The Best Cenotes in Tulum: All You Need to Know in 2019

Cover for the Best Cenotes in Tulum, Mexico

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      This is the number one list of best cenotes in Tulum, Mexico you’ll find on the web. Filled with loads of useful information about each cenote, it’s perfect for helping you find the top cenotes in Tulum for your needs.

      CONTENTS OF BEST CENOTES, TULUM

      How do I Know So Much About the Tulum Cenotes?

      While living in Mexico, my local friend took me to all of the best cenotes near Tulum. I went to about five different ones that time. Then later, I came back to Tulum with my own Mexican car to explore the cenotes once again. I was on a search to find out which cenote is the best in Tulum. By this time, you could say I was cenote-obsessed and I spent even more time exploring as many off-the-beaten-path cenotes that I possibly could!

      That means this post is about the best of the best Tulum cenotes, with insider local knowledge just for you!

      Swimming at Cenote Ponderosa for Best Cenotes in Tulum

      But, What Are Cenotes Exactly?

      If you’ve heard of them, but have found yourself wondering “But what is a cenote?” you’re not alone. Many people who travel to Mexico only hear about the cenotes once they are already there, not before they come.

      According to Wikipedia’s cenote definition; “A cenote [in English] is a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath.”

      There are over 6, 000 cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula alone. However, not all the cenotes are exposed. Some have been discovered by tiny openings in which you must squeeze through or take a ladder down, depending on how adventurous you are!

      Cenotes were sacred to the Ancient Mayan people, who used them not only as a source of life but also as graveyards and a place of sacrifice. In fact, cenotes are still sacred to the Mayan people, meaning most cenotes are closed off from public use.

      Some cenotes are highly decorated, with beautiful stalactites hanging from the roofs of the underwater caves leftover from when the caves were dry. Others have the remains of ancient animals and people fossilized in their walls and floors.

      Snorkeling at Cenote Pet Cemetery for Best Cenotes in Tulum

      READ: How to Choose the Best Snorkel Gear on the Market!

      About the Cenotes of the Yucatan Peninsula

      The Yucatan is like a giant sponge, with hundreds of kilometres connected through a network of underground rivers and cave systems. There are over 4,000 known cenotes in the Riviera Maya region and so far, seven of the world’s ten longest mapped underground waterways exist beneath the Yucatan Peninsula.

      How to Pronounce Cenote?

      Cenote is pronounced ‘Say-NOH-Tay’ with the emphasis on the ‘NOH’.

      Quintana Roo contains both of the top two largest underwater cave systems in the world. The Sac Actun System (Sistema Sac Actun) meaning “white cave system” is the most impressive at 347 kilometers (215 miles) long. The other is the Ox Bel Ha system (meaning Three Paths of Water) is famous for containing a number of prehistoric human skeletons and cenotes in this system were thought to be important sites for ritual burial.

      All the types of cenotes for Best Cenotes in Tulum
      The different types of Mexican cenotes

      A Quick Guide on the Cenote Prices

      There are many beautiful cenotes close to Tulum that are open to the public, just waiting for you to explore. Prices differ between each cenote and are at subject to change. Since most Mexico cenotes are located on private land and the owner of the land decides their own cenotes’ prices. Most of the best cenotes in Yucatan cost money, but there are also some free cenotes around Tulum. I will talk about all of your options below.

      This is my ultimate list of cenotes in Tulum, complete with current prices and the facilities found at each cenote.

      THE BEST CENOTES FOR SNORKELING NEAR TULUM

      Cenote Car Wash

      Snorkeling at Cenote Car Wash for Best Cenotes in Tulum

      Car Wash is a large open cenote, filled with brightly colored lily pads, turtles and even the odd shy cayman. It’s sometimes referred to as “Pond Cenote” due to its peaceful exterior. Underwater, there are a large variety of plants and fish which make for great snorkeling. Cenote Carwash is easily one of my top 5 cenotes, because not only was it much more peaceful than the more popular cenotes in Tulum, but there is something under the water that makes this cenote more unique than all the others!

      Cenote Carwash is named so because the cenote is close to the road and taxi drivers used to bring their cars to this cenote to wash them. People particularly loved to wash their cars here because each new day, all the soapsuds and cleaning products would “magically” disappear from the cenote! This “phenomenon” sparked one of the first cenote cave explorations in the area, to find out where the suds went.

      The opening of the underwater cave is partly covered by giant submerged trees, and with the odd diver darting in and out of the cave; the snorkeling at Car Wash Cenote is some of the most impressive of all! There is also a wall of lily pad leaves that are fun to explore with a snorkel too!

      The cenote diving at Carwash is also incredible. Adorned with colorful rock decorations, stalactites, and the giant fallen trees, this cenote has an eerie, otherworldly vibe!

