Last Updated on June 17, 2022
The cenotes that are scattered throughout the Yucatan peninsula are among the top tourist sites to visit in the region. With clear, deep turquoise waters, hanging jungle vines, and photo oportunities around every turn, what’s not to love? Most of the best cenotes in the Yucatan are concentrated in the area around Tulum (something to consider when deciding between Cancun vs Tulum). We’ve rounded up the top cenotes in Tulum and the surrounding areas to provide everything you need to know about how and when to visit them.
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Cenotes are natural sinkholes that accommodate groundwater. These breathtaking landmarks are formed when the bedrock caves in, which creates the perfect spot for swimming.
They may or may not have a ‘ceiling’, depending upon whether it’s a dry, young, or mature cenote. In general, the young cenotes are semi-open, and the mature cenotes are open. Some cenotes are so mature that it’s almost like swimming in a pond, whereas some are so young that there is hardly any opening at all, such as Cenote Chaak Tun.
The Mayans thought cenotes to be very sacred places. Tulum cenotes were a primary source of water, and were also thought to have been where the Mayan gods would frequent. This is why you’ll often find villages or temples built nearby, for example the world-wonder, Chichen Itza.
Not sure how to plan your Tulum vacation? Check out a 3 day, 5 day, and 7 day Tulum itinerary!
Within the city limits of Tulum, there are a number of refreshing cenotes to visit. All of these are within a 20-minute drive; however, some are so close to Tulum Pueblo, you might even consider walking. And what better way to cool off after a long walk in the Tulum heat than taking a dip in a cenote!?
The best way to reach these to cenotes in Tulum is by bicycle or taxi. You might get lucky to catch a colectivo from Tulum Pueblo if you are traveling on a budget.
Cenote Calavera is among the most Instagrammable places in Tulum. Calavera translates to skull. If you step back, you’ll see that it has 3 openings, representing two eyes and a mouth, giving it a slight resemblance to a skull. This Tulum cenote is well-known for the ability to jump through the small openings into the dark cenote below. Many people are afraid to complete the jump here because of the narrow opening, but it is a lot of fun and not at all dangerous, as long as you check to make sure nobody is in the water below before jumping.
Given its rise in popularity among photographers and Instagrammers alike, we recommend you get there early to beat the crowds.
Location on Google Maps: Cenote Calavera
How to Get There: You can reach one of the best cenotes in Tulum, Cenote Calavera, by cab, colectivo, bicycle, or walking. It is less than two miles from Tulum town. It’s about a 5-minute drive or 30-minute walk. If you’re taking a bicycle, the ride takes less than 10 minutes.
Entry Cost: 100 MXN ($5 USD)
Opening Hours: 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Facilities: There is no restaurant on-site, so bring some snacks if you think you’ll get hungry. There are a few picnic tables and hammocks scattered around. There are outdoor bathrooms and showers, which you must use prior to swimming in the cenote.
Helpful Tips: One of the coolest features of Cenote Calavera is the long wooden ladder that descends into the water, making a grand entrance (or exit) possible. It’s among the top cenotes in Tulum to go rock jumping.
Gran Cenote is among the best cenotes in Tulum for snorkeling and diving. You can see an abundance of marine life here, as well as the occasional bat flying around. Gran Cenote is surrounded by lush jungle, and you can sporadically see the vibrant yellow beaks of local toucans popping through the green.
Location on Google Maps: Gran Cenote
How to Get There: Gran Cenote is slightly further than Cenote Calavera, but you can still reach it by foot if you’re up for a 50-minute walk. A taxi will get you there in less than 10 minutes, while a bike ride takes around 15 minutes.
Entry Cost: 200 MXN ($10 USD)
Opening Hours: 8:00 AM to 4:45 PM
Facilities: There are bathrooms, changing rooms, and lockers at Gran Cenote. There are a handful of restaurants nearby, but nothing available on-site. You can rent snorkel and dive gear, but the quality isn’t great, so consider bringing your own with you.
