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Why You’ll Fall In Love With Cenote Nicte Ha in Tulum, Mexico

Cenote Nicte Ha is definitely one of my favorite cenotes in Tulum and the Mayan Riviera in general. Swimming at Nicte-Ha among the water lilies is an experience you won’t forget. Check out how beautiful it is and some of my other favorite cenotes in the area in this video below.

But Hey, What Is a Cenote?

You might already know what is a cenote. After all, cenotes have become super popular these past few years – especially on Instagram! However, many people don’t really know what is a cenote, and I believe 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. And there you’ve got yourself a cenote!

The word cenote comes from the Mayan term dzonot, which means well. But not all cenotes look the sam, you can find 4 different types of cenotes:

 Open Cenotes – Open cenotes are like natural open-air 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 Jardin del Eden near Playa del Carmen, and so is Cenote Nicte Ha.

 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 is Gran Cenote.

 Cave Cenotes – This type of cenote can be accessed via a land-level entrance, but nce you make your way in, they open up to an underground pool which can have both shallow and deep areas. Cenote Xkeken, for example, 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 underground cenote is the Pet Cemetery Cenote near Tulum.

Cenotes have an important cultural and religious significance to the ancient Mayans, who believed that the cenotes were passages to the underworld. In fact, Mayans performed sacred rituals in the cenotes.

This means that you should treat cenotes with respect 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.

Cenote Nicte Ha: All You Need To Know

My friend Raphael and I visited both the more famous Cenote Dos Ojos and Nicte-Ha the same day. We arrived at the complex at opening time because we wanted to make sure to beat the crowds at Cenote Dos Ojos for our photos and videos, and we were at Cenote Nicte-Ha one hour later.

Nicte-Ha is a lesser-known cenote and never gets overcrowded, but going early in the morning means you might actually be able to avoid any groups and have the cenote all for yourself – we did! No wonder my other favorite cenote, Cenote Calavera in Tulum, is also little known.

We swam for half an hour, took a drone video and a million photos, and just at the end a couple of divers showed up. It was really magical to enjoy such a beautiful place all by ourselves.

Nicte-Ha Cenote is very different from most of the other cenotes I visited. It’s not underground, think more like a lake with blue turquoise, crystal-clear water. What makes it so special, though, are the hundreds of water lilies floating around: it’s so beautiful!

The water was fresh, but not unbearably cold, and I can imagine that it must be very refreshing to jump at mid-day – it gets hot in Tulum! Around the cenote is very lush, with tons of vegetation growing in and out the cenote, and somehow it seems like you’re swimming in a secret garden. There is a rope that you can use if you get tired of swimming around too.

Diving at Nicte-Ha is possible, but you need to arrange the experience with a dive center – we didn’t see any rental facilities for snorkeling either, so bring your own equipment if you want to be snorkeling at Nicte-Ha.

RELATED: 11 Unmissable Day Trips from Tulum

The Facilities at Cenote Nicte-Ha

Don’t expect the fancy facilities you can find at Dos Ojos or Gran Cenote. You’ll find just some very basic toilet facilities (where you can get changed if you need to). There are no lockers to put your stuff, but you can leave your things on the wooden boardwalk that runs to the cenote and keep an eye on it, the cenote isn’t big.

Practical Info for Cenote Nicte Ha

How much does it cost?

The entrance fee to Cenote Nicte-Ha costs 250 MXN (about 12 USD)

Where is it located?

Cenote Nicte-Ha is located 22 km north of Tulum (approximately a 20-minute drive). The address is Carretera Federal 307, km 244.5. Here you can see it in the map:

Cenote Nicte Ha Opening Hours

Nicte-Ha is open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM.

How to Get to Cenote Nicte-Ha

Photo: Raphael Alexander Zoren at Journey Wonders

Cenote Nicte-Ha is located inside the same park where you can also find Cenote Dos Ojos, The Pit, and other cenotes. You have a few options to get here.

Take a Colectivo

Colectivos (shared taxis) are often the best way to move around Tulum and the Riviera Maya in general. They are really easy to catch: simply stand on the road and wave at any shuttle coming your way. Tell the driver your destination and when you get off he will tell you how much it is (it’s never much at all!).

To reach Cenote Nicte Ha by colectivo, stand on highway 307 going north from Tulum (towards Playa del Carmen). There are shuttles every few minutes so it won’t be a hassle to catch one. Tell the driver you are going to Dos Ojos and the shuttle will leave you at the entrance.

The cost is usually around 40 MXN from Tulum. From the entrance where you buy your ticket to the cenote it’s a 20-minute walk on a dirty road, and no, there’s no transportation available, so make sure you wear comfy shoes. Also, try and avoid going when it’s too hot!

