Best Tulum Cenotes you NEED to Visit (Travel Guide)

This article may contain affiliate / compensated links. For full information, please see our disclaimer here.

If you’re more of a big-city-hotel type of vacationer, you may be wondering what in the world a cenote is. Chances are you’ve seen a few of these Yucatan Peninsula beauties on social media, and for a very reasonable price, you too can relax in one of the best Tulum cenotes and take your vacation to the next level.

A cenote is essentially nature’s very own swimming pool, and it’s made up of groundwater contained within a sinkhole. What really makes these things so spectacular are their incredible “skylights” as well as the crystal clear waters that you can often find in a cenote.

In the Yucatan Peninsula alone, there are over 6000 cenotes which you can visit, making them a must-do whenever exploring the cities of Tulum, and nearby Playa del Carmen. 

Whatever feelings of envy you may harbor towards your neighbor and his swanky new pool will be as good as gone after relaxing in a cenote for an afternoon. Don’t believe us? 

Take a look at our picks of the best Tulum cenotes and get a good taste of what Mother Nature is truly capable of.

Top Picks on the Best Tulum Cenotes

Mexico is ripe with incredible cenotes, and while you can’t go wrong with any of them, some logistics and planning are needed so that you can make the most out of your cenote exploration. In no particular order, these are some of the best cenotes in Tulum you could hope to find:

  • Cenote Calavera
  • Cenote Cristalino
  • Cenote Dos Ojos
  • Cenote Pet Cemetery
  • Gran Cenote
  • Casa Cenote
  • Cenote Arco Maya

The Best Tulum Cenotes

Although you could definitely find some more obscure, and by extension, more private alternatives, we’ve broken down some of the best Tulum cenotes to help you make an informed decision. 

Cenote Calavera

Quick Info:

  • Operation Hours: Daily 9 am to 4 pm
  • Location: Cenote Calavera Maps (Due to it’s close proximity to Tulum downtown, this Cenote is accessible by bicycle)
  • Price: $300 MXN pesos ($15 USD)
  • Facilities: Showers, bathrooms, and a small restaurant (recent additions)Cenote Calavera

A quick look at Cenote Calavera should be more than enough to inform you why it’s one of the best Tulum cenotes money can buy. 

The name literally translates to ‘skull cenote’, in reference to the shape of the light pouring into the sinkhole – that all might sound a little macabre, but just think of the aesthetic implications of this kind of cenote and how amazing that’s bound to look on camera. 

Against all odds, the pool’s skylight forms a near-perfect circle that gives you an unprecedented view of the sky and surrounding nature, and it’s all yours to enjoy for only around $15.

Given the unique jug-shaped interior, this cenote is great for those who want a quick dip to cool off as it is located near the popular Tulum ruins.

If you’re an avid scuba diver, you’ll really want to get your hands on some scuba gear to really make the most of this cenote. Also known as The Temple of Doom, this site has tons of underwater crevices and caverns where you can see prehistoric fossils.

Be warned that there are no dry havens inside the cenote, so you’d be wise to put on your scuba gear before jumping in. And did we mention just how majestic that halocline area is?

If you’re not a diver, you can also enjoy its caverns through snorkeling!

The convenient thing about this cenote is that it’s open for business 7 days a week, and it’s relatively close to the heart of Tulum. This makes it substantially better than the number of off-road options by default, as you can follow up your diving session with a relaxing evening in the center of the city. 

Need a place to stay in Tulum? Check out these Incredible vacation rentals in Tulum for an awesome stay!

Cenote Cristalino

Quick Info:

  • Operation Hours: Daily 9 am to 4 pm
  • Location: Cenote Cristalino Maps (Located in the middle of Tulum and Playa del Carmen)
  • Price: $200 MXN pesos ($10 USD) / Locker rental $50 MX ($2.50 USD)
  • Facilities: Showers, bathrooms, and a restaurant (food is a little bit on the expensive side!)Cenote Cristalino

On top of being one of the best Tulum cenotes, is Cenote Cristalino which is located 30 minutes from town (driving), leaving it in the middle of Tulum and Playa del Carmen.

