The Best Cenotes Tulum, Mexico (Ultimate Guide 2020)

By Tim Kroeger April 6, 2020 Tulum, Mexico, North America

This article may be sponsored or include a provided product or affiliate link. See footer and Affiliate Disclaimer for full details.

Ultimate list of best cenotes Tulum and Playa del Carmen plus hotel recommendations to visit the beautiful cenotes near Tulum. Imagine yourself swimming in the breathtaking Cenotes Tulum caves.

The part of the country that juts up into the Gulf of Mexico toward Cuba and the Caribbean islands.

Hot and humid during the summer, but mild and pleasant during the winter, this peninsula has become a favorite location for both seasoned travellers chasing warmer weather and tourists just starting to dabble in international adventure.

And there’s good reason for this popularity.

The Best Cenotes Tulum, Mexico Ultimate Guide7

With a little digging, flights to the region’s major airports (Mérida, Yucatan and Cancun, Quintana Roo) can be had for incredibly affordable prices—often less than 250 USD round trip.

And that, combined with a great deal or two on a resort room from Club1 Hotels makes this part of Mexico something everyone should explore.

Yucatan holds so much to explore.

First, of course, there’s the ruins of the historic Maya.

All across the Peninsula, massive pyramids rise hundreds of meters above the jungle canopy.

These are definitely worth a visit.

tulum must see

Then there’s the area’s phenomenal beaches. You can marvel at the pink waters of Las Coloradas or while away weeks beside the ocean in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, or the island of Cozumel.

Yet, even further south, along the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, in the city of Tulum, Quintana Roo, travellers can find another opportunity for adventure unique to the area.

Equal parts jungle exploration and water fun, the cenotes Tulum holds will capture the imagination of both families and nomads alike.

A visit to any cenote Mexico offers is worthwhile, but the cenotes Tulum boasts are among the most beautiful in the area.

Here, you can immerse yourself in the dark blue, cool water and gaze up at the lush green jungle foliage clinging to the cave walls and dangling from the ceiling.

To help you decide which of the Cenotes Tulum are right for you, we’ve put together this list of the best cenotes in Tulum.

From the more popular Cenote Dos Ojos to hidden gems where you can escape the tourist crowds, here’s what we recommend.

The Best Cenotes Tulum, Mexico Ultimate Guide7

What is a Cenote?

Cenote definition: At it’s root, a cenote is simply a sinkhole that’s been flooded with rain and ground water.

That definition may leave you wondering what all the fuss is about, but trust us, taking a dip in a cenote is a whole lot more fun than that makes it sound.

First off, some of these pools are downright massive. They’re often dozens of meters across, just as deep, and buried in caves far beneath the jungle landscape.

What’s more, many join together via a labyrinth of underwater passageways carved into the limestone by erosion eons ago.

Unsurprisingly, cenotes have earned a privileged place in Maya culture. The Maya gave the sinkholes the name we use today.

Different Types of cenotes: 

1. Open cenotes

Open cenotes are mature ones. The pools are open and have no caves to enclose them. Most open cenotes go deep underground. 

2. Semi-Open Cenotes 

Semi-open cenotes have a part of them hidden in a cave while a significant part is open.

3. Underground Cenotes 

Underground cenotes are difficult to explore because they are hidden in plain sight. Only expert divers are able to survey them.

4. Cave cenotes 

Cave cenotes have horizontal entrances on their dry sections in order to access the pool.

The Best Cenotes Tulum, Mexico Ultimate Guide7

But what does Cenote mean?

It’s actually just derived from the Maya word for groundwater. Yet, to the Maya, cenotes are much more than a water source.

They are seen as holy and as passageways to the underworld.

If you enjoy snorkeling or diving, you will find a visit to one of Tulum’s cenotes one of the highlights of your trip.

Filtered by the soil and jungle above, the rainwater that fills cenotes is some of the clearest in the world.

And in that water, you’ll find captivating marine life and majestic cave formations that stretch on and on beneath the water.

Best Cenotes Tulum

1. Cenote Calavera

Recommended by Adam from Getting Stamped

water caves in mexico
Calavera Cenotes Tulum

One of the most overlooked and under-rated cenotes near Tulum is Cenote Calavera.

The name comes from the Spanish word for skull because when you are swimming in the cenote the holes in the top resemble a human skull.

Another super fun and unique feature of this cenote is how you get in. It’s also often called the temple of doom cenote.

At the top of the cenote is one large and two small holes all about 10 feet (3 meters) above the water making them perfect for jumping. The water below is plenty deep enough for diving, jumping, or a really good cannonball.

The adventures in Cenote Calavera don’t end at the surface, it’s also a popular dive site with lots of beautiful chambers for cave diving.

Often listed as a favorite among dive masters this cenote has some unique features.

In the depths of the cenote bones of centuries old animals have been found – which gave this cenote its nickname “The Temple of Doom”.

Along with the bones toward the bottom Mayan pottery has also been found dating back hundreds of years.

However, these aren’t even what make this place a favorite for divers – its the fresh and salt water mixing line.

At the bottom of the cenote sits the heavier salt water and above that fresh water, but where to two meet they create a unique visual effect.

Here in Cenote Calavera it’s very defined and super beautiful. Whether you are a diver or not you need to put this cenote on your list.

Address: Quintana Roo 109, Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

Distance from Tulum: 3 km

Admission fee: 100 Pesos (around 5.20 USD)

Opening times: Monday to Sunday from 9AM to 4PM

2. Best Cenotes Tulum – Gran Cenote

Gran Cenote Tulum
The Gran Cenotes Tulum

As its name implies, Gran Cenote is one of the best cenotes in Tulum. And for that reason, it’s also probably the most popular.

Why is Gran Cenote the best?

It offers something for everyone. Unlike other cenotes in the area, parts of Gran are shallow enough to wade in.

This makes it a great option for families or travelers who aren’t the most confident swimmers.

As a bonus, soft, comfortable sand covers much of the cenote’s floor (rather than jagged or sharp cave rock).

Gran Cenote Tulum
Gran Cenotes Tulum

But Gran also holds plenty of opportunities for the adventurers and explorers among us.

