The Best Cenotes in Tulum, Mexico

The Best Cenotes in Tulum, Mexico Cave

Aside from its stunning beaches and ancient Mayan ruins, Tulum is also known for its cenotes. A quick Google search presents you with hundreds of articles about cenotes in Tulum. I understand that taking in all this information can be too much.

To help you with that, I surveyed and explored the best cenotes in Tulum. I compared and summed up information from various magazines and travel blogs to come up with this list. I also included cenotes in neighboring towns that are worth visiting. 

In this guide, I’ll share the top 15 cenotes in and near Tulum. I also added some useful pieces of information, such as opening hours, ticket costs, and location. 

Table of Contents

• What Is a Cenote?
• The Best Cenotes in Tulum

– Gran Cenote
– Cenote Aktun-Ha (Car Wash)
– Cenote Zacil Ha
– Cenote Dos Ojos
– Cenote Nicte-Ha
– Cenote El Pit
– Pet Cemetery Cenote
– Cenote Calavera
– Casa Cenote (Cenote Manati or Cenote Tankah)
– Cenote Azul
– Cenote Jardin Del Eden
– Cenotes Cristal y Escondido
• Other Notable Cenotes in Tulum
– Cenote Suytun
– Cenote X’Canche
– Laguna Kaan Luum
• Tips & Advice When Visiting Tulum Cenotes
– What To Bring When Visiting the Tulum Cenotes
How To Get to the Cenotes in Tulum
• Where To Stay To Visit the Cenotes in Tulum

But before anything else…

What Is a Cenote?

The word ‘cenote’ (pronounced seh-NO-tay) came from the Mayan term dzonot, which means “well”. A cenote is a large water-filled pit that has formed over several centuries. This sinkhole resulted from sedimentary limestone rocks collapsing. When an underground cave collapses, it exposes the cool groundwater below. It also gets filled with rainwater over time, forming this clear pool. The refreshing water of the cenotes is perfect for cooling off from the tropical heat.

In ancient times, Mayans believed cenotes were sacred places where the dead could cross to the netherworld. They used them as venues for sacrificial rituals. That is why it’s possible to see gold, pottery, and human and animal remains at the bottom of some cenotes.

There are around 6000 cenotes found in the entire Yucatan Peninsula. A lot are inaccessible because they are small and underground. But there are several that are good for swimming, snorkeling, and diving. Tulum is home to some of its most popular ones.

There are different kinds of cenotes. They are…

  • Open Cenotes. Open cenotes are limestone caves whose ceilings have completely collapsed. Thus, making them appear like natural open-air swimming pools. Open cenotes connected to underground rivers are ideal for diving, too.
Open Cenotes Lagoon

Semi-open Cenotes. A semi-open cenote is partly covered and partly exposed. This type is usually an underground cenote with small cracks on the ceiling that let light in. This illuminating effect looks spectacular, especially when it hits the crystal clear pool.

Semi-open Cenotes Underground Cave
  • Cave and Underground Cenotes. While many are open and semi-open, some cenotes are only reachable via stairs leading to an underground pool. Cave and underground cenotes are those whose ceilings remain intact. Because of this, they rarely have natural light to illuminate the water.

The Best Cenotes in Tulum

1. Gran Cenote

Best for swimming, snorkeling, and diving.

Gran Cenote Underground River

First on our list is one of the most popular cenotes not just in Tulum, but in the whole of Mexico. And it’s no wonder why. Its surrounding rock formations and pristine waters are simply breathtaking. The pool is so clear that you can see fish and turtles swimming even without a snorkel!

Gran Cenote is a collection of cenotes encircled by a lush forest. It’s a mix of open-air and cave cenotes. Wooden walking paths string the cenotes together. Its main cenote is an open-air one that looks like a river.

Since it’s one of the popular ones, it’s also more crowded compared to other cenotes. I encourage you to come early to avoid the crowds.

How to Get To Gran Cenote: It is a 10-30 minute bike ride from the town center. You can also take a taxi or a colectivo toward Coba. Read until the end for more information about your transportation options.

Opening Hours: 08:10 AM-04:45 PM, but take note that they have a 04:15 PM cutoff.

Entry Price: 180 Mexican Pesos (MXN)

Facilities: toilets, showers, and changing rooms. Life jackets, snorkeling gear, and lockers are available at an extra cost. They also have a little on-site shop.

