There are many reasons to visit Tulum. But visiting the Tulum cenotes is reason enough to book that plane ticket to Mexico right away. All around the Yucatan Peninsula, you can find cenotes. There are over 6000 of them! It’s the world’s largest number of cenotes. And there are different kinds of cenotes, some cenotes are deep underground, some are more cave-like while others are open and look like a lake. Every cenote has something else to offer. They make for great pictures and fun. Go cenote diving or snorkeling, jump through a hole or just swim around the stunning crystal clear waters. We will tell you all about which cenotes Tulum you should visit: these are the 17 best cenotes in Tulum.
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What is a cenote?
What is a cenote?
But what exactly is a cenote? A cenote is a natural pit or sinkhole containing water. A cenote occurs when limestone bedrock collapses, exposing the groundwater underneath (creating a natural pool). The word cenote originates from the Mayan term dzonot, which translates to “well”. Cenotes are connected with each other and lead to the sea. Cenotes contain freshwater and in some areas, a mix with salt water. As fresh water floats above saltwater, you won’t notice the saltwater when you swim in the cenotes. The underwater cave system in Tulum is the longest underwater cave system in the world!
The waters of cenotes are often super clear, some of the clearest waters we have ever seen. The water is ground water, which is slowly filtered rain water, and that’s why the water is so clear. The cenotes in Tulum and the cenotes near Tulum are some of the most beautiful cenotes in the world! Not every cenote is open for the public, because cenotes are a sacred place and a source of water for Ancient Mayan people. As mentioned before, there are different kinds of cenotes: semi-open, open and cave cenotes. Those are the most common cenotes. The underground cenotes are hard to reach.
At most cenotes, it’s possible to snorkel and dive. Many cenotes have snorkel equipment rental available but we highly recommend bringing your own. If you want to go cenote diving, make sure to arrange it in advance with a dive shop in town. Below we will highlight the most beautiful cenotes!
This is one of our favorite Tulum cenotes to go to! Cenote Calavera is not only super fun, you can jump from in the water and there’s a swing, Cenote Calavera is also very picturesque. The cenote consists of three sinkholes, a big one, and two little ones. It’s possible to jump in the water through the three holes, though be careful with the smallest one. The two small ones are definitely for the daredevils! If you don’t feel like jumping, there’s a ladder to get you in and out of the water.
ENTRANCE FEE 100 MXN ($5 USD)
There are lots of fish swimming around too, so if you stay still enough they might bite you! But don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt. It’s also possible to see some bats flying in and out of the cenote. The word Calavera means skull in Spanish. Apparently a skull shows on the water when the sunlight shines into the three sinkholes from a certain angle!
Cenote Calavera is located close to Tulum. It took us only 15 minutes by bicycle to reach the cenote from the center of Tulum and it’s on the way to the Gran Cenote. If you want to visit many cenotes in a short amount of time, we highly recommend renting a car or motorbike! It’s also possible to go snorkeling and diving in Cenote Calavera.
Cenote Carwash is an open cenote with laid back vibes, it’s rarely crowded here. The cenote is surrounded by beautiful nature, it feels like you are in a jungle. It got its funny name from the taxi drivers that used to clean their cars with the water of the cenote. Though the cenote is also known as Aktun Ha Cenote. It’s perfect to swim and snorkel in Cenote Carwash. You will probably spot a turtle or two and many underwater plants, the mangrove roots are very cool. Beginner divers come here to dive in the underwater caves. Apparently there’s a small alligator living in the cenote, though we didn’t spot it. But the alligator is more afraid for people than the other way around.
ENTRANCE FEE 50 MXN ($2.50 USD)
This cenote is by far the most popular Tulum Cenote and can’t be missed in this best cenotes in Tulum blog post. As it’s such a popular cenote, we highly recommend going here as early as possible in the morning. The cenote opens at 08:10 AM. Gran Cenote is a big beautiful cave cenote, the waters here are stunning and you will probably spot a few turtles swimming around. Snorkeling and diving is a popular activity at the Gran Cenote. There are two entrances, one big opening and one smaller one. It’s possible to swim under the ground from one to another. The entrance fee is a little more expensive. We visited the Gran Cenote on our bicycle. It’s perfect to combine with Cenote Calavera together on a bike trip.
