With over 6,000 cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula, there's more than enough choice to overwhelm a traveler. Where do you even start?
There are gorgeous cenotes near Tulum that are easy to get to and will take your breath away.
Perfect for a quick swim or lounging for an afternoon, snorkeling or cave diving, exploring cenotes will take your time in Tulum to another level.
Tulum is one of my favorite places. I fell in love with the turquoise blues and lush greens when I first visited in 2012 on a day trip from Cancun.
Back then, Tulum was considered to be off-the-beaten-path and usually seen during a short stop on a one-day trip. Since then, its Instagrammable nature has shot it to the top of bucket lists around the world.
I've asked fellow bloggers to recommend their favorite cenotes that you cannot miss during your vacation.
Here are the top five cenotes to visit in Tulum.
Cenote Dos Ojos
Contributed by Michelle Stelly from The Wandering Queen
One of the best cenotes in Tulum is Dos Ojos. Dos Ojos translates to ‘Two Eyes'. It is named this way because there are two 70 meter sinkholes that are connected through a passageway.
This cenote is a great place to swim and hang around for a few hours.
Dos Ojos is located 30 minutes northeast from Tulum (Cenote Jaguar Rd, Quintana Roo, Mexico). Getting to the cenote can be a pain as the road is filled with many potholes. If you can manage the bumpy road, it is well worth it.
The cost to visit is 200 pesos or about $14 USD, and you can rent snorkeling equipment for an additional 100 pesos.
If you have a diving certificate, you can even go diving through the mystical caves, which are around 61 km long! This experience is well worth it.
I recommend getting to Cenote Dos Ojos early in the morning so you can have the place to yourself. The morning light also reflects through one of the cenotes, which helps with bringing out the vibrant blue colors.
This cenote has definitely been getting more and more popular over the years due to its crystal clear blue colors so make sure to visit soon!
Contributed by Michele Aaron from Pursuing Wanderlust
Gran (Grand) Cenote is one of Tulum’s most popular cenotes, and for good reason.
Located approximately 3 miles from Tulum, its easily accessible location makes it a great choice for a day of exploring. Arrive about 15 minutes before opening so that you’ll be one of the first few people in line.
Gran Cenote gets increasingly busy in the hour after opening, and stays that way all day, so you'll want to keep this in mind.
Credit: Michele Aaron
It costs $10.00 per person to get in and you can pay with U.S. currency, just make sure the bills aren’t ripped, taped together, or otherwise in bad condition.
The mosquitos at Gran Cenote are relentless, so don't forget the bug spray. You’ll also want to take a towel with you and a bag to carry everything in.
Before you get in the cenote, you’ll be required to rinse off in the outdoor showers.
After you've rinsed off and you're ready to enjoy the cenote, skip the first set of stairs that everyone naturally gravitates toward and head to the second, more secluded set of stairs. This is where you will find the location of all the Instagram famous shots.
When you’re done exploring the Gran Cenote, head back into Tulum and have a few margaritas!
Contributed by Eloise from My Favourite Escape
Casa cenote is an open cenote: it looks like a river surrounded by mangrove. Unless you go scuba diving, you won’t see the cave there. Still, it’s an incredible cenote to visit in Tulum.
The water is not as cold as in other cenotes we visited and its clarity was unbelievable. We had a fantastic time snorkeling there.
The mangrove roots provide habitat for many small fish and, with excellent visibility, we got to see a cormorant hunting underwater. If you’re lucky, you may also spot a small alligator.
You can hire snorkel gear and life vest there if you need, but they won’t provide towels.
Don’t skip the fins in your safety equipment if you plan to explore the cenote further than a quick dip: the current at Casa Cenote was quite strong and it would be too tiring to swim without fins. As the cenote is open, there is no need for a torch.
We spent half a day at Casa Cenote. After snorkeling, we went to the other side of the cenote: the ocean.
There aren’t many opportunities in Tulum to see the exit of a cenote from the ocean. The halocline – when saltwater and fresh water don’t mix – was impressive.
Snorkeling will make you hungry. If you didn’t bring food, there’s a simple restaurant with a lovely view near the ocean.
Casa Cenote is 11km away from Tulum. It’s easy to reach by car. You can also catch the collectivo from Tulum and walk the last bit from the highway to the cenote. It would take about 20 minutes.
We paid 150 pesos (~ $8 USD) to visit the cenote and lockers were available for 50 pesos (~ $2.50 USD).
Contributed by Hannah & Adam Lukaszewicz from Getting Stamped
Cenote Calavera is one of our favorite cenotes and a must visit when you’re visiting Tulum! This cenote is located in the Yucatan Peninsula right outside of Tulum on the road to Coba.
It’s actually one of the closest cenotes to Tulum but still under the radar. We suggest renting a car and driving, as it’s super easy to find and has a gravel parking lot out front.
Cenote Calavera is open 7 days a week from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm and costs 100 Mexican Pesos to get in and 200 Mexican pesos to dive. As with any spot, we suggest going during the week and early to avoid other visitors.
Once inside, you’ll be amazed! This cenote is a ‘Cántaro’ or jug type where the roof of the cenote has broken away, revealing the water below. The main cenote is much larger underneath the opening and there is no dry place to stand once inside.
We strongly recommend exploring after jumping in with snorkel gear – you can rent there if you don’t have your own. You can get a deeper look at the ceiling of the cavern and what it looks like beneath the surface.
There are also multiple naturally formed places to jump in, one main large hole at the opening and two smaller holes only big enough for one at a time. It’s quite thrilling!
If you’re looking for an even bigger thrill, we dove with a local dive shop to get the full tour of the cenote with an expert. The water is very clear and you also get some incredible light beams coming in from the holes.
There’s even a small ledge where there are bones and Mayan pottery. Some say this is one of the reasons they call it the Temple of Doom!
Contributed by Allison Sicking from Viva La Travelista
Cenote Cristalino is a freshwater swimming hole located about 30 minutes north of downtown Tulum. The cenote is located right off the main highway which makes it very easy to get to by car or colectivo (shared van). The entrance fee is $150 pesos (~$8 USD), which includes a life jacket rental.
Upon entering Cenote Cristalino, you’ll find a
lush natural setting that offers many different bodies of crystal clear water to explore, snorkel, or simply relax. It’s easy to see where Cenote Cristalino gets its name!
In the main cenote, there is a 12 ft ledge where you can high jump into the water. Another picturesque feature is a deep tunnel-like cave covered with stalactites that you can float your way through to admire the unique rock formations both above and below.
Be sure to venture to the back of the cenote where you’ll find Cenote Escondido (Hidden Cenote), a secluded shallow pool perfect for relaxing and filled with plenty of tiny fish for some free foot exfoliation.
It’s best to visit Cenote Cristalino during the week as it can get very crowded with locals and families on weekends.
You’ll want to bring a GoPro or waterproof camera, biodegradable sunscreen, towel, and water shoes. Lockers can be rented to store any valuables for $50 pesos (~$2.50 USD).
Perfect for a full-day adventure, Cenote Cristalino is a fun alternative to the beaches in Riviera Maya and a great way to experience the natural beauty of the region.
Have a cenote to add to the list? Leave a comment below and let me know!