Cenotes

Top ways to experience Cenotes and nearby attractions

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Jemkh
Melbourne, Australia715 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2022 • Friends
Cenotes are scattered across the Yucatan but I highly recommend either joining a day trip or discovering a way of getting here to explore some of the cenotes in this region. You can hire bikes and move between each one. No one is the same!
Written February 18, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

lmlmlm
Austin, TX446 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2021
There are a couple of different cenote areas in Cuzama and this review is for X'Tohil. There are 4 cenotes to enjoy which you access via a cart pulled by a horse. Yes, its a little bumpy, as others have mentioned, but we felt safe the entire time and it was fun.

Our guide, William, was outstanding. Shared a lot about the area and cenotes - as well as the flora and fauna (en Espanol). The area around cenotes was quite arid and it was a hot day (take water). You would arrive at a cenote and then able to descend and spend time at your leisure. When we were ready to move on, we would go to the next one. The first cenote has an extremely steep wooden ladder - which felt a little sketchy - but opens to an amazing cavern. So beautiful. The access in the other cenotes was much better. There were wasps and biting flies but it is Mexico and to be expected in a hot climate. The horses were also in excellent condition, which isn't always the case. The last cenote had a rope swing which my daughter loved. There were also bats in each cenote, different types, which was cool.

We were the second to arrive in the morning and had each cenote to ourselves. Felt spoiled to be able to enjoy it alone. We got there at 10:30am.

We got drinks from the restaurant and they were very nice and helpful.

We would definitely go back to do again. Crystal clear water and great staff.
Written April 8, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Must Do Travels
World467 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2019
The natural pools were once thought to be a place where the Mayans could speak to the gods, and you can see why.
Written January 6, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Richard S
Indianapolis, IN173 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2011 • Couples
We went to Cuzama, actually drove there in a rented car, and it was difficult to find. But by asking around we finally made it to a parking area where there are carts on a rail pulled by horses that take up to 4 persons to 3 different cenotes. I actually do not remember how much the tour trip was per person, I would like to say about 150 pesos but do not recall the exact amount. We agreed to the price and were taken to a small cart on a rail, where we sat on a bench. We greeted our two guides, and our trip commenced. I purposefully asked what kind of treatment the horses received. Oh, yes they were well taken care of, I was assured. And just as the one guide said that, he proceeded to whip the poor skinny horse to within an inch within its life. The other guide jumped aboard to sit with us and now the poor horse was pulling three adults while being beaten. Then the main guide jumped aboard as he continued to whip the poor animal. At that point, I exploded which I can do in Spanish as I am totally bilingual and I don’t put up with this kind of abusive behavior to animals and/or children from anyone, anywhere, in any language. The guide’s response was: “Es normal, senor.” I screamed at him to give me the whip, and I would show him “normal” so he could see how much he would like it. Needless to say, our visit to the cenotes was ruined, and we got off the cart and walked back. I do NOT recommend anyone using these services to see the 3 cenotes in Cuzama until the guides change their ways and treat their source of revenue in a humane manner. There are literally hundreds upon hundreds of cenotes throughout Yucatan, and I recommend them all. They are all different and beautiful in their very unique manner. Some of them are daunting in that the descent can be rather abrupt, but that’s what makes them interesting and very enjoyable. The water in the cenotes is crystalline and refreshingly cool not cold. The fish are not afraid of humans swimming in the sink holes. The locals all swim in them to cool off from the heat. I really recommend a cenote experience while in the Yucatan. Just be aware that the ones at Cuzama have that animal abuse going on and should be avoided.
An added note as to animal cruelty in Mexico: it seems to be prevalent in this society, which is a shame. Children, on the other hand, are beloved. Mexicans adore their children. I have yet to meet one Mexican who isn’t nuts about his/her child. And I can say it’s true in Mexico as well as with Mexican Americans in this country, as I have worked with Mexican families stateside. We in the American society have a lot to learn from their care towards their progeny.
Written October 5, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