If the previous entry on our list was a little too “out there” for your liking, you might feel more in what is essentially a glorified theme park pool (and we mean that in the best possible way!) 

For only about $10, you and yours get to nosedive into the aptly named Cristalino’s crystal-clear waters. If meeting loads of new people is your idea of a good time, you’ll feel right at home here as dozens of people show up each day to enjoy the serene atmosphere and the surrounding vistas. 

Unlike a lot of the other cenotes in the area, you’ll have access to a dry-land section, allowing you to enjoy a more unique version of the typical beach experience. What’s more, small but meaningful touches, such as a personal locker for storing all your belongings, elevate this marvel of nature a few notches above some of its competitors. 

The highlight of this cenote would have to be its rock formations, though – even if you aren’t much of a swimmer or diver, you can get just as much of a kick out of admiring the stalactites as you would jumping off the 12-foot ledge into the water below. With that said, there’s nothing quite like taking a deep dive and seeing the formations up close.

This cenote is technically equidistant from Tulum and Playa del Carmen (be sure to check out our Tulum to Playa del Carmen article to see why that’s such a good thing), so after you’re done splashing around and taking pictures for the day, you can head on down to Playa for some extra style points. 

If you want to avoid the crowds, try avoiding the weekends and consider coming here earlier in the morning.

Cenote Dos Ojos

Quick Info:

  • Operation Hours: Daily 8 am to 5 pm
  • Location: Dos Ojos Maps
  • Price: $350 MXN pesos ($17 USD) You can also rent snorkel gear for extra $
  • Facilities: Showers, bathrooms

dos ojos cenote

The Sac Actun system is known for housing some of the best cenotes in Tulum and beyond, and Dos Ojos is one of its crowning jewels. 

Beyond being the discovery site of some of archeology’s most fascinating fossils, the San Actun System gives you a staggering 160 miles worth of caves to explore. 

At this point, you’ve probably caught on to why this cenote is called Two Eyes – the two sinkholes that make up the premises are the formation’s defining trait. 

Dos Ojos has two areas in which you can swim and explore. We highly recommend that you rent snorkel gear in order to fully see how magnificent the place is. Our team has personally done the guided tour and found it 100% worth the extra cost.

Snorkeling here gives you access to the underwater cave system that is just out of this world.

Although with that being said, Dos Ojos is also one of the most famous cenotes to scuba dive. You can rent the gear there, but if you plan on diving Dos Ojos, we recommend you arrange this prior to getting there with a reputable dive shop.

Want information on the best diving in Mexico? Check out our full guide!

Experienced divers will have a blast traversing the vast water cave system, which boasts over 35 miles of stunning explorable passages. The incredible stalactites can’t go unmentioned either, so you’ll definitely want to bring a waterproof camera with you for some unforgettable memories and those always-welcome bragging rights.

From Tulum town, a thirty-minute drive is all that separates you from one of the very best Tulum cenotes, but as with any incredible vista, there’s a catch – this particular cenote has been ramping up popularity in the past few years, and vacationers looking to have a good time in nature have been consistently flocking here early in the morning to make the most of the beautiful sights. 

If you can help it, you’ll definitely want to visit this place when it’s less congested. Early mornings are the best time to go as well as weekdays over weekends.

Want to visit by tour? Check out this one below.

View Tulum and Cenote Dos Ojos Tour

Cenote Pet Cemetery

Quick Info:

  • Operation Hours: Daily 8 am to 5 pm
  • Location: https://goo.gl/maps/cqiRp7qenvBcgxTs6
  • Price: $350 MXN pesos ($17 USD) You can also rent snorkel gear for extra $
  • Facilities: Showers, bathroomsCenote Pet Cemetery

Try not to let the morbid name (and the morbidly terrible movie of the same name) dissuade you from picking this place – this is genuinely one of the best cenotes in Tulum, and you get to explore it for up to 9 hours a day. 

Cenote Pet Cemetery is located within the same compound as Dos Ojos so you can hit two birds with one stone during your visit.

