17 Best Cenotes in Tulum, Mexico: An Insider’s Guide
Looking for the best cenotes in Tulum Mexico to visit during your stay? Keep reading to find out which cenotes are worth the dive.
It may be a destination known for its beaches but Tulum also has some of the best cenotes in Mexico. Found throughout Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, cenotes are natural sinkholes with fresh water formed by the sinking of the limestone underneath to reveal the groundwater.
In fact, the Yucatan Peninsula has a huge underwater river network that connects all of the cenotes- incredible! They are ideal for swimming and cooling off from the tropical heat. While there are thousands located all over the area, some of the most beautiful cenotes are in the Riviera Maya and in and around Tulum.
Not far from the beach and town itself, visiting Tulum’s cenotes is one of the best things to do on a Yucatan itinerary.
Keep reading to find all the best cenotes to visit in Tulum, how to visit them and all the details you need to know for the perfect trip to Tulum. This post covers all the best cenotes near Tulum Mexico and also towards Playa del Carmen.
*This ‘ best #tulum cenotes ‘ post contains affiliate links meaning I might make a small profit if you choose to book using them at no extra cost to you. This helps me to keep providing you with free, quality content.
What are Cenotes?
Cenotes are basically limestone sinkholes filled with freshwater. They are normally formed when the underlying bedrock collapses leaving the groundwater exposed in jagged, rocky pools.
Cenotes are normally filled with crystal clear waters and are surrounded by unique rock formations and sometimes jungle. No two cenotes are the same.
Some cenotes are large enough to swim in while others are mainly underground and are still inaccessible to the public.
Many cenotes are open-air while others are only accessible by ladders or stone staircases down into the abyss. Some may have a small hole at the top to let light in such as Cenote Suytun while others are completely dark. Cenotes were sacred places to the local Mayan population.
It’s thought that they made sacrifices as offerings to the gods in the cenotes. These cenotes and underground rivers provided the Mayans with all their freshwater.
Either way, the cenotes of Tulum Mexico are some of the most popular places to come and spend a few hours or explore while in the area.
The Best Cenotes in Tulum
1. Gran Cenote
One of the most popular cenotes in Tulum, Gran Cenote Tulum is definitely worth a visit. It’s a medium-sized cenote composed of two openings joined by a cave.
You can swim from one size to the other through the cave. The water is every shade of blue imaginable and a dip in these cool waters is the perfect way to spend an afternoon. By the water’s edge, there is a decking area on which you can relax between dips and lockers and lifejackets are also available here.
This Tulum, Mexico cenote does get really busy so I highly recommend you get there as it opens. I did and there was still a small queue. I headed straight past the first staircase to the back one where, as I descended down I could see countless terrapins swimming in the water- I was so lucky as they hide when people arrive.
Scuba diving is also possible at Gran Cenote but unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity to do it. You can find more information on diving in Gran Cenote here.
In recent years, Gran Cenote and many other cenotes have banned or started charging ridiculous fees to take photos with DSLR cameras. The fee is quite ridiculous so I recommend just taking your phone or a GoPro instead. If you haven’t got a GoPro Hero yet, then get it here.
Tripods are not allowed at Gran Cenotes, so bring a friend.
Gran Cenote Entrance Fee: 500 pesos ($25). Includes snorkelling gear and life vest rental.
Gran Cenote Opening Hours: Grand Cenote is open from 8 am to 4.45 pm. ( with last entry at 4.15 pm).
Best Gran Cenote Tulum Tour: Cenote Triple Adventure Tour in Tulum
Planning on staying to Tulum? Where To Stay in Tulum: The Best Hotels
2. Cenote Calavera
Cenote Calavera is located just a kilometre or so from Gran Cenote so these two can easily be visited together. Calavera in Spanish means ‘skull’ and while the Mayans did use cenotes for sacrifices to their gods, there are no skulls at the bottom of this pool (that we know of).