The location is a favorite of cave divers, because the cenote holds underground passageways that connect to one of the largest cave systems in the world.

Some of these connecting caves and tunnels are only partially submerged, which means that strong swimmers and snorkelers can explore the labyrinth.

Just watch out for bats.

Just five kilometers from central Tulum, Gran Cenote is a common stop for many organized cenote tours that depart from the town.

If you don’t own your own scuba or snorkeling gear (or if you’re not yet comfortable diving without a guide), one of these tours is the way to go.

Gran Cenote Tulum

As I mentioned above, Gran Cenote is one of the most frequented Cenotes near Tulum.

So, if you don’t like crowds or are looking for a less festive atmosphere, aim to visit during off-peak hours (either right after opening hours or just before closing).

Address: Quintana Roo 109, 77796 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

Distance from Tulum: 5 km

Admission fee: 180 Pesos (around 9.40 USD). You can also purchase your ticket online in advance.

Opening times: From 10AM to 5PM every day

3. Car Wash Cenote

Just a bit further from Tulum, at 8 kilometers away, Car Wash Cenote holds another afternoon of fun.

The cenote got this unorthodox name because Tulum’s taxi drivers used to use the pool to wash their cars.

Unlike Gran Cenote, Car Wash Cenote rarely draws large crowds.

That means that it is a great cenote for those travellers looking to relax and have more water to themselves.

And there’s plenty of water to go around here. Car Wash Cenote is almost 50 meters wide and, on average, around 3 meters deep.

To be honest, it feels more like swimming in a backwoods pond than a what you’d expect from a cenote—that is, until you get in the water.

For snorkelers, freedivers, and scuba divers, Car Wash Cenote is a bit of an undiscovered treasure. Beneath the surface, a rich ecosystem of marine plants spring from the cenote floor.

Within this underwater forest of green, you’ll catch glimpses of colorful freshwater fish, small crocodiles, turtles, and more.

Like Gran, Car Wash Cenote also connects to a maze of underwater caves. Diving tours of this cave network can be booked from Tulum.

The caves are great for both experienced divers and those just getting into the activity.

Car Wash Cenote is open daily from 9 am to 4pm, and admission costs 50 pesos.

Address: Calle Carretera Federal 109, Tulum 77710, Mexico

Distance from Tulum: 9 km

Admission fee: 50 pesos (Around 2.60 USD)

Opening times: From 9AM to 4PM every day

The Best Cenotes Tulum, Mexico Ultimate Guide7
Cenotes Tulum, Mexico

4. Cenote Zacil-Ha

Right next door to Car Wash Cenote, you’ll find Cenote Zacil-Ha.

While Car Wash Cenotes Tulum has an isolated, natural feel with little more in the way of manmade amenities than a few small swimming and diving docks, Zacil-Ha is much more developed.

Modern conveniences at Cenote Zacil-Ha include a restaurant, changing rooms, a pool, and even a zipline that can take you just a meter above the surface of the water.

The water itself is crystal clear, and like its neighbor, Zacil-Ha connects to many other caves in the area through underwater and half-submerged passageways carved into the limestone by Mother Nature.

Above the surface, the jungle surrounding this cenote brims with wildlife. If you keep your eye peeled and watch the trees as lounge in the water, you might even spot a toucan!

Because of all the extras and amenities, Cenote Zacil-Ha is probably one of the more family friendly Tulum cenotes on this list.

If you really want to get the most out of your visit to this cenote, you can even book a cabin on site.

Those traveling to Zacil-Ha from Tulum should combine the trip with a visit to Car Wash Cenote.

Most tour groups arrive at 11 am, and the cenote typically stays pretty busy from then until late afternoon.

So, if you’d like to beat the crowd, plan to hit the water as soon as they open: 10 am.

Address: Quintana Roo, Mexico

Distance from Tulum: 9 km

Admission fee: 80 Pesos (Around 4 USD)

Opening times: From 10AM to 6PM every day.

5. Cenote Caracol

Recommended by Nate from Travel Lemming

diving cenotes tulum
Caracol Cenote, one of the best cenotes Tulum.

A relatively lesser-known cenote that was only discovered by divers in 2002, Cenote Caracol is located between the beaches of Tulum and Akumal.

Cenote Caracol is an underground cave-style cenote that feels very different from the other Cenotes Tulum.

In fact, it’s so different that it feels like it might as well be located on Mars.

What’s so unique about this cenote?

While it isn’t the only cave cenote in the area, but it IS probably the most impressive one apart from the much more touristed (and much more expensive) Rio Secreto complex near Playa del Carmen.

And while you may have been fortunate enough to explore a cave by foot in some other part of the world, it’s a very different experience to do it while swimming!

As it is located 8 kilometers into the jungle off the main road, you’ll either need to rent a car, hire a driver, or take a tour in order to get to Caracol Cenote from Tulum.

But once there, it will have been worth the trouble: you can swim, snorkel, and even dive (with proper certification) through these enchanted waters.

Not in the mood to get wet?

That’s ok – there are several parts of the cave complex that can be explored by foot too!

For a leg up on accessing this cenote, book your stay at the nearby stylish Jashita luxury hotel, located far enough away from the bustle of Tulum that you’ll feel surrounded by nature while you’re being pampered!

Address: Federal Road 307. Kilometer 240, Tulum, Mexico

Distance from Tulum: 16 km

Admission fee: 75 Pesos (Around 3.90 USD)

Opening times: From 9AM to 5PM

6. Cenote Dos Ojos

Recommended by Stefania from Every Steph

best cenotes near tulum
Cenote Dos Ojos Tulum

Cenote Dos Ojos in Tulum is one of the most famous Cenotes Tulum, if not the first famous, and it’s understandable why.

With its blue water, the stalagtyte formations and its 400 meters long passageway under the water, it caters to pretty much everyone, families, snorkelers, and it’s paradise for divers.

Cenote Dos Ojos is actually a system of 2 different sinkholes, in fact “dos ojos” in spanish means “two eyes”.