rmt
Vacaville, CA675 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2011 • Couples
This was the highlight of our trip. Chunkanan Hacienda 3km from the town of Cuzama.
These three cenotes are beautiful and rustic. The water is very very clear. The cenote "tour" via a horse- drawn carriage they call "truck" was just the beginning of the fun. You reach the start of this tour from the Chunkanan Village. To reach Chunakanan... on the way from Cuzama town proper, the road going towards Chunakan, there is a man waving this red flag pointing you towards this building to the right. Ignore him. Thats the other tour from Cuzama. Just drive forward 5 more minutes and you reach the horse-drawn carriages of the Chunkanan village. The people there earn their living by the cenote tour. It costs 250 pesos for the "truck" and not per person! The truck
accomodates 4 people. You pay them at the end of the trip. (please tip them at least 50 pesos esp f you used their life jackets and there are several of you.. Poor horse!) Each truck carries at least 2 life vests. Our truck tour operators were Mayan Villagers. He even taught us mayan words! I barely speak Spanish and they told us they would love to teach us Mayan. We left our bag containing our clothes with them while we were in the cenotes. They are very honest people and they truly want you to have a great time.

The tour lasts about 2 and half hours. We were given 30 minutes each cenote visited. My favorite is the third one! The second one though had vandalism on the cave side, please refrain from etching your name to preserve its beauty. On Sundays, the women of Chunkanan sell snacks, drinks and small mayan trinkets. On other days, bring your own snacks and drinks. Wear biodegradable (better) Insect repellant. Remember you have to go through the jungle to reach these cenotes, it is their territory.

If you want a real feel of a Mayan Cenote, drive through the real Yucatan and visit Chunkanan Village 3 km from Cuzama. No 3rd grade lesson on the formation of stalagmites and such.. No special fee for cameras..

They will only tell you.. "banyo aqui, cenotes aqui" and leave you to enjoy the clear waters and the caverns of the los tres cenotes.

Ni bo'olal. Dios boo'tik (thank you and good bye -- mayan!)
Written August 19, 2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

jodii24
Newport, UK28 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2015 • Couples
Not being a fan of package tours, we decided to visit the cenotes independently. This was super easy and a lot cheaper to do! Plus, we could take as much or as little time as we wanted.

We caught a collectivo from Merida (50 pesos p.p each way). Just ask the drivers for the Cenotes. It took just under an hour and we drove through beautiful villages. The driver will tell you when to get off. We didn't visit the 'horse carriage' cenotes as there were protests concerning the matter on that day. Plus, we had read about the poor treatment of the horses. I'm really glad we were able to visit the others as they were super quiet and there were no tourists at all!
We hired a bicitaxi and a driver for 200 pesos for the afternoon. We told him we only want to see 3 cenotes so that was the price he offered us (originally 250). It took about 3 hours altogether but that was the time we wanted to spend. Francisco, our driver, told us he would wait however long until we had finished.
The first cenote was stunning. I can't remember the name but it began with X! It cost 20pesos entry and we were the only ones there!! The second one was busier with maybe 10 Mexicans visiting and again cost 20 pesos. The third was completely in a cave- it was softly lit with lights in the walls...it was like a private natural pool! Francisco insisted he take us to a final cenote which was the busiest stop with about 20 people in and only cost 10 pesos entry!

Total cost per person : 270 pesos! - 100 pesos for return collectivo & 70 pesos entry into 4 beautiful, quiet cenotes & 100 pesos for bicitaxi and driver.

Ps. Take water/snacks with you as only one had a small drinks stand. The place to get off is outside a large orange restaurant on the right hand side where you will see the bicitaxis lined up.
Written February 6, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

CCC_wanderlust
Oxon Hill, MD2,440 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2011 • Friends
My friends and I were staying at a vacation rental in the heart of Merida, and on the advice of a local, we sought to visit the Cenotes of Cuzama on our own, and not part of a guided/pre-booked tour. Finding the right bus to Cuzama was an adventure in itself. To this day, I still don't know if we received the wrong directions or if we were at the right spot and the bus schedule had changed. Nevertheless, after an hour of backtracking and asking for directions, we found the correct bus to Cuzama (we had to chase it down, but that wasn't such a bad thing considering the amount of traffic only allowed vehicles to creep along).

When we arrived in Cuzama an hour or so later, we first had to hire transportation to get to the cenotes. There are plenty of motociclos in front of the Cuzama parish church, so one needn't worry about availability. Each motociclo can fit two people comfortably in the made cab, but since there were three of us, I opted to ride behind the driver. The motociclo driver knew exactly where to drop us off in the tiny village of Chunkanan, and we arranged with him to pick us up after a few hours.

