The Best Cenotes In Akumal - Including 3 Little Hidden Gems

Nestled along the stunning Riviera Maya coastline, Akumal cenotes offer a truly unique experience. Akumal captivates visitors with its clear turquoise waters, vibrant marine life, and white sandy beaches. However, a short journey from this tranquil beach paradise reveals some of the Yucatan Peninsula's most awe-inspiring natural wonders –cenotes in Akumal.

These enchanting natural sinkholes offer a rare glimpse into the underground rivers and aquifers that crisscross beneath the Peninsula's limestone surface. This blog post will guide you to the best cenotes near Akumal, Mexico, blending unforgettable adventure with a touch of ancient mystique.

Who Visits Akumal And Why?

With its serene beaches and friendly atmosphere, Akumal attracts a diverse crowd, from solo adventurers and couples seeking a romantic getaway to families and groups looking for a peaceful retreat. Nestled in the heart of the Riviera Maya, this small beach community is less crowded than its bustling neighbors, Cancun and Playa del Carmen, making it an ideal destination for those wishing to escape the hustle and bustle. Travelers come to Akumal primarily for its superb snorkeling opportunities, especially the chance to swim alongside sea turtles in their natural habitat, a highlight for many. The clear, calm waters make Akumal a preferred spot for kayaking, paddleboarding, and diving, appealing to water sports enthusiasts.

Additionally, the town's proximity to ancient Mayan ruins, such as Tulum and Coba, adds a layer of cultural exploration to the visit, inviting history buffs and curious minds to delve into the region's rich heritage. For eco-tourists and nature lovers, the surrounding jungle offers exciting adventures, including ziplining, ATV tours, and expeditions to the natural limestone sinkholes unique to the Yucatan Peninsula. The blend of relaxation, adventure, and cultural discovery makes Akumal a magnet for a broad spectrum of visitors, each drawn by the promise of experiencing the unspoiled beauty of the Mexican Caribbean and the mystical allure of the ancient Mayan world.

Although Akumal is the quieter and much quainter cousin of Playa Del Carmen and Tulum, there are still plenty of places to stay. The area is well served by vacation rental apartments, some of which are mini-resorts such as Ocean Breeze Akumal. However, perhaps the biggest secret is the cenotes in Akumal and nearby that elevate Akumal as a top vacation destination.

What Are Cenotes?

Cenotes are natural pits or sinkholes resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. Sculpted over millennia, these captivating features are part of a vast underground network of rivers and aquifers unique to the Yucatan Peninsula. Cenotes held profound religious significance for the ancient Maya, serving as gateways to the underworld and a vital water source.

Today, cenotes continue to mesmerize visitors from across the globe, offering a refreshing respite from the tropical heat, a window into the earth's geological history, and unparalleled snorkeling and diving experiences. And there is an excellent selection of cenotes near Akumal.

Top Cenotes Near Akumal

Cenote Azul

A stone's throw from Akumal Cenote Azul is a mesmerizing open-air cenote, praised for its accessibility and natural beauty. Dotted with small islands of lush vegetation and crystal-clear waters, this cenote near Akumal is perfect for families, swimmers, and sunbathers alike. The shallow areas are ideal for young children. At the same time, deeper sections and small cliffs cater to those looking to plunge into the refreshing waters from above.

As an open cenote, it receives a fair amount of sun. It is pretty shallow in most parts, so the water is warmer, and it has several small coves where you can hang out in the shallows. There are many fish here and at least 3-4 species, from tiny minnows to fish about a foot in length. The fish here certainly aren't afraid of you and will congregate around your feet and happily nibble at your dead skin. The free spa treatment makes the entrance fee to this cenote in Akumal worth the price of admission alone.

Cenote Azul is one of several cenotes located across from the Barcelo Resort (Eden, Cristlano, and Kantutchi, see below). As it is shallower than many cenotes, it is a good cenote for young children to enjoy the water.

Cenote Cristalino

Between Jardin de Eden and Cenote Azul is another great sinkhole cenote near Akumal. It is close to the road, and you walk down a short path after paying at the entrance booth. Cenote Cristalino beckons with its serene waters and shaded areas, accentuated by the sun's rays filtering through the canopy. This cenote makes for an excellent introduction to the underwater world of the Riviera Maya, offering straightforward access to snorkelers keen on observing the vibrant aquatic life and submerged rock formations.

This Akumal cenote is an excellent combination of both Azul and Eden (below), as it has some features of both. It has nice seating areas around the cenote, including on the edge with your feet dangling in the water (similar to Azul). Still, it also has deeper sections (such as Eden). Although it isn't as much of a scuba diving cenote as Eden, it has some exciting features.

There are areas where the mangrove roots go down into the water, and these hide a variety of fish. And there is a more extensive variety of fish at this cenote in Akumal than at most others. Another nice aspect of this cenote is that there are sitting areas in full sun and partial or complete shade – which is excellent on a hot day. Cristalano also has specific areas where you can have a picnic lunch and a small snack bar that sells a few items in case you leave something behind.

