14 Best Homun Cenotes to Visit in 2024: A Local’s Guide

Visiting the Homun cenotes is a highlight of any trip to the Mexican Yucatan and they can be visited as part of an excursion from Merida, or while you are in the center of the Yucatan state visiting Chichen Itza, Valladolid, or other local attractions. 

There are more than 20 cenotes in Homun and the town sits in an area known as the “anillo de cenotes” (ring of cenotes). This makes visiting Homun a great experience since you can easily hop from one cenote to another whereas most other cenotes are usually pretty isolated and you have to trek out to the middle of nowhere just to find one. 

The other great thing about visiting this area is that mass tourism hasn’t reached Homun yet. You won’t see the same lines or crowds here as you will in the “Instagram famous” cenotes like Cenote Suytan or Cenote Ik Kil, and you will often find that you have certain places all to yourself. 

You are in good hands here because I live in the nearby Yucatan capital of Merida. I have visited the Homun cenotes multiple times, and in this post, we will explore the very best ones.

Visiting Homun cenotes
Visiting Homun cenotes

Visiting the Homun Cenotes 

Cenotes are natural sinkholes filled with water that were created when the Chicxulub meteor smashed into the earth right here in the Yucatan 65 million years ago and wiped out the dinosaurs. Today there are more than 7,000 freshwater cenotes throughout the region that were caused by the weakness in the earth’s surface that the impact created.

The word “cenote” comes from the Yucatec Mayan word  “Dz’onot” meaning “cavern with water”. The Ancient Mayans would use cenotes for a range of purposes including spiritual rituals, rest and relaxation, irrigation, and even sacrifices. (Although our local guide told us assuredly that no sacrifices were made here in Homun!) 

The Maya believed that they provided a connection with the Mayan underworld (Xibalba). In some of the Homun cenotes, you can still see faded red paint handprints left by the Ancient Maya on the walls. 

The best way to see the Homun cenotes is to organize a tour with a local on a moto-taxi. Once you arrive in the town, you will see tons of moto-taxis everywhere.

It costs 200 pesos for a day’s guiding and your new local friend will take you to 4-5 cenotes. You can tell them what sort of cenotes you like (e.g. interesting cave, no tourists, shallow water because we cannot swim, etc) and your guide will take you to some cool spots. 

Even if you have access to a car, it’s generally better to hire a moto-taxi guide as many of these cenotes are hidden away down dirt trails and you would never find them independently. Plus it is much better to support the locals.

14 Best Homun Cenotes 

15 of the best Homun cenotes are shortlisted below and I will add to this list as I discover more. The Santa Barbara Cenotes are perhaps the most popular cenotes in Homun and visiting is a fun experience because there are three within the same complex. You can rent a bicycle and cycle between them and there is also a wonderful restaurant on site serving traditional Yucatecan fare. 

That being said, the Santa Barbara cenotes also tend to be the most crowded. For something a little quieter, some of the best Homun cenotes to add to your radar for your first visit are perhaps:

  • Cenote Yaxbacaltun (has a super fun rope swing so you can whizz through the jungle and into the water like Tarzan)

  • Cenote Cholul – quiet cenote with Mayan handprints and several shallow pools

  • Bal Mil Cenote – giant cavernous cenote with impressive stalagmite and stalactite formations
Homun Cenotes: Cenote Cholul
One of the best Homun cenotes is Cenote Cholul

Cenote Cholul 

Cenote Cholul is one of the more off-the-beaten-path of the Homun cenotes but a great place to visit if you want somewhere without the crowds. The cenote is a little way out of the town center and can be accessed via a wooden staircase that descends underground through a circular hole in the ground.

Look out for the Ancient Mayan handprints and wall paintings to your left immediately after entering. In the days of the Ancient Maya, farmers and laborers would come here to swim and relax.

The cenote is essentially divided into two pools. At the foot of the stairs, there is a natural platform that gradually leads you into the water.

Both pools are pretty shallow so you can easily wade into them and enjoy the water even if you are not a strong swimmer. (Or hang out on the rocky platform and dangle your feet in the water).

This cenote, nestled in the heart of the Yucatan jungle, is managed by a local family who barbeque carne asada, and other meat dishes outside, so you can grab a mouthwatering bite to eat before heading to your next cenote if you wish.

The Santa Barbara Cenotes 

As mentioned, the Santa Barbara cenotes are among the best-loved in the area. You could easily dedicate a whole day to visiting all three of them.

