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Latest update: 12 May 2023

Splashing water, rippling water, crystal clear water: you will find the most beautiful waterfalls around Palenque. Roberto Barrios, Misol-Ha, and Agua Azul are the best-known in the area, and all are worth a visit.

Visit independently or with a tour?

In Palenque, you can book tours to the various waterfalls. You don’t have to because all three are easily accessible independently. The travel time is a bit longer, but then I can plan my day myself. That is worth the extra effort to me. And I also save some pesos that way.

But FYI, here are some examples of tours:

Tip! You can also visit the Mayan ruins of Palenque on your own. You can hire a guide at the entrance if you like. That is very worthwhile!

The waterfalls of Roberto Barrios

With a group of backpackers, I first eat at the market in the center of Palenque and then take the colectivo (a shared van). For 50 pesos, I sit 40 minutes between a 20-kilo bag of corn and a chainsaw, and I am neatly delivered to the entrance of Roberto Barrios. The man at the cash register immediately warns: the last colectivo back to Palenque goes at 5.30 pm. Ask them about the current times when you arrive, because it may be different now.

The waterfalls of Roberto Barrios remind me a bit of Semuc Champey in Guatemala. The water is just as blue, and you can clamber to different basins. I thank myself for my dullest purchase for this trip: water shoes. A top investment of 6 euros!

I’m not such a hero with clambering over slippery rocks (read: 99% chance of falling), so I choose a nice quiet part to swim. The water is wonderfully calm and refreshing. A sturdy rope is stretched through the water that I can rest on when I get tired. I get out of the water only when I’m as wrinkled as a granny.

We visit the waterfalls of Roberto Barrios at the end of the day, and crowds-wise, it’s perfect. Also good to know: there are toilets, and you can buy a bottle of water. Do bring cash!

The waterfalls of Agua Azul

Souvenir stalls at the entrance to the Agua Azul waterfalls in Palenque, Mexico.

When I arrive at Agua Azul, it is a shock: I end up in a maze of souvenir stalls. There are easily a hundred of them at the entrance. And even more all the way along the river, but luckily the sellers leave me alone. They only act when people show serious interest, it seems.

At the entrance, many Mexican children play in the water. We continue the road along the river, and the further we get, the quieter it gets. Several places have been cordoned off where it is safe to swim. The current is treacherously strong. Here too, the calmer water is a bizarre blue. When the water plunges down violently, it is icy white. I keep taking pictures, it’s just so beautiful!

At the end of the walk, a few boys stop tourists. From there, you can only continue under supervision, they say. Their supervision, of course. I don’t think this is how it should work. But curiosity wins and we walk with one of the boys. After about fifteen minutes, we come to a part where we see a cave in the distance, and that’s where it ends; we can take a picture and return. This was not worth it. We tip the boy 20 pesos; we have no idea if that is a lot or a little for him.

The entrance to Agua Azul was 40 pesos in 2018, but it is probably more expensive now. From Palenque, I pay 50 pesos to the colectivo (that supposedly leaves NOW and then waits another half hour for more passengers: welcome to Mexico!). At an intersection, you have to change to a taxi (25 pesos per person). So let your colectivo driver know you want to go to Agua Azul, and they will drop you off at the right point.

The Misol-Ha waterfall

From Agua Azul I continue to Misol-Ha. That is on the way back to Palenque. We again pay 25 pesos per person for a taxi to go to the crossroads. In the van, the colectivo, I pay 35 pesos. The colectivo drops us off at the beginning of the road to the waterfall. On returning to Palenque, I will pay another 20 pesos in the colectivo. But, like I said, that was 2018; it’s probably more expensive now, but that gives you some idea.

The walk from the road to the waterfall is beautiful and very hot. It is more than half an hour’s walk in the full sun. So make sure you bring plenty of water with you. On the way, we must pay 10 pesos once at a temporary road crossing. The landowners are cashing in on the waterfall’s popularity. I hear from other people that they have come across two posts. Maybe that guard had just dozed off when I passed?

Sweltering hot walk in the full sun to the Misol-Ha waterfall in Mexico.

The Misol-Ha waterfall is completely different from Roberto Barrios and Agua Azul. It’s a lot smaller but a lot higher. The waterfall is 35 meters high, and in front of it is a large pool of water you can swim in. It feels like I’ve landed on a movie set, and Tarzan will swing by on a liana any minute.

What’s great about the Misol-Ha waterfall is that I can walk behind it. Not entirely without the risk of slipping, but I risk it for the breathtaking view anyway. Continuing the path, I get to the entrance of the cave. I can enter for 10 pesos. I take three steps closer and am greeted by hundreds of mosquitoes. You understand: I skip this cave visit, thank you very much. Please check out the video below for a good impression of the waterfall.

Roberto Barrios, Agua Azul or Misol-Ha?

If you only have limited time, which waterfall should you visit? Ooh, a difficult decision! I think I’d go for Roberto Barrios. It is much less touristy than Agua Azul and offers more swimming options than Misol-Ha. But secretly I think you should visit all three!

More Mexico inspiration?

blog overview Mexico
  • Accommodation. All-time favorite: Booking.com. Find hostels via Hostelworld.
  • Activities. You book the best tours and activities with GetYourGuide and Viator. You could also try WithLocals. ‘Free’ walking tours are available at GuruWalk. And for bike tours, try Baja Bikes.
  • Attractions and museums. Get a 5% discount on museums and attractions at Tiqets with the coupon code KIMOPREIS22.
  • Bus. Book bus trips in Mexico with Busbud or 12Go.
  • Car rental. My go-to car rental companies are EasyTerra and Sunny Cars as they have all-inclusive / worry-free offers. If you want more options, compare prices at Discover Cars.
  • Flights. Compare all your options! Definitely check out Momondo, Skyscanner, and Kiwi.
  • Money. Your debit and credit cards may not get accepted everywhere. You could opt for a Revolut card as an additional card when you travel. 
  • Package deals. Rather go on a catered trip? You have many options! For the Dutch, try ANWB vakanties, Tui or Sawadee, or maybe you can find a sweet deal at Vakantie Discounter or D-reizen?
  • SIM card. Beware of unexpectedly high calling and internet costs. Buy a local SIM card when you arrive, or arrange one online via Airalo.
  • Travel gear. Buy your gear at Bever or Decathlon, or simply at Bol.com.
  • Travel guides. I love the practical travel guides from Lonely Planet, buy them at Bol.com or Amazon.
  • Visum. Make sure you have the right documentation to travel to Mexico. iVisa can help you out.
  • Yoga retreat. Or: try a yoga retreat in Mexico!

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First published: November 2018. The article has been updated since.

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