If you’re looking to venture outside of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, then certainly heading to Chiapas will be a feast for the senses. The powder-white sands and turquoise seas are replaced with lush jungles and extraordinary waterfalls. And, one of the best waterfalls you can see in Chiapas, Mexico is the Cascadas de Agua Azul.
This beautiful series of cascading waterfalls is commonly reached via the towns of Palenque or San Cristobal de las Casas. Certainly, a visit to Agua Azul Waterfalls is very easy, and below, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to visit.
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What Are Cascadas de Agua Azul?
The Cascadas de Agua Azul are a set of extraordinary waterfalls in the state of Chiapas, Mexico. The name comes from the beautiful colour of the water, directly translating in English to blue water waterfalls.
One of the interesting features of Agua Azul, Chiapas is the water’s effect on the surrounding plant life. Because Agua Azul, Chiapas has such a high concentration of calcium carbonate in its water, a thick layer of limestone creates a shell-like coating around the debris of trees and plants at the river’s edge. But don’t worry, the same won’t happen to you when you take a swim!
In 2000, the Mexican government declared Agua Azul, Chiapas a protected area spanning some 25.8 km2. In Mexico, there are only 29 Mexican Flora and Fauna Protection Areas in total. Given the size of Mexico, that’s not a huge amount. So, you can see just how special the Cascadas de Agua Azul area is.
A major earthquake in 2017 actually altered the colour of Agua Azul, Chiapas, causing the pristine blue pools to lose their vivid hues. But, with some conservation work and redirecting of the river, the beautiful blues Agua Azul, Chiapas is so loved for, returned.
FYI – Cascadas de Agua Azul is also known as Agua Azul Waterfalls and Agua Azul Cascades.
Where Is Agua Azul, Chiapas?
Agua Azul Waterfalls are located in the state of Chiapas in Mexico. The closest town is Palenque, 62km away. Although, San Cristobal de las Casas is also a popular destination to visit from, 158km away. Certainly, the easiest way to visit Agua Azul, Chiapas is by basing yourself in Palenque. Nearby are a handful of other splendid Chiapas waterfalls, including Misol-Ha Waterfall and Cascadas Roberto Barrios. Certainly, one of the best ways to see all of the Palenque waterfalls is by taking a day tour.
Feel free to click on the interactive map below to see exactly where Cascadas de Agua Azul is located.
What to Expect at Agua Azul, Chiapas
Below, we’ll take a quick look at what to expect at the Agua Azul Waterfalls, Mexico, including some great viewpoints, a waterfall walk, swimming and general facilities. Afterwards, we’ll describe how to get to Agua Azul, Mexico, including by taking a tour, which is exactly what we did.
Agua Azul, Chiapas Viewpoints
There are plenty of viewing platforms from which to marvel at the Agua Azul Waterfalls. But, the main viewing platform for Agua Azul, Chiapas is a large paved area with a wooden fence close to the bottom of the waterfalls. From here, there’s a fantastic view across to one of the best sets of cascades at the site. From here, the cascades of Agua Azul, Chiapas look huge and incredibly impressive.
Midway up the waterside path is another notable viewing area. Again, there is a paved floor and a wooden fence. But, this viewing platform is much closer to the powerful cascades. So, expect more than a light spray from Cascadas de Agua Azul if you stand here.
Agua Azul, Chiapas Walk
Running up the left side embankment of Agua Azul Waterfalls in Mexico is a pretty trail that takes you to different tiers and viewpoints of the cascades. There are some steep sections but it’s well worth the walk. Agua Azul just keeps on giving, and the more extensive you begin to realise the waterfalls are, the more impressive they become.
Along the trail are various smaller offshoots that lead closer to the water at different intervals. Take care around any scrambling but enjoy the multitude of vantage points over Agua Azul, Chiapas.
Swimming at Agua Azul, Chiapas
After a humid walk to the top of Cascadas de Agua Azul, it’s time to cool off! There’s no better way to cool down than by taking a dip in the dreamy turquoise waters. Look for the designated swimming spots and hop on in.