Helpful Tips: Bring a camera to get some gorgeous photos of the cave’s stalagmites and stalactites. Again, due to how famous Gran Cenote is it is important to arrive early if you would like to enjoy the cenote in relative peace and quiet.
Another top cenote in Tulum is Escondido, which translates to ‘hidden’ in English. You can guess by its name that it sees far fewer tourists than other cenotes on this list, particularly in the early hours.
The water is ideal for swimming, so clear that you can see the tiny fish underwater without any snorkel or dive gear.
Location on Google Maps: Cenote Escondido
How to Get There: Cenote Escondido is on the opposite side of Tulum town, but about the same distance as Gran Cenote. It is less than a 10-minute taxi ride or approximately a 50-minute walk. By bike, the ride takes 15 minutes.
Entry Cost: 120 MXN (around $6 USD) & includes access to nearby Cenote Cristal
Opening Hours: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Facilities: Cenote Escondido has restrooms, changing rooms, picnic tables, and even some grills if you want to bring some meat or veggies to cook while you’re there. You can rent life vests as well, as some portions of the cenote are quite deep.
Helpful Tips: Bring snorkel gear if you want to get a closer look at Escondido’s underwater landscape, along with biodegradable bug spray, as Cenote Escondido is full of mosquitoes. For adrenaline junkies or those who want to have a little fun, there’s an awesome rope swing at the edge of Escondido.
Looking for adventure? Try out one of the best Tulum tours on your vacation!
Cenote Zacil-Ha is the perfect Tulum cenote for diving enthusiasts, as there are some incredible caves that are connected underground. In Spanish, zacil-ha means ‘clear water’, so you know you’ll have great visibility once below the surface. There’s also a thrilling zipline for the adventurous types, making this easily one of the best Tulum cenotes.
Location on Google Maps: Cenote Zacil-Ha
How to Get There: A taxi will get you there in just over 10 minutes. Parking is available if you’re driving your own car. If you’re up for a ride, taking a bike will take around 25-30 minutes.
Entry Cost: 50 MXN ($2.50 USD)
Opening Hours: 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM
Facilities: There are restrooms, changing rooms, and a bar-restaurant all available on-site.
Helpful Tips: Bring your own snorkel or diving equipment if you plan to use it. Avoid visiting on weekends when it can get quite crowded.
Cenote Zemway is among the newest top cenotes in Tulum to explore. It offers a lot of amenities, so if you’re looking for something more on the modern side, Zemway is for you. This is a great option for those who want the authentic experience of swimming in a cenote but may be put-off by the wild, untouched environment that most cenotes offer.
Location on Google Maps: Cenote Zemway
How to Get There: Walking is out of the picture as Cenote Zemway is pretty far. By car or taxi, however, it’s still only a 15 to 20-minute drive. Parking is widely available. By bike, the ride lasts around 35 minutes.
Entry Cost: 70 MXN ($3.50 USD)
Opening Hours: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Facilities: Cenote Zemway has everything you need, including a snack bar, restrooms, changing rooms, palapas, lounge chairs, and more. They even have a lifeguard on duty.
Helpful Tips: Enjoy jumping into the water from one of the many platforms made for this purpose! This cenote can get quite crowded, so try visiting early or on weekdays to avoid crowds.
Ready to party in Tulum? Tulum’s best Beach Clubs are open every day of the week!
If you want to venture out a little farther or make your cenote visit into more of a day trip, some of the best cenotes in the Yucatan are located just outside Tulum proper. These cenotes will require either a rental car, taxi, or guided tour. All are located within a 1-hour drive from Tulum Pueblo, though most are about 30 minutes away.
These cenotes are best reached by rental car or colectivo from Tulum Pueblo. The colectivos will run the length of the highway from Tulum to Playa del Carmen, so they’re a great and cost-efficient option. To take a colectivo, stand by the ADO bus stop in Tulum Pueblo and wait for the little white vans to take you to some of the best cenotes around Tulum.