Cenote Dos Ojos Tulum3

The first cenote is where you’ll swim in that beautiful blue water you see in the photos (the light hits it from the top), while the second one is more rugged and mysterious looking being inside a cave.

You’ll even see bats flying around!

Tip: Explore the archaeological sites of Tulum and then refresh at Cenote Dos Ojos.

If you want to swim in a cenote all by yourself, this is not the right one for you ‘cause it’s so popular, it’s pretty much always crowded, but if you come right after opening time or right before closing time, you won’t find groups and bus tours, and you’ll be able to enjoy it in peace.

Cenote Dos Ojos Tulum3

At Cenote Dos Ojos you’ll find all sorts of facilities including changing rooms, toilets, a restaurant, and even a massage parlor, so it’s suitable for families with kids too.

If you’re in Tulum, you really can’t miss visiting this incredible cenote!

Address: Cenote Jaguar Rd, Quintana Roo, Mexico.

Distance from Tulum: 22km 

Admission fee: 200 Pesos (Around $14 USD). Snorkelling equipment can be rented for an additional 100 Pesos (Around 3.90 USD). You can also buy your ticket online in advance.

Opening times: Every day from 8AM to 5PM

Best Tours to Dos Ojos Cenote

1. Tulum archeological site and Dos Ojos Cenote

2. Diving in Dos Ojos and The Bat Cenotes from Playa del Carmen

3. Private Tour to Dos Ojos Cenote

7. Nicte-Ha

Nicte-Ha is another rustic cenote that’s a great option for swimmers and divers hoping to avoid the throngs of tourists that flock to the more popular cenotes Tulum.

It’s actually a bit puzzling why this cenote isn’t more popular. It’s located along the same road as the much more frequented Dos Ojos Cenote (you actually purchase your ticket in the Dos Ojos parking lot).

Yet, when you arrive, instead of dozens of swimmers posing for selfies, you’ll discover a hidden paradise.

With a little luck, you may even get it all to yourself.

Nicte-Ha is a smaller cenote that sits only a few meters below the jungle floor. Thick tree roots dive over the rocky edges of the pool and drink from its depths.

The cenote’s waters are crystal clear, yet brimming with life.

Countless lily-pads decorate the surface, and beneath them, fish and turtles hide within thick forests of marine plants.

On one side, the cenote’s waters drift into a cave directly beneath the forest floor. Though this alcove is pretty shallow, it’s still fun to explore.

Nicte-Ha Cenote does have some relatively rudimentary toilets and changing rooms if you need them.

As I mentioned above, you can purchase tickets in the Dos Ojos parking lot.

From there, it’s a short walk to the cenote along a dirt road. Admission here is a bit costlier than other spots on this list, at 100 pesos, but the serenity is well worth the price.

Address: Cenote Jaguar Rd, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Distance from Tulum: 22 km

Admission fee: 100 Pesos (Around 5 USD)

Opening times: From 9AM to 4PM

8. Cenote Sac Actun

Recommended by Claire from Past The Potholes

best of tulum
Cenotes Tulum Sac Actun

Cenote Sac Actun can be found just north of Tulum on the same highway exit as the popular Dos Ojos.

However, being about 7 kilometres further down a dirt road, it receives a fraction of the visitors.

Sac Actun is actually a series of cenotes that are part of the largest underwater cave system in the world.

This is not the kind of cenote that visitors float around in and relax on the nearby grass.

To visit Cenote Sac Actun a guide is mandatory and groups will be taken through a series of caves that open up into caverns of various sizes.

The water is so clear the snorkel is not necessary for the majority of the tour.

Most adults will be able to walk through the water for much of the time should they so choose as the water is pretty shallow.

It is dark, pitch black at times, but waterproof flashlights are available to rent for an additional fee.

tulum and cenote tour
Cenote Sac Actun Cenotes Tulum

The tour lasts around 45 minutes but the guide gives people an option to remain in the open air section for longer if they wish.

One of the best things about this cenote tour is that you will see all types of cenotes at once.

There is an open air section with crystal clear turquoise water as well as completely covered caves.

There is also one cave with a piece of roof that has collapsed to allow tree roots to reach down through the earth.

The guides are knowledgeable Mayan people who give plenty of information about the history and geology of the cenotes during the tour.

While Cenotes Sac Actun is not the cheapest option, it really is an amazing experience and definitely one of the most impressive cenotes Tulum.

Address: Carretera Federal 307 (Cancun-Chetumal) pasando Xelha un kilometro hacia tulum., 77760 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

Distance from Tulum: 25 km

Admission fee: 450 Pesos (Around 23.40 USD)

Opening times: From 9AM to 5PM

Cenote Sac Actun Tours

1. Half-Day Private Tulum and Sak Aktun Cave Cenote Tour

2. Playa del Carmen Jungle Tour: Tulum, Cenote Snorkeling, 4×4 Ride and Ziplining

9. Cenote El Pit

Recommended by Campbell and Alya from Stingy Nomads

tulum travel tips
The Pit Cenotes Tulum

The Cenotes Tulum are entrances to intricate cave systems that draw divers from around the globe to dive in the cenotes.

The Pit (119 m) is the deepest cenote in the State of Quintana Roo, you need an advanced qualification to dive here.

Not a very fancy name, but a perfect description for this cenote, with a hole of about 10m diameter falling into the jungle floor.

Rain water filters through the ground into the cenotes resulting in crystal clear water and this cenote is an excellent example with amazing visibility for diving, on many days exceeding 40 meters.

As you decend during your dive you reach a overhung cavern with some beautiul stalagtites and stalagmites.

One of the highlights is the bright beams of sunlight that reach through the mouth of The Pit and bright rays can be seen 30 meters down.

The halocline, a blurry layer, where salt and freshwater mix is an interesting experience to decend through and is visible because of refraction of light passing through the water layers with different denities.

Close to the bottom you dive into a cloud of hydrogen sulfate swimming around some eerie tree branches before starting your ascent.

The dancing rays of light, glimmering bubbles and perfect diving conditions everyday make this unique dive site in the jungle spectacular.