A cenote of this size would normally be too big of an undertaking if you don’t have much experience with swimming or diving, which is why a mandatory tour guide is required to help you navigate the complex cave system.

As for what you can expect to see here, the name speaks for itself – it would be easier to name all the animals whose fossils can’t be found in this intricate cave system, and the better you are at diving, the more fossils you’re likely to stumble across. Although do note that the fossils are only seen if you opt to scuba dive the area. 

Non-divers can still snorkel around and enjoy the crystal clear waters. Just try not to get startled by the occasional bat!

The cenote is fairly remote, and the benefits of this are twofold. Firstly, with so many spectacular ones to choose from, not many people will bother to traverse a rainforest just to get to a cenote, epic or otherwise. 

Secondly, exploring the cenote’s immediate surroundings is every bit as rewarding as taking the plunge – the beautiful foliage around Pet Cemetery and the slew of (living!) exotic animals you can expect to find here are sure to leave a lasting impression. 

Gran Cenote

Quick Info:

  • Operation Hours: Daily 8 am to 4:00 pm
  • Location: Grand Cenote Maps
  • Price: $300 MXN pesos ($15 USD) You can also rent snorkel gear for extra $
  • Facilities: Showers, bathrooms, locker rental, and a small shopGran Cenote

Social media is a fairly good indicator of a given attraction’s quality, and if we use online popularity as a metric, Gran Cenote would have to qualify as one of the very best Tulum cenotes. 

Pictures alone don’t do it justice, and the average Instagram photo of this place already looks pretty spectacular. 

Because we’ve spoiled you with some of the region’s best picks already, mirror-like waters in this cenote are a given, but the aquatic animals (baby turtles) you can encounter while in Gran Cenote is the icing on the cake. If you ever need to dry off or just want to admire the visuals without swimming, you can hop onto the wooden decks and explore at your own pace.

The reason this thing is called Gran Cenote is that it’s actually an elaborate system of caves that create the illusion of one large cave. What this means for the experienced diver is access to plenty of nooks and crannies just waiting to be discovered. 

Gran Cenote is Tulum’s pride and joy, so you’d be hard-pressed to find a time when it isn’t filled to the brim with adventure-seeking tourists. A lot of people don’t mind this given the quality of the experience, however, and it’s hard to complain about a beautiful vista that’s only 2 or 3 miles from the city center. 

Looking for a hotel to stay in Tulum? check out these awesome hotels in Tulum!

Casa Cenote

Quick Info:

  • Operation Hours: Daily 9 am to 5:00 pm
  • Location: Casa Cenote Maps
  • Price: $150 MXN pesos ($8 USD) 
  • Facilities: bathrooms, locker rental, small restaurantCasa Cenote

At a glance, it’s easy to think that there’s not a lot of variety among the cenotes given their similar properties, but Casa Cenote easily stands out from the list.

Passing through an exotic jungle, Casa Cenote connects the Caribbean Sea with an elaborate cave system, giving it a distinct aesthetic and providing you with an experience unlike any other.

The advantage of visiting such a versatile cenote is that you’ll have plenty of activities to choose from here besides just swimming and diving. 

If an underwater exploration of a cave system via scuba diving isn’t an option for you, you can always grab a paddleboard and traverse the swamp-like waters all the way to the sea. Apart from paddle boarding, snorkeling here is considered one of the best due to the fact that it connects to the sea. Expect to see lots of cool mangrove roots, fish, and if you’re lucky even small alligators (don’t worry, they’re harmless!)

We definitely recommend that you get fins as the current can be strong on some days!

Despite being as stunning as it is, this is also one of the more affordable cenotes on our list. You only need to pay about $8 for a full day’s unrestricted access. 

What’s more, the cenote is only about 6 miles from Tulum, so whatever mode of transportation you opt for (more on that below), you should have absolutely no trouble reaching this place and making your way back afterward.

