The water was so inviting I couldn't resist jumping in

After five days in Mexico City, I was looking forward to going somewhere greener. If you know me, I’ve always preferred landscapes, especially beaches and forests. Many friends suggested the Yucatan and Quintana Roo region for their natural beauty, so off we went.

Cenote Azul pathway Cenote Azul bridge

One of the things that kept coming up in our research was the cenotes. According to Wikipedia:

A cenote is a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater.
Cenote Azul visitors
Cenote Azul peeking through Cenote Azul lady standing with swimwear

After sorting through the dozens of cenotes scattered around the region, we settled on three that we liked—Cenote Azul, Cenote Corazón del Paraíso, and Cenote Ik-Kil. We chose them based on location, reviews, and how they looked from pictures online. The list was a lot longer, but obviously, time was limited, and some of the cenotes were very similar.

Cenote Azul pool Jeremie with greens

Cenote Azul

I know we’ve only been to three cenotes, but this has got to be my favorite among all of them. The water—as its name implies—is so blue and clear that you could see the rock formations underneath. Everyone is required to shower before dipping in to keep the pools clean, which I think is interesting because I’ve never been to other natural environments that ask you to do so.

Cenote Azul locker room pathways Jeremie in Cenote Azul locker room Cenote Azul locker room details

There’s a short trail that takes you to many smaller cenotes. Most people seemed to only swim in the big hole and did not venture beyond it.

Cenote Azul stairway
Iguana spotted Palm tree details

One helpful tip is to arrive earlier if you want a peaceful experience. In our case, I think we got there around 7:00 AM, which it still wasn’t as empty as I expected, but there was plenty of space to swim and enjoy the jungle. We swam on the bigger cenote, then moved to a smaller, more private one. Yay, private pool!

Cenote Azul small pools
Cenote Azul visitors Cenote Azul top view

My favorite part was enjoying a relaxing fish spa. I initially didn’t want to swim because…reasons, but the water was so inviting I couldn’t resist jumping in. It was worth it.

Fish spa Woman swimming in cenote
Cenote Azul jungle
Carvings in Cenote Azul Carvings in Cenote Azul Carvings in Cenote Azul
Cenote Azul trail
Jeremie portrait
Jeremie swimming in cenote

Cenote Corazón del Paraíso

We found this spot last minute on Google Maps while we were trying to decide between going back to Cenote Azul or exploring a new place. Other cenotes on the list were too expensive or too far away. This place was only seven minutes away from where we were staying and had great reviews. Plus, the entrance fee was cheap!

Cenote Corazón del Paraíso people chilling
Woman swimming in Cenote Corazón del Paraíso
Jeremie swimming in cenote

Cenote Corazón del Paraíso wasn’t as big or popular as the other cenotes, but it was just as beautiful. The pool is quite deep, and if you dive down, you’ll see many fallen trees underwater. The fish are a little brutal, though. I don’t know if they were just not as used to humans or what, but they seemed to like biting the most vulnerable parts of our bodies. Like, one fish bit my lip as I was diving down the water, another bit a fresh wound on my foot, and a feisty one bit Jeremie’s nipple. 🤣

Cenote Corazón del Paraíso Cenote Corazón del Paraíso
Forest
Food menu in Cenote Corazón del Paraíso

Cenote Ik Kil

This last one was highly rated by many people, but it was my least favorite. The water didn’t look too inviting in real-life compared to the pictures, and there were no spots to sit down and enjoy the surroundings. It was also the most developed, with a resort-like vibe complete with a buffet, lifeguard, and way too many tourists.

Cenote Ik Kil view from above Cenote Ik Kil vines

My advice when researching for cenotes: don’t just choose a spot because of the number of reviews. Cenote Ik-Kil was underwhelming despite having the most amount of reviews. Cenote Corazón del Paraíso had the least reviews (though mostly positive), but it was the most secluded, cheapest and was where we spent the longest time amongst the three.

Cave pathway in Cenote Ik Kil Cenote Ik Kil silhouette
Jeremie in cave