      OPENING HOURS
      Every day from 9 am to 5 pm
      ENTRY PRICE
      $50 MXN pesos general entry / $200 MXN pesos scuba diver entry
      FACILITIES
      Toilets, life jacket rental at $20 MXN pesos
      LOCATION
      9 km (5.6 miles) from Tulum center on the Highway to Coba (Calle Carretera Federal 109) and turning left

      Cenote Dos Ojos

      Snorkeling at Cenote Dos Ojos Caves for Best Cenotes in Tulum

      In this winding underwater cave system, both diving and snorkeling are stunning in Cenote Dos Ojos (Two Eyes Cenote). I’ll take a hot minute to talk about the snorkeling in Dos Ojos, but if you think you’d prefer to dive, make sure you jump down to the scuba diving section to read about diving at Dos Ojos.

      One of the best cenote caves in Tulum (and probably Mexico), Dos Ojos is named so because two 70-meter sinkholes connect by a 400-meter passageway, which gives the appearance of two eyes. Though you cannot enter the passage, the “eyes” are a beautiful place to go snorkeling. You can view dramatic rock formations, play with schools of fish and watch under the crystal-clear waters as the divers cruise through the caves.

      OPENING HOURS
      Every day from 8 am to 5 pm
      ENTRY PRICE
      $200 MXN pesos general entry fee / $380 MXN pesos scuba diver entry
      FACILITIES
      Shower and toilet. Snorkel gear for hire between $50-$90 MXN pesos apiece. Lockers for rent at $50 pesos. Restaurante Dos Ojos and Restaurante Juanita near the entrance
      LOCATION
      North of Tulum 22 km (13.5 miles) down the highway to Playa del Carmen (Carretera 307) and turning left onto Cenote Jaguar Road

      Casa Cenote (Cenote Manati or Cenote Tankah)

      Snorkeling at Casa Cenote for Best Cenotes in Tulum for diving

      Casa Cenote has always been one of my favorites even though it is now super popular and busy. Casa Cenote is an open cenote that connects a long underwater cave system (Nohoch Na Chich) to the sea. Because the cenote contains both fresh and sea water, both ocean, and freshwater fish live here. You don’t get that in the cave cenotes. Some of the most interesting fish are the Cichlids, and they can be viewed in abundance here, darting around the mangrove roots.

      Casa Cenote is like a big, natural swimming pool, making it perfect for paddle boarding, snorkeling, scuba diving and free diving. It is also commonly referred to as Cenote Manati because (you guessed it) it used to have manatee sea cows living in it.

      Scuba diving here is just as good as the snorkeling. You’re able to cruise under the wetland mangrove roots, through a limestone passage and face-on with interesting fish. Sometimes, you’ll even be able to spot the halocline that occurs when the salt water mixes with the fresh. It’s one of the most unique cenote dives in the area. Plus, because it is mostly open water, it’s great for beginner divers who need some practice before they head into the Tulum caves.

      OPENING HOURS
      Every day from 9 am to 5 pm
      ENTRY PRICE
      $120 MXN pesos general entry / $150 MXN pesos scuber diver entry
      FACILITIES
      Toilet (sometimes). Life jacket and snorkel gear for rent. $50 MXN pesos for a locker and $150 for a kayak.
      LOCATION
      North of Tulum 11 km (7 miles) down Carretera 307 and then taking a right hand turn towards Tankah Bay

      Cenotes Casa Tortuga

      Snorkeling at Cenote Casa Tortuga for Best Cenotes in Tulum for diving

      Casa Tortuga might just be one of the best off-the-path cenotes in Tulum. It is newly opened so not too many people actually know how awesome this place is… Yet.

      Visiting Casa Tortuga is sort like a cenote tour of a series of three cenotes in a park. A tour guide leads you to visit two cave cenotes and an open cenote. One of the cave cenotes you are led inside where you can see bats and interesting blind cave fish. In the other, you are taught about the rock formations and interesting cave geology facts while experiencing slight vertigo caused by the crystal-clear water and the sheer depth of the cave. The open cenote is mainly for fun. You can jump in of the edge and swim around. If you’re lucky you’ll spot a resident turtle swimming alongside you.

      The cenotes of Casa Tortuga are perfect for newbies who want an in-depth introduction into the cenotes on a tour. They provide snorkel gear, life jackets and a guide included in the price. The cenote tour can take some time, especially if you need to wait for more members before the tour can leave, so make sure you leave at least a few hours to complete the entire route.

      OPENING HOURS
      Every day from 9 am to 5 pm
      ENTRY PRICE
      $350 MXN pesos entry fee (guide and gear included)
      FACILITIES
      There is a shower, toilet and restaurant on site. Life jackets and snorkel are included in the price
      LOCATION
      North of Tulum 17 km (10.5 miles) down Carretera 307 and then taking a left hand turn at Casa Tortuga

      BEST SCUBA DIVING CENOTES IN TULUM

      Cenote Calavera

      Diving at Cenote Calavera for Best Cenotes in Tulum for diving
      📷 Lucas Pinhel

      You’ve probably seen the gorgeous pictures like the one above. This is the cenote with a swing and a jumping platform, all surrounded by Mexican jungle foliage; it’s a great cenote to photograph, that’s for sure.

