The mystical cenotes of Pixyah (Pixyá)

March 7, 2024
March 7, 2024

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If you're looking for something more than just a quick dip and some selfies at a cenote, this article is for you. 

After visiting more than twenty cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, I can say with confidence that these are some of the most beautiful cenotes and the most special I’ve visited.

There are at least seven cenotes in this area that we're aware of, and we'll be covering six of them in this blog post. Not only they are incredibly beautiful, they are also still relatively unknown.

Which means you can have them all to yourself, or maybe with just a few other people.

These cenotes are mostly known within the scuba diving and free diving communities, so you may come across a group of divers when you visit. Otherwise there are not that many tourists that go there.

Janna sitting on a wooden platform at Cenote Suhem near Pixyah

Another reason why I loved these cenotes so much is because they are all run by Maya families from the nearby small town of Pixyah (Pixyá). This means any money spent there goes back to the Maya village and the local community.

Everyone in the village speaks Maya, but most people can also speak Spanish.
Our guide Lemuel also knows some basic English, but in my case it wasn’t needed as I speak Spanish.

The absolute cherry on top is that you can camp at one of the cenotes, Cenote Suhem, over night. Stargazing while immersed in the refreshing water of a cenote is a unique experience with some Maya magic included.

How to get there

You can catch a bus to Telchaquillo from Terminal de Autobuses Noreste on Calle 67, between Calle 50 and 52 in Merida. The bus that I caught leaves at 9:30AM. The ticket is only 27 pesos and takes about 1.5 hours.

Or you can take a collectivo (small private bus) directly to Pixyha. A collectivo is slightly faster, but it doesn’t leave Merida until noon. So you will get to Pixyha after 1PM, which wouldn’t give you much time to visit many cenotes if you're attempting a day trip.

I was picked up by my guide on a motorcycle in Telchaquillo. It took us about ten minutes to arrive at Pixyah.
The price for transportation and guide services for a single person was 500 Mexican pesos.

This price included the pick up from Telchaquillo, transportation to three cenotes, a cave tour with a Maya mud ceremony, and drop of at Pixyha. It did not include entrance to the cenotes, which varies from free to 100 pesos.

The camping site was 170 pesos, which included a tent with a mattress and the entrance Cenote Suhem. If there is more than one person, Emilio can also organise a motor taxi or a van, depending on the size of the group.

The best thing about doing it with these guys was nothing was set in stone. Lemuel offered me to either relax on the first day and do all the cenotes on the second day, or do half of them on the first day and the other half on the second day. It was such a great discussion! After he brought me to Cenote Suhem and gave me some time to settle in, we were ready to go and do some exploring.

Maya spa in a hidden cave

Our adventures started at a hidden cave that isn’t on Google Maps. Entrance was free.

It was a bit of a challenge to get down there as it was quite rocky, but it was worth it! Inside the cave, there were stalactites and a small source of water.

There was a broken clay pot that the guide said had been left there by the Maya.
Lemuel prepared me some mud to apply on my body where I had pain. The mud spa is an old Maya tradition to get purified.

A composite image showing a clay pot and ceremonial clay being prepared in a cave near Pixyah.

Once I applied the mud, I had to wait a little until the first layer dried before applying a second layer and then waiting for another ten to fifteen minutes. It felt a little strange sitting there in the darkness covered in mud.

But the energy in that place felt very special, it was kind of meditative to sit there. Once the clay had dried, I was able to rinse it off in a small cenote inside the cave.

There was another entrance at the end of the cave with beautiful light, but Emilio explained that it's really hard to get out from that exit. We therefore headed back the same way we entered the cave.

A composite image showing inside the cave near Pixyah.

Challenging trip to Cenote Noh Mozon

We then decided to go to one of the furthest cenotes. This one is called Cenote Noh Mozon. The dirt road to get there isn’t easy. From Cenote Suhem, it's about six kilometres on a very bumpy journey.

It’s best to travel on this road on a motorbike or in a bigger car. If you're driving on your own, you will see a sign pointing right. Just continue on this road and you will get to the entrance eventually.

This cenote ended up being the most expensive. We were supposed to be charged 100 pesos per person, but for some reason I was charged 150. For the sake of 50 pesos, we didn’t want to argue.

