Are Cenotes safe? EVERYTHING You Need To Know! (2023)

Are Cenotes safe? Cenotes are not only safe for swimming but they’re nature’s perfect swimming spots free from the dangers of the beach. 

In cenotes, there’s no current so you don’t have to worry about rip tides, waves, or boats while you swim. There are also no predators like sharks, large crocodiles, or even fish. 

In some cenotes there might be small carp and minnows, but nothing that will affect a swimmer. 

water shoes are a very important thing to remember to make swimming in a cenote in mexico safe as possible.
Water shoes are a must at most cenotes

Safety Tips For Visiting A Cenote 

  1. Wear water shoes!  
  2. If you’re not a strong swimmer, go to a cenote that offers life-vests
  3. Be careful to not swallow any cenote water
  4. Keep your eyes closed (or use goggles) when you put your head underwater

There are no sharks in Cenotes - something that makes swimming in a cenote safer than swimming in the ocean.

Are There Sharks In Cenotes?

The 2019 horror movie “49 Meters Down: Uncaged” popularized the idea that there are man-eating sharks in Cenotes. I’m happy to report that not only is this 100% false, but cenotes are all freshwater! Sharks only live in salt water, so you never have to worry about sharks while swimming in a cenote.

a baby crocodile - sometimes there are small crocodiles in cenotes, but they rarely pose dangers to people.

Are There Crocodiles In Cenotes? 

Yes and no. In pretty much any body of fresh water in the Yucatan Peninsula you’ll be able to find a croc, but they prefer large bodies of shallow water. 

Since cenotes are sinkholes that are usually small and deep, there’s not a large crocodile issue, since there’s nowhere for the crocs to bask in the sun. 

When there are crocodiles in cenotes, it’s usually well-known. For example, Casa Cenote has a small crocodile called “Panchito” which they consider a mascot that is very friendly to tourists. 

a girl swimming in a clear fresh-water cenote in mexico.

Is The Water Clean In Cenotes?

Cenotes are all connected to underground freshwater springs, which means cenote water should be crystal clear and some of the cleanest in the world. 

Unfortunately, over-tourism and pollution mean that’s not always the case. 

In some cenotes like Cenote Calavera you’ll see an oily sheen on the top of the water, this is from the sunscreen from all the tourists washing off into the cenote water. 

It’s important to always shower off before entering a cenote if you have any bug spray, lotion, or sunscreen on your skin to keep the cenote water clean. 

Most cenotes will offer showers for this reason, and some will require it to keep the cenote’s ecosystem safe from pollutants. 

a woman whose stomach is upset after drinking cenote water. It's important to remember to keep your eyes and mouth closed while swimming in a cenote because it's freshwater, which is not as safe to swim in as ocean water.

Can You Get Sick From Cenote Water?

Getting sick from cenote water is considered a bit of an urban legend, but every time you swim in fresh untreated (meaning unchlorinated) water you do run the very real risk of contracting Norovirus. 

Norovirus is a stomach bug that you can catch by swimming in contaminated water. In 2014 there was a whole lake in Oregon contaminated with the virus that got 70 people sick! 

There has never been a confirmed case of Norovirus associated with a cenote, but there are a lot of anecdotal stories online from people who swam in cenotes and got funny tummies in the following days. 

There’s also the possibility of contracting Giardia, which is a parasite that affects the stomach when swimming in untreated freshwater. If you do catch Giardia, it can be cleared up with some anti-parasitic pills. 

You can get sick from lots of things in Mexico, including ice in drinks made from tap water

It’s important to remember that there are a lot of things in Mexico that can make tourists sick. For example, foreigners usually can’t drink tap water in Mexico. 

Sometimes the contaminated tap water is used to make ice in drinks and to wash fresh fruits and vegetables, and then tourists get sick from consuming things like fresh salads and smoothies. 

If you do swim in a cenote and wind up with a stomachache in the following days, it might be due to the ice in your drink rather than the cenote you visited! 

a cenote in mexico.

Are Cenotes Cold? 

It depends! Some cenotes like Casa Cenote and Laguna Kaan Luum are open-air cenotes that get lots of sunlight warming the water. Others like the Coba Cenotes, are almost 100% underground and get no sunlight heating up the water. 