Address: Calle Centauro Sur # 18, Tulum 77765, Mexico

Distance from Tulum: 25 km

Admission fee: 25USD

Opening times: From 8AM to 5PM

10. Casa Cenote (Cenote Manati or Cenote Tankah) 

Casa Cenote is one of the places in Tulum where you can explore both, the sea and the cenote in one location.

Casa Cenote is situated in Tankah Bay, and right across it is the Carribean Sea. This cenote in Tulum is widely known to be a perfect diving spot.

By definition, Casa Cenote is an open cenote. The Sistema Nohoch Nah Chich, a water-filled cave system, is connected by the cenote to the Carribean. 

Both freshwater and saltwater run through Casa Cenote. That is why the marine species found here are varied. 

There are plenty of aquatic activities which you can do in the vast pools of Casa Cenote.

You can snorkel, go paddle boarding or just simply go swimming. Should you wish to dive along the pools, an experienced guide must be hired.

Address: Tankah Bay

Distance from Tulum: 10 km

Admission fee: 120 pesos for general entry (around $4.80); 150 pesos for scuba diving (around $6)

Opening times: From 9 AM to 5 PM daily

11. Cenotes Casa Tortuga – One of the best Cenotes Tulum

As you arrive at Cenotes Casa Tortuga, you will be delighted to know that there isn’t just one cenote in the area but three. It is like going on a cenotes tour in one location.

The price you pay as you enter Cenotes Casa Tortuga includes gears that you will need to be able to explore the area better. This location is perfect for those who do not know much about cenotes in general.

Your guide will take you to two cave cenotes at the beginning. Here, you will learn about the wildlife that thrives in an environment such as this.

You will also receive in-depth information about the formations that make up the caves. 

Afterwards, you get to enjoy the open cenote by swimming and snorkeling through its clear emerald waters.

Address: Balcheil

Distance from Tulum: 11 km

Admission fee: 350 pesos (around $14) 

Opening times: From 9 AM to 5 PM daily

12. Cenote Angelita 

Prepare your scuba diving gear because you are in for a mystical adventure once you arrive at Cenote Angelita.

Described as an enchanting underground river, nothing could prepare you for what beauty awaits underneath.

Cenote Angelita, or Little Angel in Spanish, is an open cenote that is 200 feet deep.

A quick look at the jungle that surrounds it will already give you a good impression about the place, but as you dive deep into the pools you will see how special this cenote is.

Branches of dead trees look caught up in a misty layer of gas produced by the decomposing leaves. Go deeper and you will feel as if you have just entered a dark forest.

Truly, Cenote Angelita is only for the brave and the skilled, and diving is worth learning if what you’ll see is the underground beauty reserved for the able.

Address: Calle Sagitario

Distance from Tulum: 17 km

Admission fee: 300 pesos (around $12)

Opening times: From 8 AM to 5 PM daily

13. Cenote Pet Cemetery 

The name might be a dead giveaway, but there is more to know about the Cenote Pet Cemetery. It is named such because of the many animal fossils that remain intact inside the cave system. 

Once you scuba dive at Cenote Pet Cemetery, you will see these remains such as the skeleton of a prehistoric camel. You will be thrilled to see how they remain in good form over the years, despite being submerged in water.

There are two caves that make up this cenote: one is called the Blue Abyss while the other one is mysteriously named as the Dark Side of the Moon.

You will see bats fly amid great rock formations that decorate the caves.

Cenote Dos Ojos can be accessed via the same entrance as Cenote Pet Cemetery, so it is a good idea to put these two in one itinerary.

Address: Carretera Tulum-Puerto Juarez Km. 13

Distance from Tulum: 20 km

Admission fee: 350 pesos (around $14)

Opening times:  From 8 AM to 5 PM daily

14. Laguna Kaan Luum 

Laguna Kaan Luum is a lagoon well-loved by locals. Compared to the other Cenotes Tulum, this is less-developed and is hard to reach.

The cenote’s center is off limits to swimmers because it gets up to 262 feet deep. The rest of the pool is at a comfortable depth.

From the top, you can see just how different the color of the water is on the outskirts and in the middle.

If you are going to scuba dive, the middle part will be accessible, preferably with a local guide

Laguna Kaan Luum is an ideal getaway for the whole family – everyone gets a chance to swim and the whole place is practically secluded from the visiting crowd.

The swimming area at the lagoon is about knee to shoulder deep and has clear emerald green waters.

Address: Highway 307 Chetumal-Cancun

Distance from Tulum: 16 km

Admission fee: 100 pesos for general entry (around $4); 150 pesos for scuba diving (around $6)

Opening times: From 9 AM to 5 PM daily

15. Clan-Destino Cenote Bar 

If you are about to call it a day, have practically seen the major cenotes that are on your list, and are ready to unwind, why not do it in another cenote?

Clan-Destino Cenote Bar is what it is – a cenote with a bar. This is where people come to swim and relax, have a drink or two, and do the same things over again.

The people running the bar work 24/7, serving good drinks and sumptuous food to go with them.

The cenote itself is just enough for you to rest your bones and keep it cool.

The Clan-Destino Cenote Bar is something you never thought you needed – until you called it quits with the hotness of the Mexican sun!

Address: Tulum Beach

Distance from Tulum: 9 km

Admission fee: Free but a purchase at the bar is required

Opening times: 24 hours daily

16. Cenote Arco Maya 

Cenote Arco Maya is one of the free cenotes which you can visit in Tulum.

Because this cenote is not developed at all, there are no facilities to expect in place. Even so, the place is still a good location to go especially during sunset.

When you swim at Cenote Arco Maya, you will probably find co-visitors that are close to none. This makes for a tranquil swim and a relaxing afternoon.

The Biosphere Reserve of Sian Ka’an, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, just sits nearby, so it is a good idea to put these two next to each other in your itinerary.

Address: Camino a Punta Allen, Tulum Beach

Distance from Tulum: 12 km

Admission fee: Free

Opening times: 24 hours daily but night swimming is not advisable

17. Yal-Ku Lagoon (Cenote Akumal) 

Cenote Akumal is an open cenote that is big and friendly enough to allow you to be tour guide-free.

It is also a perfect destination for the whole family as the depth of the lagoon is child-friendly.