On a serious note, do take care when swimming in the pools at Agua Azul, Chiapas and always stick to the designated areas, usually indicated by a sign. The water is always moving and sometimes the currents are strong. Never swim close to where the waterfalls are dropping into the pools below. Swimming isn’t a good idea at all during the wet season when currents and water levels are much more dangerous. So too is the chance of hidden debris in murkier-coloured water.
Souvenir and Food Stalls
One of the things you’ll notice immediately upon arrival at Agua Azul, Chiapas is the sheer volume of souvenir and food and drink stalls. It’s a tad overwhelming. Simply pass straight through towards the waterfalls if you aren’t interested in buying anything. But, if you get hungry and need a little pick me up during your visit to Agua Azul Waterfalls (swimming is a hungry business, right?), then you’ll find plenty of options to keep you going.
If you want more of a sit-down meal, you’ll also find plenty of Agua Azul restaurants too.
Toilets and Changing Facilities
At the main entrance of Agua Azul, Chiapas, next to the main car park, is a changing block and toilet. But, they’re not for free, so bring some small change with you and expect to hand over a peso or two to use the facilities.
Useful Things to Know Before You Go
So, now you know a little about what to expect at Agua Azul, Chiapas, let’s take a look at some useful things to know about visiting.
Agua Azul, Chiapas Entrance Fee
The entrance fee to visit Agua Azul, Chiapas is $40MXN ($2.50USD) per person. Pay at the official entrance, and not with anyone who might approach you. If you choose to visit with a tour from Palenque or San Cristobal, the entrance fee is generally included in the tour price.
Agua Azul, Chiapas Opening Hours
Agua Azul Waterfalls are open from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.
Best Time to Visit Cascadas de Agua Azul
The best time to visit Cascadas de Agua Azul, Chiapas is during the dry season from November to February. The weather is most pleasant during these months, although you’ll find the jungles of Chiapas to be hot and humid year-round.
June to October is the rainy season. Although tempting to think visiting Agua Azul Waterfalls in the rainy season is a good idea, to witness much more powerful cascades, there are a few things to consider. Firstly, swimming isn’t really permitted, or at least isn’t a good idea, during the rainy season. Secondly, heavy rain can cause the beautiful blue hues of the pools to turn a brown colour. Debris can also be hidden.
It’s also worth noting that a sunny day does wonders for helping the turquoise waters to really pop. Dan and I really noticed the difference in colours as we experienced quite a cloudy day with pockets of sunshine.
Of course, because November to February are the better months in which to visit the falls, they’re also the busiest. So, don’t expect to have Agua Azul, Mexico completely to yourself.
How to Get to Agua Azul, Chiapas From Palenque
So, now you know some practical information about visiting Agua Azul Waterfalls in Chiapas, let’s look at how to get there from Palenque.
Given how close Agua Azul Waterfalls are to Palenque, Chiapas, public transport is very quick and cheap as well as a fairly reliable option. From outside of the ADO bus terminal (located here) in Palenque, you can take a colectivo for around $50MXN ($2.50USD). The journey takes around 1.5 hours and will drop you off close to the waterfalls, but not actually at them. But, by all accounts, it’s a fairly lengthy walk to Cascadas de Agua Azul from here. Luckily, there are generally taxis at this drop-off point. We recommend opting for the taxi ride, rather than walking, for safety reasons if anything.
To return via colectivo, head back to the main road and simply flag down a passing colectivo as it heads back to Palenque.
By Rental Car
Of course, renting a car and driving yourself to Agua Azul Waterfalls in Chiapas, Mexico is one of the easiest ways to visit. But, there are a few things to be mindful of.
- The road from Palenque to Agua Azul, Chiapas is windy and unpaved in parts.
- There is little to no signal, so be sure to download your GPS directions beforehand.