The name comes from the shape of the cenote. It has a larger opening and then two smaller ones above, which sort of resemble the eyes and mouth of a skull.
It’s difficult to say how big this cenote actually is underground, but the dark, mysterious opening to it is relatively small and the water looks deep.
It’s a great one for jumping straight into the abyss below. There’s also a small little hole that’s fun for jumping into the black hole below. Small, black catfish live in this and many other cenotes for that matter, so don’t be alarmed if one brushes against your leg, they are harmless.
Cenote Calavera is also a great cenote for diving. Gear and a guide can be organised at the entrance.
You aren’t allowed to bring your own food and drink to Cenote Calavera.
Cenote Calavera Entrance Fee: 250 pesos ($14), more if you want to take photos with a DSLR.
Cenote Calavera Opening Hours: 9 am – 4 pm
3. Cenote Azul
Closer towards Playa del Carmen, you’ll find a cluster of cenotes just off the main highway; Cenote Azul, Cenote Cristalino and Cenote Jardin de Eden. Cenote Azul is a large open cenote with cool, refreshing water beckoning to be dived into. There are also two smaller pools as you walk in. It’s one of the best cenotes near Tulum.
It’s surrounded by jagged rocky sides onto which vegetation clings giving it a wonderfully wild air. You can relax right by the water on the decking area that runs right into the cenote. You can sit on the edge and enjoy the cool water on your feet below and have the fish give you a pedicure by nibbling all the dead skin off.
Due to the openness of this cenote is feels a lot less claustrophobic than some of the others- it feels like a watering hole in the middle of the jungle.
This cenote is extremely popular with other tourists and locals at the weekends. I highly recommend getting there early in the morning, as it opens or right before it closes. Try to avoid weekends too.
Cenote Azul Price: 150 pesos ($8)
Cenote Azul Opening hours: 8.30 pm -5.30 pm
Read more: The Ultimate Guide to the Tulum Ruins
4. Casa Cenote
Casa Cenote is a wonderful option if you’ve already seen some cenotes and want something different.
Part freshwater cenote, part saltwater river, this cenote actually has a current and is the perfect place for kayaking, scuba diving classes and relaxing.
Here you’ll have the opportunity to see plenty of wildlife from coati on the shores to tropical birds, fish and even a solitary crocodile. There aren’t too many services or places to eat here to make sure to bring some snacks.
Casa Cenote Entrance Fee: 120 pesos ($6)
Casa Cenote Opening hours: 8am-5pm
5. Cenote Carwash
Carwash cenote or Cenote Aktun Ha as it’s also known is a great cenote to visit from Tulum. It’s one of the cheapest cenotes in the area- perfect if you’ve already blown most of your budget on the others.
It’s a large open-air cenote but also has a number of extraordinary underground caves- heaven for scuba divers. Taxi drivers used to come here when travelling between Tulum and Coba to wash their vehicles which is where the name comes from.
Luckily this is no longer the case and it has become a great place to relax especially for families.
Cenote Carwash Cost: 200 pesos ($11.50)
Cenote Carwash Opening hours: 9am- 5 pm
6. Cenote Zacil-Ha
Cenote Zacil-Ha, nestled near Tulum, Mexico and right next to Cenote Carwash, is an ethereal wonder veiled within lush jungles. These two Tulum cenotes can be visited together and make for the perfect half-day of exploration and swimming.
Cenote Zacil Ha is an open cenote with pure crystalline waters inviting travelers to immerse in its serene environment. Sunlight dances on the water’s surface, illuminating the limestone walls adorned with dangling vines.
Visitors can take the time to do some snorkelling amidst schools of vibrant fish or simply just bask in the natural beauty. Cenote Zacil-Ha isn’t a busy cenote generally and provides the perfect spot to swim, relax and connect with nature.
Facilities at Zacil Ha also include swimming pools, changing rooms and a small restaurant where you can buy snacks and drinks. There’s also a cool zipline running above the cenote from which you can propel yourself into the water.
