15 Best Cenotes near Tulum (2020)
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With its idyllic white sand beaches, hip restaurant scene and easy access to incredible Mayan ruins and crystal clear cenotes, Tulum is one of the Riviera Maya’s most popular tourist towns. From the popular Gran Cenote with its mix of caves, caverns and an open-air cenote and Cenote Dos Ojos, a magnet for divers, to the open waters of Cenote Zacil-Ha and Cenote Carwash there are some amazing cenotes near Tulum just waiting to be explored.
Having visited, and loved, so many amazing cenotes from Tulum at the beginning of 2020, we wanted to share to our favorites – this is our guide to the 13 cenotes near Tulum!
What are Cenotes?
A cenote, pronounced seh-NO-tay, are water-filled sinkholes that naturally occur in limestone rock when an underground cave collapses in on itself and exposes the groundwater underneath. There are thousands of cenotes dotted around the Yucatan Peninsula and Tulum is home to some of its most popular and unique.
The water in the cenotes tends to be cool as the water comes from underground so they are great for a refreshing swim to cool off from the hot Mexican sunshine. In Mayan times a number of the cenotes were used for sacrificial purposes and objects such as gold, pottery and even human and animal remains have been found at the bottom of some cenotes.
The cenotes near Tulum are a mix of open, semi-open or underground:
- Open cenotes: these are caves which have completely collapsed in on themselves and are exposed to the sky. These are our favourite as you can swim under the blue skies, the water is a pleasant temperature and there are usually lots of areas to relax by the water. Our favorite open air Tulum cenotes are Cenote Carwash and Cenote Zacil Ha.
- Semi-open cenotes: these cenotes are mostly underground but have small openings in the ceiling where light and fresh air come in. These cenotes can be particularly beautiful as the light beams illuminate the crystal clear water below. Our favorite semi-open cenotes are Cenote Ik Kil which can be visited as part of a day trip to Chichen Itza and Cenote Samula, one of the cenotes near Valladolid.
- Underground cenotes: these cenotes are completely underground in a cave system and have no natural light to illuminate the cenote water. Cenote Choo-Ha near the Coba ruins and Cenote Xkeken near Valladolid are amazing underground cenotes on the Yucatan Peninsula.
11 Best Cenotes near Tulum
These are our favorite cenotes near Tulum – we think they are a great inclusion in any Tulum or Yucatan itinerary!
Where to stay in Tulum
Tulum’s accommodation options are split between exclusive resorts with private beach access, lodgings near the public beaches and hotels and hostels in the town itself. All three options are great. In terms of budget, the very expensive hotels tend to be located on the beach in the hotel-zone while you can get much better bang for your peso in Tulum town.
- Casa Santiago – This small boutique hotel is a perfect little oasis located close to the main street of Tulum town. We stayed here and loved the modern, clean rooms and reasonable prices – check prices now!
- El Pez a Colibri Boutique Hotel – Located next to Sunrise Beach, El Pez a Colibri is one of the best hotels in the hotel zone. The views fare incredible and it’s one of the best options on the beach – check prices now!
- Hotel Poc Na Tulum – this is a great option for those looking for a stunning beachfront hotel away from the busy hotel-zone. Hotel Poc Na Tulum is located on the beach and inside the Tulum Archeological site. – check prices now!
1 | Gran Cenote
Best for: snorkeling, diving, swimming
The ever popular Gran Cenote is a large cenote with crystal clear waters located just outside Tulum. It is made up of a collection of caves, caverns and an open air cenote connected by meandering wooden boardwalks and surrounded by lush greenery. Gran Cenote draws swimmers, divers and snorkelers and is popular with both the Tulum crowd and those making a pit stop en route to explore the Coba ruins.
Gran Cenote is comprised of a river like open air cenote flanked by two snorkeling areas and it is often possible to spot turtles swimming in its waters.
How to get to Gran Cenote: Gran Cenote is easily accessed by rental car (check prices now!). From Tulum, take a taxi or a Colectivo in the direction of Coba and tell the driver where you want to get out.
