The best day trip you can take from Merida is a visit to the Homun cenotes. Located an hour’s colectivo ride from Merida, Homun is a small town with over 20 (yes 20!) drop-dead gorgeous cenotes. The only problem is that it’s hard to find accurate, complete, and up-to-date info on how to visit the cenotes in Homun. So, in this blog post, I’m going to share with you exactly how to get to Homun, what cenotes to visit, how much it costs to visit 5 cenotes in 1 day, and what to bring to the cenotes.
For more ideas on what to do when visiting Merida, check out my list of the 23 best things to do in Merida and for ideas on more things to do around the Yucatan, you can read my list of 15 best day trips from Merida.
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Table of Contents
How to get to Homun from Merida
There is very little information on the internet on how to get to Homun from Merida. What there is on the internet is wrong or out-of-date, so hopefully, this information will help you get to Homun.
Here is how I got to Homun on June 1, 2021.
I took a colectivo (a white van) from a colectivo parking lot near the Noreste Bus Station (Terminal de Autobuses Noreste). The colectivo parking lot for Homun is on Calle 52 (between Calle 65 and Calle 67). If you walk down Calle 52, look for a parking lot entrance and a sign on the wall at the entrance that says “Homun.”
You can also just ask people on the street, ‘Donde esta el colectivo a Homun?’
I arrived at the colectivo parking lot a little bit before 9:00 AM on a Tuesday. There were eight other people waiting for the same colectivo.
Before the pandemic, colectivos left for Homun every 30 minutes. Because of the pandemic, it’s less frequent.
The drive came at 9:10 AM.
It cost $28 pesos to get to Homun. The driver collected the fair before each person got into the colectivo.
Merida is very strict about enforcing COVID regulations, so you will need to wear a face mask.
We left Merida at 9:15 AM and arrived in Homun an hour later.
Just be aware that the last colectivo back to Merida is at 5:00 PM.
Now you can rent a car and drive to Homun if you want. Lots of people do it and it will probably give you more flexibility than taking public transportation.
What cenotes TO visit in Homun
The Yucatan peninsula is home to over 7,000 cenotes. That’s because 66 million years ago an asteroid hit the earth off the coast of Yucatan not far from Merida.
This asteroid caused a chain reaction deep in the earth, creating these underground chambers or caves across the Yucatan peninsula. The asteroid specifically created this ring of cenotes encircling Merida. Homun is directly on this ring, so it has tons of cenotes. But there are no cenotes in Merida.
Because the Yucatan Peninsula is made up of very porous limestone, rainwater was able to seep into these underground chambers. Over time, the ceilings of some of these chambers collapsed to reveal these sources of water. Even today there are some cenotes that are yet to be discovered.
The water of many of the cenotes is perfectly clean. The water is so clear that it’s like swimming in your bathtub. It’s that way because there is no flora or fauna to dirty the water.
The water is also refreshingly cool. The average temperature is 24 degrees Celsius (75 degrees Fahrenheit). That might seem cold, but trust me it’s not. After being out in the sweltering heat and humidity of the Yucatan, a dip in a cenote is heaven.
You can see on the map below there are over 20 cenotes in Homun. It can be overwhelming trying to figure out which cenotes to visit. Hopefully, this post will help you decide which ones to visit.
The other problem with planning your trip is trying to decide between going to Homun or Cuzama, two towns right next to each other. Lonely Planet recommends visiting Cuzama, but a friend told me to visit Homun and recent reviews on Trip Advisor also recommend visiting Homun instead of Cuzama.
I had no definite plans on what to do when I got to Homun. From my research, I thought I had two options. One was to go to Santa Barbara Cenotes, which is a developed complex with 3 cenotes, changing rooms, showers, and a restaurant. It would cost $200 to $290 pesos.
The other option was to hire a moto-taxi driver for the day to take me to 3 to 5 cenotes around Homun for a fixed price of $250 to $300 pesos.
I decided that wherever the van went, that’s where I’d go. Either option was fine with me, but I did really want to see the Santa Barbara cenotes because lots of reviewers raved about them.
The colectivo made the decision for me. As it got to the outskirts of Homun, it turned off the highway and drove into the Santa Barbara Cenote parking lot (above photo). So I decided to go there first.
