Cenotes, Underwater Sinkholes

Cenote Bolonchojool at Cuzama

The natural wonders of the state of Yucatán are innumerable and some of the most important and unusual are the cenotes, or sinkholes. It is estimated that there are more than 6000, although only 2400 are registered.

The Mayas called them dzonot, which the conquering Spaniards translated as cenote. Geraldo Díaz Alpuche was a military commander in the 16th century who was greatly impressed with these underground caverns and pools, and he tried to explain the meaning of the word cenote in the Spanish language as meaning "deep thing".

The Motul dictionary, a dictionary of Mayan hieroglyphics, defines dzonot as "abysmal and deep". 

Cenotes are magical, enigmatic and unique in the world and were once the only resource for fresh, sweet water in the local Yucatecan jungle. They were the sacred places of the Mayas for that reason, but also because they represented the entrance to the underworld.

Yucatan HIRE

The Yucatán Peninsula is a porous limestone shelf with no visible rivers; all the fresh water rivers are underground. Being porous, caverns and caves formed where the fresh water collects – hence the cenotes or water sinkholes. The water that gathers in these subterranean cenotes is a crystal clear turquoise color with a very pleasant temperature of 78° F (25.5º C). 

The stalactites and stalagmites that form inside the cenotes are true natural works of art. In many, holes in the ceiling allow the sunlight to filter into the cenotes, giving the scene a magical feeling. The cenotes of Yucatán are a natural treasure that should be seen by all, keeping in mind that they should be protected so that man does not destroy in a few days what nature took millions of years to create.

There are four different types of cenotes - those that are completely underground, those that are semi-underground, those that are at land level like a lake or pond, like the one at Dzibilchaltún, and those that are open wells, like the one in Chichén Itzá. Some of them are accessible for swimming and cave diving, but this is a sport that should ONLY be practiced with a professional guide.

Arriving by air into Merida, think of the land of cenotes, geological cavities which vary according to their morphology; deposits of crystalline waters with a stunning kaleidoscope of natural light, and also, incidentally, which played a leading role in the development of the Mayan culture. Without cenotes, this enigmatic civilization would not have prospered, not to mention the religious significance that they played in their mythology, as the gateways to the underworld. When your plane touches down, only a few meters away from the runway are some of these natural wonders. The cenotes by the airport cannot be visited, as they are not open to the public, but the geography of the Penísula is full of them. Do not miss the chance to see the cenotes of Yucatán: pure magic!

To understand the reason for their existence, click here. It's all about meteors and dinosaurs!

Here is a list of some of the most accessible cenotes:

Cenote Yaxunah
With the participation of local residents, the beautiful Yaxunah Cenote has recently received new stairs and access to a picnic area. It is located between Chichén Itzá and Yaxcabá, and there is also a Cultural Center and the Yaxunah archaeological site nearby. www.yaxunahcentrocultural.org

Cenote San Ignacio
Just 20 minutes from Mérida, on the highway to the neighboring state of Campeche in the village of Chochola, is the cenote San Ignacio. This cenote is a safe place and ideal for swimming in its transparent, turquoise waters. Found inside a cavern, there is artificial lighting and even music! The domed type roof is about 24 feet tall, from which hang incredible stalactites. For your enjoyment and comfort, you will find palapas, bathrooms, showers, dressing rooms, a children’s play area, wading pools, stables, restaurant, and spa. Open 365 days a year. www.cenotesanignacio.com

Cenote Yokdzonot
Yokdzonot Village. A swim in this cenote is a magical experience. Small fish dart all around you, birds are swooping overhead and singing, and dragonflies flutter above the water's surface. The water is cool and clean. Just 10 minutes from Chichen Itza and some meters away from the cenote, is a Ecohotel & Camping, Yucatan Mayan Retreat,  to stay! Open seven days a week, and life jackets can be rented. For those who love the adventurous and exciting exploration you can get one of their 3 ecotours packages in the Yokdzonot cenote at:
Web: www.yucatanmayanretreat.webs.com 

