Do you want to discover beautiful cenotes from Cancun but don’t know how to get there or which cenote tour to choose?
I have been in your shoes, and it was not an easy task.
After long hours of research, I decided to book this 4-cenote tour to see a maximum of them in one day.
But there are also excellent alternatives offered by other quality local agencies (I have tested other tours with them).
This article will help you decide what type of cenote tour from Cancun you want to do. You will also find a booking guide section with many practical tips that I have learned.
After visiting more than 30 cenotes, I know what I am talking about!
First, let’s analyze your best options quickly.
Plan your trip around Cancun
In 2 months, I’ve spent more than 10,000 USD to test the best activities in the Riviera Maya. Stay with me to quickly decide which experiences you should do and learn how to make the most of your trip.
Compare the best cenote tours from Cancun
There are different options to enjoy the cenotes of the Riviera Maya. This section will allow you to compare the available tours quickly and avoid disappointment.
Full day to enjoy 4 private cenotes near Cancun
I was able to try the Cenotes tour offered by Xcaret. The organization and the food are excellent, and the activities are fun (kayaking, snorkeling, cenote swimming, 5 Ziplines, Jump cliff, Rappeling). You will discover 4 cenotes (3 open cenotes & 1 semi-open cenote). The only drawback is that you’ll miss the relaxing cenote’s vibe because of the number of people.
✋ It’s an ideal tour to find beautiful cenotes with a touch of adrenaline. The minimum age is 6 years.
- Max Pers: 15 per group (you sometimes meet the other group)
- Price: Approx. 130 USD/pers
- Starting time: Leave Cancun at 8 am
- Where are the cenotes: Ruta de Los cenotes (1h from Cancun)
- Duration: 9-10 hours (including 3 hours driving)
- What’s included: Transportation, snack, lunch, 4 cenotes + activities, life vest, snorkel.
- Difficulty: 2.5/5
Best turtle + cenote tour from Cancun
I discovered this agency in Tulum and did 4 tours with them! Each time, the guide does an excellent job. This tour allows you to swim with the turtles in the beautiful Akumal bay. Usually, there are also rays 🙂 Afterward, you’ll head to Xtun Cavernas to explore an underground river and snorkel in a cenote with crystalline waters. The seaweed will be present in the Akumal bay from May to August — although the staff does a good job cleaning it. The transportation times are long, especially from Cancun.
✋ It’s an excellent cenote tour for people who like swimming and snorkeling. You won’t find many tourists at the cenote.
- Max Pers: 12 per van + 1 guide.
- Price: Approx. 99 USD/pers + 13USD reserve fee.
- Starting time: Leave Cancun at 6 am.
- Where are the cenotes: Near Puerto Aventuras (2h from Cancun)
- Duration: 9-10 hours (including 5-6 hours driving)
- What’s included: Transportation, snacks, drinks, snorkel gears, life vest, activities.
- Difficulty: 2.5/5
Best Cenote tour + Tulum ruins from Cancun
The same agency (see tour above) offers another excellent option. Indeed, you will be able to visit the ruins of Tulum (impressive Mayan ruins overhanging the cliff) with a certified guide. Then, the agency will take you snorkeling to see colorful reefs, turtles, fish, and rays. The visit will end with the impressive (and little known) Xtun cave (underground river + cenote).
✋ For travelers who want to add a bit of history during their cenote day trip & see marine life.
- Max Pers: 12 per van + 1 guide.
- Price: Approx. 119 USD/pers + 13USD reserve fee.
- Starting time: Leave Cancun between 6-7 am.
- Where are the cenotes: Near Puerto Aventuras (2h from Cancun)
- Duration: 12 hours (including 6 hours driving)
- What’s included: Transportation, snacks, drinks, snorkeling gear, life vest, and activities.
- Difficulty: 2/5
Best private cenote tour from Cancun
The quality/price ratio of this private snorkeling tour is incredible. Your bilingual snorkeling expert will pick you up early in the morning to be among the first to arrive at Yal-Ku (a lagoon with much colorful fish). Then you will head to a little-known open cenote with a zipline (Xunaan-Ha) and then to an incredible cave cenote whose water is incredibly transparent (Taak Bi Ha, one of my favorite cenotes in the Yucatan). You’ll take mind-blowing pictures.
You can change the departure time and even the stops (like Yal-Ku if the seaweed is too present)
✋ Ideal for travelers who want to snorkel and visit incredible cenotes at their own pace and without the crowd.
- Max Pers: your group.
- Price: Approx. 169 USD/pers if 2 people.
- Starting time: Leave Cancun at 7 am.
