If you’re like me, there’s a limit to how much time you can spend on a beach or a resort. Chances are, you need to step out of your resort or hotel to experience something new.
If you’re looking for something fun and relaxing, and you want to take in the amazing natural beauty of the Yucatán Peninsula, look no further than the Xenotes Enigmatic waters tour (the tour was formerly known as Xenotes Oasis Maya).
In this review & guide, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about Xenotes; what’s included, who it’s for, and how to get discount tickets to Xenotes . I will also review the tour using my personal experience from a previous visit, and also give you some tips to help you make the most of this awesome experience.
What is Xenotes?
The Xenotes excursion is a tour of 4 different cenotes throughout the Riviera Maya.
A cenote (pronounced seh-no-teh) is a sinkhole that contains fresh groundwater. Most cenotes start out as a cave, and over thousands of years, the water erodes the “ceiling” which results in exposed sinkholes. The majority of the world’s cenotes are located in the Mexican Yucatán Peninsula, so this is a great opportunity to see these unique and beautiful formations.
Xenotes takes you on a tour of 4 different types of cenotes. Inside the different cenotes, there are activities like kayaking, snorkeling, zip lines, rappelling, and swimming. You’ll visit the cenotes in small groups. The order of the cenotes you visit might be different, because the groups go at different times to avoid overcrowding, but you’ll get to experience all the cenotes throughout the day.
Who is it good for?
There’s something here for everyone. The natural beauty of the cenotes is breathtaking and makes this a very relaxing tour, yet, the different activities mean there’s plenty of fun and excitement for everyone. There’s just two things you need to be aware of; the minimum age to participate in the activities is 5, and those with physical disabilities or very low stamina might find the tour tiring. If you don’t know how to swim, you should be fine because hey give you life jackets, and there are lifeguards on duty at every cenote. A few of the people in our group said that they didn’t know how to swim very well, and they still had a blast.
How much are tickets?
Adult tickets for Xenotes start at $108 (USD), but see below for additional savings. Children between the ages of 6-11 get 50% off, and they have early booking discounts . I thought that the Xenotes tour was worth every penny. The cenotes were breathtakingly beautiful, the activities were fun, the tour guide was great, we got snacks, and the lunch we had was very delicious and filling. There are a couple of ways you can save on your tickets, so read on.
Where to buy tickets
I recommend that you buy your tickets online directly from the Xenotes website. It’s the official site so it’s safe, and the prices are usually cheaper than what local vendors will charge.
Save on Xenotes tickets
Xenotes offers an early booking discount. If you buy your tickets at least 21 days before your visit, you save 15%. If you buy your tickets 7-20 days before your visit, you save 10%. Children aged 6-11 can save 50% off their tickets.
You’ll visit 4 cenotes in total, and each cenote will have a special activity that you can participate in. I’ll describe each cenote and its activities in detail below. As mentioned earlier, you may visit the cenotes in a different order than I did. They do this to reduce the amount of people at a cenote at any given time, which makes it less crowded and a more intimate experience.
Aside from the main cenotes, food is also included with your ticket! It’s a picnic style lunch, we also got snacks and juice, coffee, and hot chocolate. The food selection was nice and filling. I recommend you try the Mexican hot chocolate and flavored water.
If you don’t want to read through this article, watch the video below from my visit in 2017.
The first cenote that we visited was Cenote Fuego. This is a beautiful open air cenote.
We first took a waterslide down into the water. We swam back up, and then took a zip line back into the water. This was the kind of zipline where you hold on to a bar and let go when you want. It was really fun, but if you have a fear of heights, you don’t have to do it. Some people chose not to do it, and instead took the water slide or stairs down into the water.
From there, we swam to the other side of the cenote and went back up. From there, we had the option to jump off a small cliff. The height was just right. It wasn’t so high that it was dangerous or scary, but high enough to have some fun. My wife and I both did it, and it was a lot of fun!
We were never forced to do anything we didn’t want. The tour guide and even our fellow tourists were very cool and relaxed in that sense.
This was my favorite cenote. It’s a cave with only a small part of the top opened up.
To get inside this cenote, we put on our safety gear and rappeled down into the cave. What an entrance!
Once we got into the cave, one of the staff removed our rappel gear, and we were free to swim around in the cave. We first did a couple of jumps and dives, then started to swim around and explore the cenote.
In my opinion, this cenote was the most beautiful of them all. The water inside the cave is an amazing shade of blue, there are tree roots that extend all the way from the top of the cave down to the water, and the sunlight shines down into the cave, creating an incredible light pattern. It was so picturesque.
This is two cenotes right next to each other. The first one was an open air cenote where we took kayaks from one side to another and back. It’s a long and straight cenote, which makes it perfect for kayaking.
Once we finished with the kayaks, we went to the other side of the cenote. This was another open air cenote, but more circular in shape. It was kind of like a big pond. We grabbed some snorkel gear that they provided and did some snorkeling. The cenote itself was beautiful, but I wasn’t blown away by the snorkeling. There weren’t a lot of fish when we went, and the fishes that we did see were small. It was still a nice experience, but if snorkeling is important to you, I would recommend Xel-Ha park instead.
This was the last cenote that we visited.
They have two different zip lines here. One zip line has a bar that you hang on to and let go of when you want. The other is a hammock style zip line.
This was the most fun of all the cenotes. Our tour guide showed us a few different ways to do “tricks” on the zip lines, and we spent the next few minutes trying creative new ways to zip line and jump in to the water. Since none of us were zipline experts, there were a lot of “fails” which made for some hilarious results.
