7 of the Best Playa del Carmen Cenotes (+ Info on Prices)

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Spending a summer weekend on a sunny beach is all well and good, but if you’re truly looking to make the best of your Yucatan Peninsula holiday, you may want to consider visiting some of the best Playa del Carmen cenotes for a completely different type of vacation experience.

Playa del Carmen hits the geographical sweet spot for anyone who might be looking to see Mexico’s finest natural landmarks, and the local cenotes are an amazing place to start.

The commercialization of cenotes has only added to Mexico’s already-impressive tourism résumé, and the Playa region happens to house some of the most beautiful sinkholes in the entire world. 

With so many amazing cenotes vying for your attention, we’re here to make matters a bit easier for you by showing you some of our personal favorites.

What Is a Cenote?

You can think of a cenote as an all-natural swimming pool formed by the collapse of limestone caves with river water and a bit of rainwater sprinkled in. In fact, the word cenote comes from the Mayan word for well, although these beauties are unlike any well you’ve probably ever seen. 

There are a number of different kinds of cenotes, each as gorgeous as the last. Some of the different variants are:

Playa del Carmen Cenotes

Open cenotes 

This is probably the most universally appealing subcategory, as these cenotes have an amazing sky view but also feature underground passages. 

Underground cenotes 

These cenotes are practically untouched by sunlight, making them the coldest but also the most aesthetically pleasing by many people’s standards

Semi-open cenotes 

Certain parts of these cenotes are directly exposed to sunlight, although they are mostly under the ground.

Cave cenotes

As the name implies, you can access these cenotes via a surface-level cave system that burrows its way underground.

Quick Info on the Best Playa del Carmen Cenotes

In our humble opinion, this is the definitive list of the best Playa del Carmen cenotes:

  • Cenote Azul
  • Cenote Chaak Tun
  • Cenote Suytun
  • Cenote Chikin-Ha
  • Gran Cenote
  • Cenote Aktun Chen
  • Cenote Cristalino

Best Cenotes in Playa del Carmen

If you’re looking to take your Mexico vacation to stratospheric levels of style and swag, these are some of the best cenotes in Playa del Carmen, and arguably the finest in the entire region as a whole.

Cenote Azul

Quick Info:

  • Operation Hours: Daily 8:30 am to 5:00 pm
  • Location: Cenote Azul Maps
  • Price: $120 MXN pesos ($7 USD) You can also rent snorkel gear for an extra $
  • Facilities: Showers, bathrooms, and a small restaurant

Cenote Azul

Starting off our list of the best Playa del Carmen cenotes is Cenote Azul, one of the region’s crowning jewels. If you’re looking for a scenic vista that won’t burn a hole in your wallet, you’ll be delighted to know that the entry fee is under $4, and since it’s an open cenote, you don’t have to do any spelunking to get to the good parts.

Whereas some of the other cenotes on our list are on the large side, this 5-meter-deep beauty is perfect for amateur swimmers and families with small children. Some snorkeling experience is recommended if you want to make the most of Cenote Azul, as the waters are crystal-clear, but even if you don’t particularly want to go underwater, you’ll have just as much fun looking at all the beautiful fish that call this place home. 

Just because the place is kid-friendly, that doesn’t mean the rest of the family will be bored here – one of the two pools (the cenote is split in two by a lovely deck) is positioned below a cliff, offering some amazing photo ops and even a place to jump from if you can stick the landing. 

One thing worth keeping in mind is that a place this affordable is bound to draw large crowds throughout most of the day, so your best bet is to get here early in the morning, go back to town for lunch, and potentially come back for another dip before closing time in the evening. 

Need a place to stay in Playa del Carmen? Check out these awesome vacation rentals in Playa del Carmen for an epic stay!

Cenote Chaak Tun

Quick Info:

  • Operation Hours: Daily 9:00 am to 3:00 pm
  • Location: Cenote Chaak Tun Maps
  • Price: $100 MXN pesos ($5 USD) You can also rent snorkel gear for an extra $
  • Facilities: Showers, bathrooms, and a small restaurant

For something a little bit different, Chaak Tun is one of the best Playa del Carmen cenotes for those who are in the market for a more enclosed experience. This place is defined by its stunning stalactites – you can catch some rays any day of the week, but it’s not often you get to see a cave this aesthetically pleasing.

After making your way along the boardwalk, you’ll be rewarded by a small network of caverns and a pool so large you’ll forget all about the Caribbean Sea being right around the corner. The faint glimmers of sunlight that pierce their way into the pool are among the most breathtaking we’ve seen, even by Mexican cenote standards, and they’re sure to provide you with some incredible pictures – you may or may not get photobombed by a bat or two, though!