Location: between Tulum and Cob, on Calle Carretera Federal 109. It’s around 4-5km away from Tulum Town. 

2. Cenote Aktun-Ha (Cenote Car Wash)

Best for swimming and snorkeling. This cenote is also a pleasant spot for diving, but you need to organize it with a dive center first.

Cenote Aktun-Ha Lagoon

Because of its proximity to the main road, Cenote Aktun-Ha used to be a pit stop for motorists. Taxi drivers traveling between Coba and Tulum washed their cars with the cenote’s crystal clear water. Thus, earning its famous nickname: Cenote Carwash. Despite it being just a few minutes away from Tulum, this cenote is not at all crowded.

Cenote Aktun-Ha is a large open-air cenote surrounded by lily pads and fallen trees. It has an underwater cave section with rock formations and stalactites. Aside from turtles and fish, a small resident crocodile also lives in this cenote.

How to Get To Aktun-Ha: Cenote Car Wash is a 10-30 minute bike ride from the town center. You can also take a taxi or a colectivo toward Coba. Read until the end for more information about your transportation options.

Opening Hours: 09:00 AM-05:00 PM

Entry Price: 50 MXN (cheapest); 200 MXN for divers

Facilities: restrooms, showers, lockers, and snorkeling gear. Life jacket rentals cost 20-50 MXN.

Location: between Tulum and Coba, on Calle Carretera Federal 109. It’s around 4-5km away from Tulum Town. 

3. Cenote Zacil-Ha

Best for swimming.

Cenote Zacil-Ha Lagoon

Another less crowded cenote is Zacil-Ha. It is an open-air cenote that looks like a man-made pool. It’s quite popular among local families because the site offers a lot of amenities. Cenote Zacil-Ha has a zipline 10 feet above the water, 2 actual swimming pools, and a restaurant. Families bring food and have a picnic here.

How to Get To Zacil-Ha: Zacil-Ha is a 10-30 minute bike ride from the town center. You can also take a taxi or a colectivo toward Coba. Read until the end for more information about your transportation options.

Opening Hours: 10:00 AM-05:00 PM

Entry Price: 80-100 MXN; 10 MXN for zipline

Facilities: hammocks, changing rooms, an affordable on-site snack bar

Location: between Tulum and Cob, on Calle Carretera Federal 109. It’s around 4-5km away from Tulum Town and next to Car Wash Cenote.

4. Cenote Dos Ojos

Best for diving, snorkeling, and swimming.

Cenote Dos Ojos Lagoon

Dos Ojos, collectively, is a cenote group that comprises an open-air cenote and two sinkholes that join to form an underground cavern. The term ‘dos ojos’ literally means two eyes. This is because of the two sinkholes, connected by a 400-meter boardwalk, that take the form of two eyes. The Blue Eye is an open-air cenote that has crystal blue waters, while the Black Eye is a pitch-dark cave cenote. The stalactites and stalagmites of the Black Eye make it a suitable spot for snorkeling.

Dos Ojos is one of the best diving spots in the entire Yucatan Peninsula. Although this cenote is on the pricier side, it’s still one of the most crowded.

How to Get To Dos Ojos Park: It’s a 30-minute drive from Tulum. You can rent a car or take a colectivo heading north toward Playa Del Carmen. Read until the end for more information about your transportation options.

Opening Hours: 08:00 AM-05:00 PM

Entry Price: 350 MXN; 380 MXN for divers; 450 MXN includes all cenotes in the Dos Ojos Park, including Sac Actun and Nicte-Ha cenotes

Facilities: showers, toilets, snorkeling gear (50-90 MXN), lockers (50 MXN), Restaurante Dos Ojos, and Restaurante Juanita near the entrance

Location: between Tulum and Playa Del Carmen. It’s about 22km North of Tulum.

5. Cenote Nicte-Ha 

Best for swimming and diving.

Cenote Nicte-Ha Lagoon

Cenote Nicte-Ha is part of the many cenotes in Dos Ojos Park, but one of the less crowded ones. It’s a bit way off the beaten path, which makes it ideal for those looking for a quiet spot. This hidden gem looks straight out of a fantasy movie with its turquoise blue water and lush green vegetation. 

Unlike other cenotes, Nicte-Ha is largely above ground. It looks like a pond with floating lilies. This cenote is best for swimming. Its refreshing but not unbearably cold water is perfect to combat the heat.

