We have been visiting cenotes in Mexico for over 20 years. These are wonderful places to explore and relax, swim and take photos. If you visit Mexico, make sure you take the time to visit a cenote!
If you aren’t familiar with cenotes, Wikipedia defines these as:
A cenote is a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater. The regional term is specifically associated with the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico.
When we first visited Mexico to get married, we had the chance to check out a couple cenotes. Since then, we have visited many more with our kids. Every cenote is a little different, from completely open cenotes, to those that are more enclosed.
Here are some tips for visiting cenotes that we have learned along the way!
Many places do not accept credit cards, especially if you are in a less touristy area, so be prepared with cash. We usually go to Chedraui (a large store, which I would compare to Walmart), to get cash when we arrive in Mexico. You can exchange money before your trip or at a bank in Mexico. Even if you go on an arranged tour, you still may want some spending money in cash for small items like snacks or souvenirs.
Also, be prepared to pay extra for things like drones. Many places charge for GoPros, drones, and so on.
Don’t wear sunscreen
Most cenotes don’t allow you to wear sunscreen, and they also usually require you to shower first. Skip putting on any kind of sunblock, even if it is reef safe.
Bring a rash guard
If you are worried about getting a sunburn considering sunscreen is not allowed, bring along a rash guard. You can bring along other sun protection, like a hat or sunglasses as well.
Bring a good camera
We love taking pictures when we travel, and we have lots of great underwater shots! We have seen many different kinds of fish when we go swimming in the cenotes. Cenotes are usually amazing places to take a variety of photos.
Bring snorkeling equipment & water shoes
If you enjoy snorkeling, bring along your snorkel gear. Some places rent gear, but we prefer to bring our own. I also recommend water shoes for a lot of cenotes. While the water is usually very deep, there may be slippery surfaces around the cenote as well as parts where you need to climb in that could be rough on your feet (or slippery). Chances are you are bringing water shoes for the beach anyway, so it is helpful to bring them to the cenote as well.
Bring a towel
Most cenotes don’t have a lot of facilities, and it is good to be prepared with your own supplies. I recommend bringing a beach towel from your resort, or if your hotel doesn’t provide towels, bring a microfiber towel, which usually folds up small and dries quickly.
Visit early especially if it is a popular cenote
We don’t really enjoy crowded cenotes, and so you’ll want to be strategic. The earlier the better, and weekdays are usually quieter. In recent years, the Yucatan coast has been plagued with sargassum seaweed, driving people away from the beaches and to pools and cenotes. Keep this in mind when you plan your visit. Weekdays are also generally quieter as well.
We often look for cenotes that have features like a zip line, rope swing, or jumping platforms. Plan accordingly and do your research before heading out, so you can make the most of your trip!
Check out our other Mexico blog posts and tips HERE.
Some of the cenotes we have visited:
Casa Cenote, Akumal
Cenotes Casa Tortuga, Tulum
Cenote Cristalino, Puerto Aventuras
Cenote Jaguar, Tulum
Cenote X’Keken, Valladolid
Cenote Zaci, Valladolid
Cenotes Cuzama, Cuzama
Cenote Samula, Valladolid
Hacienda Cenote Oxmán, Valladolid