Cenote Nicte-Ha is a naturally beautiful, locally known and hidden gem of a cenote located near Tulum in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It has a peaceful, serene and tranquil atmosphere and is lesser-known/visited and situated a little ways off the beaten tourist path.
During my second solo trip to Mexico, I had been staying at Mama’s Home hostel and had a desire to swim in a quiet and less popular cenote, so I asked one of the staff members at the hostel for recommendations. Almost immediately after asking, the staff enthusiastically suggested Cenote Nicte-Ha and informed me that it was his favourite locally known cenote. I hadn’t read anything about this cenote during my thorough and detailed pre-travel research, so it definitely intrigued me and I knew that it was exactly the kind of place I desired to visit. Even now, after returning from my travels, I can find very little information about this cenote on the internet and it’s not mentioned in any traditional guidebooks, which made my experience there feel so much more special.
Cenote Nicte-Ha is such a hidden gem near Tulum, and after my experiences of swimming in this magical place, I can’t understand why this place isn’t more popular (but sshhh, let’s try to keep it a secret!), because it was simply incredible.
Cenote Nicte-Ha is located along the narrow dirt road that leads from Highway 307 to the more popular Cenote Dos Ojos, just twenty minutes driving time north of the town of Tulum (approximately 20 km). From the highway, it is an approximately 15-20 minute walk along the dirt road to the entrance road for Cenote Nicte-Ha. The scenery along the road is beautiful and it is surrounded by lush green jungle vegetation.
At the intersection with the main gravel road and the turn-off road to the cenote, there was a well-positioned and large sign that said “Nicte-Ha,” and from there, it was just a short walk to the entrance to the cenote.
Transportation – Getting To and From Cenote Nicte-Ha From Tulum
Cenote Nicte-Ha is easily accessible via local colectivo or taxi from the town of Tulum.
This is the method of transportation that I used and it is the one that I recommend because it is inexpensive, fast and is a fun and unique way to travel like a local. Colectivos (shared 12-passenger white vans) are easy to find in Tulum. All you have to do is stand anywhere along the main avenue in the town of Tulum and wave down the next passing colectivo van driving in the direction towards Highway 307 (east). The colectivos do not operate on a fixed schedule but they start running from early in the morning until later at night, and there are always lots of vans driving along this popular main highway and route. You likely won’t have to wait more than 10 minutes before a van shows up. After you wave at them, the driver of the van will stop if he has room for another passenger. Once you get in the van, ask the driver to drop you off at Cenote Dos Ojos and then pay him when you arrive at your destination and exit the van. The journey from Tulum to Dos Ojos parking lot took around 25 minutes. The one-way fare is 30 pesos and the driver will drop you off along Highway 307 where the parking lot and gravel road to Cenote Dos Ojos begins. From there, you walk 15-20 minutes along the gravel road until you see the large sign advertising Cenote Nicte-Ha at a junction in the road and then follow that small road until you get to the cenote.
In order to get back to Tulum, you will have to stand along the side of Highway 307 (on the side where traffic is heading south), and wait until you see a colectivo to wave down. They pass by often – around every 10 minutes or so. Ask the driver to drop you off in Tulum “pueblo” and pay him 30 pesos when you depart the van.
Taking a colectivo is simple and easy and it’s super cheap for those on a budget!
Another option of arriving at Cenote Nicte-Ha would be to take a taxi. Taxis can be found anywhere along Tulum’s main avenue and throughout the town as well. Just walk up to one of them and ask the driver to take you to Cenote Dos Ojos. He will drive you to the parking lot, where you can then walk to Cenote Nicte-Ha. The one-way fare for a taxi ride from Tulum to Cenote Dos Ojos should probably cost around 70-80 pesos.
Swimming in the Cenote
After the colectivo had dropped me off at the parking lot of Cenote Dos Ojos, I purchased my admission ticket for Cenote Nicte-Ha at the ticket booth located in the parking lot, which cost 100 pesos. I initially thought that it was a little bit pricey for visiting a lesser-known cenote, but in the end, I realized that experiencing the beauty of this cenote was definitely worth the price.
