Quintana Roo, Mexico.
Cenote Azul means Blue Cenote. It is truly blue, or rather turquoise. Cenote originates from the Mayan word 'dzotnot', which the Spanish conquerors understood as cenote. It is basically a sinkhole.
Azul is one of three good cenotes near Playa Del Carmen (just past Puerto Aventuras on highway 307). You can get off the colectivo bus here. The other two in a row just off the highway are El Jardín del Edén and Cristalino. All three are very similar; they are all open sink-holes. The waters of cenotes are always crystal clear and cool.
Azul is one of those unassuming places. The water pool is set in a natural jungle setting, no frills, just local ambience. Locals love it particularly on a hot summer weekend day as the water temperate remains about 25°C, although it is an open cenote, not in a cave. To avoid crowds, aim for a weekday, if you can.
It is entertaining to watch people trying to persuade each other to jump. It can look a bit scary because the water is so clear that it looks like the rocks are right under the surface, which is not the case. While we were there, people of all ages were having fun jumping from the cliff. I myself jumped as well, as my son persuaded me. It felt great, I felt pretty brave. I reckon that the jump height is a good 4 or 5m. The water is apparently 26m deep.
Cenote Azul is quite large. There are several different areas with various depths, so if you are not a strong swimmer, you can bring a lifejacket or rent one on site. If you can hold your breath for long enough, there is a small underwater cave passage that you can free-dive through.
Underwater photographers are thrilled here with the clear waters. You’ll see some molly fish as well as the rock formations under water. The fish may nibble at your feet but they are harmless (the tickle is the same as in the pedicure salon). You may want to take some water shoes as some of the rocks are slippery with moss.
If you want to dive, you will need to bring your open water certification.
You can bring snacks and drinks for a picnic. However, they did not allow us to drink beer nor use any drinks in glass bottles (for safety reasons) so plastic containers are a must. If you are having a picnic in the jungle, you may even spot an iguana. There are no picnic benches so prepare to sit on the ground under the trees.
I loved to see that it is feasible for the locals to access it as other parks around here are pretty expensive for them. The entrance fee in 2013 was 55 pesos. I would also suggest not using any sunscreen, to avoid polluting the pristine waters.
Cenote Azul is located just south of Puerto Aventuras and about a 20-minute drive from Playa del Carmen. It is right next to Cristalino, Kantunchi and Jardín del Edén. You can take a colectivo bus from Playa del Carmen or Tulum and get off by the cenote (just shout the name of the cenote and the driver will stop). If you come by car, there is a parking lot here. The cenote is usually open from 9am-5pm.
Mix & Match:
Simply have a half a day trip with a picnic from Playa del Carmen or Tulum. Or combine with a visit to Tulum, see more at 'The Cliff Top Ruins' (Trips). Or have a day of browsing the cenotes around the Tulum area.