Disclaimer: This page may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of those links, I may earn a commission at zero cost for you. Please see my disclaimer policy here.
Planning to visit a cenote near Playa del Carmen? Cenote Azul is one of the most beautiful and one of the closest, and in this post, I will tell you all about it.
Thousands of cenotes are scattered across Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Formerly regarded by the ancient Mayans as sacred wells they are now hotspots for tourists, adventurers, and explorers alike.
The open Cenote Azul (Blue Cenote in Spanish) is located on the Riviera Maya in the Yucatan Peninsula’s southernmost region, only 30 minutes south of Playa del Carmen right after Puerto Aventuras, and 40 minutes north of Tulum.
In fact, make sure you don’t confuse Cenote Azul near Playa del Carmen with Cenote Azul in Bacalar, which I will tell you more about in another post.
They are both located in the Mexican State of Quintana Roo, but very far apart and very different.
As one of the region’s well-known and most visited Mexican cenotes, the cenote Azul offers the perfect place where to swim in crystal clear waters of the cenote’s pools, relax in a large open space with chairs and tables, or lay on the wooden decks.
➢ Do I need travel insurance in Mexico? Yes, you do! I can never stress enough what a lifesaver it can be in unexpected situations. Although I hope I never need it, it gives me peace of mind to know that whatever happens I am covered. I have been using Safety Wing and I find it quite fair, covering a lot for its pricing level. Depending on your needs or you can compare different insurance companies on this useful site, TRAVEL INSURANCE MASTER. Make sure you read carefully what’s included before making the purchase. If you are undecided yet you can read my post on the best travel insurance for Mexico for more clarity.
What are the Cenotes?
I am sure should know by now what is a cenote but for those who don’t or have never seen one yet, I would like to offer a brief overview of what they are.
Cenotes are natural sinkholes that date back hundreds of years. When limestone caves collapse, a natural pool emerges. This pool is filled with rainwater and water flowing through underground rivers connected to these sinkholes.
There are 4 types of cenotes, namely:
- open cenotes such as Cenote Corazon, Casa Cenote, or Kaan Luum
- semi-open cenotes such as Cenote Dos Ojos or Grand Cenote
- cave cenotes such as Taak Bi-ha or Cenote The Pit
In Mayan culture, cenotes were considered sacred (and still are in some way). Mayans would give offerings to the gods in these locations.
In the depths of some cenotes, Mayan artifacts can still be uncovered. Cenotes are now among the Yucatan Peninsula’s most popular tourist destinations.
FUN FACT – Although you may see these kinds of rock formations in other parts of the world, only in Mexico they are called cenotes.
It’s a Yucatan Mayan word ts’ono’ot (dzonot) which means “well with water”.
When the Spaniards came to invade Mexico they misspelled the Mayan word and created the word “Cenote”.
Cenote Azul at a glance
The cenote Azul is one of the best places where to spend a full day in total relaxation, swimming jumping, snorkeling or just laying by the pristine water.
It offers a great alternative option when the Caribbean coast is infested by the smelly Sargasso.
theCenote Azul is easily accessible by car, bus, or taxi, as it is situated on the main highway Carretera Federal that’s between Tulum and Playa del Carmen.
So although I would always suggest a rental car, you don’t actually need it to visit this Cenote, because it’s located right on the highway where local busses can drop you off on the side of the road.
The cenote is made of a big main pool and many other smaller pools with shallow areas.
In the area where the deeper pool is the most adventurous will enjoy diving into the cenote clear emerald waters from the jumping platform.
The smaller pools on the opposite side of the beautiful Cenote Azul have a shallow depth and are more suitable for kids. It is in fact a family-friendly cenote and during the weekend you will find many local families visiting.
Therefore, if you want to avoid the crowds, make sure you visit during the week.
Read further to learn more about how you can visit the unique Cenote Azul and have a wonderful and unforgettable experience exploring this beautiful natural setting!
What you should know about Cenote Azul, Playa del Carmen Riviera Maya
There are many unique characteristics of Cenote Azul, with the following being what you should know:
✔️ Cenote Azul is easily accessible via public transportation as the entrance is located on the main road.
✔️ Cenote Azul looks like a lake as it’s an open-air cenote.