      But there’s a lot more to Cenote Calavera than first meets the eye. Under the surface, the caved-in middle platform juts downward in an almost perfect circle, with boulders tumbling down the sides.

      This means that when you scuba dive there, you can follow the edge around past rainbow-colored rock formations, a prehistoric fossil and have fun swimming through the halocline. Because of this formation, Cenote Calavera is known as a jug type formation.

      Cenote Calavera translates to ‘skull cenote’ in English, and the reason it is called this is that the sunlight that pours in through the holes of the cenote looks exactly like a skull at certain angles of the dive. It is also known as ‘The Temple of Doom’ possibly due to the appearance of small “altars” in the wall of the cave, one that contains pottery and bones.

      This unassuming yet impressive cenote is usually pretty quiet, especially in the mornings, since it is usually more popular with divers than it is with swimmers or snorkelers. This is weird because it’s a cenote close to Tulum center, and quite easy to get to. It’s also the best cenote near Tulum Ruins (only 4.5 km), so easily make the two a day trip!

      OPENING HOURS
      Every day 9 am to 4 pm
      ENTRY PRICE
      $100 MXN pesos normal entry / $250 MXN pesos scuba diver entry
      FACILITIES
      There is nowhere to put on dive equipment inside the cenote so divers must walk the short distance while kitted up. No toilet, shower or restaurant
      LOCATION
      3 km (2 miles) from Tulum town center on the Highway to Coba (Carretera 309) and turning right. You can bicycle here, and it only takes about 20 minutes

      Cenote Angelita

      Diving at Cenote Angelita for Best Cenotes in Tulum for diving
      📷 Tom St George

      The incredible Cenote Angelita (or “Little Angel”) is one of the most interesting cenotes to scuba dive in Mexico. Although I have not personally been, I know that there is a magical gas layer at 30 meters deep called halocline. Decomposing leaves create the hydrogen sulfide and it becomes caught between the fresh and salt waters, creating the illusion of a sandy bottom.

      Eerily poking out of the gas layer are giant dead trees, of which you can swim amongst the branches. On the dive, you can hover above and dip below the gas layer if you feel comfortable. Under the gas, it is completely dark and feels as if you are floating through a haunted forest.

      The cenote is sometimes dubbed “the underground river” because once you are down there, the gas layer coupled with the fallen trees and boulders look like the edge of a peaceful river. It is a cenote dive that, if you are adventurous, you definitely should not miss!

      OPENING HOURS
      Every day from 8 am to 5 pm
      ENTRY PRICE
      $300 MXN pesos scuba diver entry
      FACILITIES
      No facilities
      LOCATION
      4.5 km (3 miles) from Tulum town center on the Highway to Coba (Carretera 309)

      The Sac Actun System

      Sac Actun, meaning ‘white cave’ in Mayan, is the second-longest underwater cave system in the world, accessible by hundreds of sinkholes (cenotes). A relatively recent discovery that the Dos Ojos System was connected to the Sac Actun system, gave Sac Actun the title of World’s largest flooded cave system.

      Stalactites punctuate gorgeous caverns and stalagmites jut out all over the place, making Sistema Sac Actun some of the best diving in Tulum. Sac Actun is only 4 km from Tulum but is also easily accessed from Playa Del Carmen as well. The best cenotes in the Sac Actun system for scuba diving are listed below.

      Cenote Dos Ojos

      Diving at Cenote Dos Ojos for Best Cenotes in Tulum for diving
      📷 Tom St George

      Cenote Dos Ojos is one of the best places to go diving in Mexico and perhaps the world, for first-time cavern divers. The cave system is mapped out by reel lines, helping the first time cavern-diver like myself feel safe navigating these confusing tunnels.

      This passage is filled with spectacular stalactites and stalagmites that you come face-to-face with as you cruise past. As the divers wind their way through the cave system, they can occasionally get a glimpse of the snorkelers and free divers alongside them.

      It’s totally breathtaking here and absolutely worth the price. Some of the BEST diving I’ve ever done in my life!

      There are two scuba dive routes that can be taken in Cenote Dos Ojos. The most popular route is ‘The Barbie Line’ which leads divers around the light-filled cavern of the second eye, where divers encounter incredible rock formations, huge columns, and stalactites. With lots of space to swim around, this is ideal for the less experienced cavern diver. ‘The Batcave Line’ is a lot darker and feels more like a cave dive. It leads around an air-filled bat cave, where divers will actually ascend to take a look at the bats and the stunning cave decorations.