Bring your snorkel gear when you spend a day at the Yal-Ku Lagoon. It is one of the best places to do snorkelling especially for beginners.

Because of its connectedness to the ocean, you will see various fish species swimming amid its waters.

When you want to take a breather out of the waters, you can enjoy lounging at the hammocks and the beach areas, having packed lunch or getting something to eat from the nearby snack bar.

Address: Akumal

Distance from Tulum: 30 km

Admission fee: 300 pesos general entry for adults (around $12); 190 pesos general entry for kids (around $7.6); 170 pesos for local residents (around $6.8)

Opening times: 9 AM to 5 PM daily

Best Cenotes in/ near Playa del Carmen

You don’t have to stay in Tulum in order to visit some of the top cenotes in Mexico. Playa del Carmen for example is also a good starting point.

Find here the best cenotes near Playa del Carmen.

1. Cenote Azul

Recommended by Alejandro from Mi Viaje por el Mundo

cenote near tulum ruins
Cenote Azul – One of the top Cenotes Tulum.

Cenote Azul, meaning ‘blue’, is a popular swimming hole between Tulum and Playa del Carmen.

It’s a wonderful place to cool off on a hot Mexican day! Situated just beside Cenote Cristalino, Azul is a great option for families and kids.

There are shallow areas for swimming and a dock to jump from. If the cool water isn’t enough to exhilarate the senses, taking a leap from the 15 ft (5 m) cliff should do the trick.

AZUL Cenote Tulum

Like many of the other cenotes, there are a lot of fish to admire.

In fact, if visitors like the idea of the ‘fish spa’, this is a great place to have it done for free.

They just need to sit still for a couple of minutes and the fish will come to nibble away any dead skin.

what is a cenote in mexico
Cenote Azul is also one of the Cenotes Tulum that you should not miss.

Cenote Azul has plenty of space to set up a towel and enjoy a pre-packed lunch.

Alcohol is not allowed but water, soda and a small selection of snacks can be purchased at the entrance.

Azul can be reached by either taxi or Colectivo (mini-buses). To get there via Colectivo, visitors need to tell the driver that they’re heading to Cenote Azul.

AZUL Cenote Tulum

The fair is paid upon arrival and is usually 20-40 MXP per person if coming from Tulum or Playa del Carmen.

Address: Quinta Avenida sur. Mercado Xaman-Ha Loc 15., Aviación, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico.

Distance from Tulum: 40km

Admission fee: 70 Pesos (Around 3.60 USD)

Opening times: From 9AM to 5PM

2. Cenote Cristalino

Recommended by Alejandro from Visit Copper Canyon

tulum tours mexico
Cristalino Cenotes Tulum

Take it from those who lived in Playa del Carmen for about 6 months, Cenote Cristallino is always worth a visit.

After exploring just about every activity in the area, this cenote was the top choice when friends or family would come to visit.

The name, Cristalino, comes from the color of the water. In English it means ‘crystal clear’, and this makes it ideal for swimming and for photos.

The cenote has 5 or 6 natural pools where visitors can swim, sit or just lounge in the sun.

The main area, however, consists of 2 sections. The first is an open area exposed to the sun and surrounded by mangroves and trees.

There’s a large area for swimming and, for the very adventurous, there’s a 12 ft (4 m) cliff to jump from.

The second section is more of a cave or grotto.

This area is fantastic for snorkeling, so it’s highly recommended that visitors bring a mask, snorkel and if possible, an underwater camera.

One side of the cave is sheer rock, plunging deep into the water.

Dropping something in this area might mean never getting it back. Just opposite the solid rock, light breaks through the mangrove wall and penetrates the water.

The light, mangrove roots and crystal clear water make this a great photo opportunity.

It is so picturesque that frequent professional photo shoots take place in this section of the cenote. As with all cenotes Tulum, biodegradable sunscreen is required in order to protect the environment.

The beauty of this particular cenote has made it quite popular on weekends and holidays so it’s best to visit on a weekday.

Address: On Highway MX 307 – Next to Cenote Azul, Playa del Carmen, Mexico. 

Distance from Tulum: 40 km

Admission fee: 100 Pesos (Around 5.20 USD)

Opening times: From 8AM to 6PM

3. Chikin Ha Cenote

Recommended by Rina from L.A. Family Travel

cenote tulum playa del carmen
Chikin Ha Cenotes Tulum

Between white sand beaches and layers of aquamarine ocean, there are jungles thick with song, chatter and beautiful cenote.

About a 40 minute drive from Tulum and 30 minutes from Playa del Carmen is eco-park Chikin-Ha.

There are three ziplines to ride and several cenote sites in this recreation area to give visitors a variety of experiences.

The park offers snorkel gear to explore them all.

Some of the cenote are more covered, set deeper within the remaining cave system, filled with a variety of stalagmites and stalactites; some are more exposed to sun, with beams of light floating between fallen foliage.

There are paths to explore the pristine jungle and you’ll even find a makeshift temple to investigate, in a large cavern with candles flickering light onto the stone walls, surrounded by dangling tree roots.

cave swimming mexico
Chikin Ha Cenotes Tulum

The Mayans believed cenotes were the dwelling place of departed souls. A cenote is the underground water exposed by collapsed limestone rock.

It’s also the place where the present people draw fresh water. That’s why before you go into the water, the staff at Chikin-Ha will have you shower.

When you’re done exploring, or just need a break, you can enjoy lunch on site in their little gazebo.

Address: Quintana Roo, Mexico

Distance from Tulum: 41 km

Admission fee: 232 Pesos (Around 12 USD)

Opening times: From 8AM to 5PM

4. Cenote Jardin del Eden (Cenote Ponderosa) 

There are quite a lot of things to do during your visit to Cenote Jardin del Eden.

Swimming and snorkeling in its clear waters are some of the popular things to do here, but as you explore the area you will see other activities that you can partake.

This open cenote has several platforms leading to interesting spots. Are you in the mood to cliff jump? There are platforms that let you plunge into deep waters.

Looking for a more relaxed activity? In the middle of the lagoon, you can sit down and let the small fishes treat you to a foot spa.

