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30 Best Merida Cenotes You Must Visit in 2022 [Includes Map]


Planning to visit some cenotes near Merida Mexico?

Smart choice! The Merida cenotes are nothing short of magical, and make for one of those things to do in Merida that you’ll never forget. As I live in Merida, you’ve certainly come to the right Merida cenote guide.

merida cenotes mexico

EDITOR’S PICK: Best Merida Cenotes Tour
▶︎ Chichen Itza, Cenote & Izamal Magic Town

If you’ve been researching Merida cenotes online, you’ve likely noticed they are mostly located off the beaten path. For this reason, there’s not always great or current information online, which is why I update this article frequently — so you can visit Merida cenotes like a pro!

Ready to discover the 30 best Merida cenotes? Let’s get to it! This article starts with the best Merida cenotes tours, as that’s the easiest way to get to the Merida cenotes, but if you want to do a DIY adventure, the Merida Cenotes Map and list of the best Merida cenotes immediately follows.

best Merida Cenotes in yucatan

Merida Cenotes Tours

The easiest way to visit all the best Merida cenotes? On a Yucatan cenotes tour, of course! As the cenotes near Merida are mostly located in rural parts of the Yucatan Peninsula, you’ll either need to have a rental car, navigate the (not so great) public transport, or join a tour.

3 best things about Merida cenote tours

Merida Mexico Cenotes Map

What are the closest Merida cenotes near me?!

If you’re in Merida right now, you might be wondering what cenotes are near you right now! For your convenience, all the Merida cenotes mentioned in this article have been pinned to this map of cenotes in Yucatan so you can see what’s where.

For those still planning a Merida vacation, you can use the Yucatan cenotes map above to see which cenotes are near which other ones, so you can visit a few Merida cenotes in one day. This will be especially helpful if you’re booking a Merida rental car.

costco CENOTE merida

Merida Fun Fact: There is a Costco in Merida with a cenote in the parking lot! To see the famous Cenote Costco, which is actually called Cenote Ka’Kutzal, head to the Costco in the Monte de Amé neighborhood, near the Merida Mayan Museum.

best Merida Cenotes in yucatan

1. Cenotes Hacienda Mucuyche

  • 💧Type of Cenote: Two Semi-Open Cenotes
  • 💸 Cenotes Hacienda Mucuyche Admission Cost: You must book a tour to visit! Tours and transportation from Merida are $75USD — which includes Cenote Carlota, Cenote Azul Maya, and a tour of a Yucatan Hacienda
  • 📍 Distance from Merida: 1 hour by car
Beautiful Cenote Hacienda Mucuyche

Hacienda Mucuyché is an 18th Century Mexican hacienda that’s been left in semi-ruin, but that’s part of the aesthetic effect. As you see in the official name of this place, Cenotes Hacienda Mucuyche, there are also two cenotes here — Cenote Carlota and Cenote Azul Maya.

Note: You must book a tour to visit, as they don’t allow walk-in visitors!

Cenotes Hacienda Mucuyche combines two great Merida day trips — as you get to see a Mexican hacienda in Yucatan and a swim in its two cenotes. (All photos: Doug S via Flickr)

These cenotes are refreshing to jump in for a swim after your guided tour of the grounds. They also happen to be two of the most beautiful cenotes in Merida! Besides the cenotes, you also get to see an authentic Yucatan hacienda in the pueblo (small town) of San Antonio Mulix on your visit.

Note: You must book a tour to visit Cenotes Hacienda Mucuyche, as you can’t just show up and visit on your own. ▶︎ BOOK YOUR TOUR BELOW!

Cenotes Hacienda Mucuyche Tours

best Merida Cenotes in yucatan

2. Cenote X’Batun

  • 💧Type of Cenote: Open Cenote (Swimming pool cenote)
  • 💸 Cenote X Batun Admission Cost: $100 pesos ($5USD) — Includes entry to Cenote X’Batun & Cenote Dzonbakal
  • 📍 Distance from Merida: 1 hour by car

Located not far from Cenote Hacienda Mucuyche, you’ll find Cenote X’Batun, Cenote Dzonbakal and Cenote Yaal Utzil (#3 and #4 on this list). X’Batun Cenote happens to be a personal favorite for me, as one of the off the beaten path Merida cenotes, which is never very crowded!

It is about 45 minutes from Merida by rental car, and very close to the beautiful Hacienda Yaxcopoil. These two sites make for a great Merida day trip — and you’re close enough to the city to be back for a nice dinner in one of these best Merida restaurants!

cenote x'batun merida yucatan mexico
Beautiful Cenote X-Batun is one of the secret Merida cenotes that’s often crowd-free.
best Merida Cenotes in yucatan

3. Cenote Dzonbakal

  • 💧Type of Cenote: Semi-Open Cenote
  • 💸 Cenote Dzonbakal Admission Cost: $100 pesos ($5USD) — Includes entry to Cenote Dzonbakal & Cenote X’Batun
  • 📍 Distance from Merida: 1 hour by car

You won’t often find Dzonbakal Cenote come up much in Google, and that’s because it’s usually lumped in with Cenote X’Batun. The two are located at the same place, so make sure to visit both if you’re planning to visit Cenote X’Batun.