Xenotes tickets include access to all 4 cenotes that I mentioned above, as well as lunch, unlimited (non-alcoholic) drinks, and transportation to and from your hotel or resort. Aside from that, there’s only one optional extra that you may choose to purchase, and that’s the photo package.
There’s a photo package that you can purchase for US$58.99, which I think is well worth it. We had a photographer follow our group for the entire day. She would go to special areas which allowed her to take our photos from unique angles. Since you spend a lot of time in the water, it can be a bit of a hassle bringing your phone or your GoPro, so the photos that the photographer took were a very nice souvenir. Almost all of the photos shown in this review are from the photo package that we purchased.
Once you’re done, the photos will be available for you to download online. Just make sure you download your photos shortly after your trip, because they expire about 2-3 weeks after your visit. I can’t remember the exact time, if you remember, please mention it in the comments.
I usually don’t bother with souvenir photos but we decided to get the photo package last minute, and I’m glad I did. The photos were really good quality, and it meant I could spend more time enjoying the cenotes than to be worried about protecting my phone.
Tips for your visit
The Xenotes tour is really easy and straight forward. You get picked up in a van and your tour guide will take you from one cenote to another. The cenotes that you visit are exclusive to the Xenotes tour, which means there’s no other way to access these specific cenotes.
Part of the the route to these cenotes involves going off of the main street and driving on dirt roads. This means that a portion of drive from one cenote to the other will be on rough, bumpy, and curvy roads. If you’re the kind of person who gets car sick easily, this might be something you need to consider when planning your visit.
There are some things you should know in order to make the most of your day at Xenotes:
- You have to take a shower before going in to the first cenote to wash off any existing sun block, bug spray, and general dirt.
- They will lend you a towel, so you don’t need to bring one.
- The water can be a little cool. It’s not bad, and on a hot day it’s actually quite refreshing, but it’s worth mentioning if you’re sensitive.
- You do not need to know how to swim. They give you life jackets, the water is calm, and there are lifeguards at every cenote. Your tour guide will never pressure you into doing anything you’re not comfortable with.
You probably don’t need to bring sun block or bug spray. You’re going to be spending a lot of time underground or underneath the shade of trees, so there isn’t much direct sun exposure. If you really need to bring sun screen or bug spray though, they have to be bio-degradable so that they don’t damage the natural ecosystem.
What to pack
- Change of clothes- if you don’t want to be wet for the ride back to your hotel.
- Water shoes or aqua shoes. You’ll be walking on dirt, grass, or paved trails before you get to the cenote, and sometimes you won’t come out from the same place that you went in, so aqua shoes are really convenient and comfortable. You can buy a pair from Wal-Mart for less than $10 before your trip.
- If you plan to bring a GoPro, bring a floating handle or a backpack clip. The floating handle will prevent you from losing your GoPro in the water, or if you prefer to go hands free, bring a backpack clip that will securely clip on to the life jacket. Either way, make sure you have a strap as a backup.
- If you’re bringing your phone, get a waterproof case that hangs from your neck. That way your phone is secured to you, and leaves both hands free when you need them.
- Bio-degradable sun block or bug spray if you really need it (most people won’t need this, read above).
- Cash. Just in case you need to buy equipment, bio-degradable sunscreen, or extra snacks.
How to save on tickets
Buy your tickets online directly from the Xenotes website, and do it as early as you can because they have an early booking discount. If you buy your tickets at least 21 days before your visit, you save 15%. If you buy your tickets 7-20 days before your visit, you save 10%. Children aged 5-11 can save 50% off their tickets.
How to get to Xenotes
You don’t get to the Xenotes Tour, they come to you. When you’re booking your tickets online, select your hotel or resort. A colorful van with distinctive Xenotes graphics on it will come to pick you up at a pre-determined time on the morning of your tour date.
On this excursion, we visited 4 cenotes in total. The nature and scenery was absolutely beautiful, and I was very glad to have experienced the natural beauty that was exclusive to this part of the world. When I booked the Xenotes tour, I had hoped for something that allowed me take in the local sights & nature, which helps me relax. From that aspect, Xenotes definitely delivered.
The activities that they had available within each cenote were well executed and very fun. Whether it was kayaking, zip lining, or rappelling into a cave, the activities all took advantage of the unique features of each individual cenote. They were a great way to get us to move around and explore the cenote, and interact with the other people in our group.
Overall, the Xenotes tour fully delivered on what I was looking for- nature and fun. At the end of the tour, our group had bonded together, we were making jokes and recollecting on the funny jumps we tried pulling on the zip lines. It was clear that every single person loved the tour, including me and my wife.
If you’re looking for a tour that’ll allow you to experience the amazing and unique nature around the Riviera Maya while having fun and bonding with a great group of people, I highly recommend the Xenotes tour.
If you’re deciding between the Xenotes tour and other cenotes tours/excursions in the area, I would recommend Xenotes over all other options. I’ve visited a few other cenotes in the Riviera Maya that were different from this tour, and I can honestly say that Xenotes was a better experience because of the variety of cenotes you visit, and the activities available within each cenote. It’s more of a complete experience.
Thanks for reading this far, I hope this helped you decide if Xenotes is the right tour or excursion for your next trip. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below and I’ll try to answer them.
If you’re planning to visit Xenotes, I suggest buying your tickets using the links I’ve posted in this review. They’re links to the official site so it’s secure, it consistently offers the lowest prices, and offers discounts. Plus, if you found this article helpful, using my links help support me and the site by allowing me to collect a tiny commission for referring you. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, and I get a small reward which helps support the time and money required to maintain this site. My wife and I truly loved the Xenotes tour; we paid for everything ourselves, and I wrote this article voluntarily, so these are my honest opinions unaffected by my partnership with Xenotes & Grupo Xcaret.