Visiting Cenote Ik Kil, Yucatan, Mexico – a Complete Guide

The moment I saw Cenote Ik Kil’s trellising vines on Instagram, I wanted to go.

Cenote Ik Kil, also known as the Chichen Itza cenote, is one of the most recognizable cenotes near Tulum for its deep, cavernous pool and lush greenery-clad walls.

Is this photogenic cenote worth visiting?

Originally excited about my impending visit, the closer I got to actually going, the more skeptical I became of this cenote’s social media fame. Yet, I went and am here to share my experience with you.

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When to Go to Cenote Ik Kil

Cenote Ik Kil is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. Like many experiences in the Yucatan, 5 pm is the last entrance time. 5:30 pm is when the cenote actually closes.

Before going, I was concerned about how many people would be at the cenote when I visited. Cenote Ik Kil can have hundreds of visitors each hour.

I reached the cenote around 11 am. There were several people there, however nowhere near hundreds. By the time I was leaving, the cenote was already much busier than when I arrived. I’d imagine that by 1 or 2 pm, there would be closer to 100.

Visit Cenote Ik Kil as early as your itinerary allows. Many recommend going first thing in the morning, however I recommend visiting Chichen Itza first, as it gets significantly busier than the cenote.

Aim to reach Chichen Itza at its opening time at 8 am and Cenote Ik Kil by 10:30 am to beat large crowds.

Keep in mind that both Chichen Itza and Cenote Ik Kil are in the central time zone. If you’re traveling from Tulum or Cancun, plan accordingly!

Cenote Ik Kil Entrance Fee

Cenote Ik Kil admission has two options: a bundle with food and drink or entrance only.

Admission Package 1

Package 1 includes access to the cenote, use of a locker for the day, and a life jacket.

Adults: $150 pesos (approximately $7.50 USD)

Children: $100 pesos (approximately $5 USD)

Admission Package 2

Package 2 includes everything from Package 1, in addition to “restaurant service” and one drink.

Adults: $350 pesos (approximately $17.50 USD)

Children: $230 pesos (approximately $11.50 USD)

I recommend Package 1. There are two restaurants at Cenote Ik Kil, but if you’re going on a day trip to Chichen Itza and Coba as well, there are tons of great local restaurants along the way!

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How Deep is Cenote Ik Kil?

Cenote Ik Kil is an open-air cenote, meaning that it’s basically a big sinkhole. As a result, the water level starts 26 meters (85 feet) below ground level. The water itself is roughly 40 meters (130 feet) deep.

As Cenote Ik Kil is much deeper than many of the cenotes in the Yucatan and near Tulum, I recommend wearing a life jacket.

Compared to other cenotes I have visited, Cenote Ik Kil does not have very many places in the water to grab a rock or wall, much less stand up. This makes the cenote less child-friendly than other cenotes in the area, but do still expect to see children there.

Life jackets are included with admission. Take advantage!

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How to Get to Cenote Ik Kil

Renting a Car and Driving to Cenote Ik Kil

Driving is the best way to get to Cenote Ik Kil. Taxis to the cenote from Tulum and Cancun are pricey, especially if you’re not traveling with many people. Car rental in Cancun is very inexpensive and allows you better freedom to visit surrounding sites!

Rent a car when you land in Cancun to save on transfers to and from the Cancun airport and your resort. If you’re staying in Tulum, many hotels and Airbnbs offer free parking. Cenote Ik Kil also has a large parking lot on-site, where parking is free.

If you are driving, make sure to fill up on gas prior to leaving Tulum. There are very few gas stations on the way to Chichen Itza and the cenote.

Private Taxi to Cenote Ik Kil

If you are uncomfortable driving in Mexico, you can hire a taxi or private driver for the day to take you between Tulum and Chichen Itza. This is the most expensive way to reach the Chichen Itza area but it eliminates the stress of other transportation methods.

As the area the cenote is in is more remote than Tulum, I recommend hiring a driver for the full day rather than just one way. You may have difficulty trying to find return transportation if only hiring a taxi for one direction.

Colectivo to Cenote Ik Kil

If you’re staying in Valladolid, there are colectivos (minibusses) that shuttle between Valladolid and Chichen Itza. This is a very cost-effective way to reach Chichen Itza without a car, and relatively efficient as Valladolid is an hour away. A colectivo will run you 35 pesos ($1.75 USD) per person in each direction.

The first colectivo of the day departs from the center of Valladolid at 7 am. I recommend getting on this colectivo to reach Chichen Itza at the opening.

I did not take a colectivo to Cenote Ik Kil, however I have been informed that a colective can take you to the cenote directly. If not, hire a taxi from the colectivo drop-off at Chichen Itza to Cenote Ik Kil. Pay the taxi to wait while you’re at the cenote, and drop you off again at Chichen Itza to make the colectivo back.

Chichen Itza Tours with Cenote Ik Kil

Tours are the best option to reach Chichen Itza and Cenote Ik Kil without a car. Many of these tours include a stop in Valladolid, a colonial town an hour outside of the Chichen Itza area.

There are several tours from Cancun and Tulum that will pick you up and return you to your hotel. Book a private tour for more control over how much time you spend at each location.

Visiting Chichen Itza on a group tour is more cost-effective than hiring a driver for the day. Additionally, able to learn about Mayan civilization with a knowledgeable guide included in the price, which you wouldn’t have with a driver alone.

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What to Bring to Cenote Ik Kil

Cash in Pesos

To pay for admission, you’ll need cash!