Even in a 100% underground cenote, the water is a refreshing temperature to swim in after being out in the Mayan Riviera heat. 

Laguna Kaan Luum is a very shallow cenote outside of Tulum which is safe for swimmers.
Laguna Kaan Luum is a very shallow cenote outside of Tulum

RELATED ARTICLE ☀️ Ultimate Guide To Laguna Kaan Luum

Are Cenotes Safe For Non-Swimmers?

Yes! There are many cenotes near Cancun and Tulum that not only offer life-vests but require them for all swimmers. 

Other cenotes like Laguna Kaan Luum are only a few feet deep and perfect for non-swimmers. 

Some cenotes that offer life vests:

  • Cenote Oxman 
  • Cenote Suytun
  • Cenote Zaci 
  • Cenote Saamal 

cenote oxman in mexico is a cenote that is safe for non-swimmers because everyone has to wear a life vest.
Cenote Oxman

RELATED ARTICLE 🚴‍♀️ Ultimate Guide To Biking In Tulum

Best Cenote Tours  

👉 Click here to book a bike tour that visits three cenotes in Tulum + Includes lunch.

👉 Book your tour of Chichen Itza ruins + a visit to a cenote .

👉 Click here to book an all-inclusive tour that visits Tulum Ruins, Coba Ruins, and a cenote.

divers in a cenote. Cenote diving is considered some of the best in the world and one of the top activities to do in tulum.

What Is A Cenote?

Cenote (seh-NOH-tay) literally means “sinkhole” in Mayan.

These sinkholes, which started out as water sources and places for sacred offerings for the Mayans, have in recent years developed into freshwater swimming spots for tourists and locals alike.

Sometimes Cenotes are 100% underground, sometimes they’re half in a cave, and sometimes they’re entirely above ground. Cenotes that are 100% above ground are sometimes called lagoons.

There are over 2,000 Cenotes in the Mayan Riviera, and more are being discovered every day.

Cenotes are a natural geological marvel that are only found in the Yucatán Peninsula, and a must-see if you’re planning a trip to Quintana Roo.

The BEST Cenotes Near Tulum

Cenote Calavera

How to get to Cenote Calavera

Cenote Calavera is a 5-minute drive or a 10-minute bike ride from Tulum Centro – basically, it’s in Tulum.

You can get to Tulum via a 50 pesos Colectivo from Playa del Carmen or take an Ado bus from Cancun or Playa.

Cenote Calavera charges a 250 pesos entrance fee + 300 pesos for photos (and yes! They send someone over all the time to check if people have their camera/go pro out), It’s right next to Tulum and bike-able from the main center.

You have to go at 9 AM because it’s very small, we were the first ones there but by 10:30 there were so many people it was impossible to swim in.

You can jump in at this Cenote through three holes: two are the “eyes” and one is the mouth – it’s supposed to look like a skull from above, hence the name “Calavera” = skull. 

It’s so much fun to cliff-jump at Cenote Calavera, but if there’s more than a handful of people there you won’t be able to jump into the main (mouth of the skull) hole because it will be clogged with a loooooong line of people getting the “iconic shot” sitting in the swing that this cenote is known for.

💰 Cenote Calavera Entrance Fee 

250 Pesos ($12) 

📍Cenote Calavera Address

Carretera Tulum Coba Km 1.7, 77796 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

⏰ Cenote Calavera Hours

On Google it says 9 AM – 5 PM every day – but we got there at first thing at 9 AM and they didn’t open the doors until 9:30..

a girl at cenote aldea zama in Tulum. Cenote Aldea Zama is the only free and cenote to visit in the tulum area, but does not have any safety precautions for swimmers.

Cenote Aldea Zama

RELATED ARTICLE 🤿 Guide To Visiting Cenote Aldea Zama

How to get to Cenote Aldea Zama

You can walk or bike to Aldea Zama Cenote from pretty much anywhere in Tulum.

I only found out about this Cenote because I worked a photoshoot here for a musical instruments store in Tulum – it’s truly a local secret. This is the only 100% FREE Cenote on this list because it hasn’t been commercialized yet.

It’s super clean and right in the center of Aldea Zama; which is an area of Tulum a lot of Ex-Pats live.