How to Get To Nicte-Ha: It’s a 30-minute drive from Tulum. You can rent a car or take a colectivo heading north toward Playa Del Carmen. Read until the end for more information about your transportation options.

Opening Hours: 08:00 AM-05:00 PM

Entry Price: 100 MXN

Location: between Tulum and Playa Del Carmen. It’s about 22km North of Tulum.

6. Cenote El Pit

Best for diving, but only experienced may dive here.

Cenote El Pit

El Pit is one of the most known cenotes because it is the deepest in the Yucatan Peninsula. Scientists and geologists come here to study its rock formations. The entrance to this 119-meter deep cenote is steep and narrow. But once you’re in the water, it opens up to a huge cavern.

How to Get To El Pit: It’s a 30-minute drive from Tulum. You can rent a car or take a colectivo heading north toward Playa Del Carmen. Read until the end for more information about your transportation options.

Opening Hours: 08:00 AM-05:00 PM

Entry Price: 300 MXN; 450 MXN for divers; 500 MXN including Dos Ojos Cenote

Facilities: area to get diving equipment

Location: between Tulum and Playa Del Carmen. It’s about 22km North of Tulum.

7. Pet Cemetery Cenote (also called Cenote Sac Actun)

Best for diving and snorkeling.

Pet Cemetery Cenote Lagoon

Cenote Sac Actun is also called Pet Cemetery. It may sound morbid, but it looks spectacular underwater. Cenote Pet Cemetery is home to animal fossils. Archaeologists even found the remains of a teenage girl who lived around 13000 years ago. This is believed to be the oldest skeleton in the Americas.

This cenote is part of the Sistema Sac Actun, the longest underwater cave system in the world. Unlike its neighbor Dos Ojos, Pet Cemetery cenotes are all underground. So expect bats everywhere. Since this cenote is deep in the jungle and challenging to go to, a guided tour is necessary. You cannot visit it without an authorized guide. This also means fewer crowds.

How to Get To Sac Actun: It’s a 30-minute drive from Tulum. You can rent a car or take a colectivo heading north toward Playa Del Carmen. Read until the end for more information about your transportation options.

Opening Hours: 08:00 AM-05:00 PM

Entry Price: 450-600 MXN, including the guided tour

Facilities: toilets and changing rooms

Location: between Tulum and Playa Del Carmen. It’s about 22km North of Tulum.

8. Cenote Calavera

Best for diving and swimming.

Cenote Calavera Open Lagoon

In Spanish, “Calavera” means skull. And Cenote Calavera’s interesting shape resembles that — with 2 sinkholes that look like eyes and 1 that looks like an open mouth. If you’re up for a peaceful swim, Calavera is only a few kilometers away from Tulum.

Although it’s closer to Tulum than the other cenotes listed here, it’s surprisingly not crowded. This hidden gem is a good place to take photos. Pose by its 4-meter drop ladder or on its swing that hangs above the crystal blue pool. The good news is you can take all your time taking the perfect Instagram shot. Since no crowds are lining up to take photos, you can take as many as you want!

How to Get To Calavera: It’s a 20-minute bike ride from Tulum. You can rent a car or take a taxi. A colectivo towards Coba can also be an option. Read until the end for more information about your transportation options.

Opening Hours: 09:00 AM-04:00 PM 

Entry Price: 100 MXN; additional 100 MXN for divers 

Location: It’s about 3km from Tulum on the highway leading to Coba.

9. Casa Cenote (Cenote Manati or Cenote Tankah)

Best for swimming, snorkeling, and diving.

Located in Tankah, Casa Cenote is sometimes also referred to as Casa Tankah. It was formerly Cenote Manati because manatees (sea cows) used to frequent this area.

Casa Cenote Lagoon

The cenote is part of an underwater cave system: the Sistema Nohoch Nah Chich. This system leads directly to the ocean. Thus, it contains both fresh and seawater. It’s a magnificent spot for both free and scuba diving.

Casa Cenote River

Casa Cenote looks like a river, where you can swim, kayak, and paddleboard. You can also snorkel under its mangrove roots.

How to Get To Casa Cenote: You can rent a car, take a taxi, ride a colectivo heading to Playa Del Carmen. Read until the end for more information about your transportation options.

