Tulum cenotes are definitely the most popular attraction of the area and you must make sure you include a couple to visit during your stay in Tulum. They are all scattered around town, some at a short drive and some other even a few minutes bike ride. If you are not sure which one you should visit, worry not. In this post, I am going to tell you all about the best cenotes in Tulum how to get there, and practical tips.
Tulum is undoubtedly one of the most popular beach destinations in Mexico. Located on the Riviera Maya coast in the heart of the Mexican Caribbean coast, the once unknown fishing village has become across the years an exclusive high-end retreat for style-conscious travelers, digital nomads, and all sorts of seekers of the good life, the sun, and the beach.
Some of those are precisely the refreshing cenotes, which are actually one of the most unique attractions in Tulum and the entire Yucatan Peninsula.
So one of the best things to do to include in your Tulum itinerary is visiting some of these incredible natural sinkholes, the cenotes.
But let’s focus on the amazing Tulum Cenotes and find out the best one to visit during your amazing vacation in Tulum. But before doing that you may want to understand what is a cenote and why they are so popular.
What is a cenote?
A cenote is a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath.”
There are thousands of cenotes in the Yucatan peninsula, they have counted around 6000 although the exact number is impossible to know. They are all scattered around and a huge concentration can be found along the Riviera Maya, the coastline that stretches from Puerto Morelos to Tulum.
I have written different posts about the Cenote of Mexico, each one for each region, and in this post, I will talk about the best cenotes in Tulum although they are not all exactly in Tulum town, some of them are at 30 minutes drive but totally worth the trip.
In the cenotes, you can swim, jump or just relax in their cool freshwaters. Scuba divers love them too as, they say, diving in the deep water of a cenote through rock formations and the small underwater tunnels is one of the most exciting and unique experiences.
If you are staying in Cancun, visiting the Cenotes in Tulum will make a fun full-day trip or you can also check out my other post on the Cancun Cenotes, which includes the best cenotes near Cancun, including the ones in the Tulum area and how to get there.
FUN FACT – Did you know that Cenotes were considered sacred places by the Mayans and were used to get the water they needed for their sustainability and some of their rituals? If you want to know more about the cenote history check out my guide on the Cenotes of the Yucatan peninsula.
The best cenotes in Tulum – Open cenotes
Cenote Manati or Casa Cenotes
This open cenote looks like a lake, and it’s right by the road. It’s an internal unpaved road that you take from the Carretera Federal going towards the sea, follow the indication to Pavo Real Resort at about 9 km from Tulum. It’s right after the hotel on your left-hand side.
The cenote is called Manatì for the presence of these funny marine mammals whom you can now rarely see as they have been unfortunately scared away by the human proximity.
You can pay the entrance to the restaurant opposite the cenote, called Casa Cenote. There you can also find cheap accommodations.
The entrance is about 8$ (150pesos) and it includes the life jacket.
There are lockers available for 50 pesos.
The beautiful swim will take you to the sea and when you approach the salted water you will realize how the seawater is mixing up with the sweet waters, a phenomenon that if you are snorkeling or diving underwater will make your sight blurred.
What else to do in the nearby area
Right in front of the cenote, there is a pebbled beach with transparent water and the reef just at a few strokes. You can either snorkel or dive. There is a diving center right across the road where you can rent equipment or book your diving.
Cenote Crystal and Cenote Escondido
These two beautiful cenotes are located right past Tulum coming from Playa del Carmen, at less than one mile from the city center. If you are staying in Tulum you can easily reach them by bicycle.
You pay the entrance at the cenote Crystal and it is good also to visit the cenote Escondido, located on the opposite side of the road.
Cenote Crystal ( on the main picture) is a huge open cenote, surrounded by thick and lush vegetation reflecting on the blue water that makes it even more beautiful. It’s 7 meters deep and you can both swim and relax or jump from a tall platform built for the courageous ones. There is also the possibility to dive.
Cenote Escondido – on the other side of the main road, is also a precious place even more uncontaminated, if you like. There are a couple of cords that allow you to play Tarzan. Or you can just swim around.
Entrance is 120 pesos (6usd) for both cenotes (200 for divers -10usd)
Opening hours: Open from 8 to 5.
How to get there:
By Car – Get on the main road (Ruta 307) from the beach road to downtown Tulum, and keep going towards Muyil, Bacalar, then you can see the signs on your right-hand side. Also, you can check the map here below where the cenote you are interested in is approximately located.
By Bike – Coming from the beach road, just past the town, and keep going. You will find it on your right.
By Taxi A taxi from Tulum downtown from the beach can take you there. Ask the price first. Ask the price first. Taxi drivers in Tulum can be pretty mean.
Find the best car rental deals and explore around freely, at your own pace. My favorite way to enjoy a destination!