- Where are the cenotes: Between Akumal and Parque dos Ojos (2h from Cancun)
- Duration: 8 hours (including 4 hours driving)
- What’s included: Transportation, water, snorkel gears, life vest, and activities.
- Difficulty: 2/5
Explore Rio Secreto
Rio Secreto is a vast underground river discovered in 2006. You will see incredible rock formations. It has become a well-organized park, and you’ll get all the equipment necessary. Depending on your time and physical ability, you can choose different tours.
➕ The easiest option is Rio Secreto. It’s a 1km circuit where you will have to walk and sometimes swim.
➕➕ If you pick Rio Secreto +, it’ll be the same circuit + 2 activities (bike and rappel) + a short light show.
➕➕➕ My favorite tour is Rio Secreto Wild, but you must be in good shape. 1.5km bike + 4 hours in the cave (walking and swimming). You’ll go to another entrance, where nobody goes. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
- Max Pers: 10 per group.
- Price: 110 – 150 USD/pers
- Starting time: Leave Cancun between 7h30 & 9h am
- Where are the caves: Rio Secreto (1h45 from Cancun)
- Duration: 6 to 12 hours
- What’s included: Transportation, all necessary equipment (wet suit, hard hat, water shoes, life vest), and activities.
- Difficulty: 2/5
Private Chichen Sunrise + Ik Kil cenote tour from Cancun
Chichen Itza & Ik Kil cenote are two of the most famous highlight in Mexico. You should arrive early to avoid the crowds (and the heat). It’s almost mission impossible from Cancun unless you take this tour. The only difficulty? Getting up early because the objective is to watch the sunrise at Chichen Itza. No vendors. Happiness. Then, visit the Cenote Ik Kil to take superb photographs, and why not a quick dip?
To know: Ik Kil is not my favorite cenote in the area, and the sun rays illuminate the water of the cenote only from 10 am.
✋ The perfect option to beat the crowd and enjoy peacefully two famous sites of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula.
- Max Pers: Private
- Price: 336 USD/pers if 2 pers
- Starting time: Leave Cancun between3 – 4 am.
- Where are the caves: Between Valladolid and Chichen Itza (3h)
- Duration: 11h (including 6 hours driving)
- What’s included: Transportation, entrances, breakfast, water.
- Difficulty: 1/5
Affordable Chichen Itza tour + Cenote Saamal
You don’t have to break the bank to book a day trip to Chichen Itza and a cenote from Cancun. This agency has lots of experience with group tours, and the logistics will go smoothly. You will have a fascinating guided tour of the Mayan ruins. However, expect to be in the middle of a crowd. Then, you will go to the Hacienda Selva Maya. The beautiful place has a well-maintained garden and a savory Mexican-flavored buffet. The cenote looks like Ik Kil, only better. The day will end with a short visit to Valladolid.
✋ For travelers who want a good and affordable group tour. However, you will have the impression to be a tad rushed for each place (little time to explore by yourself).
- Max Pers: 24+
- Price: 74 USD/pers if 2 pers + 30 USD Chichen Itza entrance
- Starting time: Leave Cancun around 7 am
- Where is the cenote: Valladolid (2h30)
- Duration: 12h (including 7 hours driving)
- What’s included: Transportation, cenote entrance, buffet lunch,
- Difficulty: 1/5
Best cenote tour from Cancun: what you can expect
As I told you, I chose the 4-cenotes tour. Here is how it will go if you book this experience.
Pick up from your Resort
The agency offers complimentary pickup from resorts/hotels in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Riviera Maya. Knowing that the 4 cenotes are on the Ruta de Los cenotes, I advise you to stay south of Cancun or in Puerto Morelos.
You will receive an email with the pickup time without a phone number to call. I must admit that this stressed me a bit because the van always arrives a bit late (15 min in my case).
Once cool in a customized van, the guide/driver will brief the day 30 minutes before arriving at the first cenote. The guide uses a microphone so everyone can hear it well— pretty cool.
Angel, my guide, spoke excellent English with a good sense of humor.
You can’t do whatever you want during this tour. First, it’s essential to protect the water in the cenotes —as they all communicate through underground rivers. It means:
- Don’t apply sunscreen, repellent, or makeup (use an Instagram filter instead).
- Leave your stuff in the van.
- Keep your life jacket.
It’s time to enjoy 4 Cancun cenotes
Now you’re out of the van, ready to venture into the Mexican jungle and enjoy your first cenote.
Since you paid attention to Angel, you know that everything you have with you from now on will get wet.
What about your phone, shoes, hat, and glasses?
All this must be waterproof and well secured.