Some of these cenotes are also close to Cancun! If you’re not sure whether to visit Cancun or Tulum, we have a side by side comparison of the two tourist hotspots! To make the most of your vacation also check out the best Cancun tours and the essential Cancun travel tips that you can’t miss!
Dos Ojos Cenote is among the most popular of the top cenotes in Tulum. It is actually two small swimming holes (where it gets its name, ‘two eyes’). It is actually the “world’s longest underground cavern”, as recent connections have been made with the Sac Actun cavern system.
Dos Ojos is among the most-visited cenotes in Tulum. That being said, it can obviously get very crowded! It pays to arrive at Dos Ojos, one of the best cenotes in Tulum, early in the morning just after opening.
Location on Google Maps: Cenote Dos Ojos
How to Get There: A taxi ride will take less than 30 minutes. There is parking available if you take your own vehicle. If you’re athletic or up for a workout, a bike ride takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Entry Cost: 350 MXN ($18 USD) For an additional 250 MXN, you can opt for the guided tour which includes entrance to the bat caves.
Opening Hours: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Facilities: As one of the most-visited top cenotes in Tulum, Dos Ojos has plenty of amenities to make your visit run smoothly. They offer a restaurant, locker rentals, restrooms, changing facilities, snorkeling or diving tours, hammocks, and even massage services!
Helpful Tips: Definitely try to visit Dos Ojos early and on weekdays to avoid crowds at one of the best cenotes in Tulum.
Cenote Xunaan-Ha (Goddess of Water) is not as busy as some of the other Tulum cenotes on our list. One exception is between 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM when a daily tour group comes through with around 15 people to use the zipline. Other than that, you can expect a relatively quiet and relaxing experience.
Location on Google Maps: Cenote Xunaan-Ha
How to Get There: Cenote Xunaan-Ha is located a 25-minute drive from Tulum Pueblo and has parking available on-site.
Entry Cost: 100 MXN ($5 USD)
Opening Hours: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Facilities: Restrooms, changing facilities, and life jackets are available.
Helpful Tips: Be sure to try the zipline, which is on the simple side, but fun to race over top of one of the best cenotes in Tulum.
Cenote Aktun Chen is part of a larger park that offers a variety of activities, such as cave tours, ziplining, and more. This is an excellent, family-friendly option if you want to get outside of Tulum and are looking to partake in a variety of activities. You can swim and snorkel in the underground river, and even take crash-courses in underground and underwater photography!
Location on Google Maps: Cenote Aktun Chen
How to Get There: An approximately 30-minute taxi or car ride will bring you to Aktun Chen. Cenote Aktun Chen is located right outside of Akumal, in case you want to snorkel with sea turtles while you’re there! Aktun Chen is a great stop if you’re taking a day trip to Playa del Carmen or Cancun.
Entry Cost: Given that this is part of a larger park, you can expect higher prices, starting at 600 MXN ($30 USD) with higher pricing tiers also available depending on which tour package you choose.
Opening Hours: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Facilities: As Cenote Aktun Chen is part of a larger park complex, you can expect all the amenities you could dream of. Restrooms, changing rooms, food and beverage service, life jacket rentals, and more.
Helpful Tips: Make sure you bring comfortable, non-slip shoes if you plan on taking a cave tour!
Cenote Chaak Tun is a great option for a stopover if you opt for a day trip to Playa del Carmen or Cancun. The cenote is accessible only by guided tour, since it’s slightly more dangerous than other Tulum cenotes on our list. It is almost entirely covered, meaning it is very dark! There is just a small opening, so you aren’t likely to see much more than bats! Helmets are required (which are provided and included in the cost) that have head lamps on them, so you will have that light to guide you through the caves.
Location on Google Maps: Cenote Chaak Tun
How to Get There: It’s approximately a 1-hour drive from Tulum. Consider this cenote as a stop if you are taking a day trip to Playa del Carmen. There is a parking lot if you bring your own vehicle.
Entry Cost: 500 MXN (around $26 USD). This cenote is slightly higher in price due to the fact that a tour guide is required.
