Cenote Azul: What you Need to Know

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Cenote Azul is one of the most popular cenotes in Riviera Maya, Mexico due to its proximity to both Playa del Carmen and Tulum. It is located in Riviera Maya, directly on the main road. Cenote Azul is known for it’s beautiful, bright turquoise color, with its name translating to “blue cenote”. The large turquoise pools are perfect for swimming and hang out in the sun. Plus, the water is crystal clear and super refreshing! Before we dive too deep into the nitty gritty details, I want to clarify that this cenote is not to be mistaken with Cenote Azul in Bacalar, although I’ve heard that that one is beautiful as well!  

Located just south of Puerto Aventuras, you can get to Cenote Azul from Playa del Carmen in approximately 20 minutes by car. If you are coming from Tulum Pueblo, you should expect to travel about 45 minutes. 

Main swimming area at Cenote Azul in Mexico
Main open air swimming area at Cenote Azul

What are Cenotes?

The first question you probably have is what the heck are cenotes? If you’ve traveled to Mexico before, you’re probably familiar with cenotes at this point and can skip ahead to the next paragraph. If not, keep reading! Cenotes (pronounced sei-now-tay) are sinkholes that were created by the ceiling of caves collapsing. This results in sinkholes that hold salt-free water, making them great areas of swimming, diving, and scoping out the wildlife. Seriously, these cenotes are some underground magic. The water in any of these cenotes tend to me quite cold, but often a refreshing break from Mexico’s heat. There are actually three different types of cenotes. There are covered cenotes, open air cenotes, and a mix of the two. Cenote Azul is an open air cenote, with a number of different pools to explore.

Cenotes are extremely popular in Yucatan, and throughout Riviera Maya. I think it would be impossible to visit the region with hearing about these water pools, and they are definitely something that should be on any Tulum itinerary.

The Yucatan peninsula is full of thousands of cenotes to explore, so you’ll want to narrow down your list of must-visit cenotes. Here are a few of my favorite cenotes near Tulum and Playa del Carmen:

  • Gran Cenote – just 10 minutes from Tulum and the most “insta-famous” of the cenotes near Tulum
  • Cenote Choo-Ha – located near Coba, this is a great cenote to combine with a day trip to the famous Mayan ruins
  • Cenote Oxman – a bit further than the other cenotes, Cenote Oxman is located near Valladolid. However, if you have the time I absolutely recommend a visit to this magical spot 
girl at cenote azul mexico
There are a few smaller pools when you first enter the cenote
girl swimming at cenotes in mexico
Make sure to arrive early to avoid the crowds

What To Expect at Cenote Azul

When you first arrive at Cenote Azul you’ll pass the ticket booth, were you can purchase your ticket and any rentals with cash – MXN pesos or US dollars. You’ll be instructed to head to the showers to rinse off before continuing on to the cenotes. You’ll then walk through a beautiful jungle area, passing two small cenotes on either side. While these aren’t as big for swimming, they are perfect for a quick photo and don’t get super crowded.

Cenote Azul is known for its large swimming area, which makes it possible to spend hours swimming under the sun. There are both deep and shallow areas where you can actually see the ground. Be careful though, as many of the rocks are covered in moss and can be quite slippery. You’ll find two platforms to jump from, including a cliff jumping spot of about 15 feet for the more adventurous type. I personally stuck with the platform, which was only a few feet from the water.

Cenote Azul is located right next to a number of other cenotes including Cenote Cristalino, Kantunchi and Jardin of Eden. You can easily combine a visit with these cenotes, but you’ll need to pay the entrance fee at each of these.

If you stand still in the water for a few moments, you may notice small nibbles around your feet. Nothing to be worried about! The fish are known to bite at any dead skin on your feet, a spa practice that is quite common in Asia. At one point there were around 15 fish nibbling at each of my feet! The small shop actually sells food specifically to feed to the fish, but I think they had quite the feast on my toes!

Cenote Azul Hours

It is open daily from 8:30AM-5:30PM. Since cenote Azul is a popular spot on many of the tours coming from Playa del Carmen and the resorts in Riviera Maya, I highly recommend arriving early to avoid the crowds. That said, it’s a large cenote so you should be able to find a quiet spot no matter the time of day. We arrived right at 8:30AM and there were already a couple of people there, so it’s possible they’ll even let you in before opening hours.

Cenote Azul: Things to Note

  • As with any cenote, you are always required to shower off before entering. Doing so protects the cenote, both the water and ecosystem. Please refrain from putting on any sunscreen or bug spray until after you’ve finished swimming. 
  • You’ll find lockers available if you would like to lock up your valuables.
  • There is a small spot to grab soft drinks, water, or a snack on-site.
  • There are a number of bathrooms throughout the cenote complex. 
showers at cenote azul
Showering before entering Cenote Azul is required
no sunscreen allowed at cenotes in mexico
No sunscreen or bug spray allowed

How to Get to Cenote Azul? 

Located just on the main road of Carretera Federal, Cenote Azul is super easy to get to. 

By Car

If you are renting a car while in Mexico, driving to Cenote Azul is super easy. It is located on Carretera Federal, the main road between Tulum and Playa del Carmen. There is a large parking lot with free parking, so you shouldn’t have any issues if you arrive early. Rental cars are a great way to get around Quintana Roo if you feel comfortable driving in Mexico.

By Taxi 

If you’re arriving at Cenote Azul by taxi, I recommend either arranging for your driver to wait, or to make sure sure that you have a phone number to call for a pickup. I have heard that later in the day there are often drivers sitting around waiting for pickups, however this was not the case when we visited, so best to be prepared. 

If you plan on having your driver wait for you while you swim and hang out, make sure to arrange a price ahead of time, and pay after you’ve completed your trip. 

By Collectivo

Because Cenote Azul is located on the main road, you can arrive by colectivo. Colectivos are shared vans that drive back and forth along specific routes. In this case, you will be traveling along the route between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. Rides typically cost between 20-40 MXN per person, and can be hailed down on the side of the road if there is space. Just let the driver know that you are going to Cenote Azul, and you will be dropped off right in front. While colectivos lack the comfort of a private taxi, they are a cheap and easy way to get from place to place. 

girl on platform overlooking clear cenote water
There is a jumping platform and an area for cliff jumping for the adventurous type

How Much Does it Cost to Visit Cenote Azul? 

Entry into cenote azul costs 140 MXN pesos for adults and 80 MXN pesos for children ages 4 to 8. Life jackets are not required at Cenote Azul, but you have the option of renting on at the front desk for 40 MXN pesos. You can also rent snorkel gear for an additional 70 MXN pesos. Only cash is accepted, but you have the option to pay in US dollars as well. It is a relatively cheap activity that can easily be visited without a tour, so it is perfect for visiting Tulum on a Budget.

cenote azul cost
Entry into Cenote Azul costs 140 MCXN for adults and 80 MXN for kids

What to Pack for Cenote Azul

  • Swimsuit
  • Flip Flops, or shoes that are easy to slip on and off
  • Bug spray (for after you’re done swimming)
  • GoPro for underwater shots
  • Travel towel
  • Snorkeling Gear

Visiting the Tulum area? Here are some other articles to check out: 

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