Note: You may see this cenote’s name spelled a number of ways — Cenote Dzonbacal, Cenote Dzon-Bacal, Cenote Dzon Bacal or Cenote Dzom Bacal — but they all refer to the same place!

cenote dzonbakal merida yucatan mexico
Cenote Dzonbakal, located next to Cenote XBatun, so make sure to visit these two on the same Merida cenotes trip.
best Merida Cenotes in yucatan

4. Cenote Yaal Utzil (Cenote Mucuyche)

  • 💧Type of Cenote: Semi-Open Cenote
  • 💸 Cenote Yaal Utzil Admission Cost: $20 pesos ($2USD)
  • 📍 Distance from Merida: 1 hour by car

You may see Cenote Yaal Utzil called Cenote Mucuyche — as there are essentially two Mucuyche cenotes — but don’t confuse it with Cenotes Hacienda Mucuyche! They just happen to be right next to one another, and share a name, though they are two different places 🙃

Cenote Yaal Utzil (sometimes spelled Cenote Utsil) is a fun cenote, especially if you’re looking for a nice, high dive platform to jump into the cenote. If not, there is a somewhat steep staircase you can walk down to enter the cenote — where water shoes will come in handy!

💁‍♀️ Need more tips on what to pack for cenotes in Merida? Head here!

cenote mucuyche (cenote yaal utzil)
Cenote Yaal Utzil is sometimes called Cenote Mucuyche — but know it’s not the same place as Cenotes Hacienda Mucuyche.
best Merida Cenotes in yucatan

5. Cenote Xlacah (Closest Merida Cenote)

  • 💧Type of Cenote: Open Cenote (Swimming Pool Cenote)
  • 💸 Cenote Xlacah Admission Cost: $486 pesos ($24USD) — Includes entry to Cenote Xlacah & Dzibilchaltun Mayan Ruins
  • 📍 Distance from Merida: 30-45 minutes by car
Cenote Xlacah is the closest cenote Merida has, at less than 45 minutes awayso you’ll often hear it called the best cenote in Merida!
Cenote Xlacah is located at the Dzibilchaltun Mayan Ruins site.

Xlacah Cenote is sometimes called the Dzibilchaltun Cenote, as it’s located on the site of the Dzibilchaltun Mayan Ruins (pronounced zee-bee-shall-tune). This is the closest cenote to Merida, and is a great place to cool off after exploring the Dzibilchaltun Ruins.

Cenote Noc Ac is also quite close to Merida, though it’s not very pretty!

For those doing a Merida day trip to Progreso Beach, the ruins and Cenote Xlacah make a nice stop on the drive out to the beach. You’ll take the same road to get to both (Highway 261), so you can just stop at Dzibilchaltun on the way.

best Merida Cenotes in yucatan

6. Santa Barbara Cenotes

  • 💧Type of Cenotes: One Semi-Open Cenote & Two Cave Cenotes
  • 💸 Cenotes Santa Barbara Admission Cost: $200 pesos ($10USD) — Includes entry to Cenote Xoch, Cenote Chaksikin & Cenote Cascabel
  • 📍 Distance from Merida: 1 hour by car

The Santa Barbara cenotes are located in the pueblo (small town) of Homun, Mexico. This is a group of three cenotes — Cenote Chaksikin, Cenote Cascabel and Cenote Xoch. The first two are in caves, and the last one is a beautiful semi-open cenote.

Only about an hour from the city, these are some of the best cenotes in Merida Mexico!

Cenote Xoch

  • 💧Type of Cenote: Semi-Open Cenote

This is one of the most Instagram worthy Merida cenotes, with the long tree roots hanging over the edge and down into the cenote itself. On a personal note, this is my favorite of all the cenote Homún options!

Cenote Chaksikin & Cenote Cascabel

  • 💧Type of Cenotes: Cave Cenotes

You’ll enter these two cave cenotes by walking down large wooden staircases. As the steps will be wet, water shoes will come in handy with these two so you don’t slip.

Cenote Xoch is one of the most unique cenotes Mexico has!
Cenote Santa Barbara natural swimming pool, in Valladolid, near Merida, Mexico Yucatan Peninsula
Cenote Chaksikin, one of the three Santa Barbara cenotes. (Photo: liongrrl via Flickr)

Cenotes Santa Barbara Tours

How to visit Cenotes Santa Barbara

When you visit, you’ll arrive at the main parking lot, which has free parking. When you go to pay, you have options for just entrance to the cenotes, or entrance to the cenotes plus a meal in the onsite restaurant afterwards — which I recommend as there’s not many nearby options.

Cenote Santa Barabara entry cost was $200 pesos ($10USD) for just the cenotes, and $300 pesos ($15USD) for the three cenotes and traditional Yucatan meal afterwards.

After paying, you’ll want to head back for your long-awaited cenote swim! As the Cenotes Santa Barbara are located about one-mile (1.6km) from the entrance, you can take one of the bikes they provide, or ride on the horse-drawn cart which will drop you off at Cenote Chaksikin.

The horse cart you’ll take at Cenote Santa Barbara. For those who don’t want to take the carriage, you can use one of the bikes provided by the cenote.
best Merida Cenotes in yucatan

Best Homun Cenotes

The Santa Barbara Cenotes, listed above ⤴, are just some of the cenotes you’ll find in the pueblo (small town) of Homun, Mexico. Since they are the most-visited, I listed them separately, but there are so many cenotes in Homun to explore.