- Bring a good waterproof case for your phone. It will be even better if you opt for a Go Pro.
- Wear waterproof shoes and a lycra tee-shirt.
- Add a string to your glasses.
Now, you’re 100% ready.
K’AAK’, an open cenote where you can jump off the cliff and swim
After the shower, you go along a stone tunnel to join a zipline of about twenty meters which brings you directly into the first cenote. Then you must swim/float for a hundred meters, passing between 3-4m cliffs covered by luxuriant vegetation. In the end, there is a 5m jump for the bravest.
You survived. You deserve a good breakfast before hopping in the van for the next cenote (20 min drive)
LU’UM, a beautiful CAVE cenote with rappelling
You are about to explore my favorite cenote on this tour. To enter, you will have to rappel through a large hole in the rock.
Don’t know how to rappel?
This is not a problem. There are guides below and above who take care of everything. You can even drop everything and go down head first if you want. That’s what I did! 😀
Lu’um is a young cenote (because it is still a cave). It is a great environment, with massive tree roots that descend from the limestone rock ceiling to drink the fresh turquoise water. The only aquatic inhabitants are small catfish that feed on bat poops #coolfact
HA’, a vast open cenote with snorkeling
You now follow your guide into the Yucatan jungle (5 min) to reach the following activities. HA’ is a vast cenote divided into two sections. A stone tunnel on the right leads you to the kayaks. You will navigate the middle of high cliffs with your partner on emerald green water. The trip is short (10-15 min) but fun.
Then you will go on with the snorkeling for 30 min. There are aquatic plants and 2-3 fish probably lost. I have to admit I was somewhat disappointed.
IIK’ an ancient cenote to practice your zipline skills
You need to get your strength back before you become Superman. The agency staff has already prepared the buffet for you to make gourmet sandwiches. The ingredients are delicious, from smoked salmon to Spanish charcuterie to French cheese. There is even beer and wine.
Ok. Let’s fly now.
IKK is an old cenote because all the rock walls have disappeared (it looks like a lake).
On both sides, there is a zipline of about 50 meters. You will make 4 passes choosing the figures you want to execute: sitting, Superman, head down, standing.
RemBreakfastsmile for the photographer 😉
What’s good about this Cancun cenote tour
I was pleasantly surprised by this tour. Here is why.
🤙 The organization is excellent. There are many groups, but you hardly see them (lunch at a different time, guides communicate by walkie-talkie); the van stays with you, the guide is bilingual, and they lend you a bag and a towel for free.
🚣 Apart from snorkeling, the activities are enjoyable. They take place in good conditions and are accessible to most people.
🌊 You will visit all the different types of cenotes in one tour!
🌮 breakfast and lunch are delicious (good quality food).
😀 The facilities blend with the mystical atmosphere of the cenotes. You pass through tunnels, the buildings are made of wood and stone, and everything is clean.
🚌 Round trip transportation is provided. The site is at 1h30 from Cancun, and the cenotes are at 20 min from each other (which allows you to rest a little)
💰 This is an expensive cenote tour, but the value is excellent. You will pay much more if you visit 4 cenotes by yourself (including activities and private transportation).
Drawbacks of this Cancun cenote tour
Not everything is perfect. Here are the negative points.
🤩 These are not the best cenotes of the Riviera Maya. Except for Lu’um (which is beautiful), the other cenotes are “normal.” Moreover, the transparency of the water is nothing remarkable.
👨👨👧👦 The groups are 15-20 people. I appreciate the beauty of a cenote better if I am alone.
👮 You can’t do what you want. It’s like going back to school. For example, I love to swim underwater; you can’t do that with a life jacket.
Booking Guide: Pick the right cenote tours
Before booking a cenote tour from Cancun, there are a few essential things to know.
4 different types of Cenotes
To be able to choose your cenotes (there are between 5 and 8,000), you must know what kind of day you want to enjoy.
👪 The open cenotes look like small lagoons. These are the oldest, whose ceiling and rocky vault have disappeared. There are often ziplines and jumping areas.
🥃 Some cenotes look strangely like bottomless wells. Numerous lianas run along the walls to reach the freshwater. They are very photogenic.
🤿 There is a second type of semi-open cenote. These are caves with small holes in the ceiling that allow light to pass through. Generally, the lighting is at its best from 11 am to 3 pm. This can change depending on the cenote. The water is crystal clear and perfect for snorkeling.
🔦 Closed cenote (or cave cenote). Once inside, there is no daylight. You can only go in with a guide and a flashlight to admire the stalagmites and stalagmites. The majority of these cenotes are ideal for diving.
What do you want to do?
