You’re in Quintana Roo, Yucatan Peninsula, and you must visit a cenote. You’ve picked the Gran Cenote, or as some call it: Grand Cenote, and now you’re here! Welcome!
Gran Cenote Tulum is one of the best Mexico cenotes to visit, and we’ll tell you all you need to know about it!
What is a cenote?
The very official cenote definition by the one and only Oxford dictionary is a natural underground reservoir of water such as occurs in the limestone of Yucatán, Mexico.
In English, a cenote is called a sinkhole and funny enough, our native language (Dutch) doesn’t even have a translation!
I don’t think a sinkhole is the exact right word though, because a sinkhole is a “cavity in the ground, especially in a limestone formation, caused by water erosion and providing a route for surface water to disappear underground”.
But a cenote is not just the cavity, as it always is a water reservoir!
Glad we got that cleared up! So a cenote is basically a limestone cave-pool. And the water is insanely blue.
Read our blog post about the best cenotes in Tulum
Gran Cenote Entrance Fee
The most important question one probably asks oneself: how much does it cost?! Unfortunately, gran cenote is one of the most expensive cenotes. But you also get a lot of cenote for it! The entrance fee is MXN 180.
MXN 80 Snorkeling kit rental
MXN 30 Locker
MXN 50 Life jacket
Exploring Quintana Roo? Make sure to visit Isla Mujeres – read about the top 27 things to do!
Gran Cenote Best Time
The Gran Cenote opening hours are from 8.10 AM – 4.45 PM, final entry 4.15 PM.
The best time of day to visit is early or late. Visit as soon as it opens, or before it closes, but make sure you schedule enough time to enjoy the experience!
And weather-wise?! We had some serious rainfall when visiting the cenotes (in October) and although you get wet anyway, having your stuff soaking wet is not much fun.
BEST TIME: November – April (less rainfall, decent temperatures)
NAH TIME: December – March (peak tourist season)
OK TIME: May – October (rain, thunder, hot, humid BUT less crowded)
How to Get to Gran Cenote?
The gran cenote is located just 5 kilometers north of the center of Tulum! It’s not too far and there are multiple options to get there.
TAXI: the easiest option is always a taxi. Expect to pay MXN 100 one-way from downtown Tulum.
RENT A CAR: most tourists rent a car to explore the Yucatan Peninsula and it is the perfect way to see all the cenotes Tulum. Parking is free!
BICYCLE: by far the most fun and healthy way to go to the gran cenote. Bike rentals are available from MX$80 a day. From the center of Tulum, it shouldn’t take you more than 20 minutes!
BUS OR BY FOOT?! We’ve seen other blogs recommend the ADO bus (ask them to stop at Gran Cenote), collectivos (unreliable), and even by foot (takes an hour). But to be honest, we don’t recommend these options. But if you’re in for an adventure, go ahead!
Find the best Tulum accommodations!
BOOK A TOUR: if you’re short on time, consider booking a Tulum tour!
Gran Cenote Turtles?!
Honestly, we were so surprised (and immediately extremely excited) there were turtles casually swimming in gran cenote. ‘HOW?!’ we wondered.
Fun fact: all the cenotes in Mexico are connected!
BOOM, mind is blown. All the cenotes in Riviera Maya are connected. There are underground riverways connecting the cenotes with each other.
The water in cenotes is groundwater, so it’s fresh water. There are also places where the water connects to the sea, making for an interesting fresh- and salt water mix: salt water below because of the weight and fresh water above.
Best Kept Secret
So far, you probably read all the information you were looking for, but we’ll go the extra mile and share the gran cenote’s best-kept secret.
There isn’t just one place where you can swim! When you enter the terrain and walk past the showers and past a little hut-thing, you will be tempted to head down the first staircase you see, on your left.
It’s big, and it’s obvious: hello, here’s the cenote, come down and swim here. BUT if you’re smart, you’ll save that for later, and you head to a smaller entrance, a little further with a slight right.
Especially when you come early, you will be the first one and have this cute area all to yourself. From the small one, you’ll realize you can actually swim to the big part!
- It’s mandatory to shower before, also wet your hair or the staff will get angry
- You can’t bring a tripod, so bring your besties if you want a cute picture
- They have a sign saying you can’t use sunblock or sunscreen, so apply before!
- Don’t go down the first staircase
Best cenotes in Tulum
Honestly, there are many other amazing Tulum cenotes that you absolutely must-see.
Especially Cenote Calavera is easy to combine with the Gran Cenote! Read our blog post about the best cenotes in Tulum for more information and inspiration!
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Thursday 23rd of January 2020
Thanks for the tips on the Gran Cenote! I enjoyed the article. Still, I would like to make the suggestion to alter your tip to apply sunscreen before going in, to don't apply sunscreen or use only biodegradable sunscreen. The sign is there for a reason, being that sunscreen or other lotions are harmful to the fragile ecosystem of the cenotes. So if people want to enjoy them they should also take the responsibility to keep them healthy right? Just some information sharing from my side and I hope you change that part of the article.
Roxanne & Maartje
Thursday 23rd of January 2020
Hi Thamar! Biodegradable sunscreen is also forbidden (any form of sunscreen), of course always try to be eco-friendly, but we know not everyone always has the means or the opportunity to buy biodegradable. Not applying sunscreen is never a wise decision - especially not for skin types like ours! I see your point, absolutely, and we'll think about it some more.