Discover why you need to come for a swim to Cenote Azul, a sinkhole located between Playa del Carmen and Tulum in the Riviera Maya + a few useful info for your visit, and prices updated in 2022.
Cenote Azul near Playa del Carmen, is one of the thousands of cenotes in Mexico’s Quintana Roo state. But as the name implies, Cenote Azul stands out among them for its bright turquoise waters that offer the perfect spot to cool off from the Mexican heat.
As many other natural sinkholes in this region of Mexico, it is a sacred site to the ancient Mayans, with a history that adds more mystery to an already interesting attraction.
READ ALSO: 11 Best Cenotes in Playa del Carmen
This Cenote Azul is in the Yucatan Peninsula, not to be confused with Cenote Azul in Bacalar. It’s one of the most family-friendly cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula, and it offers many opportunities for various activities, from swimming to snorkeling and diving. Let’s see them all.
BUT FIRST, WHAT IS A CENOTE?
You might already know what is a cenote. After all, cenotes have become super popular these past few years. If that’s the case, feel free to skip this paragraph! However, many people don’t really know what exactly is a cenote, and in my opinion, it’s really important to understand what is their significance to the Mayans.
A cenote is a natural sinkhole dating back several centuries. When limestone caves collapse they expose a natural pool. This pool then gets filled with rain water and with the water flowing through underground rivers, to which these sinkholes are connected to. Voilà, you’ve got yourself a cenote!
The word cenote comes from the Mayan term dzonot, which means well. But not all cenotes look the same. There are essentially 4 types of cenotes:
• Open Cenotes – Open cenotes are like natural, open pools, and they can be more or less deep. Some of the open cenotes are also connected to an underground river passage (which makes them great for diving!). An example of an open cenote is Cenote Zacil-Ha near Tulum, and so is Cenote Azul.
• Semi-open Cenotes – As the name implies, this type of cenote has some parts that are exposed and some portions that are partially hidden by a cave. An example of a semi-open cenote is Gran Cenote.
• Cave Cenotes – This type of cenote can be accessed via a land-level entrance. Once you make your way in, it opens up to an underground pool which can have both shallow and deep areas. Cenote Oxman, located near Valladolid, is a cave cenote.
• Underground Cenotes – This type of cenote is the most difficult to reach as they are, in fact, underground. Only experienced divers can access underground cenotes. An example of an underground cenote is the Pet Cemetery Cenote near Tulum.
Cenotes have great cultural and religious significance to the ancient Mayans, who believed that the cenotes were passages to the underworld. In fact, Mayans performed rituals in the cenotes and treated the sites as sacred.
This means that you should too. Please be responsible! Don’t litter the cenote, always take your trash back with you, and only apply biodegradable sunscreen before swimming in the cenote.
Make sure you have travel insurance before leaving for your trip to Mexico! As we all know after the last couple of years, unexpected things can happen and you want to be covered when you need it the most.
SafetyWing is the insurance I’ve been using for the last 3 years. It costs USD 42 for 4 weeks (and much less if your trip is shorter!) and provides coverage for COVID-19. For a more comprehensive, but pricier, coverage you can check out WorldNomads, which is another excellent choice.
➤ Read also my post that compares the best travel insurance options.
ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CENOTE AZUL, RIVIERA MAYA
Cenote Azul is a picture of untouched natural beauty. This water-filled, natural sinkhole is the perfect spot to dip in with its refreshing blue waters (its name, in fact, means “blue cenote”, and it was named after the its gorgeous color).
Cenote Azul is located close to three other popular cenotes in Playa del Carmen – Cenote Cristalino, Cenote Jardin del Eden, and Cenote Kantunchi. It’s a good idea to visit two or three cenotes since they are located close to each other. It’s the perfect day trip from Tulum or Playa del Carmen!
There is a free parking lot just outside the cenote, and you’ll find the ticket booth beside it, where you’ll need to pay the entrance fee to get in.