Cenote Gran ticket cost: tickets for Gran Cenote cost $180 pesos
2 | Cenote Carwash
Best for: swimming, diving, those looking for an easily accessible and chilled cenote experience
An open-air cenote, Cenote Ak Tun Ha is also known the Carwash Cenote as it was once used for exactly that, washing cars! Its large swimming area is adjacent to the car park making it easy to access.
Fish and turtles swim in an underwater world of rock formations and a small resident crocodile occasionally makes an appearance. The undergrowth leads to a cave section. Cenote Carwash reaches up to 50 feet in depth and it is common to see divers emerging from its waters.
How to get to Cenote Carwash: Cenote Carwash is easily accessed by rental car (check prices now!). From Tulum, take a taxi or a Colectivo in the direction of Coba and tell the driver where you want to get out.
Cenote Carwash ticket cost: tickets cost $50 pesos
3 | Cenote Zacil-Ha
Best for: families, swimming pool style cenote
A neighbor of the aforementioned Cenote Carwash, Cenote Zacil-Ha is a small and beautiful open air cenote with crystal clear waters. We visited a lot of cenotes and Zacil Ha was the closest we found to the style of a regular swimming pool, albeit an incredible pretty one! There are lots of opportunities to jump from the sides or even zip line across and drop into the cenote from above! Other features include hammocks and regular swimming pools to lounge around.
How to get to Cenote Zacil Ha: Cenote Zacil Ha is easily accessed by rental car (check prices now!). From Tulum, take a taxi or a Colectivo in the direction of Coba and tell the driver where you want to get out.
Cenote Zacil Ha ticket cost: tickets cost $80 pesos
4 | Cenote Dos Ojos
Best for: divers, swimming, snorkeling
Located between Playa Del Carmen and Tulum, Cenote Dos Ojos is a 30 minute drive from Tulum and is one of the best diving cenotes on the Yucatan Peninsula.
Its name translates as Cenote Two Eyes in reference to the double sinkholes connected by a boardwalk which take the appearance of two eyes. The double sinkholes join to form an underground cavern. Many visitors opt to join a snorkeling tour down into the caves. With its deep cave system, Dos Ojos is very popular with divers.
How to get to Cenote Dos Ojos: Cenote Dos Ojos is most easily accessed by rental car (check prices now!). If you are traveling by Colectivo from Tulum, take a Colectivo heading north on highway 307 towards Playa Del Carmen, Colectivos drop of at the entrance to the Dos Ojos park – be aware, it is a 30 minute walk along a dirt road to the cenote.
Cenote Dos Ojos ticket cost: tickets are $450 pesos and this includes all cenotes in the Dos Ojos park – both Sac Actun and Nicte Ha are also incredible and worth a visit if you have time. Individual tickets for Dos Ojos only are $350 pesos.
5 | Cenote Sac Actun, Cenote El Pit and Cenote Nicte-Ha
Dos Ojos Park, where Cenote Dos Ojos is located, is home to a number of cenotes which are also worth visiting. Cenote Sac Actun, known as the pet cemetery cenote and Cenote El Pit, the deepest cenote in the Yucatan are both fantastic to visit. The pond like Cenote Nicte-Ha, surrounded by lily pads is another favorite.
How to get to Cenote Sac Actun, Cenote El Pit and Cenote Nicte-Ha: Cenote Dos Ojos is most easily accessed by rental car (check prices now!). If you are traveling by Colectivo from Tulum, take a Colectivo heading north on highway 307 towards Playa Del Carmen, Colectivos drop of at the entrance to the Dos Ojos park – be aware, it is a 30 minute walk along a dirt road to the cenote.
Ticket cost: tickets are $450 pesos and this includes all cenotes in the Dos Ojos park – both Sac Actun and Nicte Ha are also incredible and worth a visit if you have time. Individual tickets for Dos Ojos only are $350 pesos.