Because it’s not commercialized there’s no set address or hours – I would recommend getting there no later than 9 AM because it’s so small that even one other group there is too many, and by 10 AM usually it’s pretty crowded, and it stays that way until sunset.

There’s no set address for Cenote Aldea Zama but it’s located near Kokoro Tulum: Av Balam Dzakab Copal, Aldea Zama, 77760 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

📍 If you look up “Aldea Zama Cenote” on google maps there’s a marker.

caleta tankah's freshwater cenote is one of two on the property that are included in your entrance fee
caleta tankah cenote in Tulum is the only saltwater cenote

Caleta Tankah

How to get to Caleta Tankah

Caleta Tankah is about 10 minutes outside of Tulum on Highways 307, you can bike there (like I did, wouldn’t recommend) from Tulum or take a taxi and arrange a pickup time via Whatsapp for about $7 each way.

If you bike there from Tulum it will take about 30-45 minutes each way, if you have a scooter or a car it should only be about 10.

👉 Book your Tulum scooter rental ahead of time by clicking here. 👈

If you’re coming from Cancun or Playa via public transit the easiest way to get to Caleta Tankah is by getting to Tulum first via bus or Colectivo and then biking, scootering, or driving to Caleta Tankah from Tulum center.

Caleta Tankah isn’t the name of the cenote – it’s actually the name of the hotel/beach club that owns two Cenotes on its property.

Both are open-air cenotes; one is inland in the jungle and is very clean (as of 2021) by cenotes near Tulum standards; the water is crystal clear and very shallow. The other cenote at Caleta Tankah opens up to the ocean.

It’s a bit steep to get in (300 pesos) but Caleta Tankah is one of the only places in Tulum with a (small) seaweed-free beach.

So if you’re going in the warmer months and want to escape the Sargassum, this beach club has a Cenote that lets out into the ocean and naturally filters the seaweed.

  • Tip: It’s rocky and water shoes are a must.

💵 Caleta Tanhah Entrance Fee

300 Pesos ($15) – includes both cenotes

📍 Caleta Tankah Address

Km. 233+400, México 307, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

⏰ Caleta Tankah Hours

9 AM – 5 PM every day

Laguna Kaan Lum

How to get to Laguna Kaan Lum

Coming from Tulum you can hop a Colectivo in the center for 35 pesos that will drop you off near the lagoon, or a private taxi from Tulum will cost about 250 pesos (tourist price).

If you have a scooter you can easily drive it to Laguna Kaan Lum from Tulum.

👉 Book your Tulum scooter rental ahead of time by clicking here. 👈

10 min outside Tulum, this huge lagoon (which is actually a giant open-air cenote) is great for relaxing. 300 pesos to get in, 200 if you’re a Mexican citizen.

There’s no snack bar here (when I went they only sold beer) so bring water and food if you want to stay awhile.

The lagoon is super shallow, you’re able to stand in most of it, and then in the center, there’s a deep dark hole in the center that plummets down to 80 meters and is popular with scuba divers.

💵 Laguna Kaan Luum Entrance Fee

300 Pesos ($15) 

📍 Laguna Kaan Lum Address

laguna kaan luum, 77760 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

⏰ Laguna Kaan Lum Hours

9 AM – 4 PM.

a man swimming on Dos Ojos cenote complex in mexico.

Dos Ojos Cenote Complex

How to get to Dos Ojos

Dos Ojos is a famous cenote complex off Highway 307 when you’re coming from Playa del Carmen towards Tulum.

You can either take a cab each way, which should be $20 coming from Tulum or Playa, or if you really want to save some $$$ you can have a Colectivo (35-50 pesos each way) drop you off on the way.

If you’re coming from Tulum have the Colectivo drop you off at Xel Ha waterpark, and from there you’ll need to cross highway 307 and walk inland maybe about 40 minutes to the Cenote.

  • Coming from Playa you’d be dropped off on the correct side of the highway and would have to cross in order to go home.
  • Coming from Cancun via public transit you could take a Colectivo to Playa, transfer, and then take another Colectivo to Dos Ojos.