It will help you decide what kind of cenote tour you want to book.
🤿 Cenote diving
Most of the cenotes for scuba diving are located Playa del Carmen and Tulum. The most spectacular cenotes are Cenote Dos Ojos, Cenote Chac Mool, Casa cenote, Angelita, Cenote El Pit & Cenote Tajma Ha.
🚗 Visit many cenotes in one day
The trips are quickly long from Cancun. The Xenotes tour is the best option to spend less time on transportation and discover 4 types of cenotes.
🌴 Relax at a beautiful cenote
The problem with booking a cenote tour with a group is that you will have to follow the guide and the crowd will always be very loud. It’s not the best way to appreciate the beauty of a place. You can decide to book a private tour or decide to go by yourself.
🤩 Visiting cenotes and having fun
Some cenote tours offer activities such as kayaking, rappelling, ziplining, and even ATVs. It’s the case with Xenotes. You can also book an ecopark like Cenote Zapote.
🥽 Cenote snorkeling
When it rains, the limestone soil filters the water before joining the underground rivers connecting the cenotes. As a result, the water in some of the cenotes is amazingly transparent. The Rio Secreto Wild Tour and the private tour with Taak Bi Ha are two good options.
🐢 See aquatic animals
You will not see many animals (except bats and small catfish) in the cenotes. Some tours suggest you include Akumal Beach or Yal-Ku. On this fun swim in the Caribbean Sea, you will see turtles, rays, tropical fish, and coral reefs. Book this private tour from Cancun, or this cenote tour (with turtles), or with a stop at the Tulum ruins.
🤠 Cenote tours and Ancient Mayan ruins from Cancun
Visiting the most popular cenotes
The most famous cenotes, such as Ik Kil, Cenote Suytun, or Gran Cenote, are quickly invaded by busloads of tourists. If you want to visit them without the crowds, you’d better book a tour that leaves Cancun early. Such is the case with the Chichen Sunrise tour.
There are no cenotes near Cancun. The closest ones are in Puerto Morelos, on the famous Ruta de Los Cenotes. I advise you to stay in the south of Cancun to reduce the time spent on transportation. And to book this tour.
What to bring for your cenote tour from Cancun
I have often seen tourists come only in bathing suits on cenote tours. This is a mistake. Here is the perfect equipment:
- Lycra Tee-shirt
- Waterproof shoes
- Go Pro
- Towel and a change of clothes.
How to book your cenote tour from Cancun
I used Viator to book this experience. The interface is simple, and you can quickly communicate with the tour operator.
Also, you can cancel up to 24 hours before the activity for a full refund.
Later I realized that you could also book the tour on the Xenotes page directly. You’ll get a 10% discount if you book 7 days in advance. And a 15% discount if it’s 21 days!
Cenotes tours from Cancun: Your questions
Many travelers ask us the same questions about cenote tours. So I decided to group them in this section.
Where are the most beautiful cenotes?
My favorite cenotes are around Valladolid. They are huge semi-cenotes with crystal clear water. They are called Palomitas and Agua Dulce.
Is the water cold in cenotes?
The cenote water is not cold, but your body will take some time to get used to it, especially if it is a closed cenote. On average, the temperature should be around 75°F / 24°c.
Are cenotes in Cancun safe?
Millions of travelers visit the cenotes without incident. A life jacket will be at your disposal (and mandatory most of the time during a tour). Listen to your guide; you'll be able to swim safely in the cenotes 🙂.
How much is a cenote tour?
The price of the cenote tour will depend on the number of sites you visit, the size of the group, and the distance you travel by transport. Expect to pay about 120$ (all inclusive) per person.
Are cenote tours worth it?
Cenote tours from Cancun allow you to easily get to the cenotes if you don't have a vehicle and visit several in one day. However, you may be disappointed if your goal is to enjoy the area peacefully and at your own pace.
How long do you stay in each cenote?
It takes about 1 hour to visit a cenote. Opt for a private tour to decide how long you want to stay at each cenote.
Are there cenotes in Cancun?
No, there is no cenote in Cancun. The closest ones are on La Route de Cenotes, 1 hour away by car.
Bottom line: Best cenote tours from Cancun
There are several exciting tours to discover the cenotes from Cancun. Travelers who want to take a 100% cenotes tour will love the tour offered by Xenotes. You will visit 4 different cenotes with many activities. Alternatively, you can decide to combine a cenote with another activity. The Chichen Itza sunrise tour + Ik Kil is a great option (if you can get up early on vacation). Finally, you can book a private snorkeling tour that will allow you to swim with the turtles and discover photogenic cenotes with crystal clear water.