Located about 35-miles (55km) from Merida, Homun is known for having the largest concentration of cenotes in Yucatan. It is on what’s called the Ring of Cenotes (Anillo de los Cenotes), at the edge of the Chicxulub Crater — where the meteor hit that wiped out the dinosaurs 🦖

You could spend an entire day in Homun, and just go from cenote to cenote to cenote — there really are that many! Below, you’ll find all the most visitor-friendly and best cenotes in Homun, Yucatan, which have nice amenities like restaurants, bathrooms and life jacket rentals.

7. Cenote Yaxbacaltun (Cenote Yax Bacaltun)

  • 💧Type of Cenote: Semi-Open Cenote
  • 💸 Cenote Yax Bacaltun Admission Cost: $30 pesos ($1.50USD)
  • 📍 Distance from Merida: 1 hour by car
yaxbacaltun cenote staircase
The staircase entrance to Yax Bacaltun, one of the best cenotes Merida Mexico has! (Photo: mrjinki via Flickr)

This is one of the most fun Merida cenotes — because you can live out your Tarzan and Jane dreams on it’s famous rope swing! You have to go down some pretty intimidating stairs to enter this cenote, but once you do, you’re transported to a jungle pool paradise.

Besides the rope swing, you can and the kids can also use ropes to rappel down 50-feet (15m) right into this cenote for just $80 pesos ($4USD). You can also go snorkeling, diving (if you’re dive certified) and of course, swimming in this large cenote. 

There are lots of services and amenities, including bathrooms, showers, parking lot, restaurant, cabins and a camping area. For those so inclined, you can even get married at Cenote Yaxbacaltun in a traditional Mayan wedding ceremony! 

8. Cenote Santa Rosa

  • 💧Type of Cenote: Cave Cenote
  • 💸 Cenote Santa Rosa Admission Cost: There are several tour options, ranging $300-500 pesos ($15-25USD)
  • 📍 Distance from Merida: 1 hour by car

Santa Rosa Cenote is a newer facility with nice amenities, and one of the best cenotes Homun has. It is located underground in a lighted cave, which creates a nice ambiance. Besides the cenote, there’s a restaurant, hammocks, bathrooms, showers and even cabanas to stay overnight. 

cenote santa rosa cave with pink lights
Colorful Cenote Santa Rosa is among the best Yucatan cenotes! (Photo: Sandra Salvadó)

9. Cenote Pool Uinic

  • 💧Type of Cenote: Cave Cenote
  • 💸 Cenote Pool Uinic Admission Cost: $50 pesos ($2.50USD)
  • 📍 Distance from Merida: 1 hour by car

Only just opened to the public in 2016, Pool Uinic Cenote is still relatively off the tourist radar. It is a smaller-sized cenote, but one that’s very visually appealing with crystal clear waters and interesting stalagmite and stalactite rock formations. 

cenote pool uinin cave cenote
Cenote Pool Uinic is one of the best cave cenotes Merida has. (Photo: Sharon Darlin via Flickr)

10. Cenote Canunchen

  • 💧Type of Cenote: Cave Cenote
  • 💸 Cenote Canunchen Admission Cost: There are several tour options, ranging $300-500 pesos ($15-25USD)
  • 📍 Distance from Merida: 1 hour by car

Located underground, Canunchen Cenote is a cave cenote you access through an opening in a cavern wall. You’ll walk down the stairs onto a wooden platform where you can jump into the water, if you’d like.

Want to explore more cenotes caves in Merida? Don’t miss nearby Cenote Bal-mil (Cenote Balmil).

Cenote Canunchen is one of the best cenotes in Yucatan, and located underground in a cave.

How to get to the Homun Cenotes

There are plenty of tour options to visit the Homun cenotes, which are listed below ⤵ Besides a tour, a rental car will be the best way to get around.

The gorgeous Hacienda Yabucu is the perfect place to stay to experience an authentic Yucatan hacienda hotelshould you want to make this an overnight trip!

The final option is to take a bus from the Merida Noreste Bus Terminal to the nearby city of Cuzama. From there, you can hire a taxi to take you to the cenotes, and drive you back to the Cuzama bus terminal to return to Merida.

Homun Cenotes Tours

best Merida Cenotes in yucatan

11. Best Cuzama Cenotes

  • 💧Type of Cenotes: Semi-Open Cenotes
  • 💸 Cenotes Cuzama Admission Cost: $400 pesos ($20USD) — Includes entry to Cenote Chacsinicche, Cenote Bolonchoojol & Cenote Ucil
  • 📍 Distance from Merida: 1 hour 15 minutes by car

The pueblo of Cuzama, Mexico is located about 27 miles (45km) from Merida. There are some wild cenotes around here (which means they are basically just swimmin’ holes in the jungle with no amenities), but also cenotes that are very popular with visitors. 

The three Cuzama Cenotes mentioned below are all located in the same place, so you can visit them all in one day. Much like a visit to the Santa Barbara Cenotes, you’ll also get to take the or ride on the horse carriage ride to the three Cuzamá Cenotes.

Take the Cuzama Cenotes Mayan Tour on a horse-drawn cart through the jungle.

