Cenote Chikin ha is actually a nature park complex where you can enjoy 3 spectacular cenotes of different types all in one place. In this guide, we will tell you all about them, how to get there, and all the important practical tips.
Located at only 30 minutes drive from Playa del Carmen and 40 minutes from Tulum right on the Carretera Federal you will find the glorious entrance of Chikin-ha cenotes, right before Cenote Azul and Jardin del Eden.
Only two of the three cenotes that we will talk about in a minute are suitable for swimming, though.
The third one a little further away is only used for ceremonial purposes but you can still visit and enjoy the views of the clear waters and the tranquillity of the place.
The first two cenotes are great for relaxing, swimming or cave diving and they are suitable for families too. You can spend the entire day and enjoy the local facilities.
But before sharing all our tips on how to visit the cenote Chikin-ha and the next two we would like to spend a few words on the origin of the cenotes, what they are and how they are formed, for those of you who haven’t seen one before or want to learn more about their history and geography.
What are the cenotes?
A cenote is a freshwater sinkhole formed by the collapsing of the limestone soil, the type of stone that the Yucatan Peninsula is mainly made of. The cenotes allow us access to the water table. These holes are produced naturally by the collapse of the roof.
Sacred to the Mayan civilization they are now some of the main tourist attractions in the Yucatan Peninsula. Read more about the Mexico cenotes.
THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT CENOTE
As we were mentioning there are three cenotes to enjoy during your visit to Chikin Ha. You can spend the entire day there or just make a quick stop but make sure you check out all the cenotes.
Once you pass the ticket office you start your walk around a manicured garden with signs and posts that help you find your way around.
Before that, you can pass by a hut where you can get your life jacket (included in the price) if you need it, It’s not compulsory. And you can also rent your snorkel gear.
Cenote X’tabay is the first one you will meet during your walk from the reception desk. It is a beautiful open cenote, surrounded by lush greenery among which ceiba trees, palms, and, of course, alamos, reflecting in the crystal clear waters.
The shallow water is suitable for kids to swim in and play but also for anybody to relax and snorkel.
You will find fishes turtles and waterlily floating around in the pristine waters of the cenote and colorful birds chirping around.
You can sit on the beaches or right by the water and soak in the natural environment.
✅ X’tabay means spirit of a woman in the Mayan Language “ix” meaning “woman” and “tabay” meaning “spirit”.
Cenote Chikin Ha
Chikin-Ha is the main cenote, and the most appealing because you get to swim in a natural tunnel made of the millenary limestone rock formation and come out on the other side.
It looks as if they are two cenotes but it’s just one split in two by a cave, which makes great entertainment for adventure lovers.
✅ Chikin Ha means, “water from the east” in the Mayan Language.
Make sure you bring your own snorkel gear because they don’t have it for rent.
Cave divers love to explore these flooded caves, and you will be likely to see some divers getting ready for their immersion in the deeps.
On a sunny day, it’s particularly spectacular as the water is hit by the sunrays offering incredible views under the surface.
And depending on the kind of light reflecting on it, the colors of the cenote vary throughout the day.
Cenote Ta’ak Bil-Ha
Not to confuse with the Taak Bi-ha cenote, another amazing cenote near Dos Ojos, Cenote Taak Bil-ha is a little further away from the other two cenotes within the Chikin ha area. Unbelievable how much a difference a tiny letter can make! 🙂
Cenote Ta’ak Bil-Ha is not swimmable, because it’s mainly used for ceremonies honoring the ancient Mayan tradition.
However, you can visit the cenote, and we recommend you do it. It’s just a short walk from the cenote Chikin-ha and the path is very well marked.
A short set of stairs will take you down in the underworld to the semi-open cenote. The water runs around a sort of island full of trees and plants.
In the cenote, you can appreciate the crystal clear water and the alamo trees’ roots making their way through the rocks into the water creating spectacular landscapes. It’s definitely a great place for photography.
If you stop for a while you may be lucky to find spectacular birds passing by including the sacred bird Mot Mot.
✅ Ta’ak Bil-Ha means “hidden water” in the Maya Language
HOW TO GET CENOTE Chikin Ha
How to get to Cenote Chikin Ha by Car
Getting to this cenote by car is the best option because from the Carretera Federal (Federal Highway) you will have to drive for another mile through a dirt road to get to the actual cenote gate.
Besides, you can just take advantage of the day and check out some other attractions in the surroundings.
Coming from Playa del Carmen you can just follow the signs for Tulum and you will find it on your right side after about 30 km (18 miles). They have a pretty colorful sign. You can’t really miss it.
Coming from Tulum it’s about 40 km (24 miles) and you will need to make a U-turn right after you see the sign of the cenote. (Getting a local SIM card should be in order!)
Just remember, if you decide to go for a car rental, make sure you include full insurance with 0 deductible so you will drive with no stress.
➣ When renting a car in Mexico we recommend Discover Cars because on their website you can compare different companies and their prices and you can choose between their car insurance or the ones offered by the car rental directly, or both.
How to get to Cenote Chikin Ha by local bus
It’s very easy to get to the Cenote Chikin Ha by local bus, whether you are coming from Playa del Carmen or Tulum.