Cenote Eden (Ponderosa)

Enveloped by dense foliage, another fabulous Akumal cenote is Eden. Here, an otherworldly landscape is characterized by its wide, open waters and impressive underwater visibility. Often referred to as Ponderosa, this cenote is a haven for divers and snorkelers, boasting ample underwater trails teeming with fish and flora. Its depth varies, with shallow areas for novices and profound drop-offs and caves for the more adventurous souls.

It is less populated than Cenote Azul, which may be partly due to the price difference. This is a good cenote if you are a beginner scuba diver, as there are several deeper sections to explore as a diver. Snorkeling here is also good, and there are several fish varieties and 2 jumping platform areas.

There are no food or drink areas at this cenote in Akumal, and beer and alcohol are prohibited (not uncommon at cenotes), as is the use of sunscreen. Although this is a picturesque Akumal cenote with lots of vegetation overlooking it, there aren't many seating areas around the cenote for you to enjoy time out of the water. However, this is a perfect cenote for divers to explore. There are usually several divers in the water at any one time, including those doing their PADI Open Water Certification.

Kantun Chi Cenotes

Kantun Chi is a more resort-style cenote near Akumal. It is advertised as an eco-park, and although it is more expensive than the average cenote, if you are looking for a place to spend the day relaxing while wanting to experience several cenotes, this is the place.

In Mayan, Kantun Chi means yellow stone mouth, probably for the underground grotto. In addition to the grotto, it has 5 cenotes to experience. This Akumal cenote is close to Cenote Azul, Eden, and Cristalano in the heart of the Riviera Maya.

In addition to a restaurant, shower, and locker facilities, there are several places to relax in and around the cenotes. Also, some tours allow you to discover Mayan history and the local flora and fauna.

Cenote Dos Ojos

Cenote Dos Ojos, or Two Eyes Cenote, earns its name from the two neighboring sinkholes connected by a lengthy passageway. This site is renowned for its outstanding visibility, intricate rock formations, and fascinating network of underwater caves and caverns, with options for guided snorkeling and diving tours. This cenote near Akumal on the way to Tulum promises an unforgettable exploration of the underground world, appealing to both novices and experienced divers.


Nicte-Ha is another of the three cenotes in the Dos Ojos Park. It is the most inexpensive of the three but still delivers an excellent experience. It has lovely manicured grounds surrounding this cenote near Akumal, located beneath 2.5m high cliffs above the water. The cenote is open, but there are enclosed side caverns. Two platforms and stairs lead down to the cenote, opening into an area at least 2m deep. One side of the cenote has a large lilypad with flowering plants. The water is very clear as the bottom is rock and not sand. There are lots of small fish at this Akumal cenote. The water is a little cooler here due to the deeper cenote floor and surrounding caverns.

Nicte-Ha has a jumping platform 2.5m above the water surface where you can jump into the 2m water depth below. It is also a cenote with plenty of options for divers to explore, as it has 2 side caverns that lead down to submerged areas.

Tour buses stop at the Dos Ojos and Nicte cenotes near Akumal. Still, they appear to be timed to avoid one another so it is never too overcrowded. Between tour buses, there are relatively few people, especially at Nicte-Ha. As for conveniences, showers, bathrooms, and seated bench platforms above the cenote, ring it so you can rest, eat lunch, or watch the action below.

Casa Cenote (Cenote Manati)

Situated closer to the ocean, Casa Cenote offers a unique blend of fresh and saltwater, resulting in distinct water temperatures and clarity layers. Its meandering shape mirrors a natural jungle river, flanked by mangroves and teeming with aquatic life, including the occasional visit by friendly manatees. Kayaking and snorkeling in Casa Cenote provide a closer look at this fascinating ecological intersection.

Cenotes Casa Tortugas

Casa Tortugas is just off Highway 307, heading from Akumal to Tulum, between Oscar and Lalo's restaurant and Casa Cenote, a few minutes before you get there.

Casa Tortuga has 4 cenotes for you to visit. And these are cenotes near Akumal with a difference. It is organized as a guided tour of the 4 cenotes. The tour takes between 1 ½ - 2 hours. Included in the price is a life jacket and mask. The cenotes are exciting and diverse. Three contain cavern and cave areas where you swim in somewhat enclosed spaces, looking at the stalactites and rock formations of the caverns. They open up into larger areas where you can further relax and investigate the rock formations. Some of the caverns have native bats (which are nocturnal, so they nest when you go through them). There are a few fish in each of the first three cenotes and many fish in the last cenote.

The last of these Akumal cenotes is open air and winds like a river. There is an area to jump in from various heights along the side. The amenities at this Akumal cenote are excellent. There are lockers, washrooms, and an outdoor shower to rinse off before entering. A small restaurant also serves good tacos and other food and has a small craft gift shop.