This is one of the area’s swankier cenotes, and the general consensus is that the place’s reputation is well-deserved. This isn’t exactly the cheapest option on our list (in fact, you’d be lucky to book a full day’s stay for less than $40), but the package comes with lunch and transportation services, essentially bringing any other preparatory expenses down to zero. 

It should be noted that this place is relatively dark compared to more open cenotes, so consider bringing a flashlight or at least make sure your phone battery is full in the interest of visibility, especially if you’re visiting out of season (when the days are shorter) or in the evening. 

Cenote Suytun

Quick Info:

  • Operation Hours: Daily 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
  • Location: Cenote Suytun Maps
  • Price: $150 MXN pesos ($7.50 USD) / Locker rental $35 MX ($1.75 USD)
  • Facilities: Showers, bathrooms, and a small restaurant

Cenote Suytun

Chances are you’ve seen Suytun somewhere before, and that’s because it’s one of the best Playa del Carmen cenotes as far as visuals go. For only about $6, you’ll have access to a natural landmark that looks like something out of a science-fiction movie in the best possible way.

This might just be one of the few cenotes in the region where swimming and diving aren’t exactly the focal points of most peoples’ visits – in the middle of the pool is a circular platform with a mesmerizing view, and if you’re fortunate enough to be here early in the day, you’ll get to see shreds of sunlight illuminate the turquoise waters in what we can only describe as a miraculous feat of nature. If you do opt to go swimming, though, bear in mind that wearing a life jacket is mandatory. 

Want tips on the best places to go diving in Mexico? Check out our full guide

Even if you’re not much of a picture person, don’t make the mistake of thinking this place won’t entice you with its unique atmosphere. Not bringing a water-resistant camera here would be one of the most regrettable decisions you could ever make.

The cenote is technically closer to Valladolid than the center of Playa del Carmen, so one of your options would be to catch a bus or cab depending on your time and budget. The wait is well worth it, though, if all the viral social media pictures are any indication! Once you’ve had your fun, consider taking a short detour to Chichen Itza before making your way back to town.

Cenote Chikin-Ha

Quick Info:

  • Operation Hours: Daily 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
  • Location: Cenote Chikin-Ha Maps
  • Price: $150 MXN pesos ($7.50 USD) / Locker rental $35 MX ($1.75 USD)
  • Facilities: Showers, bathrooms, and a small restaurant

Cenote Chikin ha

One thing all of the best Playa del Carmen cenotes have in common is their unique atmosphere, and Chikin-Ha is certainly no exception. Besides being spectacular to look at and explore, this place offers plenty in the way of group activities if you visit during the right time of year.

The one catch here is that you’d be paying nearly $20 dollars to enter, but once you break everything down, the fee is chump change relative to what you’re getting in return. Paying the entrance fee grants you access to two of Chikin-Ha’s nearby sister cenotes, and you’d best believe those pack quite the wallop themselves. In addition, besides the obligatory snorkeling and the always-handy tour guide, you’ll also be able to go ziplining, biking, and rappelling. 

One of the most incredible aesthetic features of this place are the random bursts of light that illuminate small segments of the underground caves and turn the system into a kaleidoscope of colors on a good day. Places like these are any nature-loving diver’s bread and butter, so you can always let your kids enjoy some of the other on-site activities as you venture on below.

Speaking of diving, the cenote comes in at about 9 meters of depth – not one of the deepest cenotes we’ve seen, but certainly one of the more unique ones. Think about swimming to a sunken pirate ship at the bottom of the ocean with a treasure chest somewhere under the debris – that’s as close as we can get to describing the feeling of diving down this crevice, so do yourself a favor and see it for yourself. 

 Travel Tip: Check out our Mexico travel guide for awesome tips on where to stay and what to do!

Gran Cenote

Quick Info:

  • Operation Hours: Daily 8 am to 4:00 pm
  • Location: Grand Cenote Maps
  • Price: $300 MXN pesos ($15 USD) You can also rent snorkel gear for extra $
  • Facilities: Showers, bathrooms, locker rental, and a small shop

Gran Cenote

If you’ve had your fun with all the best cenotes in Playa del Carmen and want to try something new, consider taking a drive to nearby Tulum and enjoying a relaxing day at GC, one of the region’s most renowned cenotes. Although this place’s reputation precedes it, you can actually get in for just under $10, an outright steal given the contents that lie within.

