Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is home to many natural wonders, including countless freshwater cenotes, which are pristine underground caves and sinkholes where you can swim, snorkel and dive, entering a subterranean world in the limestone bedrock that is both surreal and incredibly beautiful. Pronounced “say-note-tays,” many Riviera Maya cenotes are well-known and already quite popular among tourists, but there are also quite a few others waiting to be discovered just off the beaten path.
Here are three of our favorite lesser-known cenotes about 45 minutes away near Tulum in Mexico’s Riviera Maya, all situated close to one another and just ten minutes from the ancient Mayan ruins of Coba!
1. Cenote Choo-Ha
Located deep in the lush jungle of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula at the end of a narrow road that is both paved and gravel at different points, this cenote has a small gravel parking lot, a rustic washroom and a changing area for visitors to shower off and put on a bathing suit if necessary. The entrance to Cenote Choo-Ha is similar to many others you will find in the Riviera Maya and consists of a well-maintained wooden staircase that descends beneath the earth through a narrow rocky opening. Once underground, there are many interesting rock formations in the large round cavern - some reaching all the way to its high ceilings - including many different stalactites and stalagmites. The water is a pristine, gorgeous blue color and shallow enough to stand up in some areas. You can see all the way to the bottom through the crystal-clear water and there’s a good chance you will have the place all to yourself! The atmosphere is serene and tranquil, and the cool water very refreshing - just leave your belongings on some dry rocks by the staircase and take a dip in the natural mineral water!
2. Cenote Tamkach-Ha
After leaving Choo-Ha, continue into the jungle down a narrow dirt road that stems off from the left side of the parking lot and you will soon arrive at the small parking area for Cenote Tamkach-Ha. The entrance is similar, taking visitors down a spiral wooden staircase through a narrow rocky opening in the ground, surrounded by rock walls on both sides. Eventually, the cenote will open up, forming a massive, perfectly round cavern located deep underground. There are two wooden platforms that stem off the main staircase, allowing adventure seekers to jump into the water from either 10 or five meters up. The water at Tamkach-Ha is a deep blue hue and there is a nice concrete platform perfect for wading and a couple of wooden benches for belongings. Three is also a rope across the cenote’s surface here, which is great for taking a break from treading water.
3. Cenote Multum-Ha
From the main highway near Coba, Cenote Multum-Ha is just a few minutes from town down a similarly rustic dirt and gravel road that ends in another small parking lot. Situated a bit farther into the jungle than the other two cenotes we highlighted here, Multum-Ha also has minimal changing and washroom facilities and is accessed via a long wooden staircase that descends through a small hole in the ground, but this one is longer and much narrower than the others. The pathway is surrounded by stone on all sides during the descent, but finally opens up to a large, beautiful and perfectly round cavern deep underground. There is a large wooden platform with railings that stretches out over the cerulean blue water, and a small hole in the ceiling where large tree roots can be seen allows a bit of natural light to shine into the interior.
Whether you decide to visit just one or all three of these unforgettable cenotes near Tulum and Coba, you should plan on spending at least 30-45 minutes at each location. All of the cenotes listed here provide an excellent addition to any Coba visit, offering a unique way to experience a less touristy adventure the next time you visit the Riviera Maya.
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Want to see more of the best things to do in Tulum? Check out our blog, Top 5 Beach Clubs that Capture the Tulum Lifestyle.