Best Cenotes Tulum tip: the cenotes in Dos Ojos Park are popular with visitors from Tulum, Cancun and Playa Del Carmen – we also included them as some of our favorite Playa Del Carmen cenotes! As a result, they tend to get very busy with tour groups in the late morning or early afternoon so visit earlier in the day if you can.
6 | Casa Cenote
Casa Cenote, on the highway between Playa Del Carmen and Tulum, is one of the most unique cenotes near Tulum. The crystal clear turquoise waters are surrounded by lush trees and mangrove and it can be combined with a visit to the nearby beach. Visitors can swim, kayak or paddle board in the cenote and, at only 6 meters deep, it is family friendly. Snorkeling is popular at Casa Cenote and it also attracts divers with its underwater cave system which leads directly to the ocean.
How to get to Casa Cenote: Casa Cenote is easily accessed by rental car (check prices now!), a local Colectivo (if you don’t mind the walk from the highway) or a taxi ride. From the highway where the colectivo drops off, It is about a 20 minute walk along a dirt road surrounded by jungle.
Casa Cenote ticket cost: entrance to Casa Cenote is $120 pesos.
7 | Cenote Calavera
Best for: swimming, jumping and diving
Cenote Calavera is a unique Tulum cenote. Its name translates as the ‘Skull’ Cenote in reference to the three sinkholes, resembling two eyes and a mouth, which open over the cenote. There is a 4 meter drop down into the water: use the ladder on the edge of the cenote or, if you prefer, you can launch yourself off the side and jump straight in!
Despite its close proximity to Tulum, Cenote Calavera remains relatively quiet and is one of Tulum’s hidden gems.
How to get to Cenote Calavera: Cenote Calavera is easily accessed by rental car (check prices now!). From Tulum, take a taxi or a Colectivo in the direction of Coba and tell the driver where you want to get out.
Cenote Calavera ticket cost: tickets cost $100 pesos and it is an extra $100 pesos for a dive.
8 | Cenote Azul
Best for: families, open-air swimming, chilling in the water and having some fun jumps
The large open air Cenote Azul, with its shallow waters and fun cliff jump, is located north of Tulum. The main cenote is split into two swimming areas which are separated by a wooden boardwalk. The shallow side of the cenote, where younger kids can paddle in the clear waters, is popular with families. The deeper pool has a cliff perched above it which is great for having some fun jumping into the cenote. Snorkeling is also popular on this side.
Best Tulum Cenotes tip: Cenote Azul is easily accessible from Cancun, Playa Del Carmen and Tulum and, as a result, gets very busy. We recommend visiting early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the peak crowds.
How to get to Cenote Azul: Cenote Azul is easily accessed by rental car (check prices now!), a local Colectivo or a quick taxi ride.
Cenote Azul ticket cost: entry to Cenote Azul costs $120 pesos per person
9 | Cenote Cristalino
Cenote Crisatlino is located very close to the previously mentioned Cenote Azul and is definitely worth a stop. This cenote is an open air cenote and home to some of the most beautiful crystal clear blue waters in Mexico.
How to get to Cenote Cristalino: Cenote Cristalino is easily accessed by rental car (check prices now!), a local Colectivo or a quick taxi ride. . It can easily be combined with a visit to the nearby Cenote Azul and Cenote Jardin Del Eden.
Cenote Cristalino ticket cost: entry to Cenote Cristalino costs $150 pesos per person
10 | Cenote Jardin Del Eden
Together with the neighboring Cenote Azul and Cenote Cristalino, Cenote Jardin Del Eden is one of the most popular and beautiful cenotes between Tulum and Playa Del Carmen.
Upon entering the cenote, which also goes by the name Cenote Ponderosa, it’s instantly apparent how it was named the Garden of Eden – the large open air swimming pool is surrounded by lush green vegetation and looks exactly like you’d imagine the Garden of Eden to be.
As well as swimming in its clear waters, Cenote Jardin Del Eden is great for cliff jumping and snorkeling. It’s cave system is very popular with scuba divers.
How to get to Cenote Jardin Del Eden: Cenote Jardin Del Eden is easily accessed by rental car (check prices now!), a local Colectivo or a quick taxi ride.