Cenote Bolonchoojol & Cenote Ucil

  • 💧Type of Cenotes: Semi-Open Cenotes
  • 💸 Cuzama Cenotes Admission Cost: $400 pesos ($20USD) — Includes entry to Cenote Chacsinicche, Cenote Bolonchoojol & Cenote Ucil
  • 📍 Distance from Merida: 1 hour 15 minutes by car

For non-divers, these other Cuzama cenotes hava gorgeous turquoise water that’s very clear and some really nice stalactite and stalagmite rock formations, and long tree roots that hang down into the cenote.

Bolonchoojol Cenote and Ucil Cenote are semi-open cenotes, so they get a bit of natural light that comes in and makes for some dramatic cenote photos.

bolonchoojol Cenote
Bolonchoojol Cenote is one of the best Cenote Cuzama options.

12. Cenote Chacsinicche

  • 💧Type of Cenote: Semi-Open Cenote
  • 💸 Cenote Chacsinicche Admission Cost: $400 pesos ($20USD) — Includes entry to Cenote Chacsinicche, Cenote Bolonchoojol & Cenote Ucil
  • 📍 Distance from Merida: 1 hour 15 minutes by car

Chacsinicche Cenote (also spelled Cenote Chak-Zinik-Ché or Cenote Chac Niche), means “home of the red ant.” It is one of the best Merida cenotes for diving, with an underwater cavern that’s about 265-feet (80m) in size. Note: You must be dive certified to do cenote diving.

🤿 Cenote Nah Yah is another great dive cenote near Merida!

Chacsinicche Cenote
Cenote Chacsinicche ranks as one of the best Cuzama cenotes. (Photo: Traveling Chandlers via Flickr)

How to get to the Cuzama Cenotes

A rental car is the best way to get around, but you can also take a bus from the Merida Noreste Bus Terminal to Cuzama. From there, you can hire a taxi to take you to the cenotes, and drive you back to the Cuzama bus terminal to return to Merida.

best Merida Cenotes in yucatan

13. Cenote El Corchito (Progreso Cenotes)

  • 💧Type of Cenotes: Three Open Cenotes
  • 💸 El Corchito Admission Cost: $35 pesos ($2.50USD)
  • 📍 Distance from Merida: 1 hour by car
el corchito cenote progreso yucatan mexico
Located less than an hour from the city, this is one of the best cenotes near Merida Mexico.

El Corchito is a nature reserve near Puerto Progreso Beach, which is the closest beach to Merida, located about 30-45 minutes away. Before you get to the beach itself, you’ll pass El Corchito, which is worth a stop, even for just an hour.

At the entrance fee of $35 MXN pesos ($2.50USD), and then board a boat for the two-minute ride over to the cenotes. There are three cenotes at El Corchito, but you can really only swim in two of them; the other is just a few feet deep, and people just dip their feet in.

How to get to El Corchito Cenote

A rental car is the best way to get around, but there’s also the Auto Progreso. This is a luxury bus that departs about every hour from Merida to Progreso Beach for $25 pesos ($2USD) each way. From the bus terminal on the beach, you can take an Uber to El Corchito.

best Merida Cenotes in yucatan

Valladolid Cenotes Near Merida

14. Cenote Suytun: Instagram Cenote

  • 💧Type of Cenote: Cave Cenote
  • 💸 Cenote Suytun Admission Cost: $150 pesos ($8USD)
  • 📍 Distance from Merida: 2 hours by car
cenote suytun, man at tulum cenotes in mexico | Cenotes Tours Tulum
Visit Suytun Cenote on the Discovering Best Insta Cenotes Yucatan Tour, and see all the most beautiful cenotes. (Photo: Airbnb)

The Suytun Cenote is located fully underground in a cave, with large stalactite rock formations hanging from the ceiling. There is a small hole above the cenote so a single sunbeam shines in, and a circular platform in the center, perfect for Instagram worthy cenote photos.

Cenote Suytun is located about 45-minutes by car from both the Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins and the Ek Balam Mayan Ruins, and many combine the cenote with a visit to one of the ruins for a nice Merida day trip.

15. Cenote Zaci: Valladolid Cenote

  • 💧Type of Cenote: Semi-Open Cenote
  • 💸 Cenote Zaci Admission Cost: $30 pesos ($2.50USD)
  • 📍 Distance from Merida: 2 hours by car
natural swimming pool with waterfall - day trips from Merida
Cenote Zaci is one of the best Maya cenotes in Valladolid.

Zaci Cenote is located within walking distance of Downtown Valladolid. It is popular with visitors and locals alike, who treat it as the town swimming pool. It is a deep-water cenote, with plenty of ledges where you can jump into the cenote, and a small (manmade) waterfall.

After spending the day exploring downtown, you can walk to Cenote Zaci for a swim and a meal at the onsite restaurant. If you’re eating at the restaurant, you get free admission to the cenote. They serve traditional Yucatan foods and Mexican drinks, like cochinita pibil tacos and horchata.

16. Cenote Oxman: Hacienda Cenote

  • 💧Type of Cenote: Semi-Open Cenote
  • 💸 Cenote Oxman Admission Cost: $80 pesos ($4USD)
  • 📍 Distance from Merida: 2 hours by car

Among the best Yucatan Peninsula cenotes, Oxman Cenote is located on the grounds of Hacienda San Lorenzo Oxman. When you visit you can also tour the hacienda, but the highlight for most people are the rope swings you can use to enter the water at Cenote Oxman.