We then met our buggy driver and horse, and the team was ready to go. No waiting for other tourists. It was interesting to see that because there was only one set of tracks, if two buggies were on the same track going opposite directions, the passengers of one buggy had to disembark, the horse unhitched, and the buggy driver removed the buggy off the track. Once the other buggy had gone on their way, the driver then had to return his buggy on the track, hitch the horse, and load the passengers back on. It's a lot of work! This happened several times during visit, so please, TIP YOUR DRIVER WELL.

Before I came Merida, I had no idea what cenotes were. On our way to the village of Chunkanan, I had many misgivings: was the water clean? were there going to be critters? is it generally safe? After Cenote Chelentun, the first one we visited, I was sold. The water was refreshing, clean, and there were no critters. It wasn't crowded when we were there, and our buggy driver patiently waited for us, so we could spend as much or as little time in a cenote as we liked. If you would like ot read more about the cenotes in the Yucatan, check out this article: http://yucatantoday.com/en/topics/cenotes-underwater-sinkholes.

Those three hours I spent visiting the Cuzama cenotes are at the top of the list of my fond memories of the Yucatan.

Tips on things to bring:
- towel
- flip flops or water shoes
- snacks (there aren't any food vendors around)
- water (it can be a dehydrating adventure!)
- waterproof camera
- sun protection (hat, sunscreen, etc.)

I hope you enjoy your visit as much as I did!
Written January 6, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

DMG
164 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2018 • Couples
There appears to be 2 Cenotes close to Merida, the one we went to, Xtohil was super easy to get to without a tour.

Catch a colectivo from near the noreste bus station. The collectivo will have Cuzama on the front and if you tell the bus driver where you are going he'll let you know when you are there but there are also signs and the day we went 5 blokes standing in the road shouting cenotes at passing traffic and one had a red flag.

There are 4 cenotes, getting to each is an experience as it's by horse and rail (the horse pulling our trap was well cared for). Each of the cenotes is very different, you can swim in all of them, one has a rope swing. They are beautiful, fish, bats, swallows, shafts of sunlight, stalagtights. Some are very deep but life jackets are available if you want them.

Our trip, including travel cost £10.00 or 450 pesos.

Remember if visiting cenotes, no bug spray or sun tan cream, deodorant. The waters are
Written November 5, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Ciara
Los Angeles, CA204 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2017
My friend and I had heard about cenotes being one of the highlights of the Yucatán - and after recommendations from both TripAdvisor and our hostel in Mérida, we decided to go to the ones in Cuzamá. (For the record, my friend and I are two young women).

My one piece of advice is be prepared for a decidedly "rustic" experience - and try to exercise a command of Spanish. I will explain later why this helps.

• We caught a "colectivo" (or van) nearby a busy bus station in Mérida; this was a little difficult to find even with directions/a map from our hostel. Look out for gray/white vans that have "Mérida" and "Cuzamá" stenciled on them. These vans run to and from Cuzamá every half hour (which make them a lot more flexible than the regulated buses); my friend and I arrived just in the nick of time to snag the last two seats on the 10am van. It cost 27 Pesos/person in total, which for an hourlong journey, is extremely cheap.

• The journey was very easy and interesting; time passed quickly and we passed some intriguing Mayan villages/towns en route. Cuzamá itself is one of these authentic Mayan towns and most of the people here are descendants of indigenous Maya.

• In Cuzamá, we were dropped off at a big dirt plaza in front of a yellowy-orange church. There were lots of mototaxis waiting for us to get off. We were the only tourists/foreigners on our bus and so one mototaxi man got to us first and told us he would take us to the cenotes.

• We were on the mototaxi for about 15 minutes traveling *very* rural and isolated dirt roads. As two young women in an unfamiliar area, we were understandably tense/nervous about this (and probably sensing this) our driver told us the reason he was taking us this way is because the main road to the cenotes was closed. Keep in mind, he said this to us entirely in Spanish; my friend and I have both previously studied abroad in México and as a result, speak Spanish decently.

• Finally, we arrived at the entrance to the cenotes; our mototaxi driver charged us 30 Pesos each for the journey (which we thought was a tad expensive) but we reasoned he had taken a longer route than usual - and also we didn't really care since we'd arrived at the cenotes safely.

