One of the top things to do in the Riviera Maya to cool off on those hot Caribbean days is to take a swim in a cenote. Especially if the beaches are having a ‘bad sargassum day’. So where are the best cenotes near Playa del Carmen? In this post, we detail the best cenotes in and near Playa del Carmen, as well as information about how to get there.
Chaak Tun is the most popular Cenote in Playa del Carmen, especially with tourists coming over on day tours from Cozumel. In fact, many people who live here in Playa don’t even know it exists!
Chaak Tun consists of 2 caves, the main one has some natural light from a hole in the ceiling, and one is completely enclosed. The caves are great for exploring and have some of the most impressive stalactites you are likely to see in the region, so make sure you take a waterproof light (preferably a head torch) with you. It’s also a good idea to wear something warm as it can get cold in there.
To fee for Chaak Tun is $100 pesos ($5.50 USD) and for that fee, you will be lent a life vest and hard hat for safety. You can also rent a light for a small fee if you don’t have one.
If you want to visit here you should go early in the morning or in the late afternoon as during the day it gets very busy with tourists from the cruise ships. You can check the cruise schedule here.
How to get there: To get to Cenote Chaak Tun you will need to take a taxi from your hotel. If they aren’t sure where it is (as we said, many people don't know about it) tell them to keep going on Juárez (one of the main streets in Playa del Carmen) and it is on that road. It should take around 20 minutes in a taxi from downtown.
Alternatively, you can also rent a bike and cycle there, it should take around 30 minutes by bike.
Punta Esmeralda is well kept local secret, it is a completely open, shallow cenote on the beach in Playa del Carmen. However, because of its location on the public access beach past all of the resorts and beach clubs, many tourists never venture out here. And boy are they missing out!
Although Punta Esmeralda has had some issues with trash being left on the beach in the past, we are happy to report thanks to the efforts of the beach clean up teams the beach is looking pristine and beautiful once more.
Punta Esmeralda is the perfect cenote in Playa del Carmen if you want the best of both worlds: To relax on the beach and swim in a freshwater cenote. It is also great for families as kids love to paddle in the shallow water.
Generally, Punta Esmeralda is quiet Monday through Friday with weekends, especially Sundays being crowded. Be sure to bring an umbrella for shade and food and drink with you. There are some facilities (showers, bathrooms, and a small cafe/ snack bar) open during the day.
How to get there: To get to Punta Esmeralda simply take a taxi from downtown or rent a bike for the day and cycle along 5th Ave all the way along passed playa 88 and the Paradisus All-Inclusive resort until you see the big blue sign for Punta Esmeralda. Turn in and cycle down the road until you come to the beach. There will be a place to secure your bikes on the road.
Alux Resturant is the third and final cenote in Playa del Carmen. Although you may not be able to swim in it, we think it’s still worth mentioning as it is so impressive. I mean, who wouldn't want to eat in a 10,000-year-old cave?!
The cenote restaurant in Playa del Carmen is Mexican fine dining, and you are going to want to dress to impress if you decide to eat here. The menu is a specially curated a la carte pre-hispanic Mexican cuisine with a modern international twist.
Considering the quality of the food and the whole experience the prices really aren't;t that extravagant. Expect to pay between $250-600 pesos ($13-$30 USD) for a main meal, with most mains being around the $400 pesos ($20 USD) mark.
You will need to book in advance to dine here.
How to get there: Getting to Alux is easy. Simply take a taxi from your hotel or central Playa del Carmen and ask for Alux (pronounced Alush). It is on Juárez so you will easily be able to flag a taxi down on the way back too. It is just over the other side of the federal road so not far from El Centro.
The Best Cenotes near Playa del Carmen
If you want to visit some cenotes in the Riviera Maya outside of Playa del Carmen, you will be spoilt for choice. Many of the best cenotes can be tricky to get to without a car or some local knowledge. We offer many tours to cenotes but if you just want to go on your own and relax for the day in one place here are two cenotes that are easily accessible from Playa del Carmen.
One of our personal favorite cenotes to visit is Chikin Ha, this is the cenote you will visit with us if you book our Tulum tour. What we love about this cenote is that you can spend the whole day there with the family and not get bored. There really is something for everyone from zip lining and rappelling to blessings from Mayan Shamans!
There are actually 5 cenotes to explore within the Chikin Ha grounds ranging from enclosed, partially enclosed and completely open. For some of the activities like zip lining and rappelling you will need to pay extra as you will need a guide.
How to get there: We would be happy to take you to Chicken Ha on our Mayan Adventure Tour. If you prefer to go it alone you can get here by taking a Collectivo heading towards Tulum from Calle 2 in downtown Playa del Carmen. Be sure to tell the driver you want to go to Chikin Ha so he will know where to let you off.
Cenote Cristalino is another easy to get to cenote from Playa del Carmen. This cenote is a big favorite with local Mexican families, so best avoided on Sundays! During the week, however, it is generally quiet. The great thing about this cenote is that it is easy to get to by colectivo, the entrance fee is just $150 pesos and there are several open cenotes to enjoy, including one with a platform you can jump off.
In the main area, you will find some good snorkeling so don't forget your snorkeling gear. Although for a small fee you can rent snorkeling equipment and a life vest. They do have some facilities here but they are very basic. If you plan to stay here for the day you will need to bring food and drink with you are there is nowhere close to buy lunch.
How to get there: To get here take a colectivo from Calle 2 towards Tulum and let the driver know you want Cenote Cristalino. To get back simply cross over the road and flag down a passing colectivo. Don't worry the driver will be looking out for people along the road.
So there you have it 5 cenotes to visit near Playa del Carmen. We hope you have a lot of fun exploring some of the best cenotes in the Riviera Maya. Of course, it goes without saying that it would be our pleasure to take you on a cenote tour. We would be happy to discuss all of your needs with you so get in touch using the chat function if you have any questions.
Alternatively here is a list of our tours that include a cenote tour:
Mayan Explorer (Tulum Ruins and Chikin Ha)