Opening Hours: 08:00/09:00 AM-05:00 PM. Be sure to ask before you get there. Their opening times may vary.

Entry Price: 120 MXN; 150 MXN, including a life jacket; 200 MXN for scuba divers

Facilities: toilets, lockers for 50 MXN, kayak for 150 MXN

Location: between Tulum and Playa Del Carmen. It’s about 11km North of Tulum on Carretera 307.

10. Cenote Azul

Best for swimming and snorkeling.

Cenote Azul got its name from its turquoise blue waters. Azul means blue in Spanish. Surrounded by a verdant jungle, this cenote is a collection of open-air pools connected by wooden platforms.

It’s a mix of deep and shallow pools. The shallow ones are more popular among family vacationers. The pools are shallow enough for kids to swim in. For those who want a little more thrill, you can jump off a cliff and dive into the deeper cenotes. Take note that the main cenote is the deepest.

Cenote Azul can get too crowded because it’s accessible to Tulum, Playa del Carmen, and Cancun. It’s better to arrive early to avoid the crowds.

How to Get To Cenote Azul: You can rent a car, take a taxi, ride a colectivo. Read until the end for more information about your transportation options.

Opening Hours: 08:30 AM-05:30 PM

Entry Price: 120 MXN

Location: between Tulum and Playa Del Carmen. 

11. Cenote Jardin Del Eden

Best for snorkeling and diving.

Cenote Jardin Del Eden Lagoon

Cenote Ponderosa is more commonly known as Jardin Del Eden (Garden of Eden). With its lush greenery and emerald sapphire waters, you’ll feel like you’re at the Garden of Eden. Ponderosa is a large open-air cenote with a cliff that serves as a diving platform. Its cave system is also popular among scuba divers.

Jardin Del Eden gets pretty busy in the afternoons and on weekends. If you want to avoid crowds, the best time to visit is on weekday mornings.

How to Get To Ponderosa: You can rent a car or take a taxi. Read until the end for more information about your transportation options.

Entry Price: 100 MXN for children; 200 for adults

Facilities: restrooms, life jackets for rent, small snack bar

Location: between Tulum and Playa Del Carmen. 

12. Cenotes Cristal y Escondido

Best for swimming, snorkeling, and diving.

Cristal y (and) Escondido are both open-air cenotes surrounded by lush vegetation. These two are on the opposite sides of the highway with an underwater tunnel that connects them. You can swim the tunnel’s length, but you’ll need scuba gear. Although it’s close to Tulum town, it’s off the tourist radar and is pretty quiet. 

Cenotes Cristal y Escondido View Lagoon

Cenote Cristal (named so because of its crystal clear water) is the busier cenote between the two. It’s a circular pool with a diving platform and a few hangout spots around. Cenote Escondido, in contrast, is a long strip of water. It has a rope swing at one end that you may use to jump into the water. Life jackets are necessary when swimming in both cenotes.

Cenotes Cristal y Escondido Lagoon

How to Get To Cristal y Escondido: From Tulum center, Cenotes Cristal and Escondido are only a 20-minute bike ride away via Carretera Cancun-Tulum. You can also rent a car or take a taxi. Read until the end for more information about your transportation options.

Opening Hours: 08:00 AM-05:00 PM

Entry Price: 120 MXN 

13. Laguna Kaan Luum

Laguna Kaan Luum Lagoon

Laguna Kaan Luum is more popular among locals than tourists. If you go in the afternoon, you can have the whole place for yourself. This lagoon cenote is family-friendly, too. Kids can swim in it as the water is only 1.5 meters shallow. The jade water turns dark blue when you get into the deep part. To keep it safe, fences separate the cenote’s center, which is about 80 meters deep. Only scuba divers are permitted in this area.

How to Get To Laguna Kaan Luum: Laguna Kaan Luum is a 15-minute drive from Tulum on Carretera 307. You can rent a car or take a taxi. You can also take a colectivo toward Felipe Carillo. Take note, though, that catching a colectivo back to Tulum can be difficult as they run less frequently.

Opening Hours: 09:00 AM-04:30 PM

Entry Price: 300 MXN

Facilities: toilet, palapas for picnics, swing sets

Location: It’s about 16.5km South of Tulum.

Other Notable Cenotes Near Tulum

14. Cenote Suytun

Best for swimming and taking pictures.