I don’t think colectivos always drive into the Santa Barbara Cenote parking lot. I suspect they did it that time because they were dropping off a manager who worked there.
If you plan on going to Santa Barbara first, tell the driver when you get in the colectivo to drop you off at Santa Barbara. It’s about a 30-minute walk from the center of Homun.
I visited 3 cenotes at Santa Barbara and I walked to 2 additional cenotes. You can see in the above map which cenotes I visited as well as the colectivo stop in Homun.
Here is a run-down of these 5 cenotes:
1-3. Santa Barbara Cenotes – MXN$200 without lunch; MXN$290 with lunch; life jacket was included in the price
- Cenote Cascabel – underground
- Cenote Chacksikin – underground
- Cenoe Xoch’ – open air
4. Tza Ujun Kat – MXN$50 + $40 to rent a life jacket, which I used at Tza Ujun Kat and Pool – underground
5. Pool Uinic – MXN$50 – underground; you can visit in the evenings
HOMUN Cenotes Itinerary
Here’s a detailed description of my day visiting the Homun Cenotes. Hopefully, it will give you some ideas on what to do and it will give you the confidence to visit on your own.
Homun Cenotes 1 -3: Santa Barbara
I highly recommend starting with Santa Barbara, especially if it’s your first time visiting a cenote.
First, the staff spoke pretty good English, so they were able to tell me about cenote etiquette and the history of the cenotes in Homun. I also got info on what other cenotes to visit in the area and how to get back to Merida.
Second, the facilities are clean and in good condition. There are changing rooms, showers, and bathrooms. They also provide life vests without you having to ask for them.
Third, the stairs going down to the cenotes are in better condition (less slippery) than the other cenotes I went to later in the day.
Also, since the 3 cenotes were within a 1 to 2-minute walk from each other, it saved me lots of time and I could see more cenotes that day.
You might be turned off by how developed the place sounds. Perhaps you want something more rustic and natural. But not to worry. The actual cenotes are as natural and undeveloped as you’ll find throughout Homun.
The only downside to Santa Barbara is that it’s popular, so it might get busier than other places. However, when I was there in the morning, there were only 5 other people.
How much does the Santa Barbara Cenotes cost?
When I checked in at Santa Barbara, I was given two options:
Option #1 – MXN$200 (US$10) – You can visit the 3 cenotes. A life jacket, transport within the complex, use of their changing rooms, showers, and toilets, and WiFi are included.
Option #2: – MXN$290 (US$14.50) – The same as Option #1 plus a meal in the restaurant (not including drinks). You are given a choice of 8 local dishes (poc chuc, sopa de lima, etc.). You get a lot of food, but the food is average. You have to decide when you check in whether you want lunch or not. You don’t need to decide what you’re going to eat, though.
I chose option #2 because I heard that the food was good (actually, it was just ok). I also didn’t know where I could get a meal given the fact that Santa Barbara was on the outskirts of Homun. Eating at Santa Barbara also saved me time, allowing me to see more cenotes that day.
There was supposed to be WiFi but there was a power outage when I first arrived. The receptionist told me that power outages happen frequently.
Where can you change your clothes?
There are changing rooms and bathrooms next to the reception area.
There are bathrooms at the actual cenotes but there are no changing rooms at the cenotes.
I wore my swimsuit under my clothes, so I didn’t need the changing room.
Where do you get the life jackets?
I’m not a good swimmer, so the life jackets were no pun intended a life saver for me. You are required to get one but a few people didn’t wear them in the cenotes.
Cenotes can be really deep. I’m not sure how deep the ones at Santa Barbara are. The ones in the Yucatan, are on average 49 feet or 8 to 5 meters deep.
How do you get to the actual cenotes?
You have two options for getting around Santa Barbara: bike or horsecart.
I did the horse cart. Basically, you get on a cart that’s on a train track and a horse pulls you along. When Santa Barbara used to be a sisal hacienda long ago, the workers used the horsecart and train tracks to get around the plantation.
#1: Cenote Cascabal
The first cenote, Cenote Cascabal, was a ten-minute horse cart ride away from the entrance.
There was one staff member at the cenote guiding people and giving them information if they asked. You’ll need to shower before going down into the cenote. There are showers and bathrooms at Cascabal.