✔️ This area is kids-friendly due to its shallow waters and is easily accessible.
✔️ If you’re adventurous, Cenote Azul is also perfect for you! You can jump safely into 6 meters of water from a 3,5-meter high platform.
✔️ Cenote Azul was named after its crystal clear blue water. In Spanish, Azul means blue.
How To get to Cenote Azul
Cenote Azul is located about 25 minutes (30km)away from Playa del Carmen, and Tulum is only 40 km away. It’s situated near Cenote Cristalino and only a few short minutes from the magnificent Taak-Bi-Ha, a cave cenote.
Cenote Azul can be reached in a variety of ways, such as by car, bus, or taxi or sometimes you can find private tours as well.
Getting to Cenote Azul by car
One of the best and most convenient ways to go to the Yucatan Peninsula is to rent a car.
Without the hassle of packed buses and inconsistent schedules, you can explore the surrounding areas at your leisure.
When renting a car, we recommend you get full insurance with zero deductible for your peace of mind.
Even though traveling throughout the Yucatan Peninsula is easy, anything can happen, and you want to be prepared for the unexpected.
Discover Cars is my preferred source because its website allows you to compare multiple providers and pricing.
You have the option of choosing between their auto insurance and that provided by the rental company, or both.
Now that you know how to get a car rental, you may be wondering how to reach Cenote Azul by car. The ride is easy, and anyone who gets confused by directions will easily find their way safely!
From Playa del Carmen, take the Carretera Federal (federal highway) to Tulum and exit at the Cenote Azul sign.
You must stop and pay an entry fee at the ticket office before making your way to the parking lot.
Keep in mind that you cannot pay by credit card. And if you are driving you should keep a couple of thousand pesos in cash with you, just in case.
There is a large parking lot at the back of the complex where you can leave your car.
Browse through international and local car rentals and find the best deal.
Taking the bus to Cenote Azul
The Cenote Azul is easily accessible from Playa del Carmen and Tulum if you travel by “Colectivo” (minivans) to Cenote Azul‘s entrance. Just tell the driver where to drop you off.
Colectivos are shared vans that run between all of Yucatan’s famous tourist destinations. They are frequent, inexpensive, and convenient.
Because the cenote is near the entrance, you won’t have to walk far.
Keep in mind that the ADO bus to Tulum doesn’t stop along the way and the driver won’t be able to drop you off on the side of the road as the small colectivo busses would do.
Getting to Cenote Azul by taxi
Another option is to hire a taxi. Unfortunately, rates change regularly and differ between each taxi driver. To ensure you get a taxi driver you can trust, ask your hotel’s reception for recommendations.
You must settle on a rate before the taxi arrives and arrange for the taxi driver to fetch you again later when you’re done exploring, as there aren’t any taxis available at the location.
Things to do in the Cenote Azul – Playa del Carmen
Cenote Azul is for the adventurous and those looking for a place to relax. Cenote Azul is a large cenote with a natural platform and some artificial ones that create different areas within the cenote and separate the deeper parts from the shallower ones.
A lovely trail winds its way around the cenote, providing breathtaking scenery. You will also find a few different recreational areas scattered around a lush greenery for public use.
There are several activities for you to enjoy while exploring Cenote Azul:
✅ Snorkel – The water in the cenote is crystal clear, making it perfect for exploring what lies beneath the rock formations, including fish of various sizes. You can either rent snorkeling equipment or bring your own.
✅ Relax and swim – Cenote Azul is the ideal location to unwind and have a wonderful, relaxing day. You can spend your time relaxing on one of the many benchesalong the banks or take a dip in the refreshing, cool water of the large turquoise pools.
✅ Picnic – Food can be brought onto the premises. There is also a store for you to buy snacks and right in front of it, overlooking the cenote there is a lovely terrace with chairs and a table where you can have your meal surrounded by a thriving nature. Just remember alcohol is not permitted.
✅ Cliff jumping – You can jump into and out of the cenote from a 3.5-meter (10.5-foot) high cliff as well as smaller ones. Diving headfirst is safe because it is only 6 meters (18 feet) deep.