Cenote Zacil-Ha is a very family-friendly cenote but you might want to avoid it at the weekend when it fills up with locals and their families.
Cenote Zacil Ha Entrance fee: $300 MXN ($17)
Cenote Zacil Ha Opening Hours: 10 am – 6.00 pm
7. Cenote Dos Ojos
Dos Ojos Cenote is actually a complex of several different cenotes. Upon arrival, a member of staff will approach you and tell you about all the ticket options. Essentially you can just buy a single (for Dos Ojos only) or combined entrance ticket and explore the entire area alone or go with a tour.
The benefit of the tour, in this case, is that you can see more. There are some cenotes here that can only be entered via a tour group.
In my opinion, this is one of the best cenotes in Tulum and definitely the one with the bluest water. Cenote Dos Ojos has two parts to it.
It’s actually quite a large cenote but most of it is located underground. Follow the signs around the complex and you’ll get to the pools suitable for swimming; crystal-clear turquoise water of the perfect temperature that doesn’t get bluer.
Jump straight in and revel how spectacular our natural environment really is. Right at the back, there is another part of the cenote which is essentially an open-air cave, one part cenote, one part picnic area.
It’s a wonderful place to base yourself for a few hours so if you’re able to bring a picnic, do so. Cenote Dos Ojos is also one of the best cenotes for scuba diving. If you’re a qualified diver and you’re interested in some cenote/cave diving, inquire at the diving centre in Tulum or at the cenote entrance.
Cenote Dos Ojos Price: 350 pesos ($20)
Cenote Dos Ojos Opening Hours: 8 am-5 pm.
8. Cenote Tak Be Ha
Located in the same cenote complex as Cenote Dos Ojos is the gorgeous underground cenote Tak Be Ha. Cenote Tak Be Ha not far from Tulum is an accessible and popular spot for those seeking an authentic cenote experience.
Situated amidst the Yucatan jungle, its natural beauty captivates visitors with its clear, turquoise waters and surrounding limestone formations. This entirely underground cenote offers various activities, including swimming, snorkelling, and diving, catering to both adventurers and leisure seekers.
The entrance fee grants access to facilities like changing rooms and rest areas. While it may lack the ethereal charm of some lesser-known cenotes, Tak Be Ha’s popularity ensures a bustling atmosphere, attracting tourists seeking a quintessential cenote adventure without venturing too far off the beaten path.
The entrance to this cenote is a little confusing on Google Maps. Cenote Tak Be Ha is located in the Dos Ojos complex and is accessed through the same entrance.
Cenote Tak Be Ha Entrance fee: $300 MXN ($18)
Cenote Tak Be Ha Opening Hours: 8 am – 5 pm
9. Cenote Sac Actun
Cenote Sac Actun is also located on the Dos Ojos complex so these three can easily be visited together.
Cenote Sac Actun in Tulum stands as one of the region’s most impressive natural cenotes. Renowned for its extensive underground cave system, it offers a unique opportunity for exploration. Visitors can partake in guided tours, navigating through the labyrinthine network of caverns adorned with stunning stalactites and stalagmites.
Cenote Sac Actun really is a cenote for snorkelling or diving as it’s mostly underwater. Sac Actun reveals a breathtaking underwater world, showcasing intricate rock formations and clear, freshwater pools teeming with aquatic life.
The cenote’s size and complexity make it a magnet for adventurous souls keen on delving into the heart of this subterranean marvel. While not as easily accessible or equipped with facilities as other cenotes,
Sac Actun’s raw beauty and unparalleled underground landscape make it a must-visit for those seeking an awe-inspiring and offbeat experience in Tulum’s natural wonders.
For those looking for a unique cenote to dive or snorkel, this is one of the best cenotes in Tulum. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most expensive and access is via guided tour only.