According to the attendant, Cenote Cascabal was discovered five or six years ago when the earth above the cenote collapsed to reveal.
I put my water shoes on before going down and brought my backpack with me. But you can leave your backpack in a covered waiting area on the surface (the structure in the above photo).
The entrance to the cenote is a small hole in the ground.
But the stairs are very sturdy and easy to walk down. At the bottom is a deck that is unfortunately covered in water up to your ankles. I set my backpack down on the second to last landing.
When I was there at 10:30, there was only one other couple. It was absolutely PERFECT!
This cenote is pretty incredible. It’s not too big. The water is crystal clear. There are no birds or bats dropping bird poop in the water. The reason the water is so clean is that there’s no flora or fauna contaminating the water.
The temperature of the water is refreshingly and comfortably cool. Not too cold.
If you have snorkel gear, make sure to bring it.
#2: Cenote Chacksikin
The next cenote, Cenote Chacksikin, was just a two-minute walk from Cenote Cascabal. It was the most beautiful cenote of all the ones I visited that day. Beautiful stalactites hang from the ceiling.
There are no facilities here like bathrooms, showers, or changing rooms. There’s also no staff or anyone around to watch your bags or tell you what to do.
The opening to the cenote is bigger than the previous cenote, but it is also underground. The stairs going down are sturdy and well-built and easy to get down.
This cenote is much bigger than Cascabal. The water is crystal clear and blue like the first one and only just slightly cooler. There are birds flying around, dropping poop in the water at times.
Like Cascabal, there were only a handful of people there. So it was also PERFECT!
You can put your bag on the deck, which was dry so I wasn’t worried about it getting wet. However, if there were more people and/or it was later in the day, I think I’d be worried about it getting wet.
#3: Cenote Xoch’
The next cenote has a semi-open ceiling and was my least favorite cenote of the day for the fact that there were lots of birds pooping in the water, making it dirty.
At this cenote, there are bathrooms and someone selling drinks and snacks.
You enter the cenote by a stone stairway. Put your backpack on the bottom steps before you enter a tunnel filled with water up to your calves.
After the tunnel, you’ll come to a medium-sized cenote with a large hole in the ceiling. There is a gorgeous tree on the edge of the ceiling with its roots hanging down into the cenote.
I didn’t spend much time here since the birds or bats were dropping poop in the water every 30 seconds.
Why are some cenotes open and others closed? The cenotes like Cenote Xoch’ that are open are mature cenotes. Their ceilings collapsed hundreds or thousands of years ago. The ones with a tiny opening like Cenote Cascabal have ceilings that collapsed more recently.
After the last cenote, I got on the horse cart and went back to the reception building.
You need to turn your life jacket in because you cannot go back and see the cenotes again.
I then went to eat lunch.
I was given a menu in English with a list of eight local dishes to choose from. I chose the sopa de lima with empanadas. The empanadas were delicious but the soup was not as good as I’d had at other places. It’s a lot of food and I couldn’t finish everything.
Drinks cost extra. I had a Jamaica fresca de agua for 15 pesos. There are alcoholic drinks on the menú as well.
I left the Santa Barbara cenotes at around 1:00 PM.
Homun Cenote #4: Tza Ujun Kat Cenote
The receptionist at the Santa Barbara cenote recommended three other cenotes within walking distance of Santa Barbara. They were Tza Ujun Kat, Pool Unic, and Santa Rose Cenote.
After five minutes walking down the main road going into Homun, I saw a sign on the right side for Tza Ujun Kat, so I went to that one. There was a woman waiting on the side of the road. Once she knew I wanted to visit the cenote, she guided me to Tza Ujun Kat. She was in charge of Pool Uinic cenote. She also helped me rent a life jacket, which you can do next to the Tza Ujun Kat cenote.
The white building in the photo above is the entrance to Tza Ujun Kat.
This is the actual entrance to the cenote. I paid these young guys 50 pesos and then walked down these slippery steps.
Visiting cenotes is quite an adventure because you never know what you’re going to get once you go down. It’s like getting a book with an ugly cover and boring title only to find when you open it and start reading that it’s the best book you’ve ever read. This is what I felt when I visited Tza Ujun Kat.
Tza Ujun Kat is huge! I was so amazed because the entrance is a tiny hole in the ground.
There was lots of space for me to find somewhere to put my backpack without it getting wet.