Live your best Tarzan and Jane life at Cenote Oxman, one of the best Valladolid Mexico cenotes! (Photo: The Free Birds via Unsplash)

17. Cenote Samula (Cenote Dzitnup)

  • 💧Type of Cenote: Cave Cenote
  • 💸 Cenote Samula Admission Cost: $80 pesos ($4USD) for one cenote, and $125 pesos ($6USD) for entry to both Cenote Samula & Cenote X’Keken
  • 📍 Distance from Merida: 2 hours by car

What’s known as Dzitnup Cenotes is really two cenotes next to one another: Cenote Samula and Cenote Xkeken. If you can, visit them both — though if you have to pick just one, here’s some info on each of these cenotes:

  • Samula Cenote is a cave cenote that has a single ray of light that shines in through a smaller hole at the top of the cenote.
  • Xkeken Cenote is located underground in a cave, lit up by colored lights for a funky and cool vibe.
Cenote Samula at Cenotes Dzitnup

18. Cenote Xkeken (Cenote Dzitnup)

  • 💧Type of Cenote: Cave Cenote
  • 💸 Cenote Xkeken Admission Cost: $80 pesos ($4USD) for one cenote, and $125 pesos ($6USD) for entry to both Cenote Samula & Cenote X’Keken
  • 📍 Distance from Merida: 2 hours by car

The second of the two Cenotes Dzitnup is Cenote X’keken (sometimes spelled Cenote Xquequen). It has an otherworldly look to it, with colored lights, stalactites and stalagmites, and long tree roots that hang down into the water.

Cenote X’Keken at Cenotes Dzitnup

19. Cenote X’canche: Ek Balam Cenote

  • 💧Type of Cenote: Semi-Open Cenote
  • 💸 Cenote X’canche Admission Cost: $70 pesos ($4USD)
  • 📍 Distance from Merida: 2 hours by car

Besides swimming, there’s also some fun things to do at Xcanche Cenote for adventurous travelers — like the rappelling and a cenote zipline. This is a hidden gem cenote that so few visit, so there’s a definite chance you’ll have the whole place to yourself!

Cenote Xcanche, located near Ek Balam Mayan Ruins, near Valladolid Mexico.
best Merida Cenotes in yucatan

Chichen Itza Cenotes Near Merida

20. Cenote Ik Kil (Chichen Itza Cenote)

  • 💧Type of Cenote: Semi-Open Cenote
  • 💸 Cenote Ik-Kil Admission Cost: $80 pesos ($4USD)
  • Distance from Merida: 2 hours by car
Cenote Ik-Kil is the most famous of all the ancient Mayan cenotes.

Considered among the best Mexican cenotes, the Ik Kil Cenote is a bucket list Mexico destination for many. It is only about 10 minutes from Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins, and very popular with tour groups which often make stops at both on tours.

As you can imagine, this cenote gets very crowded! The best strategy to beat the crowd is to arrive early in the morning, or later in the day. In my opinion, the best way to visit Cenote Ik Kil is after touring Chichen Itza so you can jump in the water and cool off after a hot day at the ruins.

21. Cenote Yokdzonot

  • 💧Type of Cenote: Open Cenote (Swimming Pool Cenote)
  • 💸 Cenote Yokdzonot Admission Cost: $125 pesos ($7USD)
  • Distance from Merida: 2.5 hours by car

Yokdzonot Cenote has so much to do, like a zip line, rappelling and even Yucatan food cooking classes! That’s right, after a refreshing swim in the blue waters of Cenote Yokdzonot, you can participate in a cooking lesson with the locals, or just dine in the on-site restaurant.

This cenote is operated by a local co-op, and proceeds from the cenote benefit the local community in the pueblo (small town) of Yokdzonot, Yucatán.

22. Cenote Lol Ha

  • 💧Type of Cenote: Semi-Open Cenote
  • 💸 Cenote Lol Ha Admission Cost: $35 pesos ($3USD)
  • 📍Distance from Merida: 1 hour 45 minutes by car

As Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins are one of the most popular things to do in Mexico, the so-called Chichen Itza cenotes see quite a few visitors because of their location. If you’re looking for beautiful cenotes near Chichen Itza, but without the crowds, head to Lol Ha Cenote.

cenote lol ha cave cenote
Cenote Lol Ha (Photo: Sandra Salvadó via Flickr)
best Merida Cenotes in yucatan

Off the Beaten Path: Secret Merida Cenotes

23. Cenote San Ignacio

  • 💧Type of Cenote: Cave Cenote
  • 💸 Cenote San Ignacio Admission Cost: $150 pesos ($8USD)
  • 📍 Distance from Merida: 45 minutes by car

Located less than 45 minutes from Centro Historico (Historic Downtown Merida), you’ll find the beautiful, underground wonderland that is Cenote San Ignacio. You may see this cenote referred to as Cenote Tuunich Ha, which means “water in the stone” in Maya.

For those who want to stay overnight, book your stay in the beautiful Chablé Yucatan Resort & Spa, or more rustic Cenote San Ignacio Bungalows.