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday from 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM; Sunday 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Facilities: There are lockers, restrooms, and changing facilities at Cenote Chaak Tun.
Helpful Tips: Cenote Chaak Tun is only accessible with a guide, primarily because of safety concerns. Each guided tour lasts about 2 hours. Included in the price of admission are helmets and life vests.
Cenote Kantun Chi is part of an ecopark located close to Playa del Carmen. There are actually five cenotes within the park, all of which are equally as beautiful as the next. You can also take guided underground cavern tours, snorkeling, and more. It’s an ideal place to visit if you’re traveling with a family, as the kids will have plenty of other options besides taking a dip in a cenote.
Location on Google Maps: Cenote Kantun Chi
How to Get There: Cenote Kantun Chi is located about a 35-minute drive from Tulum Pueblo. There is parking available if you choose to take your own car.
Entry Cost: 450 MXN ($44 USD) with prices varying depending on which tour you choose, whether you are of Mexican nationality, and your age.
Opening Hours: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Facilities: There are changing facilities, lockers, restrooms, an on-site restaurant, and snorkeling equipment available to rent. Since this is an eco-park, you can be sure that the facilities are relatively modern and well-kept.
Helpful Tips: There are a number of rules and restrictions that you should note before your trip to Kantun-Chi Eco-Park.
There are also a number of cenote tours that you can opt for if you want to take the pressure out of planning yourself! These tours also allow you to see a few cenotes in one day, maximizing your time. One of our favorite parts of guided tours is the amount of information you’re able to take in from your expert guides. You can learn so much about cenotes if you opt to take a guided tour!
Some of our favorite Tulum cenote tours are below, but there are so many more great Tulum tours to check out!
Get a taste of some of the best cenotes in Tulum on this day trip. You’ll visit Gran Cenote, Cenote Escondido, and Cenote Cristal by bike (bikes and helmets included in the price). You’ll also have the opportunity to enjoy a gourmet sandwich and fresh juice in a serene jungle setting following the tour.
Approximate Cost: Starting at $100 USD per person
Length of Tour: 5 hours
What to Bring: Comfy shoes, breathable clothing, swimwear, sunglasses, towel.
Hotel Pick-up Available: No
Visit four different cenotes on this day trip from Tulum. You’ll visit Naval Cenote, Pirañas Cenote, Large Cenote Naval, and finally Cenote Azul. You can zipline, canoe, and enjoy a relaxing lunch in a traditional Mayan village. It’s the perfect combination of outdoor adventure sports, culture, and food!
Approximate Cost: Starting at $150 USD per person
Length of Tour: 6 hours
What to Bring: Comfortable shoes, breathable clothing, swimwear, sunglasses, towel, biodegradable sunscreen.
Hotel Pick-up Available: No
Want a bit of culture with your cenote tour? This trip from Tulum stops in the world-famous Chichen Itza, as well as the beautiful small town of Valladolid. On the tour you will also stop at a local community-run cenote to refresh and cool-off after a day in the sun. The tour includes lunch, snacks, and water as a bonus!
Approximate Cost: Starting at $154 USD per person.
Length of Tour: 11 hours
What to Bring: Breathable clothing, non-slip shoes, swimwear, sunglasses, towel, sun hat.
Hotel Pick-up Available: Yes
Make the most of your Tulum vacation with a Tulum itinerary! 3, 5, or 7 days of the best of Tulum!
We’ve got answers to all of your most frequently asked questions about Tulum cenotes!
Are Tulum Cenotes Free?
Most of the top cenotes in Tulum have an entrance fee associated. This can be as low as 50 MXN ($2.50 USD) at Cenote Zacil-Ha, or as high as 600 MXN ($30 USD) at places like Cenote Aktun Chen, which is part of a larger eco-park. Most cenotes are between 100 MXN ($5 USD) and 300 MXN ($15 USD).