As of 2024, it costs 350 pesos ($20.5 USD) per person to visit all three cenotes and if you want to add lunch, you can do so for an additional 130 pesos per person. Try to arrive early in the morning, shortly after they open at 9, if you can, so that you can experience them before they get too crowded.

Cenote Cascabel is the first cenote of the three. You enter through a little hole in the ground and it opens out into a grand, cavernous cenote with sparkling blue water.

There is no natural light inside, so spotlights have been placed throughout the cenote to illuminate the place which gives a magical ambiance.

Cenote Chacsikín and cenote Xooch’ are smaller but no less impressive. These two semi-open cenotes are set in caves with dramatic rock formations. Cenote Xooch’ is particularly interesting because a huge tree above the cave is visible from the water, with its roots growing down into the cave.

The admission fee includes access to three cenotes, transport between them either by horse-drawn carriage or bicycle, and lifejackets. There are several showers and bathroom facilities that can be found both at the entrance and between cenotes 1 and 2. 

Cenote Bal Mil 

Cenote Bal Mil, meaning “what is hidden” in Yucatec Mayan is situated down a dirt trail that veers off from Calle 19 in central Homun. Admission is 30 pesos per person ($1.50) and, like most Homun cenotes, Bal Mil looks fairly unsuspecting from the outside. 

There is a large tree nicknamed “Alamo” by the entrance. The entrance to the cenote is made via a narrow metal ladder that leads you down a hole in the ground. Once you reach the bottom, you are met with an impressive cavern with stalagmites and stalactites hanging from the ceiling.

According to our guide, many spiritual practices and ancient rituals were once performed here. Since the Mayans considered cenotes to be links to the underworld, they would come to Bal Mil to pray and give thanks to their Gods. This is another spot where you will see Mayan handprints on the walls.

The light pours through a hole in the ceiling of the Hool Kosom cenote in Homun

Cenote Hool Kosom

Cenote Hool Kosom is a beautiful and more off-the-beaten-path cenote in Homun. This semi-open cenote has a very unique appearance with a white limestone roof and a little hole in the ceiling where the light shines through.

There is a large wooden platform in the center of the cenote where you can sit and hang out if you are not a strong swimmer.

Cenote Wolpoch 

If you are interested in Mayan history and archeological sites, you will love the little-known Cenote Wolpoch. Scattered around the cave are ornately carved sculptures of Mayan nobles that were handcrafted by Ancient Yucatecan stonemasons thousands of years ago.

Like cenote Bal Mil, cenote Wolpoch was used for a lot of spiritual practices and rituals. This is a closed cavernous cenote, illuminated by spotlights whose waters reach only 2.5m at their deepest.

Cenote Chelpak

Cenote Chelpak is one of the least visited Homun cenotes. The cenote is small and is accessed via a very steep, narrow wooden staircase that is around 8 meters long and takes you down to the crystal-clear water.

It sits in the heart of the woodlands close to Bal Mil. There is no admission fee and there is barely any signage bar a small A4 paper that reads “Cenote Chelpak” that is taped to one of the nearby trees.

If you take the time to venture down the dirt trail towards cenote Chelpak, you will almost certainly be the only person(s) there. Consider packing a snorkel so that you can see the fish beneath the surface as you swim. 

Cenote Los Tres Oches

Cenote Los Tres Oches translates to mean “the three foxes”. There are three small cenotes here, each one more beautiful than the last although you do need to have a sense of adventure to appreciate them.

Accessing the first cenote is easy enough and you can get to it by climbing down a (rickety) wooden ladder. After swimming through its crystal clear waters, you can access the second and third cenotes by clambering up and down ropes, scooting through tunnels and squeezing through tight holes.

If you want to feel like a real life Lara Craft/Indiana Jones, you may love this experience. If you are claustrophobic, maybe not.

Cenote Yaxbacaltun 

Cenote Yaxbacaltun is a large, semi-open cenote and one of the most popular in the area. It is situated partway down a dirt trail some 500m away from Calle 8 in Homun.

Cenote Yaxbacaltun is complete with a rope swing perfect for swinging across the cenote and into the water like Tarzan. The name Yaxbacaltun means “green corn on stone” – an obscure name that stems from a local legend about a corn farmer that disappeared in this area centuries ago. 