Cenote Azul is an open air cenote. It looks like a very large natural swimming pool – no need to make your way into a cave, or overcome your claustrophobia. It’s one large, open swimming area that has both shallow and deep areas. They say Cenote Azul is one of the biggest cenotes in all of Mexico!
There’s the main swimming area, and there are also a couple smaller pools by the entrance of varying depths, which is what makes Cenote Azul so suitable for families to visit.
If you have kids, you can let them swim in the shallow areas. If you want to be safer, you can rent a life jacket at the cenote, and you’ll also find plenty of areas to stand in the water as some portions have large rocks in them (they can be slippery, though, so be careful!)
There are deeper parts of the water that are perfect for those who want a challenging swim, or those who wish to dive. There is a portion of the Cenote Azul with a cliff that’s about 15 feet high. A lot of tourists jump off the cliff, which is a fun way to get into the crystal clear waters.
But otherwise no worries, there’s a deck that you can use to get into the water in a less risky way.
At the same time, though, this cenote is very large, so you won’t have trouble finding a quiet spot to relax and spot quite a few iguanas around the cenote!
Cenote Azul is also known as a natural fish spa: there is plenty of fish that swim in the water, which you’ll be able to appreciate in the absolutely crystal clear water, and when you let your feet dangle in it, they will come to nip on it which is pretty exhilarating (and ticklish!).
Aside from the natural fish spa, snorkeling is one of the best things to do in this cenote. The water is very clear so you can observe a variety of fish and plant life underwater. Be sure to be on the lookout for the iguanas and the wide variety of birds that call this cenote home.
While you could rent snorkel equipment there, it’s better to bring your own if you have it, and you should also bring a towel since they don’t have any for rent available on-site.
As many other cenotes in the area, Cenote Azul has a few restrictions. Sunscreen and bug repellent are prohibited, as they can damage the ecosystem of the cenote. Be sure not to use any before visiting; if you do, though, you can use the showers on-site to get rid of it.
Extra tip: Getting a reef-safe sunscreen is a great idea when visiting Mexico, as most cenotes and snorkel excursions won’t allow the regular, and you’ll also want to protect the environment, right?
FACILITIES AVAILABLE AT CENOTE AZUL
Cenote Azul is popular with tourists, so it comes as no surprise that there are some facilities for tourists to use. It’s not a cenote off the beaten path like Cenote Calavera can be.
Bathrooms & Changing Rooms
There is good amount of bathrooms at the cenote, and there are also changing rooms where you can get in and out of your swimwear and get changed.
Showers are also available at Cenote Azul, although you may have to pay a very small fee to use them (around 5 pesos – 25 cents).
Food at Cenote Azul
There’s a small snack bar/restaurant on-site that you can go to for lunch, a soft drink, or a couple of tacos because por qué no. If the options don’t appeal to you, or you’d rather prepare your own picnic basket, you’re allowed to bring your own food to this cenote.
Alcohol is restricted though, so unless you want to risk it being confiscated, you should only take soft drinks or water.
There’s a large parking area right outside the cenote, although you should aim to arrive early to get a spot (and avoid the crowds in the process). Parking there is free.
On-site you can also rent life jackets for a small fee and snorkeling equipment (this last one is highly recommended).
There’s also a shop where you can buy food to feed the fish. These are basic amenities, so don’t set your expectations too high, but it should be more than enough to keep your basic needs covered.
⚠️ Remember to take cash when visiting Cenote Azul. You’ll need it for both the entrance fee and anything you want to buy or rent at the site. While they might accept dollars, more often than not they’ll only take Mexican pesos, so you’re better off having some pesos with you.
CENOTE AZUL, MEXICO: PRACTICAL INFO
How much does it cost to enter Cenote Azul?
The entrance cost to Cenote Azul is 150 Pesos (roughly 7.50 USD) at the time of writing.