Though, considering the fact that there are over 6,000 cenotes throughout the Yucatan Peninsula, we’re sure if you try really, really hard, you can find a free place to take a dip! Let us know in the comments if you find one!
What Should I Bring to a Cenote?
It’s a good idea to pack a bag for your Tulum cenote excursion. We recommend taking a towel, swimsuit, and change of clothes to all cenotes. Each cenote has its own recommendation of what to bring in particular (and what is banned), so check out the individual cenotes above.
Sunscreen and bug spray are controversial items to bring. Most cenotes will require you to take a shower beforehand to rinse off any lotions or oils on your skin, to protect the natural habitat. Some cenotes ban the use of either altogether. If you are really adamant about having sunscreen or bug spray, make sure it is biodegradable! This is extremely important to conserving the beauty and use of these natural wonders.
Are Cenotes Clean?
This poses a complicated question! Yes and no.
Cenotes are incredible, natural wonders. When they are formed, it is due to the erosion of the limestone underground. This then collapses into the groundwater underneath, creating deep pools of clean water that’s undergone filtration through the earth. That’s what makes the water so crystal clear.
As for human-caused pollution, all of the cenotes on our list have a crew that maintains them. This includes ensuring the restrooms and changing facilities are sparkling clean, as well as picking up any trash that may have been left behind.
However, despite the dedication by crews and the natural filtration of the water in Tulum’s cenotes, Mexico’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources has declared 80% of the Yucatan’s 6,000+ cenotes are contaminated by pollution. Due to the influx of tourists in the region, a lot of new construction has been underway in recent years. The construction destroys mangroves, which provide another natural filtration system. In turn, a lot of waste (including sewage and chemicals) is now present in Tulum’s cenotes. Be careful to not drink any water in the cenotes while you’re swimming.
Are Cenotes Safe?
Generally speaking, cenotes are relatively safe to swim in. This is particularly true of the cenotes on our list, which are well-kept and maintained by a designated crew. If you venture off-the-beaten-path and find a secluded cenote that has no facilities nor entrance fees, you’re entering into a ‘swim at your own risk’ situation.
If you are diving in a cenote and do not have a cave dive certification, be sure you can always see natural light! Some dive guides have been rumored to be lax on this key safety tenet, so do what you can to ensure your own safety.
Are There Snakes in Cenotes?
Given their unique environments, cenotes are home to a large number of animals, including some species of harmless snakes.
In terms of fish, you’re likely to see pimelomid, cichlids, caracids, and other similar types of fish that enjoy stable environments. They’re accustomed to humans being in their homes and keep to themselves for the most part.
In addition to snakes and fish, you’re likely to see iguanas and a beautiful array of colorful birds as well as the odd bat. Particularly if you’re visiting a cenote in the jungle, don’t be surprised if you see any toucans!
What Cenotes Should I Visit in Tulum?
Swimming in a cenote is a magical experience that everyone should have once in their lives. Which cenote you will like best largely depends on what you are looking for from your cenote experience.
If you’re looking for fun and adventure, try one of the cenotes at an adventure or eco-park. Even though they are part of a larger park complex, these cenotes are still completely natural and not man-made. These are the cenotes that will be best for families.
If you’re looking for cenotes with lots of amenities, try Cenote Zemway or Cenote Dos Ojos.
For a more relaxing experience with fewer tourists, head to Cenote Xunaan-Ha (in the morning or after 2:00 PM as there is a tour that passes through daily) or Cenote Escondido. These cenotes provide a great reprieve after an afternoon at Tulum’s Beach Clubs.
For a great diving experience, you’ll want to visit Cenote Zacil-Ha to explore the extensive network of underground caves and tunnels. If you’re looking for something a little eerie, Cenote Chaak Tun is a good option for you – just remember that the guided tour is required due to safety reasons.
10 Top Cenotes in Tulum You Have to See Summary
There are so many great cenotes in and around Tulum that coming up with a list of just 10 top cenotes in Tulum was difficult! Have fun exploring all of the amazing Tulum cenotes on your vacation to Tulum!
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