the Blue Cenote?

Once you’re in Bacalar, you can access the Cenote Azul from two different spots: the main road (Chetumal-Cancun highway) and the coastal road (Costera Road).

If driving, you can park your car for free. If you arrive by taxi, public or tour transport, they’ll usually drop you right outside the main entrance.

There are a few slippery stairs to get in the water, so make sure to put on your water shoes before you dive in!

Also, if you have sunscreen or any other kind of lotion on, please shower before entering the cenote to avoid causing any damage to the water and the marine life below.

Are there other cenotes in Bacalar?

There are a few cenotes in Bacalar if you plan on making a visit! Aside from cenote Azul, there is cenote Negro, cenote Esmeralda, and cenote Cocalitos.

Whether you decide to go on a tour or visit the Cenote Azul only, planning your trip with anticipation could genuinely improve your time there – especially if you’re keen on scuba diving! 

There is one thing I know for sure: you will deeply enjoy the natural beauty of Bacalar, with all the wonders it has to offer.

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