If you prefer not to walk, check out one of the other options. This one is definitely the cheapest one to visit Nicte Ha on a budget!

Rent a Car With a Private Driver For the Day

If you are planning to visit multiple attractions/cenotes in one day, it might make sense to book a private driver for the day. This is what we did, as we had a packed schedule and wanted to visit as many cenotes as possible in one day. This is the perfect day trip from Tulum, and one I definitely recommend.

Tulum is expensive for being in Mexico: we were quoted very high prices such as 150 USD for a day, but we ended up spending 100 USD through a friend of a friend. Not cheap, but if you are sharing the costs with a couple of friends and want to make the most of your day, definitely take this option into consideration. Ask your hotel or taxi drivers for a quote and haggle, haggle, haggle!

Take a Taxi

The drive from downtown Tulum to the Dos Ojos park takes approximately 20 minutes and shouldn’t cost you more than 200 MXN. If they try to charge you more, make sure you haggle! If you are staying at Tulum Beach, budget an extra 100 MXN.

Taxis will leave you at the entrance of the park, but if you don’t want to walk you can ask the driver to wait for you to buy the ticket and drive you to the cenote Nicte-Ha (obviously with a surcharge).

Rent a Car

I didn’t find the roads around Tulum and the Riviera Maya to be bad at all. Renting a car will give you extra freedom to take a Yucatan road trip and you’ll be able to park right in front of the cenotes, saving you a lot of hassle. Plus, renting a car in Mexico is generally cheap.

I use (and recommend) Discover Cars to search for the best rental car options available. ➥ COMPARE PRICES HERE

Best Cenote Nicte-Ha Tour from Tulum

Not many tours will bring you to Cenote Nicte Ha, but I found a private tour from Tulum that does. This tour is perfect for people who like not-too-crowded cenotes, and will bring you in fact to Cenote Nicte Ha and Cenote Taak Bi Ha.

This tour also includes: private round-trip transportation from your hotel, lunch, drinks, use of snorkel equipment including life jackets and wetsuits. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

READ ALSO: 13 Best Cenote Tours in Tulum

Pros and Cons of Cenote Nicte-Ha

Pros of Cenote Nicte Ha

  • it’s not very known and you might have it all to yourself!
  • beautiful water lilies!
  • it’s near Dos Ojos so you can visit both in the same occasion

Cons of Cenote Nicte Ha

  • you might need to walk for over 20 minutes under the sun if you come by colectivo

Cenote Nicte-Ha is still off-the-beaten-path and was one of the best discoveries of my trip to the Yucatan peninsula. Don’t miss it!

Other Things to Do Near Cenote Nicte Ha

I’ve spent quite some time around this area, so here are a few ideas for things to do once you’ve visited Cenote Nicte-Ha.

▶ Visit other cenotes near Tulum. If you prefer less known cenotes, I recommend Cenote Zacil Ha and Cenote Carwash, but there are honestly so many that it would take you many days to see them all! I always recommend setting aside at least one day to check out a few.

▶ Spend some time at the beach and have lunch at one of the many trendy Tulum restaurants and cafes.

▶ Check out the Tulum ruins and if you have time venture further to visit the Coba Ruins, where you can still climb the pyramid, or the world-famous Chichen Itza pyramids.

▶ Take a day trip to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, where you’ll find the bluest water, dolphins, and even crocodiles!

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you book something through one of my links I might get a commission, at absolutely no extra cost to you


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  • Stefania Guglielmi

    Stefania Guglielmi is the founder of Every Steph. Originally from Bologna, Italy, she's been traveling full-time since 2016 and has visited over 50 countries across 6 continents. She believes sustainable travel and luxury travel can go hand in hand and has been advocating for responsible tourism since 2014. Stefania's advice and travel experiences have been featured in important publications such as Business Insider, Refinery29, and Yahoo Money.


Friday 6th of September 2019

The days of haggling are over folks. If you think $150 usd is too much for a private driver for a day, think again. It costs a lot of money to maintain a vehicle. Cheap taxis who do the work below union rates are taking business away from the legit drivers. Do not use a cheap service! You might get kidnapped and taken to the nearest ATM as well.


Friday 6th of September 2019

Considering that the average salary in the Riviera Maya is around $500 usd, well, $150 seems a bit excessive. I paid around $100 for a private driver and that was already a lot in my opinion. I'm currently living in a country with a similar average salary and there is absolutely no way anybody would charge 80, or $150 a day. For me that's insane. You can still haggle with a taxi driver or ask your hotel for a cheaper service. Also, if you look at any statistics, Tulum has a very low crime rate. You're much more likely to get robbed in New Orleans, Albuquerque, or Baltimore, or Paris and Brussels. Things like that can happen everywhere, but I don't honestly think that by taxing a taxi that charges a normal rate you're in any more danger.