A lot of Yucatecans flock to Yaxbacaltun on the 15th of July every year because it is said that on this date, the sun shines in a specific part of the cenote and reflects the image of a green corn plant which can only be seen by a lucky few. Those that see the plant are to receive good fortune. 

Yaxbacaltun feels special because you can see a lot of colorful Toh birds flying around inside its caves and chambers. These cute little birds like to live in dark places. Their bodies are mostly turquoise, with some red, green, and yellow coloring. 

Cenote Mani Chan 

Cenote Mani Chan is not only a pleasant place to swim in the crystal-clear blue waters, but it was used as a spa by the Ancient Mayans. When you head inside, you can give yourself a facial or a full body mud mask using the natural clay found inside.

Leave it for 20-25 minutes or so, and then rinse it off to enjoy much softer skin, This is one of only a few spots in the Yucatan where you can find this exfoliating clay. (Another can be found at Rio Lagartos.)

Admission is 50 pesos per person and just outside the cenote, you will find a campground complete with shower and bathroom facilities. Since it is so hot in the Yucatan, I would recommend that you only consider camping here in the “cooler” months between November and February.

Still, if you love nature and the great outdoors, what could be better than sleeping beneath the stars and then waking up to swim in a cenote?  

Cenote Caliskutz Homún

The magnificent Cenote Caliskutz and its shimmering blue waters are nestled in the heart of the Mayan jungle just outside of Homun. This cenote is not signposted, which helps it to escape the attention of a lot of tourists as you would probably never find it without a guide.

To reach it, follow the signs for the nearby Cenote Maní Chan. Access to the cenote is 50 pesos per person.

You enter the cenote through a small hole and a wooden staircase that descends down towards the water. There is a small platform at the foot of the stairs which is perfect for diving off of. 

The walls of the cave are white, with stalagmites hanging from the ceilings. Look out for the small black catfish that call this freshwater pool their home. 

Cenote San Isidro

Cenote San Isidro is a little cave cenote located part way down a dirt trail some 60m away from Calle 6 de Homún. The cenote is relatively small compared to many of the others but just as worthy of your time. 

This little closed cenote is set inside a mysterious cave. You have to exercise some caution swimming here as some of the stalagmites hang down so low that they almost touch the water.

The entrance to Cenote San Isidro is clearly marked. There is also some fun and interesting street art of Mayan calendars and Mayan figures that have been painted onto the rocks by the entrance and are great to snap a quick photo with. 

Cenote Santa Rosa

You could easily dedicate an entire afternoon to hanging out at Cenote Santa Rosa. An upscale complex has developed around the complex – including a palapa restaurant where you can enjoy traditional local food, hammocks to chill out in, and luxe cabins where you can opt to spend the night. 

The cenote itself is small, housed inside a natural cave, and illuminated by artificial lights. It does get quite busy so head here early in the day if you can. The food at the on-site restaurant is very good and reasonably priced so you can always stop by for lunch and then pop your head in the cenote to gauge how crowded it is. 

Tips for Visiting Homun Cenotes 

  • You need to pay independent admission to most of the cenotes you enter. This tends to be around 30-40 pesos per person

  • Everywhere is cash only so be sure to carry plenty of change. Try to have smaller bills as vendors may not be able to accept/give change from larger notes

  • You can rent life jackets at most cenotes. There are also jacket rental stores at the entrance of Homun where you can rent them for a few dollars for the day and then return them before you leave

  • There are no lockers, etc at a lot of cenotes. You can ask your guide to watch your bag but it is better not to bring valuables

  • Consider buying a waterproof pouch for your phone

  • Mosquitos, gnats, and other pesky, bitey bugs can be a real problem in the Yucatan, especially near bodies of water. Consider buying a repellent wristband

  • Cenotes are often home to fish and unique ecosystems of flora and fauna. Make sure that any sunscreen you use is reef-safe as many generic brands contain harmful chemicals

  • You may be asked to shower before entering some cenotes. To protect the sensitive ecosystems, don’t wear any makeup or perfume on your visit.    

  • Visit during the week if you can, to avoid the crowds at weekends when locals head to the cenotes on their days off work. 
Parroquia San Buenaventura, Homun

How to Get to Homun in 2024

It is easy to get to the Homun cenotes from Merida and other parts of the Yucatan, whether you opt to travel by bus or car. You can get to Homun independently and then hire a local guide with a moto-taxi or you can prebook an organized tour that includes pick-up and drop-off in your hotel in Merida and helps to take some of the stress out of figuring out the logistics of how to get from A to B. 