Once you get closer to the edge of the cenote, you will be blown away by its beauty.
Cenote Noh Mozon is a completely open cenote up to twenty metres deep, which makes it perfect for diving.

You can contact Yucatan Dive Center Jesus on +529996032071 to arrange a scuba driving trip to one of the cenotes in the area.

A composite image showing Janna standing on the edge of a wooden platform and some tree roots coming down above the water at Cenote Noh Mozon.

On my way in, I met some divers that were still underwater. The experience appeared mind blowing and I will definitely try to dive there in the future. One of the divers told me that they find skulls believed to be  thousands of years old.

The water was so blue and clear, that you could see all the way to the bottom despite the depth. There were also some black fish swimming inside the cenote.

I highly recommend that you bring snorkel gear there to see the light rays and the fascinating underwater world of this cenote. I spent about one hour swimming and soaking up all the beauty of the place.

Janna floating on her back in blue water with sunlight around her at Cenote Noh Mozon.

Camping experience at Cenote Suhem 

We took the bumpy road back to Cenote Suhem, where I spent the night.
Lemuel offered me to relax in a hammock while he set up a tent for me. It cost 170 pesos to stay the night, which included entrance to the cenote.

A composite image showing Janna in front of her tent and some cacti growing nearby Cenote Suhem.

The camping site had all the facilities, such as showers, toilets, a big covered dining area, and a smaller area to chill. There was also a lovely swing just next to the cenote.

A composite image showing the tent and the moon in the sky at Cenote Suhem.

If you don’t spend the night there, the entrance is 70 pesos for both tourists and locals (generally prices for cenotes are the same for everyone).
Cenote Suhem is another open cenote with a swing and a few platforms from which you can jump.

The water of this cenote is greener and murkier than in other cenotes, but still quite magical. There are two wooden platforms from where you can go down into the water.

A composite image of Janna standing and then kneeling on the wooden platforms at Cenote Suhem.

The water is from five to 38 metres deep. And if you stay overnight, I highly recommend to go down there at night to listen to the birds and bats, and watch the stars. And if you dare, go for a naked bath too, my favourite!

Janna climbing out of the water onto the wooden platform at Cenote Suhem.

Dusk and dawn are perfect times to go birdwatching, so keep your eyes open for colourful tom tom birds and also many other species in the vegetation surrounding the cenote. 

A composite image showing Janna amongst the vegetation nearby the camping site at Cenote Suhem.

There aren’t any restaurants in town, but you can either bring your own food or ask Lemuel to organise meals for you. I tried a homemade vegetarian dish similar to tacos made with a tortilla-style flatbread called chayitas, which are thicker than regular tortillas and made with chaya leaves.

They can be served with hard boiled eggs and veggies, or ask for beans to make them vegan. I also asked for guacamole and everything was delicious - one of the best vegetarian dishes I’ve had in Yucatan.

A composite image showing the chayitas that Janna ate when camping at Cenote Suhem.

The night there was very peaceful and I woke up to the sound of the birds and cows walking nearby in the area. I was there all by myself, and at first it felt a bit freaky, but I knew staying with this Indigenous community that I had nothing to worry about.

The hidden gem of Sabacché

Lemuel came to pick me up at 9AM and we took off to another cenote. This hidden spot is located near a different village called Sabacché. So it took us about fifteen to twenty minutes on a motorbike to get there.

It's called Cenote Calcuch, and is not that well known with tourists. I hope it stays that way because this cenote was the best one I’ve ever seen in my life. 

It’s a semi-open cenote with very steep steps that go into a spiral down into the unknown. Only seven people at the most can go down the stairs at once.

A composite image of Janna standing at the top of the spiral staircase and the sunlight coming into Cenote Calcuch. near the village of Sabacché.

Be careful, because the very last step is missing. There aren’t any ladders to go down to the water, so coming back up could be a challenge!

Once you start getting a glimpse of the cenote, you become mesmerised by how big it actually is. It's about 20 metres deep, but its size is enormous!

Lemuel told me that best time to visit it is in the morning because of the light entering the cave until noon. When we got there it was a bit cloudy, but it was still very impressive. The water was crystal blue.

It reminded me of the cenote that we saw the day earlier, but the stalactites hanging from the roof made it even more magical. I mean how can this place be real?!

Janna floating in the water under stalactites at Cenote Calcuch. near the village of Sabacché.

