Santa Barbara Cenotes – Everything You Need to Know

Posted 15/03/2024 | 15th March, 2024

If you’re looking for unique, fun things to do in Merida, Mexico, the Cenotes Santa Barbara should be at the top of your list. 

These cenotes are located on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, near the town of Homún. They are an excellent ‘entry-level’ cenote as the centre contains four beautiful swimming spots, a restaurant and changing facilities – removing all the logistics of planning your day out!

Here is everything you need to know before visiting the Santa Barbara cenotes, including how to get there and how much it will cost.

What are The Santa Barabara Cenotes?

Santa Barbara Cenotes refer to a group of cenotes in the Santa Barbara Ecotourism Park, located in Homún.

This park allows visitors to explore and swim in four beautiful cenotes with crystal-clear water. 

Interestingly, cenotes are formed when the limestone bedrock collapses, revealing underground freshwater pools. They are not only beautiful but also provide a unique and refreshing experience (much needed in the Mexican heat!).

Getting to the Santa Barbara Cenotes in Merida

Collectivo from Merida to Homun
The colectivo from Merida to Homun
Collectivo Station
The station is recognisable from this sign on the wall

The first thing you need to do is make your way to the colectivo station. This is handily marked on Google Maps as ‘Homun Taxis’, close to the Noreste bus station. If you’re unfamiliar with them, colectivos are small minibuses used as public transport across Mexico

They don’t have a set time schedule and instead leave when they are full. We were extremely lucky and stumbled across one at 8:30 a.m. with only two seats left, so we didn’t have to wait any time before hitting the road! 

Typically, if you get on at the origin point, you pay the driver straight away. However, if you jump in halfway through the journey, you will pay the driver when you get off. 

The trip takes just over an hour, and you don’t want to stay on the colectivo all the way to the end. Watch Google Maps and tell the driver when you’re ready to get off.

Santa Barbara Cenotes are just a short walk from the main road. You do not need to hire a motor taxi to take you there. If you get off at the right spot, it is a 200m walk down to the Cenotes. 

The colectivo journey costs $37 MXN per person each way.

The Return Journey to Merida

Again, the return journey is very straightforward. Simply head back out to the main road (less than a five-minute walk from the cenotes) and wait by the side of the road until the colectivo passes.

Confirm with the driver that you’re heading all the way into Merida, and jump in! As mentioned above, the journey takes around an hour, and you will pay when you exit the bus at the end.

The Four Cenotes at Santa Barbara

There are four magical cenotes at Santa Barbara, each with its own charm. My personal favourite was cenote three (Xooch’), as we timed it perfectly and had the whole thing to ourselves!

Cenote Cascabel

The first cenote is covered entirely, which I initially found a little overwhelming! You have to climb down a wooden staircase (a small section requires ducking under a rock formation) to a large platform. 

You can leave your belongings here and head into the water. There is artificial light inside, and the water is refreshing (especially on the 38-degree day I visited!).

Cenote Chacksikin

 Cenote Chacksikin
Cenote Chacksikin
Santa Barbara Cenotes Map
You’ll find these maps dotted around the park

The second cenote was my least favourite (probably because we arrived at precisely the same time as a large tour group). But it is breathtakingly stunning, with large stalactites hanging from the ceiling. 

What is extra special about this cenote is that you can jump off a platform into the waters. This was great fun!

Cenote Xooch’

Cenote Xooch
Cenote Xooch at Santa Barbara

The third cenote is my favourite. It is entirely open, and its waters are the most beautiful shades of blue and turquoise. The sunlight shining through also improves underwater visibility, so make sure you have your goggles ready!

It is estimated that the water is around 40m deep here, which is astounding.

Cenote Pool Cocom

I initially thought there were only three cenotes here, so I was pleasantly surprised to find another one right before you head back to the restaurant and lobby. 

This final cenote is very unusual in shape, with a kind of ‘corridor’ for swimming into the main pool. It is fully open and is by far the largest of the four, with a depth of around 15 meters. 

One important thing to note is that the waterfall within this cenote is artificial. But still beautiful!

Cenote Pool Cocom Viewpoint
Cenote Pool Cocom Viewpoint
Cenote Pool Cocom
Cenote Pool Cocom

Getting Around the Cenotes

There are two options for travelling between the cenotes: the minibus or bicycle (both included in the entrance fee). Honestly, the journey is very, very short between them, so making this decision will not have too much of an impact on your day. 

The minibuses are frequent, and getting between the destinations takes less than a couple of minutes. 

I saw lots of reports of the venue using horse-drawn carriages. There were certainly no horses when I visited in March 2024! Hopefully, this is now a thing of the past.

Cost of Visiting Santa Barbara Cenotes

The entrance cost for visiting Santa Barabara Centoes is $350 MXN per person. This includes the mandatory lifejacket and the use of either bicycles or minibuses to get around.

They accept both cash and card. 

You can then pre-add lunch for $120 MXN per person. We did this, but it doesn’t make a huge difference. You can buy lunch from the restaurant regardless of whether you pre-book, and the prices range between $110 – $130 MXN. 

I found the food to be good value for money, considering the relatively low price (at such an established tourist venue).

Therefore, including lunch and transportation, the total cost for one adult to visit Santa Barbara Cenotes is $544 MXN.

Santa Barbara Cenotes Tour

Please, please, please do not take a tour to the Santa Barbara Cenotes. It is a complete waste of money. I saw some trips charging $1000 MXN+, but you can do it for half the price, including lunch, if you go on your own, and it’s very easy.

Important Things to Note

💦 Showering is mandatory before entering the cenotes. There are outdoor showers you can use to rinse off your suncream and bug spray before getting in the cenotes.

🏃‍♀️ There are lots of steps up and down to the cenotes, so those with mobility issues may struggle. Notably, the fourth cenote had a lift which makes it by far the most accessible of the group. 

🛟 Life jackets are mandatory, and there is a lifeguard in each cenote. If you don’t wear it properly you will be told off (I saw this happen multiple times!). 

🥽 There are lots of fish in the cenotes, so take your goggles and/or snorkel. If you don’t have one, you can rent them there. 

🩴Bring some sandals for walking between the cenotes and around them. I saw many people swimming in water shoes, which you may also find helpful. 

🎒 There are lockers at the main entrance should you choose to use them. However, there is ample room at each cenote to leave your belongings. 

⏱ Get here early! By lunchtime, the cenotes were getting extremely busy and crowded, so I recommend getting there as early as possible for the most pleasant experience.


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Santa Barbara Cenotes, Mexico
Santa Barbara Cenotes, Mexico
Santa Barbara Cenotes, Mexico

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