Cenote Cuzama - 3 in 1
The town of Cuzamá is becoming well known for the large number of cenotes found there. Especially unique is a tour that you can do in this area where you will visit three cenotes. Go past the tourist booth in the village of Cuzamá (read more about this here; there are some issues you need to be aware of) and continue on to the village of Chunkanan where you can hire a guide who will put you on a platform buggy pulled by horses (cost: 250 pesos for 3 hours' visit to 3 cenotes). You will travel this way for 7 km. on interesting paths through the surrounding countryside. The main cenotes are: Chelentún (laying down rock), Chansinic'che (tree with small ants) and Bolonchoojol (nine drops of water). The Chelentun Cenote is located about 3 km. from the Chunkanan hacienda and about 3 km. south of Cuzamá. The water is incredibly blue and clear with excellent visibility. Stalactite and stalagmite formations add to its unique beauty. For more information, check out our Cuzamá day trip

This beautiful cenote is just 6 km past Cuzamá.
Guide for the Homún cenotes: Felipe Espinosa. 
Email: [email protected] 
Facebook: Felipe Espinosa Guia DE Turistas 

Zaci - in Valladolid
Located in the heart of Valladolid, this is a semi-open cenote that has a diameter of 150 feet and is 260 feet deep. This is a popular cenote for swimming in the refreshing turquoise waters. You will see a rare species of eyeless black fish known as "lub." A third of the cenote is covered with stalactites and stalagmites and there is a walkway around the entire cenote. There is also a great restaurant on the property.

Cenote Xlacah
Cenote Xlacah 
Located at the Mayan site of Dziblichaltún, just north of Mérida, this is the closest to Mérida. Meaning "old village," it is an open ground level cenote, great for swimming. It is more than 140 feet deep at one end.
Open from 8 AM to 4 PM, it is a great place to jump in after a visit to the archaeological site.

Cenotes X'kekén and Samulá
Located in Dzitnup, 7 km. southeast of Valladolid, this cenote is underground with a hole in the ceiling. It is probably one of the most photographed cenotes in the Yucatán. Deep, refreshing, crystal clear waters await you and it is a great cenote for swimming. There is lighting and a guide rope to make it easier to enter. Don't forget to buy a picture postcard from the kids at the entrance as taking a picture just never turns out right and you WILL want a picture of this to show the family. Entrance for each cenote: nationals adults $31.00, foreigners $59.00.

Cenote Ik kil
Located in the Eco-archeological Park Ik Kil, just 3 km. from Chichén Itzá and Pisté. Called the "Sacred Blue Cenote," it is a perfectly round well-type cenote with exuberant vegetation and waterfalls. This is another ideal place for swimming in the clear blue water. 196 feet wide and about 130 feet deep, it is an open cenote about 85 feet from the surface. A grand stairway leads you down the steps into the water.

 Entrance is 70 pesos and it is open daily from 8 AM to 6 PM. There is also an excellent buffet style restaurant here and bungalows for overnight stay (contact: tel. (985) 851 0002, Srita. Ana Luisa, from 10 am to 5 pm).

Cenote Kankirixche 
(tree with yellow fruit)
At Kankirixche Cenote, you will find a large, spectacular sub-aquatic cavern with crystal clear water that allows fantastic visibility for snorkeling or scuba. In this grand cenote you will also find stalactites and alamo tree roots that form an impressive formation from the ceiling to the water. Kankirixche is a semi-open cenote 33 feet high, 90 feet long and about 75 feet wide. Tour required to see this cenote. Contact www.mayanecotours.com

This village gets its name from the large number of cenotes located within the town and the outskirts. According to locals there are more than 150 cenotes, some of which are located in open fields. The main cenotes are Kaipech, Xayin, Xoch, Yook Chac (magnificent, privately owned cenote with caves, its own Mayan ruins, and a greater chance to observe wildlife), and Ucil (town cenote). Excellent, knowledgeable guide: Juan Verde, who knows the area very well. Contact him: tel. 9911 107 236 or 9911 063 637, Calle 13 No. 156 x 18 y 20, Cenotillo. Facebook: Verde Brothers Cenotillo. Or if in Cenotillo, ask at the main square.