There’s clear water, and then there’s Gran Cenote water – you’ll practically be able to count the wrinkles on the legs of the turtles that call this place home, making this the perfect spot for some underwater photography. This feels less like a cenote and more like a beach bar, and with it being entirely open, you can either get in the water via the walkway or take a nosedive from one of various vantage points.

This place is one of the most tourist-friendly on our entire list, so you should expect massive crowds no matter the time of day. Either way, your best bet is to try your luck early in the morning or just past 4 o’clock (about an hour before closing time) since most of the people should be gone by then. 

If you don’t have a problem with crowds, the only real downside here is that you need to sort out how you’re going to get back to Playa, provided that you don’t intend on keeping the party going in Tulum. Given the location, a cheap rental car is probably your best option as it gives you the opportunity to explore the region at your own pace.

Cenote Cristalino

Quick Info:

  • Operation Hours: Daily 9 am to 4 pm
  • Location: Cenote Cristalino Maps (Located in the middle of Tulum and Playa del Carmen)
  • Price: $200 MXN pesos ($10 USD) / Locker rental $50 MX ($2.50 USD)
  • Facilities: Showers, bathrooms, and a restaurant (food is a little bit on the expensive side!)

Cenote Cristalino

This is barred none one of the best cenotes in Playa del Carmen, and its impeccable waters put the Caribbean Sea to shame. Entry only costs around $7.50 dollars, so this is the perfect place to visit if you want to see some spectacular nature views without burning a hole in your wallet.

As the name implies, this cenote’s main selling point is the cleanliness of its water. Although the water isn’t very deep at all (only about 6 meters, in fact), you’ll still have some diving spots if you want to get your adrenaline flowing. Otherwise, this cenote is best used as a place to cool off as you let your eyes graze on the relaxing greenery that surrounds you. 

Because it’s on the shallow side, Cristalino doesn’t draw the same kinds of crowds as some of the other places on our list. This can either be a pro or a con depending on how noisy you want your seaside vacation to be, but an upside is that you don’t have to do much planning in advance when it comes your takeoff time.

Cristalino isn’t very far from the heart of Playa del Carmen, and the best part is it’s very close to Cenote Azul, the first spot on our list. Ideally, you’ll want to combine the two with Cenote Jardin del Eden, another notable cenote in the area, and devote an entire day to each of them. There are definitely some more exciting picks, but if you’re visiting with children who are still learning to swim, we guarantee they’ll really get a kick out of these!

Cenote Aktun Chen

Cenote Aktun Chen

Images courtesy of Aktun-Chen

Quick Info:

  • Operation Hours: Daily 10:00 am to 5 pm
  • Location: Cenote Aktun Chen Maps
  • Price: $663 MXN pesos ($33 USD) (Includes: Guide, Equipment, Lockers)
  • Facilities: Showers, bathrooms (a restaurant is closed due to pandemic)

We wouldn’t want to create the impression that cenotes are only good for diving – Aktun Chen is one of the best Playa del Carmen cenotes for a variety of reasons, chief among them being the walkway view. Depending on what you’re planning on doing, your visit might set you back about $100, but it’s more than worth it in our opinion.

Aktun Chen is a cave cenote, meaning it’s entirely closed off, but who needs sunlight when you have some of the most awe-inspiring rock ceilings in this part of the world? There’s nothing quite like doing the backstroke and enjoying a view the likes of which you’ve probably never seen before. What’s more, the water is so clear you’ll think the rocks at the bottom are a reflection of the ceiling.

If you truly want to see everything from the best possible angle, however, we’d recommend spending an hour or four just snapping photographs from the walkway. For reasons that become obvious the second you look at this place, you have to wear a helmet while exploring, but that’s a small price to pay for the majesty of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Think we’re overselling it? A good rule of thumb for gauging a tourist attraction’s quality is the official website, and Aktun Chen’s is certainly no slouch. One thing you can do to amp yourself up before visiting this place is going to their site and take a 360 virtual tour – if that doesn’t reel you in, nothing will!

Stay safe in Playa del Carmen with these top safety tips!

Ways to Reach the Best Cenotes in Playa del Carmen

A lot of the best cenotes in Playa del Carmen can only be reached by going a little bit off-road. For this reason, it’s important to consider all your options in terms of transportation – here are all your options:

Taxi

Taxis are the most common form of transportation in Playa del Carmen – while Ubers are already hard to come by throughout most of the region, you shouldn’t really expect to find any in Playa. It should be noted, however, that if you don’t speak Spanish and you make it abundantly clear that it’s your first time in Mexico, you open the door to some potential scams. As you would in any major tourist town, use your best judgment as you get swarmed by taxi drivers while lugging your bags around Playa.