✅ Take stunning photos – The area provides breathtaking views from which to shoot stunning photos. Wedding photographers are regularly seen using the backdrop for wedding pictures! Stroll around and discover your favorite viewpoint, and you will find that every photo will be breathtaking.
✅ Fish spa – All cenotes have tiny fish that will exfoliate your feet. Simply dip your bare feet into the water and enjoy your natural fish spa! I don’t like when they capture those tiny creatures to sell spa treatments, but here they are in their natural environment so there is no harm to them.
✅ Local wildlife spotting – While exploring this majestic cenote, you will find iguanas, and see and hear many local species of birds.
Important information on Cenote Azul
Cenote Azul Facilities
As I mentioned before Cenote Azul is very well equipped with facilities that allow you to spend a day in relax, offering everything you need.
- Rentals of masks, snorkeling equipment, and tours
- Coffee shop/Snack bar
- Tables and chairs
- Free parking lot
Entrance fees and gear rental fees
Adult’s entrance fee: 140 MXN (7 USD)
Snorkel gear and mask rental: 70 MXN (4 USD)
Life jacket rental: 40 MXN (2 USD)
Cenote Azul Opening Hours
The Cenote Azul is open from 8.30 AM to 5.30 PM every day of the year.
PRO TIP – if you want to avoid crowd make sure you visit early morning and you avoid Sundays
How to explore Cenote Azul while remaining environmentally conscious
Protecting the environment and helping preserve it should be the main priority of every traveler. It’s effortless protecting our planet and its many incredible wonders, and we should all participate in this endeavor.
By respecting the environment, we learn to appreciate it more.
The following are a few small ways in which you can make a difference in preserving our environment and having a positive impact on our beautiful planet:
► Keep noise levels down – basically Don’t be loud
► Bring your trash home with you if you’re not able to dispose of it in a bin
► Before entering a cenote, always shower
► Even if they are labeled “eco-friendly,” do not apply creams, protectors, or sprays on your skin because they will contaminate the water. wear them after you finish swimming
► Do not hang from or cling to trees
► Do not engage in any irresponsible behavior that may endanger the environment!
What to bring to Cenote Azul
When visiting Cenote Azul, there are a few items you should not forget to bring with you.
- Towel to dry off
- Biodegradable sunscreen to avoid sunburn (regular sunscreen is not permitted)
- Change of clothes
- Swimsuit ( I love Cupshe, the swimsuits are affordable and of great quality)
- Water shoes (or any closed shoes) to avoid hurting your feet on the rocks and to avoid bug bites
- When you get out of the water, use DEET-free mosquito repellent because there might be a lot of mosquitos in the area
- There are life jackets, snorkel gear, and marks that can be rented. However, to save money and for hygienic reasons, it’s better to bring your snorkeling gear.
- Waterproof camera or GoPro to take fun pictures in and around the water.
- Waterproof phone case
The highlights of Cenote Azul
✅ We feel it’s one of the Riviera Maya’s most stunning open cenotes
✅ The cenote has exceptionally translucent water
✅ A lush jungle surrounds it
✅ It is relatively large, allowing you to find your own piece of serenity
✅ It is possible to jump off a cliff while remaining safe
✅ The exquisite court, which features tables and chairs overlooking the cenote, allows you to relax and enjoy your food and drink while surrounded by nature
What we don’t like about Cenote Azul
🔴 Cenote Azul can get quite crowded, particularly on weekends. If you want to avoid the crowds, skip weekends and arrive when they open in the morning.
Photographing the Cenote Azul
The Cenote Azul is beautiful to photograph no matter what time of day it is. But, if you want to bring your inner photographer out and take breathtaking images, then the early morning when nature is coming alive or afternoon, when the sun is not directly overhead, is ideal.
Although most people prefer to take photos in the morning to avoid the scorching sun, you can rely on the dense green vegetation to provide you with shade throughout the day.
This enables you to locate the ideal location for a stunning photograph.
We hope this guide helps you to plan the perfect trip to Cenote Azul!
Where to stay near the Cenote Azul
If you want to stay in the area, you are in luck. There are many spectacular hotels on the Riviera Maya and for any budget and style. Here below I am going to give you a short list of the best hotels near Cenote Azul.