Cenote Jardin del Eden is located close to three more cenotes Tulum namely Cenote Azul, Cenote Cristalino and Cenote Kantun Chi.

You can easily make an itinerary out of these four cenotes near Tulum.

Address: South of Playa del Carmen

Distance from Playa del Carmen: 25,4 km

Admission fee: 200 pesos general entry for adults (around $8); 100 pesos general entry for kids (around $4); 250 pesos for scuba diving (around $10)

Opening times: 8 AM to 5 PM from Sunday to Friday. Closed on Saturday.

More Cenotes Tulum Day Tours

1. From Tulum: Four-Cenote Adventure

During this tour you will zip line and jump into off into the water of Naval Cenote, visit Pirañas Cenote for swimming, check out two zip lines at Large Cenote Naval and go by canoe to Cenote Azul.

2. Turtle Snorkeling and Magical Cenote Tour in Tulum

Snorkel with sea turtles offshore from the Tulum Ruins and enjoy amazing vies of the archeological site from the water.

Afterwards you will experience the Cenote Sac Actun with its clear water and dangling stalactites.

The Best Cenotes Tulum, Mexico Ultimate Guide7

3. 13-day luxury-adventure tour from Mexico City to Tulum

Join this 13-days luxury tour from Mexico and explore the most popular places in Tulum.

During this tour you will taste authentic Mexican food, explore the coastal paradise kayaking and cycling around, join a Mescal tasting and of course, visit some of the famous Cenotes Tulum.

How to Get to the Cenotes in Tulum 

1. Hire a Bicycle in Tulum 

Bicycling is one of the common modes of transit when visitors go to the cenotes in Tulum. There are many bike rental shops which you can find in the area. 

One cenote is about fifteen minutes away from another, so if you don’t mind pedalling this long, rent a bicycle for the fun of it.

Some of the cenotes Tulum that are a bike away from each other are Cenote Calavera, Cenote Zacil Ha and the Grand Cenote.

The cost to rent a bicycle in Tulum ranges from $4 to $6. This rental fee allows you to have the bicycle for 24 hours. Head to Tulum town or Tulum Beach to find where the rental shops are.

2. Take a Colectivo

Colectivos are shared vans that travel to and from specific destinations such as Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Cancun.

They collect passengers along the way. Sometimes, if the destination is too far off, the operator will ask you to transfer from one colectivo to another.

If you plan on riding a colectivo to get to cenotes in Tulum, make sure to inform your driver of your destination.

A colectivo will stop anywhere someone needs to go down. Generally, there are two main stops in Tulum: one in the Ruins and one that is near the ADO bus station.

Usually, you pay the fare before you go down. The price of your trip depends on your starting point and your final destination.

Look at the price list that is found in every colectivo. Prepare the amount so you are ready to give the fare to the driver before you disembark.

3. Rent a Car 

This option is best for visitors who would like to travel at their own pace and follow a specific cenotes Tulum itinerary in mind.

Once the car is with you, you will get to appreciate just how many cenotes are near each other. Driving your way to them will save you time, money and effort.

Driving around Tulum is conveniently easy as well. The roads are in good condition and car rentals are cheap in Mexico.

The cost to rent a car in Tulum starts with a base rate of $3 a day. Your final rate depends on the add-ons you wish to purchase such as protection and gears.

It is important to note some compulsory fees that may be asked from you once you pick up the car. Know the legalities behind them to be in the light.

4. Take a Taxi 

You can find taxi drivers waiting for customers near hotels, restaurants, resorts and bus terminals. They are practically everywhere!

You can book them when going to the different cenotes in Tulum.

If the taxi driver is asking for a fixed rate to your destination, the rate they give is usually reasonable. That is why many prefer coming in and out of different tourist areas in Tulum via taxi.

Riding a taxi by the meter in Tulum is cheap, and you do not have to worry about being talked into paying more. 

Majority of taxi drivers in Tulum speak Spanish, so it might be a challenge if you do not speak the language.

If that is the case, write down the destination you wish to go to so that the driver can efficiently drive his way there.

Know that taking a taxi in Tulum is only recommended for short trips around the area.

If you find a taxi driver willing to take you through your whole cenotes-hopping, the cost for such service ranges from $10 to $12. 

5. Hire a driver for a whole day 

As mentioned above, you can hire a taxi driver to take you to the different cenotes in Tulum for a reasonable price.

You will find many taxi drivers offering to take you to the best places around town, giving a price that is fair and negotiable.

This is a good idea especially if you do not speak Spanish well and have found an English-speaking local during one of your taxi rides. 

You can also ask for recommendations from your hotel reception. Let them connect you to trusted private drivers you can hire for a day.

Chances are, they already have a tried and tested cenotes list in mind and will have you visiting plenty of the pools all in one day.

The cost to hire a private driver on your trip to Tulum ranges from $100 to $150.

Cenotes Tulum Packing List 

1. Snorkel Gear 

Cenotes Tulum snorkeling is one of the worthwhile activities that you would like to invest a proper gear on.

While some cenotes will have snorkel gears for rent, you might want to think twice about getting a rented one.

You are better off buying a sturdy snorkel gear which you can use not only in exploring Cenotes Tulum but in all your other beach escapades as well. You would not have to worry about old and unsanitary gears every time.

Seeing the beauty beneath Cenotes Tulum is something you would not want to miss.

2. Biodegradable Sunscreen 

Sunscreen is essential for your trip to Tulum. It is better to get some before you travel as it can get expensive there.

While we’re at it, don’t just buy any other sunscreen in the market.

Opt for a biodegradable sunscreen that not only protects your skin from harmful rays but also the environment from the chemical composition of the things we apply.

Besides, it is considered preposterous if you wear your regular sunscreen when exploring the cenotes.

You are disregarding the fact that the diverse and thriving ecosystem in the pools may be harmed by the products you use. 

There will be cenotes that will ask you to shower first before putting your sunscreen on and plunging in. 

3. Water Shoes 

There will be some cenotes that are set amid rugged environments. In order to protect yourself from cuts and other inconveniences, it is best to bring durable water shoes.