Dos Ojos Cenote Complex has 5 cenotes; Dos Ojos, El Pit, Jaguar, Nicte Ha, & Los Monos.

You can pay per cenote entrance (200-300 pesos per cenote), or book a guided tour of the park for 600-700 pesos on their website linked here.

📍 Dos Ojos Address

Cenote Jaguar Rd, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

⏰ Dos Ojos Hours

9 AM – 5 PM

Cenote Corazon

How to get to Cenote Corazon

From Tulum you can get a Colectivo for about 25 pesos that will drop you off near Corazon, and from there you can walk.

Coming from Cancun or Playa you could get a bus or Colectivo to Tulum and then transfer. Cenote Corazon is a bit too far to bike from Tulum, but you could take a scooter or a cab which should be about $10 each way.

This is a newly discovered Cenote near Kaan Luum. Cenote Corazon is heart-shaped, hence the name Corazon = heart in Spanish.

It’s more like a lagoon/freshwater swimming hole – last I checked it was 80 pesos to get in but prices are going up fast in Tulum!

📍 Cenote Corazon Address

Carretera A Tulum Carrillo Puerto KM 200, Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

⏰ Cenote Corazon Hours

9 AM – 5 PM. 

laguna Yalku freshwater open-air cenote is one of the most famous spots in Akumal.
laguna Yalku freshwater open-air cenote is one of the most famous spots in Akumal and has an extensive sculpture garden, like the one pictures, where mexican artists exhibit metal artworks all year round.

Cenote y Laguna Yalku

RELATED ARTICLE 🐢 How To Swim With The SeaTurtles In Akumal

How to get to Laguna Yalku from Cancun

Akumal is about an hour and a half from Cancun; the Ado bus runs a service from Cancun to Chetumal 5 times a day and you can ask them to drop you off at Akumal along the way.

You will have to cross the highway via an overpass if you’re coming from Cancun via bus. Alternatively, you can rent a car or take a taxi to Akumal, a taxi should be about $70 one-way, max.

How to get to Laguna Yalku from Playa del Carmen or Tulum

Take a Colectivo to Akumal from Tulum or Playa del Carmen for 35-50 pesos, and then from Akumal bus stop it’s about a 30-40 min walk or you can hail a taxi from Akumal Beach (less than 10 min walk from the bus stop) for around 150 pesos. Or you can take a taxi for around $20 from Playa or Tulum.

Laguna Yalku is an open-air cenote with an amazing sculpture garden. It’s a bit pricey at 300 pesos just for entrance and then more to rent towels, snorkel, flippers, etc, but completely worth it.

Similar to Caleta Tankah the open-air cenote gives the feeling of a beach without having to deal with any seaweed, but Laguna Yalku is much larger than Caleta Tankah.

💡 Budget Tip: Just renting a towel, snorkel, flippers, and life vest at this cenote will cost over 500 pesos ($25), if you want to save money bring your own snorkel and beach gear!

📍 Laguna Yalku Address

Calle Acceso Etapa H Lote 5 Akumal Norte, 77776 Akumal, Q.R., Mexico

⏰ Laguna Yalku Hours

9 AM – 5 PM every day

cenote choo ha in the coba cenotes complex
Photos from Cenote Choo-Ha

Coba Cenotes

How to get to Coba Cenotes via public transit

Take a bus from the Ado station to Cobá. We booked an Oriente bus (in person because Oriente isn’t listed online) for 55 pesos each way. If you’re coming by bus from Cancun or Playa you’ll likely have to transfer in Tulum.

How to get to Coba Cenotes via Via Car or Taxi

You could always rent a car and drive yourself, or hire a driver for the day: Cobá is 45 minutes from Tulum, 1.5 hours from Playa del Carmen, and 2 hours from Cancun. I wouldn’t recommend going via scooter unless you’re comfortable on the highways.

💡 Tip: go early to avoid the tour buses.

Cobá Cenotes: 3 Cenotes, 100 pesos each to enter. The Cobá cenotes are unique because they’re all 100% underground. These were my favorite cenotes in Mexico because they’re touristed less frequently and the water is crystal clear.

