Located near the ruins of Chichen Itza the open-air Ik Kil Cenote is arguably one of the most beautiful on the Yucatán Peninsula. With vines extending downward into a sinkhole it is completely open to the sky, and is a photographer’s dream.
Ik Kil is a great introduction to cenote swimming. It’s a stunning pool with all the facilities you could need. It is definitely more crowded than many other cenotes in the area. However, the attractive natural features make for some fantastic pics.
From the hanging vines and roots, and verdant plants, the numerous waterfalls, and the well itself, Cenote Ik Kil is nothing short of a tropical paradise. For those who need to cool off after hiking through the ruins at Chichen Itza, an afternoon escape at Ik Kill may be the perfect antidote.
Best Time To Visit
The best time to visit Ik Kil Cenote and the Yucatán peninsula is between December and April during the winter season. The temperatures are ideal, humidity is low, and there’s little rainfall.
It’s best to avoid the rainy season between May and October. The temperatures are higher, and the humidity can be uncomfortable. If hot and humid doesn’t bother you, then make the most of low tourist numbers and cheaper prices.
What to Expect
You might just fall in love with Cenote Ik Kil, as it’s one of the most impressive cenotes in Mexico. It’s no surprise the Mayans considered Cenote Ik Kil to be a sacred pool connected to the water god. The vines descending from the clifftop all the way to the water give the pool a really magical feel.
From the top of the cliffs, you can look down and see the perfectly round shape of the pool. From the clifftop, you descend a staircase tunnel to reach the pool. There are 91 steps in total, carved out of the cliff face. You’ll get plenty of opportunities to take photos on the way down with several viewpoints available.
When you reach the bottom, you can head to the changing room and find a locker. Alternatively, if you don’t have any valuables, find a dry spot next to the wall and leave your belongings there. Next, have a shower, and then you are ready to jump in!
Swimming in freshwater is a rejuvenating experience. There are no nasty chemicals or salt to hurt your eyes or dry your skin. The water might feel a little cold at first, but your body will quickly become acclimatized.
To make the most of the cenote experience, try swimming into the middle of the pool and floating on your back. The view up to the top is simply, jaw-dropping. When it’s time to get out, there are wooden ladders available to make it easier.
The Ik Kil cenote is a beautiful spot to relax and soak up nature. However, if you want a little more excitement and high energy, why not try cliff jumping. There are a couple of different jumping platforms. The height ranges from roughly 3 to 5 meters but fluctuates depending on the water level.
The cenote is over 50 meters deep, so there is no chance of hitting the bottom. The walls are also vertical, so there are no hidden obstacles either. This makes cliff jumping at Cenote Ik Kil really safe. There is also a lifeguard that regulates the cliff jumping to ensure there are no accidents.
While Ik Kil cenote is beautiful, it is also very commercialized. The facilities on offer feel similar to a public swimming pool. You’ll have access to plenty of changing rooms, toilets, and lockers for your valuables. You can even rent a life jacket if you need it.
There are outdoor showers, and you must shower before entering the cenote. Showering helps to remove sunscreen, dirt, and oil from your skin and preserves the quality of the water.
Don’t panic if you discover you’ve forgotten your towel. You can always rent one from the towel stand inside as long as you have cash. Unfortunately, they don’t accept credit cards.
There are some hammocks and sunbeds scattered around the cenote, but when it’s busy, you might struggle to claim one. There is a buffet restaurant on-site and a smaller shop selling ice-cream, snacks, and drinks.
If you’d like to enjoy Cenote Ik Kil without the crowds, then stay overnight at the nearby Ik Kil Hotel. Get up early and be at the cenote for opening time and you’ll have at least 30 minutes before the buses start to arrive.
The commonly large crowds are due to the numerous tour buses which pass by the location after, or before visiting Chichen Itza. If you want a quiet or at least semi-quiet swim, late afternoon around 4:30 PM also is a good time.
Diving and jumping is only permitted from the internal platforms noted above, but you can see the full action on the YouTube video below.
The cenote stretches 60 meters in diameter, allowing the sun to beam down into its huge well, which is around 40 meters deep.
This was once quite a sacred area that was commonly used to conduct rituals by the Mayans and even sacrifices. Before it became a tourist attraction, archaeologists found many bones and even jewelry within the deep waters of this cenote.
Red Bull has held several cliff diving events at Cenote Ik Kil over the years. At around 30 meters above the water, the cliffs are the perfect height for a diving competition but unfortunately are not accessible to the public.
Cenote Ik Kil is open 365 days a year from 9:00 am till 5:00 pm. It’s advisable to arrive near the opening or closing times to avoid the Chitzen Itza bus-tour crowds.
The current entry fees are quite low with adults costing 80 MXN ($4) and children paying 40 MXN ($2).
Cenote Ik Kil is part of the Ik Kil Archeological Park near the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza. It’s situated between the cities of Valladolid and Pisté in the Tinúm Municipality.
How To Get There
The Ik Kil cenote is easily accessible with a car, taxi, colectivo, or bus. Since it’s popular with locals and tourists alike there plenty of public transport options throughout the day.
You can catch the Oriente Bus from the Valladolid Bus Station on the corner of Calle 46 and Calle 39. The first bus leaves around 8:30 AM, and 20 more follow throughout the day.
Another option is a colectivo. These used to be pickup trucks with shade cloth at the back, but now they are usually minivans with A/C. They don’t run on a schedule but leave whenever they are full.
You should be able to find one halfway down the street on Calle 39 and also between Calle 44 and Calle 46 in Valladolid. Expect to pay around 35MXN ($2) to get to Ik Kil Cenote. For the trip back, make sure you have dry clothes as you may not be allowed in the colectivo otherwise.
If you’re comfortable driving in Mexico then getting to Cenote Ik Kil is easy. From Pisté it’s a short 10-minute drive along the main highway and from Valladolid a longer 45 minutes. There’s plenty of parking available, and it is safe to leave your car during your visit.
- Follow the 180D (Carretera Cancun-Katuntil) from Cancun through Valladolid until you reach the Carterra 79 (Dzitás – Pisté).
- Head south on 79 towards Pisté and Chichén Itzá then turn left on Carretera 80 when 79 ends in Pisté.
- You’ll find the exit for Ik Cil about 5 Km past Chichén Itzá on your right opposite the Hotel Dolores Alba and the Kasta – Kan restaurant.
Alternatively, you can also follow a different route one reaching Valladolid.
- Take Carretera 295 South (Valladolid – Tizimín) and connect to the 180 (Carretera Costero del Golfo) in Valladolid heading west towards Chichén Itzá.
- You can then find the Ik Cil exit near Hotel Dolores Alba about 3KM past Xcalacoop.
Address: Km 122, Carretera Merida-Puerto Juárez, 97751 Chichén Itzá, Yucatan