Always carry cash in Mexico, especially in the Yucatan. Some gas stations will only take cash, taxis only take cash, and street vendors are also cash-only.

Goggles

Cenotes have a whole different world underneath the water. This makes them popular with divers. Even if you’re not a diver, bring goggles and maybe even a snorkel to explore what’s below!

Swimsuit

The best part of visiting a cenote is being able to swim in the clear blue water in such a picturesque setting! There typically aren’t many places to purchase swimwear near cenotes if you forget your own, if any at all.

Towel

Most cenotes do not have towel rentals. Forgetting to bring a towel to the cenote is a mistake I’ve made too many times! Bring your own, whether it be from home or your hotel.

GoPro Camera

GoPro is my camera of choice for cenotes. GoPros are waterproof and will shoot underwater. Cenotes have so much beauty underneath the surface, and a GoPro will allow you to capture that.

Waterproof Phone Bag

Cenote Ik Kil especially has very few dry areas to put a phone. As a matter of fact, you need to walk through the water to reach the area you can!

If your phone isn’t water resistant, I recommend buying an inexpensive clear phone bag to protect it from being ruined. Click here to shop a six-pack of bags for under $15.

Visiting Cenote Ik Kil

After seeing so many dreamy images of Cenote Ik Kil on Instagram and Pinterest, I had high expectations. The romantic vines draping down from the top, the light streaming into the clear, blue water, it seemed magical and secluded.

When I arrived, I was surprised to see just how commercial and developed the cenote was. The grounds for it, the restaurants, rentals, and everything were larger than the actual cenote! It was a stark contrast to nearby Cenote Suytun, which I visited a few months prior.

After purchasing admission, everyone had to go through a temperature check, use hand sanitizer, and walk through a sanitation arch. From there, it’s a five-minute walk through the property to reach the locker and life jacket checkout. Put your belongings in a locker, and grab a life jacket. With the depth of the cenote, you’ll want it! If you don’t have many belongings, you can probably get away with just putting your towel and phone or camera on one of the steps inside the cenote if it isn’t a very busy time.

Outside of the locker and life jacket checkout are showers. You are expected to rinse off prior to getting into the water. It’s a general policy for most cenotes that they do not allow you to wear sunscreen or bug spray in them as they are concerned about polluting the water, hence why you need to rinse off thoroughly.

When you’re ready to get into the cenote, you’ll descend down a steep staircase to reach the water. The water level of the cenote is 26 meters below ground level, so watch your step on those steep stairs! There are a few overlook areas on the stairs down, which were a fun way to look over the cenote.

In all honesty, the cenote itself was much smaller than I was expecting. I was expecting there to be a few more areas around the actual water that would allow for rest. There is a staircase on the other side of where you enter into the water, which many use to place phones and towels or to jump into the water. Cenote Ik Kil had a lifeguard watching out on the platform at the top of the staircase.

When I was there, the staircase was crowded with people trying to get the perfect shot for Instagram. Most of the time, there were more people on the staircase than there were in the actual water! As a blogger and photographer, I have no issue with people taking photos, unless they’re being disruptive to the actual experience or inconsiderate to others around them. Unfortunately, at Cenote Ik Kil, this was a little bit the case. It was more just a bit annoying and a slight inconvenience rather than a major issue.

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The water in the cenote is cool—perfect on a hot day, but if you’re visiting in the winter months, you may find it a bit chilly early in the morning. There are tons of small black catfish in the water, also. Not quite as many as Cenote Suytun, but definitely enough to be noticeable. These fish are harmless and will swim away when moved towards.

If you’re not a fish person, cenotes may not be for you. Each one I’ve been to has had aquatic life, which has been so much fun to see and discover!

I spent about an hour at Cenote Ik Kil total. Most of the time was spent looking at the cenote from the overlooks or hanging out in the water near the staircase rather than actually swimming in the center.

The Bottom Line: Is Cenote Ik Kil Worth Visiting

Cenote Ik Kil is a fun cenote to look at for the beautiful vines. However, fellow tourists being noisy and inconsiderate kind of ruined the magical, secluded feel of the cenote for me. The yelling, splashing, and kicking diminished the quiet beauty of nature. As the cenote is “Instafamous,” the staircase and platform were consistently crowded by people trying to take photos.

Although it’s most practical to get to the cenote around 10:30 or 11 am after a visit to Chichen Itza, if you really care about having the full Cenote Ik Kil effect, get to the cenote right when it opens at 9 am.

Is Cenote Ik Kil worth visiting? Honestly, I don’t have a straight answer for you.

Yes, if you’re visiting early in the morning when the cenote will be quiet. I think if I had visited when the cenote was empty or near empty, it would have been a totally different experience.

I think it’s worth visiting for at least a short time just to see it, but I wouldn’t plan on spending a lot of time here if you come during peak hours when the cenote is busy as it isn’t the most swimmable or explorable cenote. This isn’t a cenote I would go out of my way for, but it’s worth the stop on a Chichen Itza day trip.

I personally prefer Cenote Suytun on the way from Tulum to Chichen Itza over Cenote Ik Kil. It was a much quieter experience and felt like such a special place to be. Gran Cenote in Tulum is great if you’re looking for a cenote that’s easy to explore and swim in.

There’s a reason why cenotes are among the places to visit in Yucatan, Mexico. There are TONS of beautiful cenotes in the Yucatan and Quintana Roo, you can’t go wrong with any of them.

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Looking for more things to do near Tulum? Discover the links below:

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