      I mentioned this particular cenote in the snorkeling section above, too. The snorkeling and diving are somewhat separated and both incredible in their own right. Dos Ojos is easily one of the most versatile and best cenotes to visit in Tulum.

      OPENING HOURS
      Every day from 8 am to 5 pm
      ENTRY PRICE
      $200 MXN pesos general entry fee / $380 MXN pesos scuba diver entry
      FACILITIES
      Shower and toilet. Snorkel gear for hire between $50-$90 MXN pesos apiece. Lockers for rent at $50 pesos. Restaurante Dos Ojos and Restaurante Juanita near the entrance
      LOCATION
      North of Tulum 22 km (13.5 miles) down the highway to Playa del Carmen (Carretera 307) and turning left onto Cenote Jaguar Road

      Cenote El Pit

      Diving at Cenote El Pit for Best Cenotes in Tulum for diving
      📷 Tom St George

      The Pit Cenote is the deepest cenote in the state of Quintana Roo. The visibility is incredible at this cenote, you can see about deep into the water, even from the surface! The entrance is steep and narrow but once in the water, it opens up into a huge menacing cavern. At about 30-meters deep, divers can see what looks like the sandy bottom with an eerie branch sticking out from it. Actually, this is a white gas layer, which is caught between the salt and fresh waters. It is similar to the gas layer that makes Cenote Angelita so famous. The cave then drops even further but can’t be reached by untrained divers.

      On the deepest point of the dive, your guide will point out some animal and human bones on the floor of the cavern, before beginning the ascent. On your way back you’ll notice the mesmerizing light beams that dance around in the depths on a sunny day.

      The Pit is easily one of the best cenotes for divers, due to the amazing things you’ll see down there and the fact that its open-water, so suitable for almost all diver certifications. Recently, snorkellers and swimmers were banned and only scuba divers are allowed to enter El Pit these days. 

      OPENING HOURS
      Every day from 8 am to 5 pm
      ENTRY PRICE
      $475 MXN pesos scuba diver entry
      FACILITIES
      Area to get dive equipment on. No other facilities
      LOCATION
      North of Tulum 25 km (15.5 miles) down the highway to Playa del Carmen (Carretera 307) and turning left onto Cenote Jaguar Road

      BEST TULUM CAVE CENOTES

      Cenote Pet Cemetery

      Snorkeling at Cenote Pet Cemetery for Best Cenotes in Tulum

      Cenote Pet Cemetery is also part of the Sac Actun (White Cave) system that we talked about above. It is famously called ‘Pet Cemetery’ due to the animal skeletons found inside that can still be seen when scuba diving today. One set of remains was first believed to be that of a dog but was later found to be of an extinct prehistoric camel. For the snorkelers the cave inside is lit up by lights, there are bats everywhere and there are lots of cool crevices to explore. For advanced divers, it’s one of the best cenotes in Mexico to do cave diving because all of the bones and fossils are still in their original position, and the spectacular caves are highly decorated with delicate white rock formations.

      This beautiful cenote is deep in the jungle and difficult to get to because of how remote it is. But that just means there will probably be fewer people there and you might have the whole cenote to enjoy to yourself. It can be accessed the same entrance as Cenote Dos Ojos and El Pit, so it is possible to do these cenotes on the same trip. But you cannot visit this cenote without an approved guide.

      Above the cenote, there is a rainforest walk and spider monkeys and other animals can be spotted in the trees.

      OPENING HOURS
      Every day from 8 am to 5 pm
      ENTRY PRICE
      $350 MXN pesos with a guide
      FACILITIES
      Toilets and changing facilities
      LOCATION
      North of Tulum 25.5 km (14 miles) down the highway to Playa del Carmen (Carretera 307) and turning left onto Cenote Jaguar Road

      Gran Cenote

      Snorkeling at Gran Cenote for Best Cenotes in Tulum
      📷 Taylor Taverna

      One of the most popular cenotes in Tulum, Gran Cenote (Grand Cenote or Great Cenote) is a large connection of a series of smaller caves more than one giant cenote (as the name suggests). All of the sections are connected by wooden walkways, laid down on the jungle floor. It boasts such crystal-clear water, that fish and turtles can be seen swimming around without the need of a snorkel!

      I did not personally visit this cenote, but I have included it because of all the raving reviews – in person and online. It is possibly the most expensive cenote in Tulum, and although I wanted to visit, I simply couldn’t afford to.

      OPENING HOURS
      Every day 8:10 to 4:45 pm (last entry 4:15 pm)
      ENTRY PRICE
      $180 MXN pesos normal entry
      FACILITIES
      Toilet, shower and change rooms. Small shop on site. Snorkel equipment, life jacket and locker rental available
      LOCATION
      4 km (2.5 miles) from Tulum town center on the Highway to Coba (Carretera 309)

      BEST CHEAP OR FREE CENOTES

      Laguna Kaan Luum

      Laguna Kaan Luum for Best Cenotes in  Tulum

      Laguna Kaan Luum is a wide, bright green lagoon cenote located just outside of Tulum. Kaan Luum is a locals’ secret and if you go in the afternoon, you’ll probably have the whole place to yourself.

