15 April, 2022
A tropical haven where emerald waters and white sand beaches await: our Riviera Maya travel guide
16 March, 2023
9 June, 2023
Enveloped by the shimmering waters of both the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, the Yucatán Peninsula is home to a whole host of dazzling holiday destinations. Among them is the palm-lined resort town of Playa del Carmen - a once-humble fishing village, now revered for its buzzing nightlife scene, and of course, those idyllic white-sand beaches stretching as far as the eye can see.
You don’t have to head out too far outside the resort to discover the region’s natural wonders, either; travel just a few miles in either direction and you’ll soon stumble upon one of the local cenotes. These natural pools, created by collapsed limestone bedrock, are perfect for cooling off from the sizzling summer temperatures. Planning a visit? Here are seven of the best cenotes in Playa del Carmen and the surrounding coastline.
Hidden within a lush, tropical forest and less than 25 miles north of Tulum, El Jardin Del Eden is a spectacular open-air cenote in the Riviera Maya. For a very small entry fee, visitors can spend the day swimming and snorkelling in this natural swimming pool's cool, crystal-clear waters.
Daredevils will soon find themselves enticed by the rope swings and cliff-jumping spots dotted around its edges, while those who prefer to watch from the sidelines will be pleased to know that there’s a lifeguard keeping a careful eye on everyone during the peak months.
Aptly named, Cenote Cristalino boasts sparkling, glass-like waters. At only 20 feet deep, this cenote is a particularly great choice for families with young children; while scuba diving might be off the menu, there’s still the opportunity to snorkel around and discover all the unique rock formations and tropical fish species that lie just below the surface.
If you’re seeking tranquillity, the best time to visit Cristalino is during the early morning hours before the tour groups descend. With only the twittering of birds and the gentle rustling of the surrounding trees as a distraction, there’s nothing quite like it.
Unlike the more cavernous Playa Del Carmen cenotes, Cenote Azul is wide open to the elements, allowing its pristine waters to be warmed by the sun. Surrounded by tropical greenery, this lovely spot is just moments from the popular Cristalino and El Jardin Del Eden cenotes, which means you can easily hop between them.
If you’re planning on making your own way over without a tour guide, the ticket price for Cenote Azul starts at just 100 pesos per adult. You’ll find this glorious spot less than 20 miles from both Playa del Carmen and Xcaret Park, allowing you to fit plenty of sightseeing in without having to drive too far outside of the town.
Six miles outside the city of Valladolid, winding wooden steps lead down to the deep depths of Cenote Saamal. Illuminated by sunlight cascading in through its open-air ceiling, the enchanting turquoise waters of this cavernous cenote are lovely for cooling down after exploring the awe-inspiring ruins of Chichén-Itzá.
As with many of the cenotes in Playa del Carmen, visitors need to pay just 80 pesos to experience the magnificence of this natural pool, which includes the use of a lifejacket
Renowned for its intricate cave system, Cenote Dos Ojos is one of the top cenotes for scuba divers and snorkellers along the Yucatán Peninsula. Even if you don’t feel like doing much exploration, there’s always the option to just swim and float around in the warm, crystalline waters of this impressive sinkhole.
The name - Dos Ojos comes - from the two ‘eyes’ in the cave’s ceiling, one of which is bathed in sunlight while the other is shrouded in the shadows.
Gran Cenote is a vast, limestone sinkhole sitting just outside of Tulum. Considered to be one of the most scenic snorkelling spots in the region, this beautiful cenote is actually comprised of a series of pools and caves, winding through lush jungle and connected by short walkways.
Bask beneath the warming rays of Mexico’s brilliant sunshine, or head below ground to cool off and discover the underwater world just below your feet; with its waters this clear, there isn’t even any need to don your snorkelling gear in order to see what’s underneath.
Nestled among a forest of mangrove trees, Casa Cenote - or Cenote Manati - sits atop one of the world’s longest underwater cave systems. Less than 35 miles from Playa del Carmen, this unique cenote has a halocline, which means it has a mixture of both fresh water and seawater feeding directly from the Caribbean Sea.
As such, the cenote is home to many marine species including moray eels, snappers, and guppies. Don’t be surprised if you happen to pass by Panchito while exploring the depths of this spectacular cenote; this friendly resident crocodile has been swimming alongside divers here since it was a hatchling.
Here at onefinestay, we offer more than just a carefully-curated collection of handpicked villas along the Riviera Maya. To ensure our guests enjoy an unforgettable experience throughout their stay, we offer a fabulous selection of exclusive concierge services. From private chefs and in-house spa treatments to planning all your exciting activities and adventures, just let us take care of everything on your behalf. With all of these lovely extras arranged well before your arrival, you can make the most of your well-deserved time away.
Subscribe to our newsletter and be the first to know about the newest travel tips!