Along with the hole in the ground for getting down into the cenote, there is another larger hole in the ceiling that gives light to the cenote. There were birds flying around but they weren’t pooping in the water. They did poop on my backpack, though.
The water was as beautiful and crystal clear as the ones at Santa Barbara. Refreshingly cool. There are actually large rocks in the bottom of the cenote that you can stand on as well.
There were more people here but still it was not crowded at all.
I stayed here until 2:45 PM.
Homun Cenote #5: Pool Uinic
My last cenote of the day was just a minute away. The same woman who had guided me to Tza Ujun Kat cenote did the same for the next one.
I was contemplating skipping Pool Uinic, thinking it was not going to be anything special. I heard it was small and the name didn’t make it sound very appealing. But I am so glad I didn’t skip it. It might have been my favorite cenote of the day. It is really a gem.
This cenote also cost $50 pesos, but if you go between 6:00 PM and 10:00 PM, it’s $75 pesos. This is one of the few cenotes that has electric lights inside and thus open in the evenings after dark.
Like Tza Ujun Kat cenote, what it looks like from the outside doesn’t reveal its beauty underground. The opening is even more inconspicuous than the previous cenote.
The stairs going down are also a bit trickier in places, but it’s still doable. I have bad knees and I was able to go down easily. I also suggest wearing good shoes when you go down.
There’s enough space at the bottom to put your bags and change into your water shoes.
This cenote is really small, but the water is such a beautiful bright blue.
There was only one family in the cenote when I arrived. They left soon after. Unfortunately, a group of three came as the family was leaving so I didn’t have the cenote all to myself.
I left the cenote at 3:45 PM. I wanted to make sure I could find a colectivo in order to get back to Merida. The last colectivo is at 5:00 PM.
How to get back to Merida
Getting back to Merida proved to be more complicated than it needed to be because locals told me the wrong information.
The receptionist at Santa Barbara Cenote said I could just wait on the side of the main road going into Homun and get picked up by a passing colectivo headed to Merida. But the woman who guided me and another wonderful local couple all said I needed to go back to town to the colectivo stop and get my ride back to Merida from there.
The receptionist at Santa Barbara was right. However, I didn’t wait to find out whether he was right or not and shared a moto-taxi with the elderly couple to the center of Homun. It cost me 5 pesos for a ride to the colectivo stop!
If I hadn’t met the kind couple, I might never have found the colectivo stop myself because there was no sign for it indicating it was the place to catch a colectivo to Merida. There was also no sign on the van that I eventually took going back to Merida either.
I got on a colectivo at 4:40 PM from the bus stop in the photo above. It did stop and pick up other people along the way. So you can catch one on the side of the road.
The colectivo drove back to the same parking lot near the Noreste Bus Terminal, arriving an hour later. It cost 28 pesos and I paid the driver when I got out of the van.
The last colectivo is at 5:00 PM.
What to bring to the HOMUN cenotes
If I were to do my trip again, I would have brought the following things:
- Bottle of water
- Water shoes
- Snorkeling gear
- Dry bag (My backpack didn’t get wet but it did get pooped on by birds; I think if there were more people around, it would have gotten wet)
- Shirt to wear over my swimsuit
- Rip skirt
- Cash (I didn’t see any ATMs)
Don’t bring sunblock or mosquito repellant. You’re not allowed to wear them in the cenote.
How much did the whole day at the cenotes in Homun cost?
The total cost of my day including round-trip transportation, 5 cenotes, life jacket rental, and lunch was $491 pesos ($24.55). I would say the whole day was worth every penny and more.
If I had gone to 5 separate cenotes and had a moto-taxi take me around for the day, it would have cost me over $550 pesos, not including lunch and lifevest rental.
Where to stay in Merida
Hotel Las Monjas – (Booking.com | Agoda) I highly, highly recommend this hotel. Friendly and helpful staff. Comfortable, clean and modern rooms. Excellent WiFi. Very good price for what you get. Includes swimming pool. And it’s located a few blocks from Parque Grande and three blocks from the ADO bus station.
I hope this blog post helps you plan your trip Merida and a day trip to Homun. I know when I was planning mine, I had a hard time finding the most up-to-date and accurate info on getting to Homun and choosing which cenotes to visit.
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