• Upon entering, we were the only tourists there at the time. Immediately, we gave a man with a zipped fanny pack 200 Pesos each - and he said it would take about 2-2.5 hours to see all the cenotes. I've seen in other reviews that people were charged 300-400 Pesos; maybe we were in the off-season but I figured we were given a lesser charge because we could understand Spanish.

• A man named Hilberto immediately greeted us with a cart and a horse and we began hurtling on tracks towards the first cenote. I'm big on animal welfare and the horses seemed mostly well taken care of; they were not whipped or hit, Hilberto had a long piece of hard grass that he occasionally used to guide the horse left and right but other than that, we saw no visible signs of mistreatment. The horse also had a name (Zoro) and Hilberto was able to tell us his age (9). At each cenote (where you're allotted 30 minutes to swim freely), Zoro was allowed to rest amongst other horses and chew grass - although the landscape is quite arid.

• When it came to the cenotes, they were marvelous. For someone as afraid of heights as me, they were a little hairy descending into (the second one I personally didn't go down due to the 10 meter ladder/my corresponding fear - but my friend did!) and the water was absolutely gorgeous. It was truly magical; there were a couple other tourists at each cenote but it was a mostly private experience. The water was fresh, clean, and beautiful! (I recommend going earlyish in the day rather than later).

• At the end, after about two hours transpired, I tipped Hilberto 20 Pesos for being our guide - and then my friend and I caught a mototaxi back to the plaza. We were a little alarmed when we (again, two young women by ourselves) stopped at a dirt road intersection in the middle of nowhere in front of ten male mototaxi drivers. Naturally, we were nervous and fearful - until we discovered that they were trying to find the original guy who had taken us to the cenote - to take us back. Apparently, it's some sort of courtesy code to give the original mototaxi drivers return business. However, although we understood the sentiment behind this, we wanted to catch our van home and didn't want to be out in a rural area that we were unfamiliar with. As a result, we asked one of them to take us back to the plaza (in Spanish) and they did so right away. For those doubting this, we actually crossed paths via mototaxi with our original driver en route to the plaza (and he was quite irritated with or new driver for taking us!).

• At the plaza, we rested inside a little open-door corner store that serves as a small general store/bus-waiting area. After about 10 minutes, a van heading back to Mérida arrived (the manager of the general store kept a lookout for the van and let us know which one was heading to Mérida) and it was another easy journey that cost 27 Pesos.

In short, the cenotes are truly wonderful (and were a definitive highlight of our trip to México) but be prepared for some rusticness/no-frills with regards to getting to and from there. And although it's not entirely necessary, I do believe it would be hard to navigate this journey (at least from Mérida) without knowing a bit of Spanish.

However, the Cuzamá cenotes are renowned and the people are known by hotels and travelers in Mérida as being extremely trustworthy; by doing this on your own, you save a VAST amount of money (and have a much more personalized experience) than going through a guide/agent.
Written March 27, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Brittany
Winnipeg, Canada3,237 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2015 • Friends
I visited the Cenotes of Chunkanan on November 21 in the afternoon with a friend from the hostel I was staying at in Merida. Chunkanan is a very small and poor village located in the middle of the Yucatan jungle, just a short drive from the larger town of Cuzama.

In order to get to Chunkanan from Merida, we took a colectivo from Calle 67 between Calles 50 and 52 (across the street from the Noreste Bus Terminal). The journey to the town of Cuzama took about one hour and the colectivo stopped briefly at a few small towns along the way to drop people off and pick more people up. We arrived in Cuzama, a small traditional town in the Yucatan.

We were dropped off at the central square in Cuzama, where there were a bunch of motorcycle taxis waiting to take people to the cenotes. We choose one and sat on the wooden cart-like bench in front of the motorcycle, as our driver sped along. The motorcycle taxi cost 30 pesos one way. The drive was beautiful, with dense jungle surrounding both sides of the narrow paved road.

We soon came to a few men standing on the side of the road and waving red flags, attempting to guide us into their parking lot where their cenote tour began. I had read about this before coming to Mexico during my research and I told our motorcycle taxi driver to keep driving to the village of Chunkanan, which was a little way south of Cuzama. Chunkanan is the original starting point for the tour and it was developed by the locals, however, after the people of Cuzama saw how much success the Chunkanan people were having with the tours, they wanted a piece of the pie and started their own cenote tour (taking tourists to three different cenotes than those in Chunkanan). I knew ahead of time that I wanted to support the original tour in Chunkanan, as these tours are the villagers main source of income.