      Laguna Kaan Luum is similar to the Blue Hole in Belize. The center of the cenote is fenced off because it is REALLY DEEP (80 meters deep, actually). But the outside area is shallow and most people could stand-up. It’s the perfect cenote to bring your kids to, too! The soft sand at the bottom is known to be a great skin exfoliator, but it smells like rotting eggs! Maybe that’s why it’s so good for you…

      It is certainly not the most beautiful cenote in Tulum, but if you want to relax in the sun away from the crowds, this place is ideal.

      OPENING HOURS
      Every day from 9 am to 5 pm
      ENTRY PRICE
      $250 MXN pesos general entry fee / $150 MXN pesos scuba diver entry
      FACILITIES
      Toilet only. Use the pier to enter the water. No restaurant or life jackets
      LOCATION
      South of Tulum 16.5 km (10 miles) down the highway to Chetumal (Carretera 307) and turning left

      Clan-Destino Cenote Bar

      Clandestino Cenote Bar for best Cenotes in Tulum

      Finally, someone made a bar at a cenote! Clan-Destino Bar is perfectly located on the main beach strip of Tulum. It’s ideal for those that want to experience a cenote, but really don’t want to leave Tulum (or the bar). I personally think this place is a hidden gem in Tulum. It’s right in the middle of all the action; they sell good burgers and round-the-clock alcohol and the young guys who run it are fun and upbeat.

      The cenote itself is fairly average. Not spectacular, but a nice place to cool off and to escape the harsh Mexican sun. Make sure you bring some money and your swimmers and prepare to get seriously relaxed. The entrance is easy to miss, so be on the lookout for the orange ‘Clan-Destino” sign on the roadside.

      OPENING HOURS
      Every day 24 hours a day
      ENTRY PRICE
      Free, just buy something from the bar/restaurant
      FACILITIES
      There are toilets but no shower. There is a bar and restaurant on site. No life jackets
      LOCATION
      Along main beach road (Carretera Tulum Boca Paila) across from Villa Estrellas Hotel. Look out for the orange sign

      Cenote Arco Maya

      Cenote Arco Maya for the Best Cenotes in Tulum, Mexico

      Cenote Arco Maya is the only non-commercialised free cenote in Tulum that I could find. It’s quite well hidden but is a great place to get some quiet as no one else will be around. It’s also a great place to go for sunset since the tree-line is low. There’s a nice deck for you to sit on and a few active cichlid fish swimming around the mangroves as well as a resident cayman that I never got the pleasure of meeting. There’s a small deck for sunbathing and the walk to the cenote is along wooden stumps through the mangroves. It’s quite an adventure!

      A little further down the road in the Biosphere Reserve, there is a platform over the lake with hammocks, which are even better to watch the sunset from if you want to make an afternoon of it.

      I read recently that sometimes this cenote is blocked off from the public due to an ongoing ownership dispute. However, it usually isn’t manned so if someone is there that day you will just have to pay a small amount to enter.

      Cenote Arco Maya for the Best Cenotes in Tulum, Mexico
      OPENING HOURS
      Every day 24 hours (but don’t swim at night; there’s a resident cayman)
      ENTRY PRICE
      Free (unless it is being manned, then you may have to pay a small entry fee)
      FACILITIES
      No facilities
      LOCATION
      Being completely off the normal tourist trail, this cenote can be difficult to find. It’s located down Carretera Tulum Boca Paila just before the Biosphere Reserve of Sian Ka’an at the Arco Maya caseta arch across the road from Casa de las Olas. Once at the caseta, you’ll see a sign on the right pointing you in the direction of the cenote.

      READ: Road Trip the Yucatan Peninsula!

      BEST CENOTES NEAR PLAYA DEL CARMEN

      These Playa del Carmen cenotes are close to Playa del Carmen and Tulum (there are no cenotes in Playa del Carmen center). They are located in the middle of the two about 20 minutes down the main highway (Carretera). The following cenotes are all very close to each other and would make a perfect day trip from either Playa del Carmen or Tulum.

      Cenote Azul

      Cenote Azul for the Best Cenotes in Tulum, Mexico

      Since there are two cenotes in Mexico with this name, we are talking about the Quintana Roo Cenote Azul (Blue Cenote). This popular cenote boasts crystal clear waters in a seriously tranquil setting. Iguanas laze around the edge and small fish dart around in the water. It is filled with boulders that give it shallow areas, making it perfect for families’ with small kids because they can stand up and jump off. There’s also a platform edge to jump into the deeper water of the large cenote. Cenote Azul is in an ‘L’ shape, so there are plenty of places to get away from the crowds. If you sit still in the water for a while, small fish will venture over to eat your dead skin – just like in the foot spas!

