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Cenote Jardin del Eden (Ponderosa): My 2022 Guide

As an expat living in Playa del Carmen, I’ve explored at least 20 cenotes and can safely say Cenote Jardin del Eden is my favorite cenote in the area.

Cenote Jardin del Eden is one the biggest cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula, if not Mexico, with a large underwater cave system to explore. It’s one of the few cenotes where you can actually scuba dive and swim amidst Maya Gobies, through limestone tunnels and in between giant boulders.

What I love most about Cenote Eden is that it lives up to its name as the Garden of Eden – with crystal clear, spearmint fresh water, and thick lush jungle surrounding it. I highly recommend including it in your Yucatan itinerary. Here’s more information to help you plan a trip to Cenote Jardin del Eden.

cenote jardin del eden - cenote eden

Cenote Eden Essential Info

Why Visit Cenote Jardin del Eden?

Cenote Jardin del Eden is known by a few other names: Cenote Ponderosa, Cenote Garden of Eden, and Cenote Eden. Regardless of how you want to call it, the word Eden definitely describes this cenote perfectly.

Tucked right in the middle of the forest, the natural freshwater pool has clear-as-glass water, with plants growing in it and underwater rock formations blanketed in green moss. It’s kept in its original, natural environment – exactly the way I like it.

At just 20 minutes from Playa del Carmen, this cenote is easy to get to by car or colectivo (you don’t need to book a tour to visit). It’s located along the drive from Cancun to Playa del Carmen. And it’s right next to three other cenotes: Cenote Azul, Cenote Cristalino, and Cenote Kantun Chi. You can easily make it a full day excursion by visiting all of them in one day.


What is a Cenote?

Let’s back it up a bit and dive into what a cenote really is. A cenote (pronounced as “seh-no-tay”) is a natural freshwater sinkhole formed when limestone caves collapse. The natural sinkhole is fed by the filtration of rain and by the currents of underground rivers. That is why when swimming in a cenote you feel so much freshness. The water never gets above 75°F (23°C)!

The Yucatan Peninsula is scattered with over 7,000 cenotes and caves. This vast network of fractures drains the rainwater from the surface into many vast underground river systems. You can find cenotes all over the world, but only in the Yucatan Peninsula and especially the Riviera Maya can you find concentration of cenotes in one area.


The Importance of the Cenotes to the Mayan

The word cenote comes from the Maya word “D’zonot” or “Ts’onot”, which means “well”. The ancient Mayans believed that the cenotes were a portal through which they could communicate with the gods. They performed rituals in the cenotes which were considered sacred to them.

These days, cenotes are popular attractions in the Riviera Maya that appeal to outdoorsy travelers and adventurous families. If you’re looking to steer off the beaten path, a visit to the cenotes will definitely help you get acquainted with the raw, natural side of the Riviera Maya.

See also  36 Cool Things To Do in Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
scuba diving in cenote eden

What Type of Cenote is Cenote Eden?

Cenote Eden is an open cenote, which means it resembles a massive natural swimming pool. The visibility of the water is the best I’ve seen in all cenotes, you can see right through the bottom.

This cenote has both deep ends (where scuba divers go) and the shallow areas suitable for the little ones. You can go snorkeling or cliff jumping into the main pool that measures around 10m/33ft deep. Kids will love enjoy wading off the shallower ends and seniors can enjoy a free fish pedicure from the garra rufa fish.

cenote ponderosa

Entrance Fees for Cenote Eden

Adults pay 200 MXN (US$10) and children over 4 years of age pay 100 MXN (US$5) to visit Cenote Jardin del Eden. Only cash is accepted!

Parking is free and you can rent both snorkeling gear and life jacket if you want for 50 pesos ($2.50US) each.

At the entrance of the property, there’s a small toll office where you pay the entrance fees and take your bracelets. Continue driving further and you will reach the main carpark. You can park on the left (the parking lots on the right are for divers only).

cenote eden - cenote playa del carmen

Cenote Eden Opening Hours

Cenote Eden is open from 9 AM to 5 PM everyday, but it’s closed on Saturdays. (how strange right?)