The best part is that we didn’t have to pay any entrance fees. This site isn’t well managed; I would say almost abandoned. My guess is its location is quite far from any main attractions, so tourists simply don’t get there.

We really hope that it says that way, so if you do go there, please don’t put its location on your social media.

When the light started to come inside, the cenote lit up with a myriad of sun rays. I took plenty of pictures and videos. Honestly Lemuel had to get back to the camping site to greet new people, otherwise I would have probably stayed longer!

A composite image showing the sunlight coming in from a hole and Janna floating on her back in the water at at Cenote Calcuch. near the village of Sabacché.

In the same town there is another attraction, a hacienda called Hacienda Sabacché. You can book a tour there, have a lunch of local food, and go for a dip in the cenote located on their premises.

Once we arrived back at the camping site, Lemuel went to pick up my freshly made chayitas made by his mother. The breakfast was just as delicious as dinner!

Exploring the depths in Cenote Nah Yah

It was still early in the day, so I decided to head to my last cenote of this trip. 

I was told that it was only a five-minute walk, which ended up being more like around a 20-minute walk from Cenote Suhem.

This cenote is called Nah Yah. It’s the closest from town and you can reach it by foot or bicycle if you don’t stay at Cenote Suhem overnight.

It doesn’t look big when you first arrive, but it’s actually bigger than it looks. There are some steps, but they aren’t as many nor as steep as the other cenotes we visited.

The entrance and stairs leading down to Cenote Nah Yah.

It's best visited during daylight. As it’s semi-open, you can see all the way to the bottom when light goes inside. It's up to 30 metres deep. I really loved the visibility and depth of this cenote.

The platform is quite small, so please be mindful to only bring down your essentials when other people are around. Honestly, I almost skipped this one after such a magical morning at the previous cenote. But I’m glad I didn’t, as it was really beautiful.

A composite image showing the water from above and Janna free diving under the water in the sun rays at Cenote Nah Yah.

I also met a free diving group there called Alma Libre. They offer free diving certifications for different experience levels. I ended up taking a course with them and the experience was amazing.

A composite image showing Janna with her head out of the water and Janna free diving in the sun rays at Cenote Nah Yah.

They also offer unique camping tours of the cenotes in Pixyha. They can even provide beautiful underwater photography.

You can contact Alberto Swain at +5299496641 to learn more. Mention Janna to get a discount!

A composite image showing Janna free diving under the water in the sun rays at Cenote Nah Yah.

Get lost in the ruins of Hacienda Pixyah

Pixyah itself is a very cute town with lots of trees, churches, and a beautiful orange hacienda. Unfortunately you can’t stay there, but you can book it for events or just visit for a small fee.

I went there in the afternoon just before catching a direct collectivo to Merida at 5PM. Strolling down to the main entrance with no expectations, I was really amazed by its beauty.

A composite image showing the grounds and an outside arch at Hacienda Pixyah.

There is a little chapel. The doors are usually closed but not locked, so you just have to open the doors to enter inside. There are some trees growing inside the building. This really makes it look like a big piece of art!

A composite image of the tree growing inside the chapel and one of the arch ways at Hacienda Pixyah.

The hacienda is well maintained, with the owner refusing to restore it back to its original state to maintain its current charm.

A composite image showing different details of Hacienda Pixyah - an arch way, a door, and a small plant, all against orange walls.

If you follow the path outside, you will eventually reach another cenote. It was quite picturesque, but it didn’t look appealing for a swim. Especially after visiting cenotes with the clearest waters I’ve ever seen in the previous days!

The cenote located on the grounds of Hacienda Pixyah.

If you stay there for two nights and have the time or are feeling more adventures, you can also visit the nearby archaeological site of the Mayapan ruins. Mayapan was one of the last great Maya capitals.

It's located just four minutes from Telchaquillo and 12 minutes from Pixyah by car. You can probably organise a trip there with a motor taxi from town, or drive there yourself if you came with your own car.

While not as famous as Chichen Itza or Uxmal, it's well worth visiting if you have the chance!

You can also have lunch in the village. I recommend La Casa de Dona Landy. There is no menu as such, just whatever ingredients they have on the day. The food was very tasty! You can also write your name and a message on the wall of the restaurant.

A composite image of the kitchen and tacos at La Casa de Dona Landy.
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