Cenote Sac Actun Entrance fee: $700 pesos ($40). This includes a guided tour around the cenote, snorkelling and/or diving.
Cenote Sac Actun Opening Hours: 8 am – 5 pm
Best Sac Actun Cenote Tour: Private Guided Cenotes and Underground River Exploration
10. Cenote Cristalino
Cenote Cristalino is another cenote located close to Playa del Carmen. Strikingly similar to Cenote Azul in terms of size and shape, Cristalino is a great alternative to Cenote Azul- I probably wouldn’t recommend you see them both as they are so similar.
Named Cristalino due to its crystalline waters, the water here is so clear you’ll want to dive straight in- and you should go right ahead and do it.
There are multiple decks and platforms made especially for diving and the crystal-clear water makes for some great snorkelling. It’s surrounded by gorgeous jagged rock, lush green vegetation and you really feel like you’re in the middle of the jungle.
This cenote isn’t quite as commercialised as some of the others so it does indeed feel like a wild, natural swimming pool. A great idea is to bring a picnic and spend the afternoon here.
Cenote Cristalino Entrance Price: 150 pesos ($8)
Cenote Cristalino Opening hours: 8 am – 5 pm.
11/12. Cenote Escondido & Cenote Cristal
A lovely cenote near Tulum town but still well off the tourist trail, you’ll definitely find peace and quiet here. This cenote is long and narrow and it’s full of jungle life and fish.
On one end you’ll find a rope swing which is always fun to jump off of.
Next door is Cenote Cristal and the entrance fee includes access to both. I highly recommend coming here for a more off-the-grid cenote experience. These cenotes are a world away from the popular ones like Gran Cenote and Cenote Dos Ojos.
Cenote Escondido Cost: 120 pesos ($6/ £4)
Cenote Escondido Opening hours: 8 am-5 pm
13. Cenotes Casa Tortuga
Nestled within the jungle, these cenotes boast clear, refreshing waters surrounded by lush greenery. The site features four different cenotes interconnected by wooden walkways, providing easy access for visitors to explore and swim in each one.
The cenotes here are called Cenote Wisho, Cenote Tres Zapotes, Cenote Campana and Cenote Jaguar —each offering diverse experiences: open, semi-open, and cave formations.
Beyond mere sightseeing, a guided educational tour spans the entire park, a great way for families to enjoy the facilities too. Guides provide insights into cave-dwelling fauna like blind cave fish and bats, educate on cenote geology, and highlight the formations of stalactites and stalagmites.
Cenotes Casa Tortuga is a great option for anyone wanting to experience many different types of cenotes in the same complex. You can easily spend the whole day here just swimming around and relaxing. The entry fee is pretty steep but it does include entry to four different sinkholes.
Cenotes Casa Tortuga Eentrance fee: $450 MXN ($26)
Cenotes Casa Tortuga Opening Hours: 8 am – 4 pm
Best Cenotes Casa Tortuga Tour: Cenotes Casa Tortuga
14. Cenote Xunaan-Ha
Cenote Xunaan-Ha is one of the most hidden and secret cenotes in Tulum on this list. It’s an open cenote located not too far off the main highway in Chemuyil village, right between Tulum and Akumal.
It’s also one of the most beautiful and least developed cenotes. For those looking for a real authentic experience- a natural sinkhole surrounded by lush jungle- make sure to put this cenote at the top of your list.
There isn’t much infrastructure here but it does have a diving platform as a zipline for the more adventurous.
The Cenote Xunaan-Ha underwater river system is also one of the largest in the Riviera Maya area. Many parts of this underwater world are quite deep and this cenote is xcellent for snorkelling, diving as well as swimming.
This is the perfect detour for those heading to the cenotes near Playa del Carmen or if you’re headed to Akumal to swim with turtles.