How to get to the Cenotes from Cobá

  • Next to the ruins there will be a place for you to rent bikes – they charged us 85 pesos per bike – the bikes are old and my friend got a rather busted one, you can alternatively take a cab there (but unless you pay for them to wait for you there’s no way to get back) so the best way is to bike it. It’s a 20 min bike and you’ll pass various “Mayan villages’ that cater to tourists.
  • Note: There were no taxis at the cenotes when we went, so if you go there via taxi you’ll need to have the driver wait for you so you’re not stranded.

📍 Coba Cenotes Address

Chanchen 1, Cobá, Q.R., Mexico

⏰ Coba Cenotes Hours

8 AM – 6 PM every day

a girl standing on a rock in cenote choo ha in coba, mexico.
Outrageously blue water

Cenote Choo-Ha

Great! Not touristy, get there before the afternoon to avoid tour buses. All of the Cobá Cenotes are entirely underground and make you shower off sunscreen before entering.

The high jump at Cenote Tankach-Ha in coba mexico.
The high jump at Cenote Tankach-Ha is my favorite Mexico memory

Cenote Tankach-Ha

Super deep, 100% underground, people jump from dedicated platforms. One is 3 meters high and one is about 10. I jumped from the high platform and it’s the most fun I had in all of Mexico.

Cenote Multun-Ha

I have no idea what this Cenote was like because I didn’t get to see it!

As we were biking from Cenote Tankach-Ha 3 massive tour buses pulled in, there was a line out the Cenote door and they said they would be spending 2 hours there.

Since it would be closed by the time we finally got a spot, we just went home. We had already paid the 100 pesos entrance fee and couldn’t get a refund. Go early to avoid our mistake! 

💡Note: the bike ride to the Cenotes is HOT and there’s no place to buy water or food on the way or once you’re there.

Bring food and at least 2L of water per person, expect to spend at least 1 hour per Cenote + the half-hour bike ride there and back.

cenote oxman in mexico is a very safe cenote where they require all swimmers to wear life vests.

Cenote Oxman

How to get to Cenote Oxman via public transit

Cenote Oxman is in Valladolid, no Colectivos run to Valladolid but you can book a bus at the Ado bus station wherever you’re at.

Buses run directly to Valladolid from Cancun, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen. You can book a bus online at Busbud.com.

From Valladolid you’ll need to take a taxi to Cenote Oxman because it’s on the outskirts of the city – our taxi cost 125 pesos ($6), and we were able to arrange it with the driver to pick us up via Whatsapp for another 125 pesos so we didn’t need to pay someone to wait for us.

How to get to Cenote Oxman via car

Cenote Oxman is 1.5 hours from Tulum, 2 hours from Playa del Carmen, and 2 hours from Cancun.

There’s a rope swing in this open-air sinkhole cenote, you have to wear a life vest because it’s very deep. There’s also a bar and hammocks to hang out as well as a pool.

  • The entrance fee is 150 pesos.
  • They don’t charge for cameras but they tried to charge me 200 pesos extra to use my drone.

📍Cenote Oxman Address

Periférico, 97780 Valladolid, Yuc., Mexico

⏰ Cenote Oxman Hours

9 AM – 6 PM every day

Cenote Zaci in Valladolid
Cenote Zaci in Valladolid

Cenote Zaci

Update: as of January 2022 Cenote Zaci has been closed for renovations, please check to see if it’s open again before you make plans to go!

How to get to Cenote Zaci via public transit

Cenote Zaci is in Valladolid, no Colectivos run to Valladolid but you can book a bus at the Ado bus station wherever you’re at.

Buses run directly to Valladolid from Cancun, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen. You can book on Busbud.com.

👉 I always book my bus trips ahead of time with Busbud.com because they accept international credit cards. 👈

Once you’re in Valladolid you can walk to Cenote Zaci, it’s in the town center.

How to get to Cenote Zaci via car

Cenote Zaci is 1.5 hours from Tulum, 2 hours from Playa del Carmen, and 2 hours from Cancun.

This cenote is Amazing! There’s cliff jumping and it’s half in a cave half out. There’s also a waterfall coming from the roof of the cave that goes on and off. This is one of the biggest cenotes I visited in the Yucutan, it’s also frequented mostly by locals.