This is one of the coolest Merida Yucatan cenotes, because it’s beautifully lit up, but also because you really feel like you’re down in a cave. The walls have a gorgeous texture with interesting rock formations, and there’s interesting stalactite and stalagmite rocks as well.

There are some nice amenities at the San Ignacio Cenote, like a restaurant serving local Yucatan cuisine, bathrooms and changing rooms.

cenote san ignacio underground cave pool | merida cenote
Cenote San Ignacio, located underground in a cave, is one of the best cenotes Yucatan Merida.
best Merida Cenotes in yucatan

24. Cenote Kankirixche

  • 💧Type of Cenote: Semi-Open Cenote
  • 💸 Cenote Kankirixche Admission Cost: $150 pesos ($8USD)
  • 📍 Distance from Merida: 1 hour 15 minutes by car

Located near one of the best haciendas in Yucatan, Hacienda Temozon, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Cenote Kankirixche makes a nice overnight trip from Merida — especially when combined with a night in the hacienda! 

To enter Cenote Kankirixche, which means “yellow tree fruit” in Maya, you’ll walk down a wooden staircase to access the water beneath. As the name implies, you will see a lot of hanging tree roots inside this cenote, which has an overall gorgeous ambiance.

Cenote Kankirixche stands out among the cenotes Merida Yucatan has with its bright blue water.
best Merida Cenotes in yucatan

25. Cenote Nah Yah

  1. 💧Type of Cenote: Semi-Open Cenote
  2. 💸 Cenote Nah Yah Admission Cost: $40 pesos ($2USD)
  3. 📍 Distance from Merida: 1 hour by car

Nah Yah Cenote is one of the three Pixyah cenotes, located in Pixyah, Yucatán. The other two are Cenote Noh Mozon and Cenote Suhem.

Cenote Nah Yah has a dive platform 26-feet (8m) above the water, so you get to enjoy some nice freefall time if you choose to jump into the water! Those who want to enjoy the surrounding nature of the Yucatan jungle can bring a tent and camp overnight under the palapas.

cenote nah yah jungle pool
Cenote Nah Yah is one of the best cenotes Mexico has. (Photo: Dennis Tudor via Flickr)
best Merida Cenotes in yucatan

26. Cenote X’Tohil (Parador X’Tohil)

  • 💧Type of Cenote: Cave Cenote
  • 💸 Cenote X’Tohil Admission Cost: $400 pesos ($20USD) — Includes entry to all four X’Tohil Cenotes
  • 📍 Distance from Merida: 1.5 hours by car

Parador Ecotouristico X’Tohil is an eco park in Cuzama, Mexico. It maintains an off the beaten path feel, though also has basic services, like a snack bar and restrooms. There are also four cenotes to enjoy: Cenote X Tohil, Cenote Saak-Pakal, Cenote San Felipe and Cenote Ayuso.

cenote xtohil, underground cave pool | best merida cenotes
X’Tohil Cenote at Parador Ecotouristico X’Tohil. (Photo: Gaspar López via Flickr)

27. Cenote Dzul Ha (Cenote Sotuta de Peon)

  • 💧Type of Cenote: Cave Cenote
  • 💸 Cenote Dzul Ha Admission Cost: You have to visit on a full-day tour of the hacienda, which is about $150USD
  • 📍 Distance from Merida: 30 minutes by car

Located on the grounds of the 19th Century Hacienda Sotuta de Peón, you can do everything here from touring the grounds of this fully-restored hacienda, to riding ATVs through the jungle, to of course, swimming in Cenote Dzul Ha.

Dzul Ha Cenote at Hacienda Sotuta de Peón. (Photo: Ted McGrath via Flickr)
Hacienda Sotuta de Peón Yucatan Mexico
Hacienda Sotuta de Peón. (Photo: Ted McGrath via Flickr)
best Merida Cenotes in yucatan

Tulum Cenotes Near Merida

Admittedly, these cenotes are quite far from Merida, at about three hours by rental car. However, these are some of the most famous Instagrammable cenotes in Mexico, so I will just quickly include them on this list.

If you do plan to visit any of these Tulum cenotes, you’ll want to stay the night in Tulum. Here are some articles that highlight your best options for where to stay in Tulum, Mexico:

28. Gran Cenote

  • 💧Type of Cenote: Open Cenote (Swimming Pool Cenote)
  • 💸 Gran Cenote Admission Cost: $300 pesos ($15USD)
  • 📍 Distance from Merida: 3 hours by car
The Gran Cenote Tulum staircase is among the most popular Tulum Instagram spots.

Gran Cenote, meaning big cenote or great cenote, probably ties with Cenote Calavera for most Instagram worthy Tulum cenote. It’s beautiful, close to Tulum Town (AKA Downtown Tulum), and big enough to spend half a day swimming, relaxing at, and exploring.

As one of the most popular Quintana Roo cenotes, Gran Cenote gets very crowded. Its famous staircase (pictured above) will often have a line of people waiting to take photos on it. If you want a photo here — arrive early. If not, there are plenty of other beautiful photo ops at Tulum Gran Cenote.