To avoid the crowd, I suggest visiting the cenote in the morning. It tends to get busy around noon. And if you come too late in the afternoon, you might not be allowed to enter as they’ve reached their maximum capacity (my friend was just turned away at the gate recently.) Try to visit during the week as it is often packed on Sunday.


Location of Cenote Eden

Cenote Jardin del Eden is one of the closest cenotes to Playa del Carmen. But you can also visit it if you’re staying in Tulum or Cancun. As mentioned, it’s a good idea to visit Cenote Eden along with Cenote Azul and Cenote Cristalino in one day trip.

Click to see its location on Google Maps.

Here are the driving distances and time taken:

  • From Playa del Carmen – 16 miles (26km); 28-minute drive
  • From Tulum – 25 miles (40km); 33-minute drive
  • From Cancun – 57 miles (92km); 1.5-hour drive

How to Get to Cenote Eden

There are no day tours to Cenote Eden (the only ones that go there are on scuba diving trips), but it’s easy to get there on your own from Playa del Carmen.

By Car Rental

It’s cheap and easy to rent a car in Playa del Carmen/Cancun. An economy rental car in Mexico averages just $200 for a whole week, which is less than $25 a day. The current price for gas is 16.50 pesos per liter (about $2.50 per gallon). We always use DiscoverCars.com as they’ve consistently given us the best prices and customer service.

To get here, you need to drive south via the 307 highway from Playa del Carmen. Once you pass Puerto Aventuras, the cenote is only 5 minutes away and its entrance is along the highway. There is free parking on-site.

By Taxi

Sadly Uber doesn’t work in the Riviera Maya, but taxis are readily available. That said, it can be difficult to find a cab driver that’ll give you a reasonable price. From Playa del Carmen a taxi ride to the cenote will cost about 300 MXN (US$15) each way. Try to arrange with the driver to pick you up in the evening if you plan to visit nearby Azul and Cristalino.

By Colectivo

From Playa del Carmen, take a colectivo from 2nd Street in Playa Del Carmen bound for Tulum. Colectivos usually leave only when they’re full. Let the driver know you’re going to Cenote Eden and he’ll drop you right in front. A single ride is just 30 MXN (US$1.50). Look for the large Eden sign and walk down the dirt road to the cenote.

See also  15 Things to Do in Cozumel, Mexico [2022]
colectivo to cenote eden

Where to Stay near Cenote Eden

Cenote Jardin del Eden is actually located across the highway from the Barcelo resorts and you can walk here in just 5 minutes! Just be very careful when crossing the highway as cars go real fast!

Consider staying at these hotels if you want to explore all the cenotes near Playa del Carmen as they’re just walking distance away:

hotel near cenote

Things to Do at Cenote Eden

Snorkeling

The cenote is a natural freshwater pool, and the water is so pristine and crystal clear it’s perfect for snorkeling. Visibility is particularly good here (compared to its neighboring cenotes) and you can see the swaying sea grass, moss, and fish clearly.

As mentioned, you can rent a snorkeling mask and life safety vest for 50 pesos ($2.50US) each. I usually bring my own googles from home and they work better than crappy snorkeling masks.

jardin del eden cenote

Cliff Jumping

Cenote Jardin del Eden is one of the best cenotes for cliff-jumping. The cliff is about 12-feet (3.6m) high, but there is a tree that gets you higher. Before jumping, make sure to check if there are people beneath you. Sometimes you can see scuba divers underwater in the cliff jumping area.

cliff jumping cenote eden

Scuba Diving

This is the only cenote in the area that allows scuba diving. There are caves that extend deep under the ground, which make for an excellent diving spot. Scuba diving allows you to explore the incredible underwater stalactites, stalagmites, and other incredible formations . Besides, with over 500 feet (150m) visibility, the cenote is a diver’s dream!

To scuba dive here, you need to have a PADI open water certification. Be sure to book a tour in advance (you can’t just show up at the cenote). Check out these tours, which all include two dives in different cenotes, one of which is Cenote Eden.

scuba diving in cenote eden

Do a Massage

Cenote Eden actually has an outdoor spa, where a masseuse offers massages in a beautiful wooden palapa overlooking the cenote. A 30-minute massage costs just 350 MXN (US$17) and a 1-hour massage is 600 MXN ($30). I didn’t try it but will definitely go back for it!