  • If you spend 100 pesos at the restaurant your entrance fee to the Cenote is free – otherwise, entrance is 30 pesos.

a scuba diver in casa cenote, mexico.
(Photo by Mergulho Trip Brasil via Flickr)

Casa Cenote

How to get to Casa Cenote from Tulum

Casa Cenote is an open-air lagoon-type Cenote 20 minutes outside of Tulum.

It’s a bit too far to bike but you could take a cab ($10 each way from Tulum, $30 each way from Playa del Carmen).

Since Casa Cenote isn’t near an overpass, I wouldn’t recommend taking a bus or Colectivo because you’ll have to walk a distance to cross the highway.

Casa Cenote is very large, it’s great for snorkeling and some people have reported seeing a tiny crocodile there.

💵 Casa Cenote Entrance Fee

150 pesos ($7.50)

⏰ Casa Cenote Hours

8 Am to 5 PM

gran cenote in tulum, mexico.
Gran Cenote (Photo by Mikko Koponen via Flickr)

Gran Cenote

How to get to Gran Cenote from Tulum

Gran Cenote is a 20-30 minute bike ride outside of Tulum past Cenote Calavera on Highway 109. Alternatively, it’s less than a 10-minute drive to Gran Cenote.

If you don’t have a car you could take a taxi from Tulum Centro (shouldn’t be more than 100 pesos) and then hail one off highway 109 when you want to go back. Coming from Cancun or Playa via public transit you’ll have to transfer in Tulum.

Gran Cenote is a half open-air cenote that’s pretty small. There’s a complex with hammocks outside the cenote and the water is very clean.

💵 Gran Cenote Entrance Fee

In 2022 the entrance fee for Gran Cenote is 500 pesos ($25) and then they charge more for snorkel, locker, and towel rental.

📍 Gran Cenote Address

Quintana Roo 109, 77796 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

⏰ Gran Cenote Hours

8 AM – 4:45 PM

Cenote Zacil Ha in Tulum, Mexico.
Cenote Zacil Ha (Photo by Universal Traveller by Tim K via Flickr)

Cenote Zacil Ha

How to get to Cenote Zacil Ha

Cenote Zacil Ha is a bit farther up Highway 109 past Gran Cenote, this one is a bit too far to bike from Tulum.

If you rent a scooter in Tulum you can easily reach further out cenotes like Cenote Zacil Ha.

👉 Book your Tulum scooter rental ahead of time by clicking here. 👈

If you don’t have a car you could take a taxi from Tulum Centro (shouldn’t be more than 150 pesos) and then hail one off highway 109 when you want to go back. Coming from Cancun or Playa via public transit you’ll have to transfer in Tulum.

Cenote Zacil Ha is relatively small – it’s like a pit with very blue water. There are platforms to jump off from and hammocks and lounge areas for hanging out.

💵 Cenote Zacil Ha Entrance Fee

Last I checked Cenote Zacil Ha charged 200 pesos ($10) entrance fee, but cenote prices in the Yucutan are going up constantly.

📍 Cenote Zacil Ha Address

Coba km 8, México 180D, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

⏰ Cenote Zacil Ha Hours

10 AM – 5:30 PM every day

cenote verde
Cenote Verde (photo by Laila Goubran via Flickr)

Cenote Siete Bocas

How to get to Cenote Siete Bocas

Cenote Siete Bocas (7 Mouth Cenote) runs along the famous “Rutas de los Cenotes” outside Puerto Morelos.

Puerto Morelos is halfway between Playa del Carmen and Cancun, If you want to go via public transit you could take a Colectivo or bus to Puerto Morelos (if via Colectivo you’ll need to transfer in Playa if you’re coming from Tulum).

From Puerto Morelos you could rent a bike and bike up and down the route and visit all the cenotes, or hire a private driver in Puerto Morelos to take you to all the different Cenotes.

Cenote Siete Bocas is one of the most famous on the route but there’s also:

  • Cenote Sol y Luna
  • Cenote Boca del Puma
  • Cenote Verde Lucero
  • Cenote Elvira
  • And More

Due to their proximity to Cancun, the entrance fees for these cenotes have skyrocketed recently, with each cenote charging 300-500 pesos each to enter.

⏰ Cenote Siete Bocas Hours

8 AM – 5 PM

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