Cenote Arco Maya

Quick Info:

  • Operation Hours: Daily 9 am to 5:00 pm
  • Location: Cenote Arco Maya Maps
  • Price: free (if there is no caretaker present!)
  • Facilities: n/a

A lot of people don’t like the idea of paying to experience a marvel of nature, and if that sounds like you, Cenote Arco Maya is a free alternative to our previous picks that still manages to qualify as one of the best Tulum cenotes. 

Let’s get the negatives out of the way first – looking at all the wonderful pictures of this place, you may be wondering what the catch is, and there is a remote chance you may be charged a nominal fee to enter if you’re unlucky. 

The place is pretty well-secluded and unmanned, but the legality of accessing this cenote recently has been a little sketchy due to land disputes. If there happens to be someone there to charge you, your best course of action would be to comply, as there are hardly any other cenotes in the area that offer this level of privacy without compromising on quality.

Another great thing about this cenote is that you’ll have plenty of dry spots if you want to catch a tan or just take a break from swimming. 

Besides the deck, you’ll have a makeshift walkway for admiring the local plant life up close, and the ample shading here means you don’t have to worry about sunburn, even on the hottest of days. 

Best Cenotes for Scuba Diving

While we already mentioned a few cenotes above which are worth exploring via scuba diving, if you’re an avid diver, here’s a list of other cenotes to consider visiting.

  • Dos Ojos
  • Cenote Calavera
  • Cenote Pet Cemetery
  • Cenote Angelita
  • El Pit
  • Car Wash

Cenote Angelita

Best Cenotes for Snorkeling

If your main goal with adventuring around cenotes is to find good snorkeling sites, these cenotes make it to the top of our list due to the beautiful underwater life and rock formations that you can see along the way!

  • Casa Cenote
  • Garden of Eden
  • Gran Cenote
  • Dos Ojos

Garden of Eden

How to Visit the Cenotes in Tulum

Although many of the best Tulum cenotes are relatively close to the heart of town, some of them require you to drive a little bit out of your way to get to them. Tulum is a tourist magnet if we’ve ever seen one, your transportation options here are virtually limitless. Here are some of your best choices if you didn’t come to Mexico by car:

Rental Car 

If your cenote of choice happens to be on the outskirts of town or towards Playa del Carmen, you may want to consider renting out a car. The cheapest rentals cost around $10 a day, but the problem is that you need to go a bit off-road to get to some of the more distant cenotes – we don’t need to tell you why denting your rental car is a problem!

While driving in Mexico is pretty straightforward, insurance coverage is always a good idea.

Travel Must: We love renting cars whenever we travel — it just gives you so much freedom to explore at your own pace. Click here to compare car rental prices. You’ll be surprised at how affordable it is!

Taxi

You’ll find no shortage of taxis in downtown Tulum, and with there being no Ubers in town, catching a cab is practically the lowest-effort way of getting to your cenote of choice. The potential issue here applies to any taxi service in a major tourist city – if your sixth sense yells ‘scam’, do yourself a favor and keep looking. 

Ultimately, you have to keep in mind that a lot of the cenotes are in remote locations so best to strike up an agreement with the driver to make sure you have a ride heading back from your cenote adventure.

Colletivo Bus

Depending on where your cenote of choice is located, you may want to consider taking a bus heading out of town and getting off at whatever stop works best for you. This comes with an obvious set of drawbacks, namely the fact that you’ll likely have to do some walking, and there’s also the issue of having to wait around as the bus makes its mandatory stops. 

With that said, given how cheap buses in the area are, it’s hard to complain about these inconveniences, especially when you consider the buses can take you all the way to Playa del Carmen and beyond. 

Bicycle

The only thing that can make a swim in a cenote better is working up a sweat before jumping in, and a great way to do that would be to rent a bike from your hotel. If you can get past the sweltering summer temperatures, renting a bike for around $10 might just be the best financial decision you could make in Tulum. 

Cenotes which you can reach via bicycle are Cenote Calavera, Cenotes Cristal y Escondido, Gran Cenote and Car Wash.

Most of these cenotes mentioned are within 30 minutes biking distance from Tulum downtown. And while the heat is definitely a factor, you can easily jump in any of these cenotes to cool down after your bike ride!