Cenote Xunaan-Ha Entrance fee: $70 MXN ( $4)
Cenote Xunaan-Ha opening hours: 9am -5 pm
Best Cenote Xunaan-Ha Tour: VIP Cenotes Private Tour (half-day)
15. Yal-Ku Cenote
For those looking for the perfect cenote for some snorkelling, Yal-Ku Cenote is one of the best cenotes in Tulum. Its crystalline waters have some incredible clarity, offering immersive snorkelling and swimming experiences amidst vibrant marine life.
This expansive cenote, resembling a serene lagoon, enchants visitors with its vastness and striking beauty. It actually connects to the ocean on one side providing a unique saltwater and freshwater cenote opportunity.
Yal-Ku cenote is also perfect for swimming, just make sure to be cautious about the tides while swimming towards the oceanic part of the cenote. It’s also a great cenote for snorkeling in Tulum.
Yal-Ku cenote Entrance fee: $300 MXN ( $17)
Yal-Ku Cenote opening hours: 9 am -5 pm
Best Yal-Ku Cenote Tour: Magical Cenote and Paradise Lagoon Snorkeling Adventure (from Playa del Carmen)
16. Cenote Angelita
The last two cenotes in this list are some of the best cenotes in Tulum for diving. They are both brilliant examples of cenote caves in Tulum. Diving in a cenotes in Yucatan is a once in a lifetime opportunity as you can’t do it anywhere else in the world. If you’re an avid diver visiting Tulum, this is definatly a must-do.
Cenote Angelita is one of the most intriguing cenotes in Tulum Mexico and an absolute must for divers. Below the clear freshwater layer, a mystical sight awaits divers—a surreal cloud of hydrogen sulfide or halocline, resembling an underwater river, created by the intersection of saltwater and organic matter.
This phenomenon, akin to an underwater “riverbed,” creates an otherworldly experience, making it appear as though divers are floating through a dreamlike, submerged forest.
If you’re also interested in underwater photography, this is probably the best cenote in Tulum to dive. With depths reaching about 60m, it’s the perfect deep cenote dive. Free diving is also possible here.
Cenote Angelita Price: $150 MXN
Cenote Angelita Opening Hours: 8 am – 5 pm
Best Cenote Angelita Diving Tour: Diving in Angelita and Casa Cenotes from Riviera Maya
17. Cenote El Pit
Lastly, Cenote El Pit is another spectacular cenote in Tulum for diving. Cenote El Pit plunges down over 119 meters (390 feet) into a mystical underwater world. In fact, it’s the deepest cenote in Yucatan.
The cenote’s crystal-clear waters reveal a mesmerizing abyss, allowing divers to witness stunning rock formations and an incredible halocline—a unique phenomenon where freshwater meets saltwater, creating a visual distortion that appears like a hazy, underwater mirage.
Diving into El Pit is akin to descending into an aquatic cathedral, surrounded by towering limestone walls adorned with stalactites and stalagmites. As you explore deeper, you’ll encounter the mesmerizing transition between freshwater and saltwater layers, witnessing a spectacular visual display that adds to the otherworldly allure of this cenote. It really is a spectacular sight!
Cenote El Pit Entrance Fee: $300 MXN Cenote El Pit only or $500 MXN for a combined ticket to Dos Ojos too.
Cenote El Pit Opening Hours: 9 am – 5 pm
Best Cenote El Pit Tour: Diving in The Pit and Nicte Ha Cenotes from Playa del Carmen
Getting Around the Tulum Cenotes
To visit any of the cenotes mentioned in this post you’ll need to organise your own transportation as they are simply too far to walk. There are many ways however that you can get to the Tulum cenotes. Many are close enough to access by scooter and bicycle but some are closer to Playa del Carmen so you’ll need to get there by car or shared mini-van.
Colectivos are shared minivans that take passengers to a variety of different locations up and down the coastal highway which links Cancun with Playa del Carmen and Tulum. They are the most convenient and budget-friendly way to get to the cenotes around Tulum.