Having aqua boots or reef shoes will help you to comfortably explore the cenotes. It is usually one of the many things that are taken for granted by many visitors.

If you are buying water shoes online, make sure that the fit should be in the middle of too tight and too loose. The shoes must be able to stay on your feet when you make a plunge in the waters.

4. GoPro Action Camera

What is a cenote adventure without a waterproof action camera?

Once you see the beauty of the different cenotes in Tulum, you would want to capture your time there – be it above or within the pools. The environment is pristine and is something worth remembering.

Bring or get yourself a GoPro action camera. GoPro is the leading brand when it comes to cameras that can shoot great quality scenes of sports, vacations -and just about everything.

Choose a GoPro action camera that has great reviews online, fits your lifestyle, and is offered at a reasonable price.

5. Waterproof Phone Case 

You or one of your traveling friends have probably encountered a soaked phone in one of your trips to the ocean or pool.

It can be a headache, especially if you are depending on your phone for communication, photos and emergency during your travel.

It is wise to bring a waterproof phone case during your trip to Tulum.

Exploring cenotes will expose you to pools of water, and the chance of your phone slipping out of your hands or being soaked with your bag of essentials is high.

When you bring a waterproof phone case with you, too, and your smartphone is equipped with good camera technology, you are able to use this to capture moments while swimming.

6. Reusable Water Bottle

Saving the environment in every step you can is the mark of a mindful traveller.

Do away with buying water in plastic bottles to minimize the plastic pollution that haunts the earth for the longest time.

This act not only saves the environment from more trash but it also saves you money which you can use to purchase other items or experiences.

Every time you can refill your reusable water bottle – in your hotel, at the restaurant you are dining in, or in public drinking fountains – grab the opportunity. 

7. Waterproof Head Torch 

There are dark cenotes that go deep underground and will require you to have a waterproof head torch. It is essential to bring one so that you can better explore the areas.

When looking for a waterproof torch online, it is good to note the primary use and the durability of the model and brand that you will choose.

You might be buying an expensive diving torch with no plans to dive whatsoever.

Research as well if you need a high level of brightness for caves and cenotes. 250 lumens is an agreeable brightness.

Where to stay to visit the Cenotes Tulum

Where to stay in Tulum

1. Alea Tulum

Recommended by Cazzy from Dream Big, Travel Far

tulum tips
Where to stay in Tulum – Alea Tulum

The Alea Tulum is the perfect hotel to base yourself in Tulum if you want to explore beautiful cenotes. Largely because, it has one right outside its door!

This beautiful property is located on the beachfront where you can make use of the complimentary kayak rental with your stay, or you can head out into the water and snorkel.

If you just want to relax, then head to the beach front to find the sun loungers, or instead wander out to your very own private balcony.

Some rooms even include swimming pool access so you can literally step out of your room, into the swimming pool.

The on-site restaurant will serve you up a delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner, alongside local beers, wines and soft drinks. The rooms are spacious, clean and comfortable.

The mini bar included in your room is also complimentary which is a nice touch.

Air conditioning is provided in the rooms to help you cool off and you’ll feel truly refreshed after a stay at the beautiful Alea Tulum.

If you wish to discover the ruins of Tulum or other Cenotes in the area, you can order a taxi from the property to take you, or you can rent your own car for the day and discover the whole area.

Click here for more information, photos and/ or to make a booking.

Where to stay in Playa del Carmen

1. Mahekal Beach Resort

Recommended by Rina from L.A. Family Travel

Between all the partygoers, modern day Playa del Carmen can still offer a way to connect to the ancient Mayan civilization through magical destinations like the Mahekal Beach Resort, recognized as a top Mexico resort by both Travel and Leisure and Reader’s Choice in 2016.

Its name literally translates to magical. Through culinary classes and a Shaman blessing during a ritual before your treatment at their Revive Spa, you can experience the cuisine and ceremonies of rich Mayan history.

The Mahekal Vida Aquatica Dive Center can arrange many ocean adventure but they can also arrange a trip to visit the Chikin-Ha Eco-Park.

There is also a cool Snorkeling spot in Playa del Carmen South of Playacar.

You can borrow a hotel bike or walk along quiet, cobblestone paths that lead to the world famous 5th Avenue, or Quinta Avenida, shopping plaza where there are plenty of outdoor restaurants, vendors offering fish spa pedicures and souvenirs to buy for those who weren’t lucky enough to accompany you on your trip.

Click here for more information, photos and/ or to make a booking.

2. TRS Yucatan Hotel

Recommended by Kristin from Be My Travel Muse

cenote mexico swimming hole
TRS Yucatan

Nearby Akumal and just 30 minutes from Playa Del Carmen, the TRS Yucatan Hotel is an adults-only beach-front resort that features 2 large swimming pools with 4 swim-up bars, a saltwater pool, 24-hour room service, and a gorgeous white-sand beach.

There are 7 types of suites to choose from – I personally thought that the junior suite with a private pool was lovely. T

he hotel also serves the world’s best breakfast – think eight kinds of fruit juice, fresh seafood, pastries, all kinds of eggs you can order off the buffet, great cheese selection, champagne (because who doesn’t drink champagne for breakfast, right?) and real coffee!

Speaking of food, I really appreciated the butler’s service.

You will receive an email with a questionnaire prior to your stay to help them understand your preferences, and trust me when I say that every little detail is being taken care of.

The service was excellent, the food was delicious, and it’s all inclusive without being cheesy!

Whether you are a couple or a group of friends looking for a private and personalized stay for your trip to Tulum, Mexico, the TRS Yucatan is perfect and worth the splurge

The Best Cenotes Tulum, Mexico Ultimate Guide7

More Internet Resources:

1. Cenotes Route (La Ruta de los Cenotes)

2. If you are concerned about safety while traveling in Mexico you can read this article. It is mostly focus on the northern region of Mexico but the advices and tips can be applied to the whole country.

Are You Keeping Up With My Tulum Series

Three of the most beautiful cenotes in Tulum are CENOTE DOS OJOS TULUM, GRAN CENOTE TULUM and CENOTE AZUL TULUM.