Best Cenote Tours in Tulum

Don’t want to deal with the hassle of sorting out your own transport? One of the best ways to visit these cenotes is via an organized small group tour! Here are a few of our recommended cenote tours:

  • 4-Cenote Tour: Spend your time completely relaxing as you visit four different cenotes around Tulum. This particular tour covers all entrance fees, transportation covered, snacks, and lunch making it a solid deal.
  • Snorkeling and Underground Cenotes Half-day Tour: Explore the cenotes with an experienced guide as they take you around the best underwater snorkeling cenotes.
  • Cycling and Cenote Tour: Visit some of Tulums best cenotes via this cycling and cenote tour! Price includes bikes, helmets, entrance fees, snorkel equipment, and lunch. 

tulum cenotesFAQs Regarding the Best Tulum Cenotes

Given that cenotes are rapidly picking up in terms of popularity, there are probably quite a few questions you’ll want answered before you start planning your trip. Here are some of the things we think you should know:

The list was great, but are there alternatives?

Absolutely! The Tulum area is home to well over 200 cenotes, and the Yucatan Peninsula at large has around 6000. Those who are willing to drive out of town for an hour or two (especially in the direction of Playa del Carmen) can definitely expect to be rewarded.

Are cenotes safe to swim in?

The short answer is yes, as cenotes can attract quite the crowd, so you can expect to find snorkeling gear and life jackets at most of the major ones. Just try not to get in over your head – if you don’t feel comfortable diving or snorkeling, we guarantee you’ll have just as good of a time swimming around and taking pictures. 

Travel Must: At the risk of sounding like your parents, make sure you get travel insurance before hitting the road. Trust us, it’s one of those things you don’t want to leave home without. We recommend either World Nomads or Safety Wing, depending on the type of traveler you are.

Are there really crocodiles?

While we can’t entirely guarantee that you wouldn’t see any, it’s not unheard of for a tourist to come across a crocodile while exploring the more isolated parts of a cenote. The odds of this happening in a commercial cenote are slim to none, though, as you can generally expect fairly heavy regulation and decently sized crowds, especially in the summertime.

Can anyone dive in a cenote?

Although the optimal safety precautions are taken at any good cenote, you do need a diving certificate if you want to explore deeper. There are, however, a few options in the Tulum area that let you do some supervised diving so you can get a hang of the basics.

How hot is the water?

Cenote temperatures tend to hover at around 75 degrees since the water doesn’t really get much contact with the sun. This kind of temperature is perfect if you’re visiting Tulum in the summer when the temperatures can and will hit triple on most days. 

Are cenotes really as clean as they look?

Most of the popular ones are, in fact, every bit as clean as they look online. With the exception of some dangling flora, there’s relatively little to contaminate the water as the rocks do a good job at keeping unwanted agents out.

What should I bring with me when visiting a cenote?

As we mentioned above, you can get most of the snorkeling and safety gear you need at your average cenote. All you really need to bring with you is drinking water and swimming clothes – be sure not to apply sunscreen, as you won’t really be exposed to sunlight most of the time, and it’s ultimately quite bad for cenotes’ pristine water. 

How reliable is the pricing info listed above?

One thing to keep in mind is that commercial cenotes are privately owned, meaning the prices may or may not fluctuate from season to season or from year to year. If your chosen cenote has an official site or any form of available contact information, it may be wise to double-check the prices before heading out.

And that’s a wrap on our list of the best Tulum cenotes. 

Chances are you’ve found the perfect one for you somewhere on this list, but we would highly encourage you to do some more digging and see if anything else catches your eye. 

You don’t get to see something as beautiful as a well-preserved cenote every day, so you’ll definitely want to make the most of it!

Check out this Mexico travel guide for awesome tips on where to stay and what to do!


Planning a Trip to Mexico? Read these Guides:

Inspired? Pin it!Best Tulum Cenotes | If you are planning a trip to Mexico anytime soon, make sure to visit Tulum and the incredible cenotes around it! #tulum #tulummexico #mexico

[i]
[i]