Cenote Azul Opening Hours
Open daily, Cenote Azul hours are from 8.30 AM to 5.00 PM.
Where is Cenote Azul located?
From Playa is about a 25-minute drive. The cenote is across the street from Barcelo Hotels, you can literally cross the highway and walk to the cenote (but please be careful, cars drive pretty fast on the highway!)
If you want to know the exact Cenote Azul address, here below you can see it on the map:
Best time to visit Cenote Azul
There are two options to visit Cenote Azul if you want to avoid the crowds. You can visit the cenote right after it opens in the morning, or late in the afternoon right before closing time. Most tourists flock here around midday to noon and then leave to continue with the rest of their tour after lunch.
It’s also recommended that you visit during the weekdays as it is often packed with locals during the weekend.
Cenote Azul Snorkeling
Cenote Azul is also suitable for snorkeling. Make sure to pack your snorkeling gear when you visit this cenote as both kids and adults will enjoy seeing all the fish.
Cenote Azul Diving
You can totally enjoy diving at Cenote Azul. There are some very interesting geographic formations and submerged trees. Diving is suitable both for beginners and advanced divers.
Are drones allowed?
Drones are not allowed in Cenote Azul. In fact, the use of drones is pretty restricted in Mexico, and most cenotes and other areas of interest prohibit its use. You can, however, take pictures at the cenote.
Is there anything prohibited at the cenote?
To protect this natural location, there are some restrictions when visiting Cenote Azul (and they are the same in most cenotes!) These are some of the things you’re not allowed to do in the cenote:
• As I stated earlier, sunscreen and bug repellent are not allowed in the cenote.
• Nor is smoking.
• Alcohol is prohibited.
• You can take your snorkel gear and water shoes, but fins are not allowed.
• This goes without saying, but absolutely no fishing! Harassing or harming the animals or environment is also a big no.
How long should you stay at the cenote?
You can spend the whole day at Cenote Azul if you want to, but most visits take around 2-3 hours. That’s plenty of time to snorkel and swim, enjoy the fish spa and have a snack by the natural pool.
If you’re also visiting other cenotes on the same day, that’s how much time you’ll likely spend in each.
BEST CENOTE AZUL TOURS
➤ If you prefer to visit Cenote Azul with an organized tour, the Four Cenote Adventure is a great option, as it takes you to visit four incredible cenotes, including Cenote Azul. You’ll also visit a Mayan village and enjoy a traditional lunch.
This tour also includes: Transportation from a meeting point in Tulum. Snorkel equipment, snacks, and refreshments are also part of the package. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
➤ The Marine Turtle Observation tour is a 2×1 kind of tour. In just half a day it’ll allow you to swim with turtles in Akumal, and then in the turquoise waters of Azul Cenote for two great, and very different, experiences.
This tour also includes: Pickup from all hotels in Cancun, Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum. Also included are snacks and snorkeling equipment. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
➤ The Private 3 Cenotes Tour is a full-day excursion along the Riviera Maya, where you’ll get to visit (and swim in!) cenotes Cristalino, Jardin del Eden, and Azul. Lunch and a certified guide are included in this Cenote Azul tour.
This tour also includes: Pickup from hotels in Cancun, Puerto Morelos, and Playa del Carmen. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
HOW TO GET TO CENOTE AZUL
There are several options to get to Cenote Azul from Playa del Carmen, Tulum, or Cancun if you prefer visiting on your own.
Drive a rental car
Driving your own rental car is one of the best ways to get to Cenote Azul from Playa del Carmen. I always recommend renting a car if you’re planning on visiting a few attractions around Playa del Carmen, Cancun, or Tulum. It’s just easier to get around and you’ll end up saving a lot of time and money.
From Playa del Carmen, you need to take the 307 Highway southbound. Once you reach Puerto Aventuras, continue driving for four more minutes until you see the Barcelo Hotel Resort entrance.
