With crystal clear water, cave like features including stalactites and stalagmites or long hanging vines draped over the edges, it is easy to understand why the Maya people believed cenotes to be sacred. This places are just out of this world. Cenotes are a fabulous creation of nature that you have to see to believe. Everything about them is out of this world.. the colours, wildlife and the crystal clear waters are mesmerising.
We left very impressed by the beauty of the cenotes. The Mexicans even dedicated songs to this wonders. Mexico has so many awesome cenotes that I will probably need more than a year to see all of them. The cenotes are a phenomenon that is common in Mexico and here you have the chance to explore quite a few.
what is a cenote
A cenote is a water filled sinkhole that naturally occur in limestone rock when an underground cave collapses in on itself and exposes the groundwater underneath. The waters of the cenotes are very clean because it’s pure rain water. The water in the cenotes is usually cool as the water comes from underground, but is ok as in Quintana Roo the weather is super hot. Tulum has thousands of unique cenotes and also some of the most popular.
There are some amazing cenotes near Tulum that you can explore and swim in. It’s hard to chose which one is more beautiful as each of them has something different and special. I will share my favourites. In this blog post I will talk about three of them :
- Cenote Nicte Ha
- Cenote Azul
- Cenote Ik-Kil
CENOTE NICTE HA
Swimming at Nicte-Ha among the water lilies is a magical experience that you won’t forget. This is not a super popular cenote, that means it will not become too crowded. We were so lucky that we had it for a few hours only to ourselves.
Nicte-Ha Cenote is very different from most of the other cenotes I visited, if it is so beautiful without the flowers, I can’t even imagine how it must be when the lilies are in bloom. This one is not underground, it seems like a big natural pool with amazing blue turquoise, crystal clear water. The water is fresh and not as cold as usually the cenotes are. All around the cenote is very lush, with tons of vegetation growing in and out the cenote. I felt like in a fantasy movie, with the difference this is so real.
When you swim in this cenote it is better to use the life vest to protect the awesome vegetation that lays under the water. To snorkel here is absolutely amazing, you will have excellent visibility and under the water it is a very special kind of paradise.
where to find it
It is located along the narrow road that leads to the more popular Cenote Dos Ojos, around 20 minutes driving from Tulum centre. Once you passed the entrance it will take you approximately 10 minute walk along a fabulous scenery that it is surrounded by lush green jungle vegetation jungle and then there it is.. the Cenote Nicte Ha. It is impressive!
enjoy the cenote
This cenote is not located deep underground, like many of the other cenotes. This one has the water being open and exposed, looking like a natural pool.. The fresh water is so clear, with perfect colour.. you only want to just jump in and swim among the lily pads floating on the water’s surface. It’s quite a special and unique experience. How not to be magical when the only thing you see around is the jungle trees and plants around the cenote.
We enjoyed the cenote with nobody else around and the atmosphere was so peaceful, serene and tranquil. I loved to just float in the calm water while I was enjoying this natural jungle environment surrounding the cenote and simply listening to nature. I was just in awe of the natural beauty around me and being impressed by the pice of art created by the Nature and how lucky I am to enjoy it. I felt so much gratitude to experience the beauty of this magical and serene natural sinkhole.
You will see that there is a small cave in the cenote underneath a rock overhang, pretty fun to explore and swim around in the dark.
You’ll find just some very basic toilet facilities (where you can get changed if you need to). The washrooms are rustic, looking like a wooden makeshift shed with only a toilet inside the stall. There are no lockers to put your stuff, but you can leave your things on the wooden boardwalk that runs to the cenote and keep an eye on it, the cenote isn’t big.
The entrance fee to Cenote Nicte-Ha costs 100 pesos and if you want to fly drone, you have to pay an extra of 40$.
When we arrived here, there was nobody but us, so we could enjoy all the cenote for a good while. We are pretty lucky, because this is a popular one. This was our first cenote to visit and it was not hard to be impressed by the waters surrounded by lush tropical vegetation, with many trees under you can rest. It was super fun to walk around because we meet with iguanas and we spotted many cute birds.