Taking a mototaxi in Homun, Mexico
Taking a mototaxi in Homun, Mexico

Driving to Homun

I am a huge advocate for renting a car and driving around independently during your time in the Yucatan, as long as you feel confident enough to do so. Although public transport links in the area are improving, they still leave a lot to be desired and having access to a car will give you a lot more freedom and flexibility.

You can rent an economy-sized car in Merida, Cancun, Tulum and other major cities around the peninsula for an average of around $30 USD per day including full coverage insurance. (I recommend and personally use Discover Cars as they allow you to compare and contrast quotes offered by numerous different providers).

The roads in the Yucatan are in good conditioned and are well maintained and you may find that driving here is not that different from driving at home.

Homun is about 55km southeast of Merida and you can do the journey in less than an hour. Once you leave the city limits, you need to follow the Carr. Costera del Golfo 180 towards Valladolid, and then turn right at Tahmek to take the Tixkokob – Sotuta Yuc 60 through Hocaba to Homun.

Taking the Bus to Homun 

Lineas Unidas del Sur operates a direct bus between Merida and the Homun Cenotes four times a day. The journey takes approximately 47 minutes in each direction and tickets cost 30 pesos per person. 

Do note that Huhi is the final destination on this bus route so use an offline map to check when you are approaching Homun. You will most likely see that this is where a bunch of people get off the bus anyway. 

As soon as you disembark, you will be met with locals offering moto-taxi tours. If you are in Valladolid, there is no direct bus to Homun. You have to go via Merida. 

Merida to Homun buses depart at the following times each day: 

  • 12:30

  • 15:35

  • 16:35

  • 18:15

If you want to arrive early in the morning, it is better to spend a night in Homun and then get up early to enjoy the cenotes. The return buses from Homun to Merida depart at the following times:

  • 4.45

  • 16:15 

Recommended Yucatan Cenote Tours 

If you don’t feel confident driving in Mexico for whatever reason and public transport sounds like a hassle, you can consider booking a place on an organized tour of the cenotes. Tons of reputable tour companies operate throughout the Yucatan and many offer pick-up and drop-off from your accommodation.

Both private and small-group tours are available and lunch is often included.

Hocaba, Yucatan
Hocaba, Yucatan

Other things to do around Homun 

There is little to see in Homun town aside from the cenotes which are essentially the entire raison d’être that most people decide to visit, but that is not to say that the town is not a pretty place.

The Zocalo (main central square) is flanked by the gorgeous old Franciscan convent of Parroquia San Buenaventura which dates back to the 16th century. There is little documented history about this building or the community that frequented it, though its interiors, with their tall ceilings and vibrant frescoes, are just as spectacular as the exterior.

If you are driving or you take a moto taxi, you can head to the little pueblo of Cuzamá just outside of Homun. (It is right on the route between Merida and Homun anyway).

There are a lot of great barbeque/grill house restaurants here if you want to grab a spot of lunch that was perhaps some of the best we have eaten in the Yucatan.

The town of Hocaba also has a very charming church (Iglesia Principal San Francisco de Asis) and a square filled with street vendors that serve delicious tostilotes (tostito chips topped with sweetcorn, fresh cream, chili, and vegetables.

It’s messy and questionable-looking but delicious! 

Ancient Mayan handprints on the wall in Homun cenotes
Ancient Mayan handprints on the wall in Homun cenotes

Final thoughts on visiting the Homun cenotes in the Yucatan

The Homun cenotes are without a doubt some of the best in the Yucatan peninsula and are worth visiting on a day trip from Merida if you enjoy swimming and nature.

If this is your first time traveling to Southern Mexico and the Yucatan, you may also enjoy this article on safety in the Yucatan or this post on the best time to travel to the Mexican Yucatan.

Have a wonderful time traveling in Mexico! Hasta Luego! xo

Melissa Douglas

Melissa Douglas is a British Travel Writer based in Merida, Mexico and the Editor-in-Chief of Mexico Travel Secrets. She has over seven years worth of experience in working in travel media and has travelled to 57 countries, mostly solo. Throughout her career, Melissa has produced written content for several high-profile publications across the globe - including Forbes Travel Guide, the Huffington Post, Rough Guides, and Matador Network.

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