I began walking along the narrow, pothole-filled dirt road, which was surrounded by the thick lush green jungle. I was completely alone on this walk and I enjoyed the beautiful scenery along the way and the peaceful atmosphere. Even though the walk from the parking lot to the cenote only took around 15-20 minutes, it felt much longer than I had expected, and I quickly realized that I my choice of footwear was not the greatest (I had worn sandals which ended up giving me blisters on my feet)!
A truck full of friendly-looking tourists drove up from behind me and slowed down, as one of the young individuals asked me where I was headed. I told them my destination and they asked me if I wanted a ride, as they were on their way to Cenote Dos Ojos. I accepted their invitation and hopped in the front passenger seat. It turned out, I was only about one minute away from the cenote and we didn’t have to drive very far at all before they dropped me off and said good-bye.
There was a large sign which advertised Cenote Nicte-Ha at the junction of the main gravel road with another dirt road stemming off from that one. I walked a short ways down this deserted road before arriving at the entrance to the cenote in approximately five minutes.
I arrived to the cenote to find two locals relaxing in hammocks with nobody else around. They pointed me in the direction of the cenote and I walked along a path that twisted through the jungle vegetation and led down a hill to a wooden boardwalk area which overlooked the beautiful turquoise coloured water of this natural cenote.
The cenote was not located deep underground, like many of the other cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula, and it was situated at the ground level with the water being open and exposed, resembling a small lake. The fresh water was so clear and had a beautiful colour. There were lots of lily pads floating on the water’s surface along the edges of the cenote and jungle trees and plants were growing naturally around the entire perimeter of the water, with their roots and branches dipping down into the water. There was a small cave-like portion of the cenote underneath a rock overhang, which was fun to explore and swim around in the dark. A rope was strung across the water from one end to the other, which was convenient for hanging onto when I grew tired of treading water and swimming. There was also a rock overhang at one end of the cenote, inside of which was a small cave area.
I had this entire magical cenote to myself with nobody else around and the atmosphere was so peaceful, serene and tranquil. I loved the rugged and natural jungle environment surrounding the cenote and simply listening to nature as I swam around.
There were rustic washrooms located inside, what looked like, a wooden makeshift shed with only a toilet inside the stall (missing a toilet seat, of course, as was the case with many toilets in public washrooms in Mexico).
I left my belongings on a bench on the wooden boardwalk of the cenote, and began to swim and explore this incredible and gorgeous place in solitude. Swimming in Cenote Nicte-Ha alone was an amazing experience, and I loved exploring inside the small and narrow cave, floating in the calm water and just swimming around everywhere while admiring my beautiful surroundings. I was just in awe of the natural beauty around me and I took some time to thank God for creating such an amazing place for me (and everyone else) to enjoy.
Having the opportunity to swim in such a tranquil and magical place was simply amazing and such a special and memorable experience that I will cherish forever.
Cenote Nicte-Ha was by far, my favourite cenote that I visited in the Tulum area. I loved experiencing the beauty of this magical and serene natural sinkhole in solitude with absolutely nobody else around and it was such an off the beaten path hidden gem. It felt amazing to be able to explore and swim in this locally known cenote that not many other travelers know about. It was definitely a magical place.
Location – Approximately 22 km north of Tulum (20-25 minutes driving time)
Hours – 9 AM until 4 PM
Admission – 100 pesos
Facilities – There were very basic and rustic washrooms and changing rooms available on the cenote property, located inside small thatched huts with wood slats along the sides. There were no lockers to leave your belongings, but there was a small wooden dock area at the cenote’s edge, where you could leave your stuff.
Have you swam in and explored Cenote Nicte-Ha? Would you add this cenote to your list for future travels to Tulum and the Yucatan? What other locally known and off the beaten path cenotes have you visited in Mexico’s Yucatan, that you would recommend?
Let me know your thoughts about this post in the comments below! If you are interested in reading more about my experiences and travels through Mexico’s Yucatan, click here. And click here to read about the other cenotes that I have swam in and explored in Mexico’s Yucatan.
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