29. Cenote Calavera

  • 💧Type of Cenote: Cave Cenote
  • 💸 Cenote Calavera Admission Cost: $100 pesos ($5USD)
  • 📍 Distance from Merida: 3 hours by car
You can’t make a Best Cenotes in Mexico list without Cenote Calavera! (Photo: Mathilde Langevin via Unsplash)

Calavera Cenote, which means skull cenote in Spanish, has three holes — one larger one, and two smaller ones. When you’re underwater and the sun’s shining in all the holes at the same time, it looks like a skull 💀

It is among the most popular of the Instagrammable Tulum cenotes, but also great for a quick swim, and also one of the best Mexico diving cenotes — along with these others.

30. Cenote Azul

  • 💧Type of Cenote: Cave Cenote
  • 💸 Cenote Azul Admission Cost: $120 pesos ($6USD)
  • 📍 Distance from Merida: 3.5 hours by car
Azul Cenote is one of the best of the so-called Playa del Carmen cenotes.

Cenote Azul, meaning “blue cenote,” is located between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. This cenote is so popular because it has the perfect crystal clear blue, and the cenote is surrounded by lush plants and jungle vegetation. It’s as popular for swimming, snorkeling and cenotes photos.

Note: There are two Mexico cenotes called “Cenote Azul” — one near Tulum and one in Bacalar, Mexico, which is about five hours south of Merida!

best Merida Cenotes in yucatan

Tips for Visiting Merida Cenotes

What do I bring to the Merida Cenotes?

If this will be your first time visiting the cenotes near Merida, you might be wondering what to bring to the Merida cenotes. Below you will find a detailed list of what to bring, but one thing you won’t want to forget is cash (pesos) — as the majority of Merida cenotes are cash only 💸

Water Shoes

One of the best Merida cenote travel tips: Water shoes! As cenotes are natural pools, most have slippery rocks, muddy ground, etc. Water shoes also help you not slip in general, especially when walking down any staircase entryways.

Waterproof Phone Holder

If you’re planning to take Instagrammable cenotes photos, an inexpensive waterproof phone holder necklace will really come in handy. With these, you can take your phone into water and capture the best Merida cenotes from all angles.

Waterproof Fanny Pack

The waterproof fanny pack is another great option. They look cute, but also hold all of your valuables, not just your phone. Save your money on a locker rental at the Merida cenotes, and keep all your belongings on you in this waterproof waist bag.

Waterproof Camera

If you’ve been considering getting a GoPro Hero, the photogenic Merida cenotes are the perfect places to put it to good use! 🎥 As a GoPro can be out of budget for many, the Akaso Brave 4 is a great budget underwater camera — perfect for video and photos of the Merida cenotes.

Quick Dry Towel

A quick dry towel is one of the best things to throw in your suitcase when packing for Mexico, and will definitely come in handy when you visit the cenotes and Yucatan beaches. It’s very uncommon that any Yucatan cenotes rent towels, so you’ll need to bring your own.

Mask & Snorkel

You can snorkel in many cenotes near Merida to see the little fish, plants and more. For those who want to conserve luggage space, these small goggles and this roll up snorkel are a great option, but this combo mask and snorkel is the best option for snorkeling in cenotes.

🤿 Note: If you don’t want to bring a snorkel and mask, you can also rent them at the cenote; though it’s always more sanitary to have your own.

cave cenotes, a natural pool inside a cave | merida cenotes
Book the Mystic Night Cenote & Yucatecan Dinner Tour to visit the Merida cenotes at night. (Photo: Airbnb)
best Merida Cenotes in yucatan

What is a cenote?

Wondering, Just what are cenotes exactly? Here’s the cenote meaning, according to the Merriam Webster dictionary’s cenote definition ⤵

cenote: (noun) a deep sinkhole in limestone with a pool at the bottom that is found especially in Yucatan

How are cenotes formed?

The word “sinkhole” in the definition describes the process of how cenotes came about. Centuries ago, all cenotes were encased in the native limestone rock. Over time, some rock has collapsed and “sunk in” to reveal the water beneath — which is the cenote pool we can now swim in.

The cenotes are not individual pools. Rather, they have the same water from massive freshwater rivers that flow beneath the entire Yucatan Peninsula. In fact, some cenotes have water that comes from the largest underground river system on Earth.

The Ojo de Agua Cenote in Celestun, Mexico near Merida, is the perfect place for a refreshing swim!

4 Types of Cenotes in Mexico

Of the 6,000 or so cenotes in Yucatan and Mexico, there are four cenote types: open cenotes, semi-open cenotes, cave cenotes and cave diving cenotes. Each type of cenote is unique and beautiful in its own ways, so try to visit as many types of Mexican cenotes as possible.

Open Cenotes (Swimming pool cenotes)

You may see these called swimming pool cenotes, as they are completely open and look like a natural swimming pool — like Cenote Azul. Open cenotoes are the oldest cenotes, and we know that because all the rock has collapsed the once covered the water.

Semi-Open Cenotes

These cenotes are semi-encased in their native limestone rock, with tall limestone walls surrounding the pool itself. The top has a large opening so a lot of sunlight gets in — like Cenote Ik-Kil.

Closed Cenotes in Caves

Cave cenotes are exactly as the name says: Merida cenotes located in a cave fully underground. To access them, you have to walk down some stairs — like Cenote Suytun.