Are you starting your trip in Cancun? Then read here HOW TO GET FROM CANCUN TO TULUM.

Was this post helpful? If so, be sure to pin it to refer to later!

best cenotes tulum mexico

31 comments

  1. Annick October 2, 2019 at 12:04 am - Reply

    This area was my first adult trip (i.e. I paid for it myself) and the cenotes are still my favorite memory. We went to three but the Cenote Azul is the only name I recognized. They’re just magnificent and so important culturally. I look forward to using this guide to explore so many more!

  2. Bhushavali N October 1, 2019 at 2:54 pm - Reply

    I’ve seen pictures of some amazing cenotes in accounts of people heading to Chichen Itza and ever since then, along with Mayan Pyraminds, Cenotes are another thing that I dream of seeing when I visit Mexico.
    Gran Cenote is indeed grand, no wonder its popular. Car wash cenote took me by shock with its name. For a minute I though people descended their car into the cenote. Haha. Good to know the reason isn’t so complicated! My top pick would be definitely Cenote Caracol. It looks magical.

  3. Clarice October 1, 2019 at 6:10 am - Reply

    Wow! This is really beautiful. I love to get a chance to visit these cenotes in Tulum. Loved the entire list. Thank you for sharing these hidden gems.

  4. Shreya Saha September 30, 2019 at 2:59 pm - Reply

    The places that you have shown are very beautiful! I would love to go diving there one day. All of them have their own looks, but i think that the Cenote Caracol looks very clear and by far the most beautiful in my opinion!

  5. Val September 29, 2019 at 8:37 pm - Reply

    Diving in a cenote must be really beautiful. The Caracol Cenote seems stunning, it looks like being on a different planet! Not to mention the magic water of the Cristalino, truly amazing. Great list!

  6. Kavita Favelle September 29, 2019 at 9:53 am - Reply

    Really appreciated the description of what a cenote actually is and why they were so meaningful to the Maya. Your photos and notes on which ones to visit in Tulum is such a great guide, especially helpful to understand which ones are easier to visit for those who are less confident in swimming and climbing!

  7. Erik the Hungry Traveller September 29, 2019 at 8:25 am - Reply

    Man that was just breathtaking. I love how you were very detailed about the places and it helps thT there are videos too. Im not really a fan of the dark err caves but hey i got curious

    • Tim Kroeger October 2, 2019 at 9:40 am - Reply

      Yes, but even with a video you can’t really show the place. You have to experience it yourself :) Now you know where to go ;)

  8. Yukti Agrawal September 29, 2019 at 6:54 am - Reply

    Tulum in Mexico is really worth visiting for all those Maya civilization’s pyramids and many natural wonders. Good to know that there are so many cenotes and before reading your post never knew that sink holes are known as cenotes in Maya culture. There are some cenotes in Oman and I loved them due to emerald color water surrounded by rocks. And here in Tulum, there are so many and so I would love to visit them.

    • Tim Kroeger October 2, 2019 at 9:38 am - Reply

      Never heard about the Cenotes in Oman. It’s actually a country that I really want to visit so good to know that they also have nice cenotes :)

  9. Cat Lin September 29, 2019 at 5:32 am - Reply

    Those are plenty of cenotes. A visit to any cenotes sounds like a good adventure especially for divers and cavers alike. But I’d be satisfied with just dipping on those clear blue waters. It feels relaxing already, especially the Cenotes Cristallino.

    • Tim Kroeger October 2, 2019 at 9:35 am - Reply

      It’s for sure a great adventure :) I also wanna go diving in once of the cenotes one day :)

  10. Joaquin July 16, 2019 at 7:38 pm - Reply

    Very good information although in truth there are more than 25 Cenotes Puerto Morelos, however these are the most commercialized: Cenote Mojarras, Cenote Ha, Cenote La Noria, Cenote K’áak ‘, Cenote Kin Há, Cenote Iik’, Cenote Verde Lucero, Cenote Lu’um, Cenote Popol Vuh, Cenote Zapote, Cenote Boca de Puma, Cenote 7 Bocas, Ta’akbil Ja Park

    • Tim Kroeger October 2, 2019 at 9:34 am - Reply

      Yes, I might update the post soon and add more cenotes :) Thanks for your comment!

  11. Alen Sandy May 27, 2019 at 12:41 am - Reply

    Very beautiful blog. Thank you for sharing with us.

  12. Sophia Willson May 27, 2019 at 12:39 am - Reply

    I’d love to visit some of these cenotes some time in my life! It has to be an experience! thanks..

  13. Golden Smith May 27, 2019 at 12:36 am - Reply

    thanks for Sharing such a Nice Blog…….

  14. Alen Sandy May 26, 2019 at 12:20 am - Reply

    Thank you for sharing information regarding trip. I should need this type of information.

  15. Alex Smith May 25, 2019 at 11:29 pm - Reply

    Very valuable information. Thanks a lot for sharing it

  16. Golden Smith May 25, 2019 at 7:50 pm - Reply

    Thanks For Sharing,,,,,,,…….

  17. Jaz Lissa May 25, 2019 at 1:42 am - Reply

    It’s going to be finish of mine day, but before ending I am reading this wonderful piece of writing to increase my know-how.

  18. Mac Carson May 24, 2019 at 11:11 pm - Reply

    I just want to mention I am just all new to weblog and seriously loved you’re web blog. More than likely I’m planning to bookmark your site . You actually have beneficial writings. Bless you for revealing your blog.

  19. Ryan K Biddulph May 24, 2019 at 8:53 pm - Reply

    Fabulous post here. Cenotes have always fascinated me.

  20. Roc May 17, 2019 at 10:48 am - Reply

    I’d love to visi some of these cenotes some time in my life! It has to be an experience!

  21. Philip March 18, 2019 at 12:21 am - Reply

    I really love cenotes. Been to a few cenotes in Tulum. Definitely have to check out more.

    • Tim Kroeger October 2, 2019 at 9:31 am - Reply

      Yes, there are so many amazing cenotes in Tulum and surrounding :)

Leave A Comment

Top
Loading...