- The road between Palenque-Ocosingo-San Cristobal is notorious for blockades and robberies. You should definitely think wisely about driving yourself and certainly avoid driving after dark. Often, the locals who ‘patrol’ the roads are looking for payment. We’ve read to simply travel with pesos in case you’re pulled over for payment. This doesn’t sound wonderful to us but we’ll let you weigh up the risks. The simplest, and safest route, is to take a group tour.
If you do want to hire a car in Chiapas, Mexico, then we recommend using DiscoverCars.com. You’ll find a variety of cars on Discover Cars, which are very easy to book online, with a great cancellation fee if needed.
Agua Azul Waterfall Tour From Palenque
By far, the easiest way to visit Cascadas de Agua Azul in Mexico is with a tour. You’ll find plenty of tour operators in downtown Palenque offering trips. Often they’re combined with a visit to Misol-Ha Waterfall, which is another stunning waterfall in Chiapas! Below, we’ll look at some popular tour options from Palenque, including our experience.
Dan and I booked a combined tour to visit Cascada Misol-Ha and Cascadas de Agua Azul, Mexico. This is one of the most popular tour options in Palenque and is a great way to visit some of the best waterfalls in Chiapas in a day. Simply for convenience, we chose Tulum Transportadora Turistica to take us, as their tour office is located immediately outside of the ADO bus terminal in Palenque.
The tour runs from 12–7pm. During the early afternoon, you’ll visit Misol-Ha Waterfall first, before arriving at Cascadas de Agua Azul to enjoy the rest of the day. In truth, you’ll have more time to spend at Cascadas de Agua Azul, so you’ll likely do your swimming at this second waterfall of the day. The price is around $350MXN ($20USD) per person and includes entrance to the waterfalls.
Additionally, if you’re heading to San Cristobal de las Casas after Palenque, you can book this tour as a transfer. This means, for $500MXN ($29USD) per person, you’ll visit both waterfalls before continuing on to San Cristobal. So, it’s super convenient, just remember to take all your luggage with you.
Online Tour Options
You can also book tours to Cascadas de Agua Azul and Misol-Ha online. GetYourGuide offers some excellent tour options from Palenque, that commonly combine a visit to the outstanding Palenque Ruins, Misol-Ha Waterfall and Cascadas de Agua Azul.
Viator also offers similar tours to see all three attractions from Palenque. They also offer ‘From Palenque Misol Ha, Agua Azul and Transfer to San Cristóbal de las Casas’ tour, as mentioned above, to transfer you between Palenque and San Cristobal, whilst seeing all of the attractions in between.
How to Get to Agua Azul, Chiapas From San Cristobal
Of course, some of you may want to visit Agua Azul from San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico, before heading to Palenque. Below, we’ll take a look at your options.
You can take a colectivo from San Cristobal to Palenque and alight at Agua Azul Waterfalls, Chiapas. But, you’ll have a similar issue as above, in that the colectivo doesn’t drop you directly at the waterfalls. But if you’re on a proper shoestring, a colectivo is by far the cheapest option. Bear in mind, the journey can take around five hours.
By Rental Car
Just like visiting Agua Azul Waterfalls from Palenque, driving from San Cristobal is one of your quickest options. San Cristobal is 158km away from Agua Azul, Chiapas, and involves a four hour drive. Of course, the journey passes through Orcosingo, so it would be simple to break your journey with a quick pit stop in this small town.
Again, be mindful of the road conditions and the likelihood of a blockade on the road between San Cristobal and Palenque.
Agua Azul Waterfall Tour From San Cristóbal de las Casas
Similar to Palenque, you’ll find plenty of tour offices in San Cristobal offering trips to Cascadas de Agua Azul and Misol-Ha. Whilst staying in San Cristobal, Dan and I used Tours Villa Real to organise trips to Sumidero Canyon and El Chiflon Falls. We had a great experience using Tours Villa Real so would happily recommend them for a tour to Agua Azul Waterfalls, Chiapas.
Online Tour Options
As San Cristobal is a little further away from Agua Azul, Chiapas than Palenque is, taking a tour is one of the most convenient ways to visit these incredible natural attractions. Because of the longer drive time, these tours generally span a full day, rather than the shorter half-day tours from Palenque.