Cenote Jardin Del Eden ticket cost: entry to Cenote Jardin Del Eden costs $100 pesos per person.
11 | Cenote Cristal and Cenote Escondido
Best for: laid back cenote visit
Located south of Tulum town, Cenote Cristal and Cenote Escondido are low key open air cenotes. Surrounded by lush vegetation, the cenotes are on opposite sides of the highway and are connected by an underwater tunnel. The ticket includes entry to both cenotes but Cristal, with its wooden jumping platforms, is our favorite.
How to get to Cenote Cristal and Cenote Escondido: the cenotes are easily accessed by rental car (check prices now!) and are a quick bike ride from town.
Cenote Cristal and Cenote Escondido ticket cost: entry to both cenotes costs $120 pesos per person.
Cenotes to visit on Day Trips from Tulum
Most visitors to Tulum want to experience at least one of the ancient Mayan ruin sites that are located around the Yucatan Peninsula. We wanted to include these incredible cenotes which are easily included in a trip to some of the Yucatan’s most iconic ruins: Chichen Itza, Coba and Ek Balam.
12 | Cenote Ik Kil at Chicen Itza
Best for: strong swimmers, seeing the incredible cascading vines which are unique to only a few Yucatan cenotes
A visit to Chichen Itza, one of the New 7 Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the most popular day trips from Tulum. The nearby Cenote Ik Kil is one of the most iconic cenotes on the Yucatan Peninsula.
Cenote Ik Kil’s cave ceiling has collapsed entirely and tree roots cascade into the cenote waters making for a spectacular scene. Gazing up at the open sky while swimming in Cenote Ik Kil is a surreal experience and we absolutely recommend including it in a visit to Chichen Itza. It’s easily accessible from Tulum and, even if you don’t have your own transport, most tours include a stop at Cenote Ik Kil.
How to get to Cenote Ik Kil: Cenote Ik Kil is easily reached by rental car (check prices now!). It is also possible to take the dedicated ADO coach which travels from Tulum to Chicen Itza with a journey time of around 2 hours 30 minutes. Probably the easiest way (aside from a rental car) to visit Cenote Ik Kil is part of a tour to Chichen Itza. There are a number of tours from Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum that include Cenote Ik Kil as part of a day trip itinerary – check prices now!
Cenote Ik Kil ticket cost: Cenote Ik Kil entry is $80 pesos per person.
13 | Cenote Xcanche at Ek Balam
Best for: a cooling swim after exploring the Ek Balam ruins, adrenaline junkies who want to add some fun with jumping and zip lining, independent travelers as many group tours do not allow time to visit
Ek Balam is a popular excursion with many visitors to Mexico wanting to experience a less well known Mayan ruin. A beautiful cenote, the Ek Balam Cenote Xcanche, is located at the ruins and is accessed close to the entrance of the Ek Balam archaeological zone.
Cenote Xcanche is a stunning open cenote with a waterfall streaming into the cenote. As well as swimming, zip-lining and swing jumps are also popular at this quiet cenote. Xcanche is the perfect place to relax and cool off after a busy morning exploring Ek Balam ruins and we highly recommend taking the time to visit this cenote.
Best Tulum cenotes tip: the cenote entrance is located before the ticket checks for Ek Balam so you can visit the ruins and the cenote independently.
How to get to Cenote Xcanche: Cenote Xcanche is located around 2 km from the entrance to Ek Balam ruins. You can walk, cycle or take a bike taxi. We took a bike taxi over after exploring the Ek Balam ruins. From Playa Del Carmen, Ek Balam is easily accessed by rental car (check prices now!) or by taking a bus to Valladolid and making the rest of the journey by colectivo or taxi.
Cenote Xcanche ticket cost: a ticket to Cenote Xcanche is $70 pesos. The return taxi bike, including the entrance ticket, cost us $150 pesos in total.