Barcelo Hotels – All inclusive
If you are an all-inclusive type of person, you will find Barcelo Hotels right in front of the Cenote Azul. You can basically walk there. Check out rates and Availability here
El Dorado Seaside Palms – Adults Only, All Inclusive by Karisma
A bit more upscale than Beacelo Hotels, this hotel is located at 6 km from the cenote. Check out rates and availability here
For those who don’t like all-inclusive, but rather stay in small eco-friendly hotels immersed in Nature and yet with all the comfort, Akumal Natura is for you. Check out Rates and Availability here
Cenote Azul – Playa del Carmen – final thoughts
As you can see there are plenty of reasons why you should visit Cenote Azul, among which are the beauty of the cenote but also the closeness to many other Mexico natural wonders.
And that is why I recommend renting a car, even if it was just for the day so that you can be free to move around at your own pace and visit several sites on the same day.
Driving in Mexico is easier than you think, especially in the Yucatan Peninsula.
✨ Mexico Travel Planning Guide ✨
👉 Do I need travel insurance to travel to Mexico?
I would do it if I were you. You never know what can happen and know that no matter what, you will be covered with any expenses will give you peace of mind, and make your travel worry-free. You can check out SafetyWing which I have used and find it affordable and comprehensive and also Travel Insurance Master which is great because you can insert all your information and what kind of insurance you need and their system will pull out the best insurance for your need.
🚰 Can I drink tap water in Mexico?
No, you can’t! Maybe in some areas or in some homes where they have installed water filters but to be on the safe side, I would say, never drink tap water in Mexico. Carry a water bottle with you and fill it up where you find available potable water sources. Most of the hotels have those.
🚗 Is it safe to drive in Mexico?
The short answer is: depending on where you are. Although in general if you stick to the main roads and don’t drive at night you should probably be safe. In lesser tourist areas you should probably check the local news to stay up to date. Driving in the Yucatan Peninsula is easy everywhere, even at night, although I would still avoid it. I usually use Discover Cars because the site offers the options to compare prices among different car rentals and you can add their own full coverage.
Read more on my guide on Renting a car in Mexico.
📱 Will my phone work in Mexico?
It will probably work, especially if you have a European or US phone, but your roaming rates may be to the stars (check with your SIM provider). Even if have an affordable international rate, you will be much better off by buying a Mexican SIM Card. It’s cheap, easy to set up, and it will keep you connected with your friends, family, and, more important, google Maps so you will never get lost!
🤕 Is it safe to travel to Mexico right now?
The short answer is, yes it is. However, there are parts of Mexico that are indeed troubled and you should avoid for now, and others that are super safe and easy to travel around.
Regardless of where you are you should always use some common sense rules such as, never flaunting expensive clothing, accessories, electronics, or money and keeping a low profile.
Read more on my detailed guide on safety in Mexico. If you are traveling to a specific destination I have got you covered as well:
💉 Do I need any vaccine to travel to Mexico?
No, there is no vaccine requirement (of any kind) to travel to Mexico
🇲🇽 Do I need a visa to travel to Mexico?
If you are coming from the US or Europe you don’t need a VISA to enter Mexico. Once you get in you need to fill out a form that you need to keep with you until you leave. If you don’t have it you will pay a fine.
Although the tourist visa for US and European travelers used to be 6 months long which you could easily renew by leaving the country for a couple of days and going back, nowadays they have been stricter. You may be asked how you would sustain your living and other similar questions. Sometimes they even ask you to show your credit cards.
It seems odd but they can do that. If you intend to stay longer than a usual couple of weeks’ vacation time, just be honest and explain your plans. If you are not from the US, check this site to see if you need a visa
💸 Where do I find the best travel deals for Mexico? 💸
A trip to Mexico can be expensive if you love to travel with all the comforts (like I do). There are a few tricks that will help you find the best deals. Here are my tips:
👉 DON’T travel in the high season, which is Holy week, Christmas and winter in general, and August.
👉 Book months in advance to find early booking discounts
👉 Use aggregators such as Discover Cars to find price comparisons and VRBO for vacation rentals!
👉 Look for packages flights+hotels on Expedia or Skyscanner as usually, that’s where the best deals are.
👉 Check on Booking.com or Hotels.com for hotel deals