How to Get to Palenque Town
Palenque is a fairly straightforward town to reach as you explore Mexico. Dan and I actually travelled down from Merida via a 9 hour bus. Travelling from the town of Campeche is closer still. But, given the length of the bus journey, you’ll want to travel in relative comfort. So, we recommend using the ADO buses.
ADO has routes throughout Mexico that conveniently link up many of the tourist hotspots. You can purchase tickets directly on the ADO website, using Busbud or by booking directly at the ADO bus terminal in whichever town you’re travelling from.
Alternatively, if you’re travelling from the opposite direction, the ADO bus journey from San Cristobal de la Casas to Palenque is 10.5 hours. But, this is the long version of the journey. As previously mentioned, the road between Palenque and San Cristobal, via Ocosingo, is notorious for blockades and robberies. So, the ADO bus takes the longer route, on less winding roads I might add too.
If you’re travelling from further afield in Mexico, it’s possible to take a domestic flight to Palenque Airport.
What to Pack For Agua Azul Waterfalls
These are our travel essentials for visiting Cascada Agua Azul in Chiapas.
- Merrell Moab Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots: you’ll benefit from a sturdy pair of hiking boots to walk along the waterfall path.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack for day tripping, which has plenty of space to store your gear.
- The North Face Venture Jacket: a waterproof jacket is handy to keep you dry from the waterfall spray. Unless you need the refreshing cool down, of course!
- Swimmers: if you wanna take a dip, you’ll be needing these. A microfibre towel is also great to have on hand.
- Insect repellant: this is the jungle after all.
- Camera: you’ll definitely want to document a visit to this wonderful waterfall.
- Sunscreen: be sun safe!
Where to Stay Near Agua Azul, Chiapas
Palenque is the closest place to stay if you plan on visiting Agua Azul, Mexico. Below, we’ll take a look at some of the best budget, mid-range and luxury options.
- Budget – Hotel Naj Kin: Dan and I stayed at Hotel Naj Kin and enjoyed the location and the private room, which is equipped with a bathroom.
- Mid-range – Hotel Maya Rue: the very reasonably priced Hotel Maya Rue offers simple yet comfortable decor and a great breakfast to start the day.
- Luxury – Casa 5 Bed & Breakfast: luxury doesn’t break the bank balance in Palenque, with a stay at Casa 5 Bed & Breakfast providing guests with a garden, air-conditioned rooms and a private bathroom.
Travel insurance is a real necessity, especially when travelling through Central America and getting a little off the beaten track.
SafetyWing is an excellent budget-friendly travel insurance provider. Personally, Dan and I have used SafetyWing’s Nomad Insurance many times to insure our trips. The Nomad Insurance is fantastic value for money with a smaller additional cost to add a partner. Unlike most other insurance companies, there’s an option to pay on a monthly basis, similar to having a prepaid phone plan. Better yet, there’s no lock-in contract. In addition, you can cancel at any time, which will take effect the month after.
For shorter trips, it’s also possible to use Nomad Insurance for trips lasting just days or just 2–3 weeks. Indeed, SafetyWing is cheaper than almost all other travel insurance policies and covers just as much and sometimes more.
SafetyWing is a modern travel insurance company that is certainly leading the way in terms of how travel insurance should work in the future.
- Carry cash: it’s always good to have some pesos handy when exploring Mexico.
- Theft: Agua Azul Waterfalls can be very busy and theft is not uncommon. Always keep an eye on your belongings and don’t travel with a lot of high-tech, expensive gear.
- Make the most of Palenque: check out our Top Things to Do in Palenque guide for more incredible natural attractions like Palenque Ruins. Alternatively, GetYourGuide offers some pretty cool tours around Palenque which are definitely worth checking out.
More Mexico Travel Guides
Feel free to explore more of our Mexico travel guides below.
Tell us about your experience visiting Cascadas de Agua Azul, Chiapas in the comments below.