ENTRANCE FEE 180 MXN ($10 USD)
Okay, this cenote is a little different than the others. Cenote Clan-Destino is a cenote, bar, and restaurant in one! Clan-Destino is located in the beach area of Tulum. So if you are staying in the hotel zone of Tulum, this cenote is great to visit for a refreshing jump in the water while enjoying drinks and food. Cenote Clan-Destino is small and maybe not the prettiest of all Tulum cenotes, though it’s a unique one. The cenote is the center of the restaurant and bar. There’s also good music, great vibes and very delicious burgers at Cenote Clan-Destino!
Laguna Kaan Luum
Laguna Kaan Luum is a huge open cenote that locals love to visit. Though, not many tourists go here (yet). That’s why they call it a hidden treasure. The color of the water at Laguna Kaan Luum is stunning. Especially the color contrast between the center of the cenote and the rest of the water is amazing. As the center of the cenote is incredibly deep, around 80 meters (262 ft), it isn’t possible to swim in the middle. But luckily Laguna Kaan Luum is big, so there’s plenty of space to swim. There’s a long wooden pier, where people relax on and jump from in the water. Looking for something more active to do? Rent a kayak or stand up paddleboard at Laguna Kaan Luum. It’s a great place to go with children too.
ENTRANCE FEE 100 MXN ($5 USD)
Cenote Zacil Ha
Cenote Zacil Ha is located very close to the Carwash cenote. It’s a small open cenote perfect for swimming. It might not be the prettiest of all Tulum cenotes, though it’s the perfect cenote for relaxing (there are lounge chairs) and fun! The cenote has a zipline from where you can drop yourself in the water, there are jumping points and ropes to sit on too. And if you are looking for drinks and small food, this is a great cenote to go to, it has more facilities. It’s a very family-friendly cenote.
Casa Cenote Tulum
Casa Cenote is an open cenote that’s directly connected with the sea with an underwater cave. Therefore you can find both fresh- and salt water in the cenote. Casa Cenote is perfect for activities like stand up paddle boarding, diving, snorkeling, kayaking and of course, swimming. And besides fish, you can find many other animals here (like birds and raccoons). There’s a mangrove area too!
Cenote Labnaha is a very impressive cave cenote. As it’s only possible to reach the cenote with a tour (from $45 USD), it isn’t crowded at the cenote. The cenote is well hidden in the jungle and it’s a bumpy ride to get to the cenote. The cenote is completely underground and the limestone rocks in the Cenote Labnaha are stunning. You’ll see bats that live in the cave too. Make sure to get a good English speaking guide if you don’t speak Spanish. The cenote is part of the Labnaha Eco Park, which has the nickname Magic Mayan World.
Cenote diving in Mexico is a very unique experience and is popular in the Yucatan peninsula. There are many cenotes where you can dive, some are for the beginner divers while others are for advanced divers. Some Tulum cenotes are extra special to dive in. We will tell you all about them below!
Cenote El Pit aka The Pit Cenote
Cenote El Pit is a must-visit cenote for divers. It’s one of the most unique cenotes in Tulum and in the Yucatan peninsula. It’s named the Pit Cenote because it’s the deepest cenote in the area. As it’s such a deep cenote, only advanced divers can dive here. Try to dive in the morning or in the early afternoon on a sunny day. Cenote El Pit is most magical when the sun rays shin into the water. The top layer of the water of the cenote is very clear, but if you go diving 13 meters and deeper, visibility decreases. At this point, fresh and saltwater meet: this is called Halocline. It’s only possible to visit Cenote El Pit on a dive tour. The Cenote is located in Dos Ojos National Park.
Dos Ojos Cenote Tulum
Cenote Dos Ojos is a beautiful cave cenote. This cenote is featured in many movies and documentaries, therefore it is one of the most famous cenotes in the world. The translation of Dos Ojos is Two Eyes. This name comes from the two openings in the cenote, making it look like two eyes. Dos Ojos cenote diving is popular, as it’s an amazing cenote to dive in and it’s also great for beginners. There are different lines to follow, to make sure you don’t get lost in the different tunnels. The Barbie Line is for less experienced (cave) divers, while the Batcave Line is for advanced (cave) divers. The cenote is open for the public, not just for divers. It’s also amazing to go cenote snorkeling at the Dos Ojos Cenote. The cenote has stunning rock formations.