Casa Tortugas gets busier mid-afternoon when more vans with people on tours arrive, so you might want to get there in the morning. Overall, this is a great cenote experience and is worth the extra cost because of its different cenotes and amenities.

Once you have completed the tour, you can stay at the end of the last cenote to relax in the water and around the edge. Or return after having some food at the restaurant.

3 Hidden Gem Cenotes In Akumal

Puerto Maya Cenote

Puerto Maya is the definition of a hidden gem. You won't find anyone else written about this cenote in Akumal. To get there, you must drive to the end of Akumal Pueblo and follow Google Maps. It is an open cenote where you can access covered areas of the cenote cavern. While a small cenote, it is also not visited by many people, so you may have it all to yourself on a weekday.

Many fish are in the cenote, and there is a great hammock under the rock ceiling that dips into the water. The seating areas next to the cenote have a few sunbeds to enjoy and relax. Above the cenote are a picnic area and other areas to enjoy, including where they sell snacks and drinks.

It's one of my favorite cenotes in Akumal.

Cenote Minotauro

Minotauro Cenote is 2 km south of Cenote Azul on Highway 307. Just past the Pemex Gas Station and before you get to Maya Blue Scuba, there is a driveway. Pull in there, and you'll see the sign for Cenote Minotauro. Beware, it's not obvious to see as a gate will be closed. But wait a moment, and someone will open it.

This cenote near Akumal is one of the most picturesque. The water is stunningly clear. Similar to Cenote Azul, there are many areas where you can sit on the side and let the fish nibble your feet or swim/snorkel in the open air. There are also areas where caves and caverns are found. This cenote is used both by divers, as there is a long cave system and by snorkelers and swimmers.

The Minotauro Akumal cenote has several fish, including some decent-sized catfish. But the rock formations are really impressive. It's another Akumal cenote that is a true hidden gem. It's not very busy usually, has fabulously clear water, and includes a tour through one of the cave systems from Sebastian. Sebastian is an excellent, fun guide; the tour is included in your entrance fee.

There are also showers, toilets, and picnic areas for you to enjoy as well.

Chikin Ha

Next to Cenote Azul and Cristalano, Chikin Ha has three cenotes, a zipline, and puts on Mayan ceremonies. While there are 3 cenotes, you can only go in 2 of them, as the other is reserved for ceremonial purposes. After entering off Highway 307, you drive about 1 km to where you park.

These cenotes near Akumal are served by basic washrooms, showers, and changing room facilities. Your entrance fee includes a life jacket, and you can rent snorkeling equipment.

The first of these Akumal cenotes is shallow and open, which is nice for smaller children, too. There are places to relax in the sun on the side and watch people ziplining above across the cenote. There are a few fish and a couple of large terrapin turtles. The second of these Akumal cenotes is a nice cavern with small Stalactites hanging in outcrops from the cavern ceiling. You can snorkel holding a guide rope through one side of the cavern, underground, and emerge on the other side.

Akumal Cenote Safety And Conservation Tips

Before diving into the crystalline waters of the Akumal cenotes, it's crucial to approach these natural wonders with respect and mindfulness. Here are some tips to ensure a safe and eco-friendly visit:

  • Avoid using sunscreen and insect repellent before entering the water, as chemicals can harm the delicate ecosystems within the cenotes.
  • Wear life jackets if you're not a confident swimmer. Depths can vary, and it's always better to err on the side of caution.
  • Take nothing but photos, and leave nothing but footprints. Help preserve the beauty and integrity of these natural sites for future generations.
  • Respect the cultural significance of cenotes. Remember, these were sacred sites to the ancient Maya.

Planning Your Akumal Cenote Visit

To make the most of your experience of cenotes near Akumal, consider these practical tips:

  • Timing: Visit early in the morning to avoid crowds and experience the cenotes' peaceful ambiance. And know that it will be much busier on weekends, especially on Sundays, when there will be more locals at the cenotes in Akumal.
  • Entrance Fees: Most cenotes charge an entrance fee, ranging from a few dollars to around twenty, depending on the site's facilities and popularity.
  • What to Bring: Pack water shoes, snorkeling gear, towels, and a change of clothes. Pack a cooler with drinks and food or snacks. Note that most cenotes in Akumal don't allow alcohol.

Final Thoughts On The Best Cenotes Near Akumal

The cenotes near Akumal offer more than just a chance to cool off from the Yucatan sun; they are a doorway to understanding the region's natural beauty, geological wonders, and cultural heritage. By respecting these natural treasures and embracing the spirit of adventure, visitors can enjoy an unparalleled experience of the Akumal cenotes, which combines relaxation, exploration, and a deep connection with nature.

Interested In Visiting Akumal?

Are you interested in booking a vacation and exploring the cenotes near Akumal and the fabulous white sand beaches? If so visit us at Ocean Breeze Akumal, or contact us for a custom quote or if you have any questions.


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