The Gran Cenote is one of the most popular and, no wonder why. It’s really beautiful, and more spectacular than the above-mentioned Cristalino and Escondido, just for the fact that it is a cave cenote. You will enjoy playing hide and seek to go through one cave and coming out on the other side, just like the Cenote Dos Ojos.
Unfortunately, it is always busy and it is rare that you really can enjoy it fully by yourself. I know that I have been quite spoiled for living there and having the chance to explore more secluded and isolated cenotes. Maybe try to go very early morning when it opens, around 8 so that you might be able to be alone and really appreciate it more.
Although it’s not exactly in Tulum, the cenote Azul is definitely one that you will want to include in your Tulum Itinerary. Located at only 30 minutes drive from Tulum and the same distance from Playa del Carmen, the Cenote Azul is worth your time and attention. Is huge made of different pool formation marked of rocks and tropical vegetation? For the more adventurous there is also a 3 mt platform to jump from. To learn more and how to get there check out my dedicated post on the Cenote Azul.
Cenote Azul and Cenote Cristalino are very close to one another they are both beautiful and Although Cenote Cristalino is smaller, it’s still a lovely place to chill in its’ cool water. It also has a cave where you can swim in and get out on the other side. Find out more and how to get there, in my dedicated post on the Cenote Cristalino
Cenote Jardin del Eden
At only a few meters from the Cenote Azul, you can find the Cenote Jardin del Eden, loved by both divers and swimmers. A beautiful open cenote where you can jump, swim, snorkel or dive. It’s one of the biggest cenotes of the Riviera Maya at only 20 minutes from Tulum. You can’t miss it.
Although I normally find cave cenotes more appealing, Cenote Eden is among my favorite Cenotes. Why? for two main reasons:
- It’s huge and you can literally spend the day there. I did.
- I loved the rock formation inside of it and it makes is a spectacular subject for pictures, besides having fun snorkeling around them.
It is also surrounded by lush generous vegetation.
The only time I went there (shame on me) I even jumped from the platform after meditating on it for about an hour, while watching a 10 yr old boy doing flipping over and jumping on the water as if it was the most natural thing in the world. Oh well…
The Cenote is located at about a 40-minute drive from Tulum on the direction of Playa del Carmen.
What to see in the surrounding
Cenote Aktun ha (also called Cenote Car Wash)
An open cenote with not particularly dramatic views, as you cannot see any cave unless you dive, this cenote is in fact particularly loved by divers. There are in fact several underwater caves that you can explore if you dive. When I went to visit there were a few groups of divers and no swimmers.
However, it’s quite a large natural pool of crystal clear water and it was really inviting. If it was not for my camera gear I surely have jumped in. There are lockers available but I was looking forward to continuing my Cenote marathon that I had planned for the day.
The entrance fee is only 50 MXN unless you dive in which case it’s 250 MXN, besides the cost of the dive itself.
The life vest is 20 MXN
Open every day from 9 am to 5 pm.
Changing rooms and brand new bathrooms are available as well.
Cenote Corazon is the best cenote in Tulum in my opinion.
A spectacular open sinkhole just outside Tulum. You can even get there by bike. The name is due to the heart shape of the cenote, with a little imagination.
The water is crystal clear a pleasure to swim in it and the low temperature is exactly what you need in such hot weather.
The price is still a decent 100 MXN per person.
Open from 9 to 4
There are wooden platforms on the sides where you can lay down and relax.
If you wish to find peace and tranquillity you must get there in the morning, and possibly on weekdays.
Laguna Kaan – Loom
It’s a spectacular lagoon with a cenote in it, located just a 10-minute drive from Tulum. It’s a favorite by locals, but there is not much space for you to hang out there. Read more on my dedicated post on Laguna Kaan Loom.
Other amazing cenotes in Mexico
- The Cenotes of Homun & Cuzama’: el anillo de los cenotes
- The best cenotes to visit from Cancun
- The Cenotes of the Riviera Maya
- The Cenotes of the Yucatan Peninsula: Geology and history
- The cenotes of Cobà
- Cenotes Azul Riviera Maya
- Cenote Crystalino
Cave cenotes in Tulum
There are a few underground cenotes that are mainly popular among divers here I am sharing a couple that I know of.
Cenote Calavera is situated about 10 km from the Grand Cenote, on the way to Coba. It is especially known among the divers.
The cenote is in fact very small apt for jumping and continuing the exploration underneath the surface. But there is not much space for swimming around and enjoy it.
It’s one of my least favorites and I wouldn’t recommend you should go unless you are going to dive.
Cost: 100 Pesos ( 6USD)
How to get there
From Tulum, you can go by bicycle or taxi.
Cenote El Pit
If you love Cave diving the most amazing cenotes that you can visit is Cenote El Pit, which is only worth it if you go scuba diving.
The Pit (119 m) is the deepest cenote in the State of Quintana Roo and you need an advanced qualification to dive here. It is one of the most popular cenotes among divers.