Rental 

Not every taxi driver would be willing to get their car dirty, and you’re going to need to take some questionable roads to get to some of our picks. For that reason, you may want to consider paying $10 or more a day for a rental which you can clean up and return at your convenience – bonus points for being able to take the car to a neighboring town too if you so please!

Bus

If you intend on visiting some cenotes that are a little more inland (the Valladolid region has some good ones, for instance), you may want to catch a bus. The obvious drawback here is that you can expect plenty of stops and a slower drive, and there’s also the issue of potentially having to walk a fair distance once you’re off the bus. WIth that said, this is by far your cheapest transportation option, so if a bus just happens to stop near your cenote of choice, you’d be hard-pressed to find a cheaper alternative. 

Bicycle

Mexican summers are so hot that it’s practically impossible to visit in July without going for a swim. With that said, if your body can handle the heat (or if you’re visiting out of season), you can always rent out a bicycle if your hotel has any available. The prices are generally quite low, and most commercial cenotes feature a safe spot for you to leave your bike while enjoying your swim or exploration session.

If you’re generally wondering what the best way is to get to Playa del Carmen, here’s some of our indepth articles featuring how to get from one place to the next.

FAQs Regarding the Best Cenotes in Playa del Carmen

You’ll probably want to get a few things cleared up before you visit the best cenotes in Playa del Carmen. Here are some of the things we expect you’d like to know:

The list was great, but are there alternatives?

There are a staggering 6000-something cenotes throughout the Yucatan Peninsula, so even if you aren’t particularly enamored with any of our picks, you should have no trouble finding one that works better for you. 

Are cenotes safe to swim in?

The safety regulations in most commercial cenotes are well above what you can expect to find at your average beach. Most cenotes will charge you a little extra for a life jacket and/or scuba diving gear, and you’ll occasionally even be offered a guide or diving instructor.

Travel Must: At the risk of sounding like your parents, make sure you get travel insurance before hitting the road. Trust us, it’s one of those things you don’t want to leave home without. We recommend either World Nomads or Safety Wing, depending on the type of traveler you are.

Are there really crocodiles?

While we are by no means Nat Geo, one thing we do know is that gators love limestone formations. You can’t entirely rule out the possibility of running into a croc at a remote cenote, but you have nothing to worry about if you’re visiting a commercial one. 

Can anyone dive in a cenote?

Unless you find explicit info that states your cenote of choice has a diving instructor, you’ll need a diver’s license for independent underwater exploration. This is probably for the best, however, as cenotes are best enjoyed by people who know a thing or two about holding their breath.

How hot is the water?

The water is a bit colder than what you might be accustomed to (70 to 75 degrees), but this is entirely understandable seeing as most cenotes are largely underground and don’t get much sunlight as a result. If you’re not much of a summer person, you’ll feel right at home in these underwater caverns!

Are cenotes really as clean as they look?

While the rock formations do a good job at keeping these things clean, a big reason why commercial cenotes are so pristine is that visitors tend to be very mindful of hygiene regulations. Try not to be the exception to that rule – never apply sunscreen before jumping into a cenote, and we don’t even have to tell you not to pollute!

What should I bring with me when visiting a cenote?

A waterproof camera is definitely a must, as are shorts & bathing suits and a supply of water. If you plan on diving, you can pay a nominal fee at the entrance of any decent cenote and get your hands on some gear.

How reliable is the pricing info listed above?

Prices are known to fluctuate depending on the time of year and the relative popularity of a particular cenote, but you shouldn’t expect them to deviate much from the estimates we’ve listed above. 

What else is there to do in Playa del Carmen?

There’s enough fun to be had at Playa to keep you going for an entire summer, but some of our favorite spots in or around town would have to be Parque Los Fundadores, El Camaleon Mayakoba Golf Course, and the iconic 5th street of Playa del Carmen.

And that concludes our list of the best Cenotes in Playa del Carmen. If you’ve never vacationed outside of your seaside comfort zone, we sincerely hope this list has helped you pick out a cenote for your upcoming holiday – take our advice, and your wallet and vacation scrapbook will certainly thank you!

If you still haven’t had enough cenote time, you can also check out the cenotes in Tulum and well as the cenotes in Merida!


Planning a Trip to Mexico? Read these Guides:

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