Shortly after passing the red flag guys, we arrived in the very tiny typical Mayan village of Chunkanan. I love learning about the daily lives of local Mexicans and it was fascinating to me to be able to experience the Mexican village life, to see their houses and interact with the locals, even if it was only briefly. Once in the village, we were greeted by bunch of local guides with their carts lined up. We chose one and met our guide (whose name I cannot remember, unfortunately).

We hopped on this old and rickety wooden cart. It was pulled by a healthy looking horse along a very old railway track that went through the jungle. Our guide spoke Spanish only but thanks to my basic Spanish knowledge, I was able to understand some of what he was telling us. The horse ran along the railway track and pulled us along (our horse, Barbie, escaped and ran into the jungle one time along the track to eat some foliage. Thankfully, our guide caught her again). The jerky motion of the cart on the track was actually somewhat painful! There were a few times during our journey where we met a cart coming from the opposite direction on the same railway track as we were on. We had to get out of the cart and our guide had to physically lift the cart off the track, let the other group pass, and then hoist it back on for us to keep going. It was quite interesting to watch!

After about 10 minutes or so, we arrived at the first cenote. It was called Cenote Diapakal. I loved the completely natural jungle setting surrounding the cenote and nothing had been done to develop the area. Even the cenote sign was hand printed and posted on a tree! The cenote had a very small and dark opening in the rocky ground. There was a steep metal ladder that looked like one of the railway tracks leading completely vertical down into the cenote. Our guide went first and then it was my turn. The space was very narrow as you make your way underground. At the end of the ladder, there was a very small wooden landing to stand (it’s tight and only about two people fit here). In front of the ledge, was a small and dark pool of water. I did not swim here, but if you were already wearing your swimsuit, I am sure you would be able to.

Our guide then hoisted the cart back onto the track and we made our way deeper into the jungle to the second cenote, which was located closely to the first cenote. We arrived shortly after to Cenote Starcruz. It was accessed via a sloped stone stairway through a larger opening in the rock. The staircase opened up to a large cavern with high rock ceilings and a small and shallow pool of clear water for swimming. I didn’t end up swimming here, as there were no washrooms or changing area for me to put on my swimsuit. It was a beautiful cenote!

The third cenote was much deeper in the dense jungle and was about 20 minutes from the second one. I loved riding on the cart and it was so tranquil being surrounded by the jungle. The third cenote (name I cannot remember) was the largest and the best one of the three. There were very rustic changing rooms and washrooms in a small hut near the cenote. There were also some locals selling drinks and snacks. The cenote was accessed via a long and sturdy cement staircase that lead through a large opening in the ground and down to a stone landing area (where you can leave your belongings). It was easily accessible. There was a huge, partially covered cavern with deep blue water and tree roots hanging down from the ground above. Getting into the water was a bit tricky, as there were no stairs, just uneven rocks to guide your way. This cenote was the best for swimming and the water was so refreshing and beautiful. We spent a lot of time here while our guide and cart waited for us at the ground level.

At all three cenotes, there was only one other small group of people there at the same time as us. The uncrowded environment was very peaceful and relaxing which I enjoyed.

After we were finished at the third cenote, we made our way back down the railway track to Chunkanan.

The cost of the entire tour per cart was 350 pesos. I split it with my friend so we each paid 175 pesos plus tip to our drive at the end of the tour. I suggest bringing water and snacks (as they only sell them at the third and final cenote) and sturdy, comfortable shoes for climbing into the cenotes.

In Chunkanan, there were motorcycle taxis waiting to take people back to Cuzama. The ride was another 30 pesos. Upon arriving in Cuzama, we waited a few minutes before a colectivo van pulled up to the central square area and we rode back to Merida.

The entire cenote tour including transport to and from Merida took us approximately 4 hours but it could be more or less, depending on how long you choose to stay at each cenote.

Taking a horse-drawn cart down an old rail track and visiting these three off the beaten path cenotes in the middle of the Yucatan jungle was such an amazing, authentic and unique cultural and local experience!

I would highly recommend this cenote tour to anyone traveling through the Yucatan.
Written December 27, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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