This spectacular cenote offers an unbelievable beautiful natural pools with colours in both shades of water blue and emerald green. Cenote Azul is an open cenote. Unlike many popular cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula, it is not enclosed in caves. Their caves collapsed a long time ago, exposing it to the skies above and making it extremely accessible. It has are various pools with different depths. If you are more adventurous you also have the opportunity of cliff jumping.
BE RESPECTFUL WITH NATURE
Always being respectful with the environment. We don’t want to destroy such a magical place because we want to continue to enjoy the incredible natural wonders on this Earth. The good part is that it’s not that difficult. I will share some simple rules to follow so that we may make an as little impact as possible on this Earth: use the trash can, don’t be noisy and be quiet, don’t hang on trees, take a shower before entering the cenote (to wash away any type of cream spray or protectors on your skin as it would contaminate the environment) and this being said and done. Enjoy the cenote!
how to get here
We got here by car and it took us around 30 minutes from Tulum centre. The entrance of this cenote is right on the main road which makes it very easy to reach by public transportation too. Once you paid the entrance entrance you have to continue to drive up to the spacious car park. The entry to costs 120 pesos (around 7$) for tourists.
awesome activities to do here
You can do many fun things here, but most of them involve swimming, so don’t forget to bring the snorkel gear because under the water is so much life. Snorkel gear and life jacket are available for rent, but I prefer to bring my own, for hygiene reasons. You can also walk around and enjoy the lush vegetation taking as many photos as you can, because this place is MAGIC! Cool activities when you are in the water:
It so amazing to swim in here or to just float in the crystal clear water.. well if you will be left alone by the maybe too friendly fish. For me was nearly impossible to swim because they kept coming too close to me and they were many. It was super fun!
This is a perfect opportunity to snorkel with so many friendly fish around. You can also dive to see what’s underneath the rock formations and once you do it you’ll understand why is it called Cenote Azul, azul means blue in English.
There is a 3,5 meter high platform and other lower ones where you can enjoy jumping in and out of the cenote. It’s safe to dive headfirst as well since the water is 6 meter deep so there is no danger.
The cenote Azul also offers all the necessary facilities to make your day even more enjoyable, including toilets, lockers, a snack bar, benches by the water.
CENOTE IK KIL
The third cenote we visited is Ik Kil, a dreamy place with walls covered in green leafs and vines hang down from the top. Most of the vines reach the water below giving to this fabulous creation a dramatic look. The walls covered in green leafs makes Ik Kil, with no doubt, one of the most beautiful cenotes in Yucatan and is a must see.
Cenote Ik Kil is an open top type cenote which gives you a super cool feeling when floating on your back. I was just marvelling at the open air circle above and enjoying the hanging vines cascading into the water. It was truly magical! The temperature of the water is quite fresh but once you get into the water you’ll get used to it. If you dare, you can try some cliff jumping from the edge of the staircase into the natural pool.
lifejackets are mandatory
A lifejacket is included in the Ik Kil entrance fee and are mandatory if you want to go swimming in this cenote. There are always two lifeguards keeping the eye on people. There are ropes in the water to hold on to when you are tired as there is no shallow area.
parking and entrance fee
The entrance to the cenote is 150 pesos 7.50 $ and it includes lifejacket and locker. If you came here with your own car and not by taxi or public transport, there is no need to worry about parking the car, as there is a big parking lot with plenty of space for many cars.
There are loads of changing rooms, toilets and shower next to the stairs that lead down to the water. All these are included in the most basic entrance fee.
If you prefer to eat here, they have two restaurants with delicious Mexican food. There is even a snack bar, making it a great place to have a cold drink after you went swimming in the cenote. Prices are quite affordable and the food is tasty.
thoughts about cenotes
This natural wonders are totally worth the visit. Here you’ll live unique experiences, creating awesome memories that you will remember for the rest of your life. I hope this post helped you to plan your trip. Just let me know your thoughts in the comment area!