Dzul-Ha (Caballero del Agua) at the Hacienda Sotuta de Peon. Monday to Sunday: Package includes: Tour in "truck", visit to Casa Maya, life jacket and visor at cenote. Optional: Restaurant service. Adult $220 pesos. Children: $110 pesos. Info: 941 64 41. www.haciendatour.com

Cenote Maya Park
Near town of Chemax, 20 minutes east of Valladolid. Facebook

Cenote Chihuan
80 km. from Mérida on the "Libre" road to Cancún, this underground cenote is clean, safe, well lit, and has easy access. Change rooms, parking, regional food, green area, camping and horseback riding. 

Related articles:
- The Seven Best Cenotes in Yucatan
- Cenote Kankixche
- Cenotes at Cuzama
- Cenote Peba
- Cenote Yokdzonot
- The Surprises of Homún 

- Map of the Yucatan Peninsula

Tours to cenotes:

Cel. (999) 947 7599
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://william-lawson.squarespace.com

Calle 51 # 488 x 56 y 54
Centro Histórico, C.P. 97000
Mérida, Yucatán, México
Tel:  52-   999-9 87 37 10
Cel:    52-1-   99 91 05 46 14
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: www.mayanecotours.com


cenotes en el estado de yucatan

por favor envieme todo lo relacionado con los cenotes en el estado gracias ate. lic. frans posset

Cenote tours

Una de las mejores opciones es ponerse en contacto con www.mayanecotours.com Juanita Stein, Editor

Cenotes location

I was just diving a Cenotes site -Chac Mool ,Kukulkan.I am trying to locate where it was on a map.I know it was off 307 hwy.,near Puerto Adventuras.Any help you may be ,Thank you.


saludos yacatan

quisiera saber como puedo, comseguir videos de los cenotes. "QUE DIOS TE BENDIGA"



love this information ...I will go to the nearest one ..thank you so very much


Cenotes curativos

Mande informacion acerca de cenotes q se le atribuen poderes magicos y curativos y es resguardados por ninos y adolecentes, gracias y saludos.


Cenotes curativos

Quisiera informacion acerca de los cenotes cuidados por menores alos cuales se les atribuyen poderes curativos.


Thanks a lot!!

Thank you very much. We are going planning to go soon. We really appreciate you going to take the time for find information for us!! Thank you


I would like to live in yucatan

Its so beautiful it doenst compare here where iam living. I am from san bernardino california and i would like to live in that paradise iam mexican too. God bless you.


cenotes curativos

me gustaria saber que cenotes puedo visitar con poderes magicos y curativos, horarios y costo




hi, i would like to know if we can wear a swimming vest when we go in the i kil cenote of chi chenitza since we do know how to swim ....




re. swimming vest

That is absolutely no problem!


Water from Cenotes

Are this water available that people can buy and drink it?


Agua de los cenotes

El agua de los cenotes, esta disponible para consumo y a la venta?
Se puede tomar? O usar como medicina holistica?


re. water / agua

Not that we know of...it is for swimming, not drinking.

Yucatan Today Editor


I would like to live in yucatan

Hi Zamira, I am also Mexico American and my husband is american, we just moved a month ago to Yucatan after 25 years ln the US and my husband and I are realy happy here, people is so nice and friendly, the bad thing is that is too hot but we are getting just to it.


i m looking to buy a cenote in the Yukatan

hi every one me and my family are looking to buy a cenote on a large pice of land .I m looking for investors that want to have a home or small cottage and that dont want to spend a fortune .i have a plan to rent the cabins will your woring in your contry.
buy being in the starters pack you ll be making a profit out of the cenote and the cabine renting plus the onership of a large parcel of land for future sales.THe investement starts at 19000$ and more if you want a bigger house.This company will have no debts ,no electricity bills and no employs .me and my wife will work on the site for the company.lots of clients will justifie the hiering of mexican peoples