Facilities at Cenote Jardin del Eden

The cenote has several platforms and stairways that allow you access to the water (only the stairway near the cliff jumping area is reserved for divers).

There is a relatively big wooden deck where you can sit and lounge around at the top of the cenote. To get into the water, you need to walk down several steps. It’s not suitable for those with mobility issues.

There are toilets and outdoor showers, but don’t expect hotel standards! Facilities at these natural cenotes tend to be very basic, unlike those at the Disneyfied Cenote Ik-Kil next to Chichen Itza.


Is Cenote Eden Safe?

I’ve heard a few people complain about cenotes being too rustic for them. I can see how those who aren’t confident swimmers might be nervous getting into a cenote because of the big boulders and plant life that lie underwater. But put on a life vest, calm your nerves, and you’ll see what a gorgeous, mystical world this is.

For me, the natural setting of a cenote is what appeals to me. Here is where you can get away from the resorts and get to know the wild and natural side to the Yucatan Peninsula. If you’re looking for a more developed, commercial setting, then the Cenote Eden is not for you.

See also  Yucatan Road Trip: My 10-Day Yucatan Itinerary [2022]
author at cenote eden

Cenote Jardin del Eden with Kids

Because Cenote Eden is an open cenote with some shallow areas, it is suitable for kids. In the middle of the cenote are rocks that are are submerged about 1 foot underwater. This make for the little ones to sit and wade around. There are small garra funa fish in the water that can give you a free fish spa! Their nimbles don’t hurt, they tickle.

I’ve brought my 7-year-old daughter to many of the cenotes in Riviera Maya. The water is too cold for her at times, but other times she has a ball. Even when she doesn’t swim, she likes traipsing on makeshift bridges, climbing trees, and chasing after the iguanas (sorry iguanas!).

cenote eden with kids

Rules at Cenote Eden

An attendant makes sure to address every visitor and let them know the rules at the entrance. To protect the environment, Cenote Eden has introduced several rules:

  • It is NOT allowed to use sunscreen here. Sunscreen, even reef-friendly ones, can be toxic to the fish and underwater plants here. Consider wearing a rash guard if you burn easily!
  • It’s mandatory to take a quick shower before entering the cenote. The showers are behind the snack bar.
  • It’s not permitted to bring your own food. There’s a kiosk that sells tacos al pastor and burritos, so you can easily have lunch here. I saw people not following the rule, please don’t be a jerk like them.
  • Don’t litter at the cenote and be sure to take your trash with you.
  • No pets are allowed at the cenote.

What to Pack for Cenote Eden

Pack all your essentials for a day at the pool such as towel, bathing suit, sunscreen, sunglasses, and dry clothes to change into. 

For those who burn easily, I recommend bringing sun-proof rashguards that can protect their skin. Wearing waterproof sandals or water shoes will also be useful, especially in the water (the stairways can be slippery). Don’t forget your GoPro for waterproof photos/videos!

relaxing at cenote eden

Is it Worth Visiting Cenote Eden?

Snorkeling in Cenote Eden is one of my favorite things to do in Playa del Carmen. It’s pristine, natural, and unique; perfect for outdoor-loving grownups and adventurous families with tiny tots.

To summarize, here’s what I like and dislike about Cenote Eden. Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions.

What I Like about Cenote Eden:

  • It’s one of the largest cenotes in Playa del Carmen, and I love how much there is to explore underwater here.
  • Fantastic visibility which makes snorkeling here such an amazing experience.
  • Clear instructions by guard and strict guidelines to protect the natural environment.
  • You can get a massage here!

What I Don’t Like about Cenote Eden:

  • The facilities here aren’t as good as neighboring Cenote Azul.
  • Entrance fees are slightly higher than that of the cenotes nearby.
  • It’s a further drive inland or 7-minute walk to the cenote from the highway (compared to the neighboring cenotes that are literally off the highway).

For those who are planning to travel more of the Riviera Maya, check out other articles:

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links i.e. if you book a stay through one of my links, I get a small commission at NO EXTRA COST to you. Thank you for your support!


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