14 | Cenote Suytun, the Instagram Cenote near Valladolid
Best for: experiencing the light beams cascading into the cenote cave, Instagrammers
The spectacular Cenote Suytun became Instagram famous a few years ago. Cenote Suytun is famous for the beautiful light beams that stream down through the roof of the cenote onto the circular platform below. This cenote definitely lives up to the hype – it really is as beautiful in person as it is in photos. A visit is easily combined with a trip to the Coba ruins and only adds an hour to the round trip journey from Tulum.
Visitors are also allowed to swim in Cenote Suytun but many just stop by for the purpose of capturing some memorable photos. Swimmers are required to wear life jackets.
Best Tulum cenotes tip: For most of the Tulum Cenotes we recommend an early or late visit as the best way to avoid the crowds. However, the light beams at Cenote Suytun mean that a late morning/afternoon visit is best – this is when the light beams are most likely to shine directly onto the circular platform, a magical experience. The afternoons at Cenote Suytun can be busy with tour buses but sometimes busy can be best!
How to get to Cenote Suytun: Cenote Suytun is easily accessed by rental car (check prices now!). Alternatively, take an ADO bus to Valladolid and, from there, a local Colectivo or a quick taxi ride will take you to the ruins. There are also a number of tours from Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum that include Cenote Suytun as part of a day trip to Chichen Itza – check prices now!
Cenote Suytun ticket prices: entry is $120 pesos per person.
15 | The Coba Cenotes
Many visitors to Tulum make the day trip to the incredible Mayan ruins at Coba and there are 3 great cenotes located close to the Coba ruins entrance: Cenote Choo-Ha, Tamcach-Ha and Multum-Ha are a series of small cenotes which are perfect for a refreshing swim after exploring the incredible jungle ruins.
Cenote Choo-Ha, Tamcach-Ha and Multum-Ha are all underground cenotes: two are caves while Multum-Ha has a small opening in the roof.
Choo-Ha, with its crystal clear waters and interesting rock formations was our favorite and the shallow waters make it perfect for a family visit. Tamcach-Ha, just a few hundred meters away, is equally as beautifully and the jumping platforms add a fun element to a swim. Cenote Multum-Ha takes a little more effort to get to as it’s a few kilometers away but its deep waters and light beams which descend through the small hole in the roof, are lovely to experience.
Best Tulum cenotes tip: The Coba cenotes are not heavily visited by tourists so they are super quiet. We had two of them entirely to ourselves when we visited which was amazing!
How to get to Coba cenotes: These cenotes are most easily reached by rental car from Tulum (check prices now!) as part of a day trip to the Coba ruins. Some tours to the Coba ruins include some of the cenotes but not all. For this reason we highly recommend renting a car in Cancun.
Coba Cenote ticket cost: a ticket covering all three cenotes is $100 pesos.
What to bring when visiting the Tulum Cenotes
Visiting a cenote is a little different to visiting a traditional swimming pool and we highly recommend taking the following when visiting the cenotes near Tulum.
Many of the cenotes are cash only and do not accept credit cards. Some of the cenotes accept cash at the entrance but not for incidentals such as food, drinks and life jackets.
Some of the larger cenotes offer towel rental however it’s much easier and cheaper to simply take your own with you. Microfibre towels are fantastic as they pack small and dry super quick, making them great for the cenotes where you will be hopping back in a car after your swim – check prices on Amazon!
Swim shoes are great as they give you more grip on the walk-ways around the cenotes and prevent the fish from nibbling your feet! They also help a lot for the shallower entrances at some cenotes where you have to walk on submerged rocks. They’re super cheap and light so make sure to throw them in your bag before you visit the Yucatan! – check prices now!
While you cannot wear sunscreen or mosquito spray in the cenotes while swimming, you’ll likely spend some time chilling in the sun after your swim.
An action camera such as a GoPro or an Osmo Action is great for snapping photos and video. We loved having our Osmo Action Waterproof camera with us when visiting the cenotes. It allowed us to take some really fun video and photos while swimming in the cenotes. The wide-angle lens was great for capturing the entire view of the cenotes – check prices now!
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