For between $30-50 MXN you can take a colectivo to the cenotes near Playa del Carmen such as Cenote Azul and Cenote Cristalino. Colectivos leave from the main junction on Av. Coba in Tulum town.
The best way to get around the whole Riviera Maya area is to rent a car, in my opinion. Car rental is relatively cheap in Mexico and it gives you the ability to cover a larger area in little time.
It will allow you to keep things flexible and you’ll be able to visit many cenotes in one day. A rental car is also really useful for exploring further afield and visiting places like the World Wonder, Chichen Itza, the beautiful town of Valladolid and even the wonderful city of Merida.
Bicycle and Scooter
Bicycles and scooters can be rented in many places in Tulum, both in town, along the beach strip or from your resort or hotel. They are a really good and safe way to get around Tulum- there are bike paths along all the main highways and not to mention, they make for great exercise too.
Bikes and scooters are great for visiting the cenotes closest to Tulum. Gran Cenote, Cenote Calavera, Cenote Cristal and Escondido but not for the others located further away.
There are many fantastic tours available from Tulum, and other spots along the Riviera Maya which will take you to many of the best cenotes in the area. If you don’t want to rent a car or organise transportation, this is an excellent way to see a few different cenotes in one day.
Here are some of our top picks for cenote tours in Tulum.
Car and Driver Hire
If you want to keep things more flexible than a tour allows yet you don’t want to rent a car in Tulum, another great option is to hire a taxi driver for the day to visit some cenotes. This is very common practice in the area and your hotel can also help you do negotiate this.
A taxi driver will be able to take you to many different cenotes of your choice. You’ll need to negotiate the rate and this generally isn’t the cheapest way to do things, but if you are a couple or a small group, it’s definitely worth it for the flexibility it gives.
Tips for Visiting Cenotes
↠ Compared to cenotes elsewhere on the Yucatan Peninsula, the ones near Tulum and Playa del Carmen are more expensive and tend to be busier. You might need to prioritise some over others if you have a smaller budget. My personal favourites are Dos Ojos and Cenote Azul.
↠ I would advise getting there as soon as they open. Fewer people visit early in the morning meaning that you can enjoy the serenity and peace of the magical area.
↠ Many cenotes have restaurants/snack bars and places to eat so you don’t need to worry about bringing food or basic snacks, although if you want to it’s not a problem.
There is often a picnic area on the grounds to enjoy some food post-swim. It’s also advisable to bring your own water to avoid dehydration throughout the day. Do so without the plastic though. Check out my favourite UV filter system water bottle here.
↠ Bug repellent and sunscreen are 100% not allowed. You are required to take a shower before entering the water to make sure your skin is free from any creams, oils or repellents. This is because the chemicals found in these products destroy life in the cenotes and give the water in the cenote a coat of oil at the top.
↠ Bring a towel and change of clothes – all of these cenotes have a bathroom and changing rooms for you to dry off and change before and after your visit so if you don’t have your swimsuit on underneath your clothing as you enter, don’t worry.
↠ While none of the above are completely closed cave cenotes, if you visit some, make sure to bring a tripod if you want to take good, clear photos as some corners tend to be a little dark.
↠ For photographers: In recent years, property managers have come up with a lovely way to charge you more, especially if you want to take photos with a professional camera, so anything more than a phone or a GoPro. The regulations are very black and white and each cenote has its own rules.
Some charge a hefty fee for use of a professional camera. Some won’t let you in with one unless you’ve paid the fee even if you promise not to use it. Gran Cenote and Cenote Calavera do this and others have started to catch on.
My recommendation is to be flexible, especially if you don’t want to pay the camera fee. Bring your camera along knowing you might not be able to use it. In Cenote Azul we were discreet and no one said anything to us.
↠ You’re now required to wear life jackets in most cenotes.
Do you have any questions about visiting the best Tulum cenotes? Which were your favourites? Let me know in the comments below.
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