Make sure you check with the dive centers about prices and technical info.
Cenote Dos Ojos
Among the cenotes of the Riviera Maya at only 30 minutes drive from Tulum, the Cenote Dos Ojos is the most impressive and the most famous cenote. One of the first that have been discovered.
It is also one of the most popular among divers and swimmers, for the spectacular rock formation.
The cenotes Dos Ojos, which means 2 eyes, is a flooded cave system that has been explored since 1986 and it’s still in the radar of passionate adventure divers and archaeologists.
It appears that the underwater cave system is around 61km long with a depth of 396 feet (118 meters) being one of the top 10 underwater cave systems in the world.
You can imagine that diving there requires a good level of preparation, apt equipment, and an expert guide.
But no divers can also enjoy the cenote, swim, and snorkel. Read more on my post on the cenotes of the Riviera Maya about Cenote Dos Ojos prices and other info.
Cenote Taak-bi ha
Cenote Taak-bi ha one of my recent discoveries and my favorite among all the cenotes on the Riviera Maya, especially for its turquoise waters.
To get there you must use the entrance for Cenote Dos Ojos and then continue straight on an unpaved road until you see the sign.
You pay directly at the entrance of the cenote.
If you don’t have a car and get there by “colectivo“, you can get transportation from the very first entrance.
You can also dive there but you need to organize that with a diving company first.
Entrance fee 350 MXN (without diving)
In Coba‘ you have three amazing cenotes, located close to each other. I would really suggest you should visit them on a full-day visit to the area. Maybe in The morning visit the splendid archaeological site of Coba and then go to the cenotes to take a deep and cool down and relax. Read about the amazing cenotes in Coba.
Some common-sense rules on how to visit a Cenote respecting the environment
As in every natural place, I always like to recommend following some commonsense rules in order to preserve the environment which I am sure you know already but a gentle reminder is never in excess.
- don’t wear any sunscreen or repellent before bathing in the cenotes (you can use a biodegradable sunscreen)
- don’t leave anything that doesn’t belong to the place
- don’t hang on to stalactites or stalagmites or trees roots
- don’t do anything that can damage the environment
- before jumping from a platform ask where it’s safe and deep enough to land.
- wear a life jacket if you cannot swim or you don’t feel comfortable. Life jackets and snorkel gear are available for rent for a few Mexican pesos in every cenote.
Now that you know all about the best cenotes in Tulum go and explore and let me know which one is your favorite cenote.
How to visit the cenotes in Tulum
There are many ways you can get to the cenotes in Tulum and around. Here are the options you have (including my favorite one)
Visiting Tulum Cenotes By car
My favorite way to explore Tulum and its surroundings, actually the entire Riviera Maya is by car, even more, when it comes to visiting the cenotes. It’s very easy to move around the region and if you are concerned about driving in Mexico, you can follow my tips on renting a car in Mexico and learn how to be smart about it.
Find the best car rental deals and explore around freely, at your own pace. My favorite way to enjoy a destination!
Getting to the cenotes near Tulum by taxi
If you don’t feel like driving, worry not, because there are more options for you. Just get a taxi for example. Just make sure you hire a registered taxi and you keep in mind that taxi drivers in Tulum are the worst! Unfortunately. The majority of them have acquired the bad habit to overcharge. So make sure you negotiate the price before. And if you don’t feel comfortable just pass and look for another one. There are still a few nice drivers around.
Visiting the Tulum cenotes by colectivo
Colectivos are a well-known way of getting around in Mexico. They’re basically a public transport system, but instead of buses, small min-vans are used to get people around. They are usually comfortable and air-conditioned, and they’re also very cheap. Because of this, colectivos are your best option if you’re on a budget or if you want to try the local way.
All you need to do is stand on the side of the main road in Tulum on the correct side of the road and wait for a van to show up, and wave your hand at it. If there’s space, the van will stop for you, then you just need to tell the driver your destination and he will drop you off as close as possible. Keep in mind that there are many colectivos towards Playa del Carmen, whereas on the way to Coba and therefore towards, the grand Cenote, Car wash, and Calavera, it’s better to grab a taxi as there are not many colectivos.
Exploring the cenotes in Tulum by tour
Many places and tour agencies offer tours to Tulum’s cenotes, from either Tulum, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, or all along the Riviera Maya. The tours usually include a visit to different cenotes combined with other attractions which is a great way to explore if you have a limited time.
If you want to dive into a cenote, there are a couple of things you need to know, because you cannot just show up and pay for your entrance. it’s a little more tricky.
In fact, you must book your dive in advance through a diving center. There are plenty of those in Tulum, Playa del Carmen or Cancun. But also keep in mind that in order to dive into a cenote, you must be already certified. For diving in The Pit cenote, you must also be an experienced diver. The dive centers will be able to give you more information with that respect and suggest the perfect cenotes for your experience.