bus transport to cenotes

Can you take a bus or collectivo from Merida to Cuzama and other cenotes down down Hwy. 18 and back up Hwy.184? We would rather not rent a car but would like to get on and off the bus in small centres. Probably stay overnight enroute. Also like to do tour from Vallodolid to similar cenotes and points of interest such as Dzinup and Zaci. We are leaving from Playa del Carmen and would like to bus to Merida but make small stops along the way. What are your suggestion? is fine too. Points of interest, best centotes, (maybe ones to scuba in/equipnent rental?), inexpensive but clean places to stay, etc.
Many thanks


re. bus transport to cenotes

You can take a colectivo virtually anywhere in the state, we don't have schedules, but where there is a highway there are colectivos. If you go to the second class bus depot in Merida on Calle 67 x 50 in Centro you will get a bus to Cuzama which makes stops enroute. From Playa-Valladolid-Merida go to the bus depot in Playa and ask about options, most of the buses are express, but you may find some which make stops.

Here are some articles to help you:




Also be SURE to contact: http://www.mayanecotours.com/ Contact Connie, the owner, at [email protected] and tell her Juanita from Yucatan Today sent you!


bus transport to cenotes

Thank you for taking the time to answer. It is very much appreciated. You have helped us a lot!


Cruise Ships

We will be in Progresso in July on a Carnival Cruise. Some of these tours are not offered through the cruise line, however we are interested in the tour through Mayan Ecotours. Do you know if these companies are willing to work with the cruise ship passengers? I am just nervous about making it back to the ship in time following the tour.


re. cruise ships

Contact Connie Leal, she is the owner of Mayan Ecotours, and she speaks English. She is VERY reliable and responsible and if she says it is do-able, then she will get you back in time. BUT... go with your own comfort zone for timing, as the best cenotes may be pretty far away from Progreso. See what she says. Web: http://www.mayanecotours.com/ Email: [email protected] Your other option is William Lawson Excursions...he will pick you up at the ship, take you to a cenote or two in his comfortable car, give you lots of info along the way, and get you back in time. He is 100% reliable. http://lawsonsdriving.blogspot.com/



What are the nicest and closest cenotes near Cancun? Can we get to any in under an hour from there?


re. cenotes

There are LOTS! Unfortunately, as we specialize in the state of Yucatan, I don't have a list of Quintana Roo cenotes. I do know that the Dos Ojos Cenote and Jaguar cenote are well known, and there is a Cenote Route along the Riviera Maya. You have 2 options: find a cenote tour from Cancun (there will be many) or rent a car, head south, and just look for signs to cenotes. And of course do some more research online for Quintana Roo cenotes.



He escuchado varias historias de los poderes de estos cenos de agua. Lo he visto en reportajes y de mi esposo que es un mexicano muy enterado de culturas, historia y creyencias Mexicanas. Aparte de ser un lugar bien bello me suena my fuera de este mundo los poderes especiales a los que esa poblacion tiene la suerte de disfrutar.


hi from canada

Just read your post about buying land with cenote. Noticed it was over one year ago. Did you get going on this. I am interested in hearing more.



Hi all! My husband and i are staying for two weeks in chelem? any way to rent moped in Progreso? also any cenotes near Progreso or Chelem? Thanks for any help!


Overexploitation of cenotes in Yucatan - Cenote San Ignacio

Is sad to see how some wonderful cenotes, like the San Ignacio in Chochola, are being exploited by greedy owners without any consideration to the environment. On a recent visit to this cenote (http://www.cenotesanignacio.com/) we were surprised to share the cave with almost 60 people, from 2 differnt tourist buses. Bear in mind that this cenote is considerably smaller than most in Yucatan, but greed and no consideration to tourist led to overexploit this natural resource. I strongly advice you NOT to go there and pass on the word to other people as a way to held the preservation of this natural caves. The Government of Yucatan should be aware of this greedy companies that are making money by destroying the natural resources of this region.


Cenote zaci

How many feet is the dive into the water from the high platform in zaci?



I experienced a day tour of 4 cenotes while visiting Cancun-Quintana Roo earlier this month....priceless! I plan on going back in March to discover some new ones.

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