ENTRANCE FEE 200 MXN ($10.50 USD)
This cenote is located south of Tulum. Angelita means little angel. While all Tulum cenotes are unique to go cenote diving, Cenote Angelita is extra special. The cenote is about 60 meters (196ft) deep and at 30 meters (98ft) deep there’s something special. At 30 meters deep it looks like there’s a big cloud in the water. The cloud is a gas layer that arises when fresh and saltwater meet, it’s the effect Halocline that we talked about before. It’s an optical illusion and you gotta see with your own eyes! The big cloud is also called an underwater river. At 30 meters there are also some dead trees that make it extra creepy. This cenote is only open for (experienced) divers.
If you are looking for more information about cenote diving and a good dive shop, check out Koox Diving.
Cenotes Near Tulum
Cenote Azul is located between Tulum and Playa del Carmen. It’s a big open cenote with different areas and depths. There are some places where you can stand in the water and others where you can jump in the water. Cenote Azul means Blue Cenote. We can totally see why it’s called Blue Cenote as the water is very blue and clear here. There are many activities possible at the cenote, like snorkeling, cenote diving, and cliff jumping. It’s also a very family-friendly cenote. Try to go as early as possible to Cenote Azul, as many people like to visit. There are a lot of fish in the water at Cenote Azul. Do you know the famous fish spas? Here at Cenote Azul, you get one for free! It tickles a little bit, but it doesn’t hurt. The fishes nibble your dead skin off. It is located close to Cenote Cristalino and the Jardín Del Eden Cenote. Therefore it’s perfect to combine all three.
Jardín del Eden Cenote
The Jardín del Eden Cenote is also known as the Pandorosa cenote. The name Jardín Del Eden Cenote suits the cenote well, as it feels like the Garden of Eden. The cenote has very clear waters and is surrounded by beautiful jungle. It’s a stunning open cenote which we highly recommend visiting. Snorkeling is fun here and also cenote diving and cliff jumping.
Cenote Cristalino, Jardín del Eden Cenote and Cenote Azul are located close to each other and easy to combine. All three are beautiful and a bit similar, yet all three have something different to offer. Cenote Cristalino is especially cool since it has 3 open cenotes, a cave where you can swim through and a mangrove area. There are many fish in the mangrove area, which makes for great snorkeling. There’s also the possibility to jump off a platform and if you want to relax, there are chairs and sun loungers.
Cenote Tak Be Ha
The location of Tak Be Ha, also known as Taak Bi Ha, might be a little confusing. The cenote is located in the same park as Cenote Dos Ojos. If you follow Google Maps you won’t reach the cenote. Instead, follow the Dos Ojos sign. It’s right next to the Dos Ojos Cenote, yet this cenote isn’t as popular. It’s a hidden gem! The cenote is run by a Mayan Family and is fairly new open for the public. You enter the cenote from a small hole before you see this beautiful cave cenote. Try to visit at least one cave cenote while you visit Tulum! At the cenote, it’s possible to get a tour to see multiple caves. The entrance fee of the cenote is a lot more expensive than most cenotes but you get a unique ‘secret’ experience!
ENTRANCE FEE 300 MXN ($15.50 USD)
Cenote Pet Cemetery aka Cenote Sac Actun
Okay, we must admit, Cenote Pet Cemetery sounds a bit creepy. The cenote is called pet cemetery as there were many animal fossils found inside the cenote. Some can still be seen while diving. Scientists have the theory the cenote was used as a disposal pit, an animal mass grave, long before the water came inside. The cenote is also known as Cenote Sac Actun. You can only reach Cenote Pet Cemetry with a guide, as it’s located pretty far in the jungle. Snorkeling is also possible at the cenote.
Cenote Xunaan Ha
This is a pretty cenote in the middle of the jungle. It’s a peaceful and small, open cenote. To reach Cenote Xunaan Ha you need to ride a bumpy road. That’s probably one of the reasons this cenote isn’t much-visited. It’s truly a cenote off the beaten path. At the cenote, there are platforms to jump from and there’s a zipline (but the zipline isn’t always working).
Tulum Cenote Map
Good To Know
Make sure to apply biodegradable sunscreen! Normal sunscreen is not good for the water and its animals and plants, especially since cenotes are easily threatened. Therefore it’s forbidden to use normal sunscreen in the cenotes. Please don’t harm nature and keep the cenotes as beautiful as they are. The same goes for insect repellant (and that’s horrible since there are often many mosquitos around the cenotes). The most popular Tulum cenotes will also require you to take a shower before entering the water.
Don’t forget your swimwear and camera and you are ready to explore! If you have any questions or additions, drop them below in the comments.
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