Dive Cenotes for Diving

The final type of cenote is also located in a cave, but the water in these cenotes is much deeper so they are sought out for diving — like Dos Ojos Cenotes.

🤿 Note: You must be certified to for cenotes diving! For those who are, check out these tours — Go Dive Cenotes in Tulum Tour and Cenotes Scuba Diving Tulum Tour.

For divers, the Cenotes Scuba Diving Tour with a visit to Cenote El Pit, is a must. (Photo: Airbnb)
best Merida Cenotes in yucatan

History of Merida Cenotes

Merida & the Chicxulub Crater

The Chicxulub Crater is the famed spot on Earth where the asteroid is said to have hit which wiped out the dinosaurs more than 60 million years ago. The impact site is located in the present-day Merida beach town of Chicxulub Puerto (pronounced chee-chee-lube).

Wondering, Where is Merida? It is located in Yucatan State, in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

merida cenotes map
You can see the Ring of Cenotes on the dotted line above. (Image courtesy of Wikipedia)

Ring of Cenotes

You can’t see the impact site, as it’s partially located in the Gulf of Mexico and partially buried beneath the land. However, what you can see of the giant meteor’s impact, are the cenotes along the Anillo de los Cenotes, or Ring of Cenotes.

How many Merida cenotes are there?

It is said there are about 6,000 cenotes in Mexico. Of those, there are about 2,000 cenotes near Merida, all located within 1.5 hours of the city — and of those, there are 900 cenotes on the Ring of Cenotes alone!

Note: Not all Merida cenotes are for swimming in! Some are sacred cenotes, used by the Maya for religious rituals.

Book the Magic Cenotes + Hacienda Tour to visit two Merida cenotes and a hacienda. (Photo: Airbnb)

Where to Stay in Merida Mexico

The two best Merida neighborhoods are Centro Historico (Historic Downtown) and Paseo de Montejo. They are right next to one another, and where you’ll find the best Airbnbs, hostels and best Merida hotels, like the ones below ⤵

Rosas & Xocolate Merida ($$$): There are only four rooms at what’s considered the best Merida boutique hotel, but if you want to splurge for the night, there’s no better place than Rosas y Xocolate hotel in Merida!

Located right on Paseo de Montejo, this is also the perfect place to enjoy breakfast or brunch in the morning before leaving town.

Diplomat Boutique Hotel Merida ($$$): Situated on a quiet street in the Santiago neighborhood of Centro Historico (Historic Downtown), the Diplomat Boutique Hotel VIP is hip and chic. It is centrally-located in downtown Merida, near restaurants, bars, sites, museums, boutique shops and more.

NH Collection Merida ($$): This hotel is located at hip Paseo 60, a shopping, dining and entertainment complex — meaning that everything you’d need is in the same building.

The NH Collection Hotel is on Paseo de Montejo, the best street in Merida, and it has great amenities including 24-hour room service, a rooftop pool and gym.

Nomadas Hostel ($): There aren’t many Merida hostels, but even if there were, Nomadas might still be the best one of the bunch!

Nomadas has that quintessential bohemian-colonial look Merida is known for, a gorgeous lounge area with swimming pool and hammocks, and a great location in Centro Historico (Historic Downtown). If they are full, try Casa Garza.

DAY TRIPS from MERIDA, Mexico

Final Thoughts: Visiting Merida Cenotes

The cenotes near Merida are known for their being more off the beaten path and untouched than the more touristy Tulum cenotes. Though they might not be the most Instagram famous cenotes in Mexico, they have a more natural, untouched beauty.

While the cenotes in Yucatan are a bit spread out, you can head to the Homun cenotes and Cuzama cenotes, where there are about 100 Merida cenotes within a few miles of one another. These two pueblos (small towns) make for some of the best Merida day trips.

Merida Travel Planning Guide

🚑 Should I buy Mexico travel insurance? 100% YES! — With basic coverage averaging just $5-10USD per day, enjoy peace of mind with a plan from World Nomads, the biggest name in travel insurance. (Read more)

💧Can you drink the water in Merida? No — You’ll want to buy a Water-To-Go Bottle, which filters your drinking water so you don’t get sick from drinking water in Mexico, and helps keep you hydrated while traveling Mexico. (Read more)

🚙💨 Is it safe to rent a car in Merida? Yes — Renting a car in Mexico is one of the best ways to see the country! I always rent with Discover Cars, which checks both international companies and local Mexican companies, so you get the best rates. (Read more)

📲 Will my phone work in Merida? Maybe — It depends on your company, so check with your provider. If you don’t have free Mexico service, buy a Telcel SIM Card. As Mexico’s largest carrier, Telcel has the best coverage of any Mexico SIM Cards. (Read more)

🏩 What’s the best way to book my Merida accommodation? For Mexico hotels and hostels, Booking is the best site. If you’re considering a Mexico Airbnb, don’t forget to also check VRBO, which is often cheaper than Airbnb! (Read more)

✈️ What’s the best site to buy Mexico flights? For finding cheap Mexico flights, I recommend Skyscanner.

🎫 Do I need a visa for Mexico? Likely Not — U.S., Canadian and most European Passport holders don’t need a visa for Mexico; but check here to see if you do need a Mexico travel visa. The majority of travelers will receive a 180-Day FMM Tourist Visa upon arrival.

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