      Cenote Azul is busiest on Sundays because this is the day local Mexicans have off work, so avoid the popular cenotes on Sundays. Get here either early or later in the day if you don’t like crowds since the middle of the day becomes quite overcrowded.

      OPENING HOURS
      Every day from 9 am to 5 pm
      ENTRY PRICE
      $100 MXN pesos adult entry / $60 MXN pesos child entry / $80 MXN pesos residents entry
      FACILITIES
      Shower and toilet for $5 MXN pesos to use, no restaurant. Life Jackets can be hired for small cost
      LOCATION
      North of Tulum 40.5 km (25 miles) down the highway towards Playa del Carmen (Carretera 307) and turning left

      Cenote Cristalino

      Cenote Cristalino for the Best Cenotes in Tulum, Mexico

      Cenote Cristalino is another super popular open cenote, found right next to Cenote Azul. The two are quite similar, just a different shape, and with slightly different prices. Cenote Cristalino has two really awesome spots to explore; the first is a cave you can swim through and the second is a mangrove forest to float through. The mangroves, in particular, are really cool because there are loads of fish hiding around the roots and it is interesting to see the formations with a snorkel mask. There is also a 4-meter high rock platform to jump from into the 6 meters of depth below.

      Cenote Cristalino is busiest on Sundays because this is the day local Mexicans have off work, so avoid the popular cenotes on Sundays. If you want to stay away from the crowds, come either early or later in the day.

      OPENING HOURS
      Every day from 9 am to 5 pm
      ENTRY PRICE
      $150 MXN pesos normal entry (includes life vests)
      FACILITIES
      Shower and toilet facilities. Life vests included in entrance fee. Sun lounges and goggles for rent extra $50 MXN pesos. Snack shop on site. Lifeguards
      LOCATION
      North of Tulum 40.5 km (25 miles) down the highway towards Playa del Carmen (Carretera 307) and turning left

      Cenote Jardin del Eden (Cenote Ponderosa)

      Snorkeling at Jardein del Eden Cenote Ponderosa for the Best Cenotes in Tulum, Mexico

      Cenote Jardin del Eden (Garden of Eden) is a beautiful, large green-blue lagoon that’s really close to Cenotes Azul and Cristalino. But this one is always everyone’s favorite out of the three – including me! It’s a rounded open cenote set amongst the jungle with deep edges and several stairs and platforms leading down. It’s quite large, so it has a lot of room for visitors to spread out.

      Jardin del Eden cenote also has platforms to jump from and trees to climb and jump in from as well. There are small fish in there that if you stay still, they will eat the dead skin off your feet (like in the foot spas). It tickles but does not hurt.

      Mornings and afternoons are the quietest time to visit. When no one around, its calm, tranquil, pond-like waters make it one of the most beautiful cenotes in Tulum.

      OPENING HOURS
      From Sunday to Friday (closed Saturdays) from 8 am to 5 pm
      ENTRY PRICE
      $200 MXN adult entry / $100 MXN pesos children entry / $250 MXN pesos scuba diver entry
      FACILITIES
      There is a toilet and snack shop. Life Jackets and snorkel gear can be hired for $50 MXN pesos apiece
      LOCATION
      North of Tulum 41 km (25.5 miles) down the highway towards Playa del Carmen (Carretera 307) and turning left

      Yal-Ku Lagoon

      Drone Pic of Yal Ku Lagoon for the Best Cenotes in Tulum, Mexico
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      This is one of the best cenotes near Akumal. It’s a huge open lagoon cenote that stretches out all the way past a headland into the sea. This cenote is spectacular, filled with colorful ocean fish, caves to swim through and loads of different areas to explore.

      The snorkeling at Yal-Ku Lagoon is perfect for a beginner since it is not too deep and it is easy to enter and exit the water. This is THE place to come to if you love to see lots and lots of fish. Try feeding the fish bits of banana – they’ll go absolutely nuts for it!

      When visiting Yal Ku, there are two entrances; one has an extremely high price and the other is much lower (listed below). The two entrances are near each other so if you find yourself at the expensive entrance, just look around for the cheaper one.

      In the same day, you can head to Akumal to swim with sea turtles. Akumal is famous for being a great place to spot sea turtles because they go there to eat the seagrass found in abundance in the bay. 