Cenote Suytun Underground Lagoon

Cenote Suytun is closer to Valladolid than Tulum. But taking a day trip to Valladolid will be worth the hassle once you witness the splendid view of its greyish cave walls and bright blue waters.

This picturesque cenote is famous for its stone path leading to a circular platform in the middle of its large, round pool. People come here to see light beams stream down through its roof. With this view and its towering stalactites, it’s no wonder why this giant cave cenote is one of the most photographed cenotes in Mexico.

Since it’s Instagram famous, expect plenty of tourists to visit. If you want fewer crowds, you can come early in the morning. However, you won’t get so see the sunbeams until midday. Wearing life jackets is mandatory if you want to go swimming.

How to Get To Suytun: Take a day trip to Valladolid. In Valladolid, you can catch a colectivo and get off at Cenote Suytun. You may also rent a car or a taxi.

Opening Hours: 09:00 AM-05:00 PM, but take note that they have a 04:30 PM cutoff.

Entry Price: 120 MXN for both cenotes, including a life jacket rental

Facilities: changing rooms, lockers, parking, snack bar

Location: It’s about 100km away from Tulum.

15. Cenote X’Canche

Best for swimming.

Cenote X'Canche Lagoon

Another cenote worth visiting near Tulum is Cenote X’Canche. It’s next to the Ek Balam Archaeological Site, so you can hit two birds with one stone. Plus, it’s off the tourist trail, so few people come here. X’Canche is a large open cenote with waterfalls. It’s a great place to relax and swim after exploring the ruins of Ek Balam. There is also a short zip line for those who want a little more adventure.

How to Get To X’Canche: Renting a car is the most convenient option for visiting this cenote. If you’re coming from Tulum, take a day trip to Valladolid. In Valladolid, you can catch a colectivo toward Ek Balam. Read until the end for more information about your transportation options.

Opening Hours: 08:00 AM-04:00 PM, but take note that they have a 03:30 PM cutoff.

Entry Price: 70 MXN; 150 MXN for a ticket, including a two-way trip on a taxi bike; 400 MXN for a ticket, including bike rental, rappelling, and zip-lining.

Facilities: changing rooms, lockers, life jackets, parking, snack bar

Tips and Advice for Visiting Tulum

What To Bring When Visiting the Tulum Cenotes

  • Cash
  • Towels
  • Swim Shoes
  • Waterproof Camera 
  • Waterproof Phone Cover
  • Waterproof Head Torches
  • Biodegradable Sunscreen*
TIP:
Do not use sunscreen. If you can’t help it, use biodegradable ones. Sunscreens contain chemical agents that harm the fish. You see, cenotes are part of fragile underground river systems. Certain chemicals can damage the ecosystem. This is also why most cenotes have showers near their entrances. You will need to rinse before dipping in the water.

How To Get to the Cenotes in Tulum

By Private Car. If you’re planning to explore multiple cenotes in one day, renting a car might be your best option. If you want to fully enjoy your vacation, you may also opt to book a private driver. 

Visiting one cenote after another – especially if they’re the more remote ones – is easier when you have your own car. It can be pricey, but the time and effort you’ll save will be worth it.

By Cenote Tour. Another way to explore different cenotes in one day is by joining a cenote tour. The tours will bring you to several cenotes, depending on your package. Most hotels provide information on where and how to join a cenote tour.

By Taxi. Since there is no Uber in Tulum, taxis are the way to get around. If you’re planning to visit only one cenote or several cenotes in one vicinity, taking a taxi is a good choice. Tulum taxis do not use meters, so the cost adds up quite fast. They charge a flat rate depending on where you intend to go. Taxi rides may cost around 400 to 600 MXN.

By Bike. Cenotes that are along the Tulum-Coba road are accessible via a bicycle. You can see tons of bike rental services both in Tulum Town and Tulum Beach. Ask your hotel also if they offer free bike rentals, some of them do. Don’t forget to bring a bottle of water. Cycling under the heat can get uncomfortable, especially at around noon.

By Colectivo. Colectivos are shared minibuses. It is the cheapest choice for those traveling on a budget. It may seem quite tricky if you’re not used to commuting. But it’s just like hitchhiking. You wait on the highway, hail a colectivo bound for your cenote destination, hop on it, and tell the driver where you want to get off. It will only cost you around 20-40 MXN.

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