You can hop on a ‘colectivo” and ask the driver to drop you off at the entrance of Cenote Chikin ha. The price should be around 40 MXN approximately.
However, keep in mind that from the entrance to the cenote you will have to walk for around 1 mile.
How to get to Cenote Chikin Ha by taxi
You could also get to the cenote by Taxi, which is definitely a better option than going by local busses.
It’s difficult to determine what rate a taxi driver may give you because they may change and sometimes even vary.
The best way to know maybe to ask a recommended and trustworthy taxi driver from the reception of your hotel or your host.
Also, make sure you agree on the fare before getting on the taxi and arrange when he would pick you up as there are no taxis on site.
THINGS TO DO IN CENOTE CHIKIN HA
✅ Swim around– In both cenote Chikin ha and X’tabay, you can just swim and relax. On the X’tabay, though, it’s much easier and more enjoyable because it’s wider and you are just surrounded by a thriving nature.
✅ Snorkel You should definitely spend some time snorkeling and watching the water creatures in both cenotes. There is so much to see underwater from rock formations, tree roots, fishes, and turtles.
But if you are not fond of snorkeling you can also observe them from the surface
✅ Take amazing photos – The three cenotes are amazing for photography and very easy to photograph if you have a phone with a good camera. It can be challenging if you have a professional camera and if there is no great light condition.
Also, keep in mind that to photograph the Chikin-ha and Taak-bil-ha cenotes you will need a tripod because the light is minimal.
✅ Chill – You can just enjoy the spectacular views and relax by the cenote X’tabay after you have explored the others.
✅ Dive – Both cenote X’tabay and Chikin-ha are great for diving. Make sure you make your reservation with a dive shop beforehand.
✅ Zipline– included in the package
✅ Mayan ceremony – included in the package
Cenote Chikin Ha Facilities
- Dressing rooms
- Life jacket
- Pic-nic area
- Snorkel equipment rental
Cenote Chikin Ha entrance fee
350 MXN pp for the three cenotes (Includes life jacket if needed)
650 MXN pp package that includes Mayan ceremony, biking to the third cenote, zipline, guide, snorkeling gear, lifejacket if needed.
50 MXN snorkel
50 MXN mask
For reservation, you can contact the administration on their FB page
Cenote Chikin Ha Opening Hours
The cenotes are open from 8 am to 6 pm.
HOW TO VISIT CENOTE CHIKIN HA AND RESPECT THE ENVIRONMENT
Here we would like to share some easy rules to follow in order to respect the cenotes and nature in general and prevent the fragile environment from deterioration.
- Don’t be loud, other people may want to enjoy the place in peace and tranquility. Respect them.
- Don’t trash. Keep the place clean and if you see something that is out of place, pick it up.
- Sometimes the wind move around trash or previous visitors were not respectful. You can help keep the place clean.
- Don’t use any kinds of cream spray or protectors on your skin as it would contaminate the environment (even the so-called – eco friendly)
- Always take a shower before entering a cenote
- Don’t hang on to the stalactites or stalagmites or any roots
- Just avoid any silly act that can damage the environment
- If we appreciate the earth we will learn to respect it.
WHAT TO BRING TO CENOTE CHIKIN HA
- Change of clothes
- Towel to dry off
- Mosquito repellent to wear after you come out of the water as there can be mosquitos around
- Mask and snorkel gear and life jacket are available for rent but it would be much better if you have your own, both for hygienic purposes and for saving
- You can walk on your flip-flop although closed shoes can protect you from bugs bites. But it’s totally up to you
WHAT WE LIKE ABOUT CENOTE CHIKIN HA
✔️ It’s not as crowded as the more popular cenotes, such as Dos Ojos or Gran Cenote for example, unless you happen to arrive with big groups.
✔️ You can spend there the entire day and switch between the two cenotes to swim and enjoy the precious crystal clear water.
✔️ It’s completely immersed in nature and you can even spot the Mot Mot bird
✔️ It’s great for snorkeling and even if you are not a diver you can enjoy the underwater world.
✔️ You can experience a simulation of the authentic Mayan Ceremony.
✔️ you can participate in different activities in one place
WHAT WE DON’T LIKE ABOUT CENOTE CHIKIN HA
❌ There are quite a few bugs as a consequence of being so immersed in nature
❌ Can be crowded on weekends and vacation time
INSIDER TIP – try to avoid weekends and be there in the early morning when they open if you want to avoid crowds.
TIPS TO PHOTOGRAPH CENOTE CHIKIN HA
If you come with a professional camera you may want to take the tripod with you because the Chikin-ha and the Taak-Bil-ha are in the shade all the time and you will need a longer exposure time.
If you have a GoPro you should bring it because the underwater world is definitely very much photogenic.
Drones are not allowed but you wouldn’t want to use them anyway as it would be very hard to fly the drone through the thick branches and foliage.
Category – family
Rating – ⭐⭐⭐⭐/ 5
WHAT YOU CAN VISIT NEARBY
➡️ Akumal Beach 15.8 km / 9.8 miles
➡️ Xpu-ha beach 4.7 km / 2.9 miles
➡️ Cenote Azul 6.6 km / 4.1 miles
➡️ Cenote Cristalino 6.6 km / 4.1 miles
➡️ Cenote Eden 7.4 km / 4.5 miles