Turn left and then right after that, and just look for the sign to tell you that you have reached the cenote. There’s an adequate number of parking spots available at Cenote Azul, so that won’t be a problem.
▶ The driving time from Playa is 25 minutes.
▶ If you’re driving from Cancun, it will take you close to 1.5 hours.
▶ Cenote Azul is near Tulum, and the drive takes around 30 minutes.
Take the colectivo to Cenote Azul
One of the most popular options to get around in the Yucatan Peninsula (and the cheapest one) is via a colectivo, a public shared van. The colectivo from Playa del Carmen to Cenote Azul will cost you about 40 Pesos.
Head to 2nd Street and find a colectivo headed south towards Tulum, and just tell the driver you are headed to Cenote Azul. The colectivo will stop right across the cenote or in front of the Barcelo Hotel resort entrance. It’s a short walk from there to the cenote entrance.
You can also take a colectivo from Tulum. Make sure you take one headed northbound towards Playa del Carmen and tell the driver “Cenote Azul” or “Barcelo”.
If you are visiting Cenote Azul from Cancun, you’ll have to take two colectivos, one to Playa and from there one to Tulum.
Take a taxi to Cenote Azul
Taking a taxi is more expensive, so make it your last resort when it comes to transportation options for Cenote Azul.
But if you prefer the convenience and budget is not an issue, you can easily take one from Playa (or any part of the state) to get to Cenote Azul. This is a popular cenote so your taxi driver will be able to easily recognize it.
From Playa del Carmen a taxi will cost about 700 pesos.
You should also arrange for the driver to pick you up later, as it might be difficult to get a taxi from Cenote Azul when you’re there. It’s safer to secure your ride back ahead of time.
PROS AND CONS OF CENOTE AZUL (QUINTANA ROO)
Pros of Cenote Azul
✅ It’s a very accessible cenote that’s close to the main highway.
✅ It’s located close to other cenotes so you can visit more than one during your trip.
✅ The cost of entry to this cenote is reasonable.
✅ It’s an open cenote with a large space. Even when it is popular, it is easy to find a quiet spot.
✅ It’s great for swimming, snorkeling, and diving.
✅ It’s a family-friendly cenote with shallow areas for your children to swim in.
Cons of Cenote Azul
❌ It can get very crowded on weekends. Make sure you visit mid-week.
❌ There are no major tourist facilities at this cenote if that’s what you are looking for. Except for a small snack bar, you won’t find any big touristy restaurants for example, or massage parlors like at Cenote Dos Ojos. You can bring food, but no alcohol is allowed near the cenote.
OTHER THINGS TO DO NEAR CENOTE AZUL
I’ve spent quite some time around this area, so here are a few ideas for things to do once you’ve visited Cenote Azul.
▶ Visit the beautiful Tulum ruins that are perched on the Caribbean Sea and offer some spectacular views.
▶ Spend a day enjoying the beach in Tulum, and check out some of Tulum’s trendy cafes and restaurants.
▶ Go on a day trip to Cancun or to the beautiful Cozumel island.
Cenote Azul, Playa del Carmen FAQ
Cenote Azul price is 150 pesos at the time of writing. The cost to get there will depend on which means of transportation you choose: a colectivo from Playa costs around 40 pesos, while taking a taxi could cost you as much as 700 pesos.
Cenote Azul is composed of various pools. It’s around 32 feet deep in its deepest area, where experienced divers usually head to, and it’s about waist-deep in the shallow pools.
Cenote Azul is 16 miles (26 km) south of Playa.
There are no crocodiles in Cenote Azul. If you want to meet a (completely harmless!) baby croc at a cenote, you should head to Cenote Carwash.
Thinking of cliff-jumping at Cenote Azul? It’s one of the greatest activities there! The jumping platform is about 15 feet above the water.
Cenote Azul is in the Yucatan Peninsula, south of Puerto Aventuras and near Tulum. It’s not to be confused with its namesake cenote in Bacalar.
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