      OPENING HOURS
      Every day from 9 am to 5 pm
      ENTRY PRICE
      $265 MXN pesos adult entry / $190 MXN pesos children / $170 MXN pesos Quintana Roo locals
      FACILITIES
      Shower and toilet. Snorkel gear available to rent for around $100 MXN pesos apiece. Locker rental is $60 MXN pesos
      LOCATION
      North of Tulum 30 km (18.5 miles) down the highway towards Playa del Carmen (Carretera 307) and turning right towards Akumal

      READ: How to See Turtle Egg Laying and Hatching in Mexico

      My Tips for Visiting the Cenotes of Mexico

      1. Swimming/Snorkeling: The oils from human hands and certain elements in lotions and repellents can severely damage this natural growth process and also harm the fish. Some cenotes will require you to shower before entering and you may also like to get a biodegradable sunscreen.

      2. Scuba Diving: You MUST dive with an experienced guide in the cenotes of Tulum so you don’t get lost. It’s quite dangerous; people have got lost in the many tunnels and drowned inside. You’ve been warned. 

      3. Free Diving: Never lose sight of the cave entrance unless you are following a line. The complex cave systems of the cenotes are extremely easy to get lost in, it is not worth the risk.

      Tulum Cenote Map

      This custom map of cenotes near Tulum includes all of the best cenotes in Riviera Maya as well as cenotes in Tulum that I didn’t go to but have been recommended. The Tulum and Playa Del Carmen cenotes that I went to and thought were the best are marked with a heart.

      Click on each icon to see more information about the cenote and its entry price.

      To open this map in Google Maps simply tap the small square icon on the top right-hand side of the map. 

      If you are using the map from your phone, the map should save into “Your Places” > “MAPS” automatically. You can select an area to download and use offline if you won’t always have access to data in Mexico. For more information on how to download maps for offline, click here

      How to Get to the Cenotes in Tulum

      The cenotes range from less than a kilometer (1/2 mile) from Tulum to over 40 kilometers (25 miles) away from Tulum. This means picking which cenotes you go to is dependant on your transport type.

      Bike Hire in Tulum

      Bike rental places are common around Tulum town center and main beach road. Rental costs $180 MXN pesos per day from Las Palmas Maya (and it’s a similar price everywhere else). You can get to quite a few really good cenotes with a bicycle. It will be a hot ride though – take lots of water! My picks would be either Cenote Calavera, Gran Cenote or Casa Cenote by bike.

      Colectivo

      Some of the cenotes along the Carretera that runs between Playa del Carmen and Tulum are accessible by taking the colectivo from Tulum. A colectivo is a shared minivan. I have marked on the cenote map where you can get these colectivos. The cost will between $20 and $40 MXN pesos. Easily head to Cenote Azul, Cenote Cristalino or Cenotes Casa Tortuga using the colectivos.

      Car Rental

      The best way to see all the cenotes you want is to rent a car. We did this and think it is the best way if you love cenotes. There are several car rental offices in Tulum, and you can also rent cars at Cancun Airport. The roads are safe in the day and easy to drive. I prefer to book online with CarRentals.com as they compare across several rental companies to give you the best price. Always take pictures/video of the car before you leave the rental office to avoid scams (they can happen anywhere, not just Mexico).

       CHECK CAR RENTAL OPTIONS 

      READ: How to Choose the Best Snorkel Fins for Your Needs

      Cenote Packing List

      After extensive time exploring countless cenotes, I have compiled a list of items you really should not forget to take. Seeing the cenotes in real life is absolutely incredible and I’m sure you will want to know what items are an absolute must-bring when spending time in these mesmerizing natural structures.

      Snorkel Gear

      If you’re doing your own trip to the cenotes you will definitely want to bring your own snorkeling gear. Some of the bigger cenotes will rent snorkel gear to you at a price, from my experience at around 50-200 pesos each time you rent. But most of the time the gear is old, crappy and has had other peoples mouths all over it! On my first trip to Mexico, I bought a top-of-the-line snorkeling kit and I did not regret it. Cenote Tulum snorkeling may become your favorite thing to do in Mexico!

      CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON

      Goggles

      Packing light and don’t want to bring too much baggage? I have found a tiny pair of Goggles just as useful for exploring the cenotes. Sure, what you’re seeing isn’t as clear and you can’t breathe underwater, but it still does the job!

      CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON

      Biodegradable Sunscreen

      You read that right! You are 100% NOT ALLOWED to wear normal sunscreen in the cenotes in the Riviera Maya. The bio-diversity in cenotes is fragile and the ingredients of most sunscreens and insect repellants can severely damage the cenotes and harm the fish. Some popular cenotes will even require you to shower before entering because of the oils on the human skin. This is also a problem for the fragile reefs surrounding the beautiful shores of the Yucatan Peninsula. If you plan to do any cenote snorkeling or diving, anywhere in this area, you will be asked not to wear normal sunscreen. It’s best to buy biodegradable sunscreen at home and bring it because it can be difficult to find and/or very expensive in Mexico.

      CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON

      GoPro Hero Action Camera

      You really don’t want to travel to Mexico without a top underwater camera. Mexico is a water-lovers paradise and it would be a shame not to capture all your special memories made in the cenotes. GoPro underwater cameras are so cheap now and you can use them for loads of different types of photography, not just water. You really don’t have an excuse not to buy one when their prices start at only $199 USD!

      CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON

      Waterproof Phone Cover

      Perfect for those of you who aren’t in the market for a GoPro right now or just want another awesome way to capture your watery memories! I find them easiest to use by pressing buttons above the water then dipping the phone under.

      CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON

      Dive Light for GoPro

      This was one of my most frequently used GoPro attachements in Mexico! Did you know that the deeper you go the more colours you’ll lose out of your photos or video? Water cuts out light, meaning by about 10 meters deep your GoPro footage will be all blue. The dive light is a way of adding colours back into your picture is by using artificial light. This dive light starts at only $28 USD and is so bright you’ll be sure to easily take gorgeous underwater video, especially in the cenotes!

      CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON

      GoPro Dome

      Have you seen those amazing half-underwater and half-above-water photos? They are done with this awesome contraption called a dome. It essentially makes it much easier to get those awesome shots. Check out some of the shots it took in the cenotes above!

      CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON

      Waterproof Head Torches

      Exploring cenotes seriously quickly became one of my favorite activities in the Rivera Maya, and I am confident they will become one of your favorites too. The dark underground cenotes, such as El Pit, Dos Ojos, and Pet Cemetary Cenotes, are much better explored with a head torch. The market for waterproof head torches is slim, but I have researched the crap out of them and these ones I think are the best:

      Black Diamond Storm Headlamp

      Super low-cost waterproof head torch. This headlamp had been on my radar for a long time because it’s cheap, waterproof, sleek and small. It outputs quite a bright light (250 lumens), which you will want inside the cenote caves. It also dims and flashes. Another thing I love about this torch is the red light, which is good for spotting animals at night! It is only waterproof up to one meter though, so this is NOT a diving lamp.

      CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON

      Princeton Tec Apex LED Headlamp

      A sturdy waterproof torch with a lifetime warranty. This is my second choice for a waterproof headlamp. This is a seriously sturdy headlamp that can be used for literally everything. It comes with five output modes, up to 170 hours of burn time and you can even buy a rechargeable version of this torch!

      BESTUSN Diving Headlamp

      If you plan to dive, you’ll want a dive light in the cenotes! There are loads of different types of dive lights out there to choose from but I particularly love headlamps. It shines where you look, leaving your hands free to play with cameras or do other more important things. It has rubber straps to grip better underwater, it is seriously bright, and you can take it 150-meters underwater. We used this headlamp to find bones at the bottom of a cenote that was once used as a graveyard!

      CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON

      Aqua Booties / Reef Shoes

      Some of the less popular cenotes are set amongst the jungle with more rustic facilities. Protect your feet around and inside the cenotes by wearing these super stylish booties.

      CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON

      Also don’t forget:

      • A hat
      • Swim shirt
      • Swimwear
      • Shoes
      • Towel
      • Sarong

      • Camera
      • Water
      • Snacks
      • Picnic blanket
      • Beach bag or waterproof bag
      • Sunglasses

      MORE: See more travel gear I love and use!

      Where to Stay in Tulum

      Mama’s Home $

      Shabby but cute, Mama’s Home has the best backpacker vibes! The rooms are packed with beds, but the breakfast is flipping amazing. It’s also one of the cheapest hotels you’ll find in Tulum.

      CHECK PRICES

      Las Palmas Maya $$

      This gorgeous eco-hotel is a little more expensive than the hostels, but you get what you pay for. Within a minute you will walk right into the ocean, making it one of the best Tulum beach hotels out there! The whole hotel is run off solar power so it’s super eco-friendly. Don’t worry there are generators for backup if the sun’s not out that day. It also boasts a big communal kitchen so you can save money by not eating out every meal!

      CHECK PRICES

      Mango Tulum Hotel $$

      Clean, crisp and engulfed in a lush garden. Featuring free WiFi and an outdoor pool, what more could you want? Well, it is a tiny bit further out of town but if you have a car, or hire a bike, it’s fine. It is nice and close to a huge supermarket and a short walk to the restaurant district.

      CHECK PRICES

      Who to Dive with in Tulum

      In Tulum, I dived with Jean-Claude at Zen Diving. JC was one of the most professional and friendly dive instructors I have ever encountered. He obviously loves his job cenote diving and goes out of his way to ensure his customers have the best day diving of their lives! He took us to three lesser-known but seriously incredible cenotes, helped us perfect our buoyancy and had really nice diving gear. Zen Divers are the only dive center I can wholeheartedly and without any doubt recommend when diving in Tulum!

      READ: The ULTIMATE GUIDE to Isla Mujeres, Mexico

      How Often do I Update the Prices of Cenotes?

      Yucatan cenotes are usually located on private property, meaning prices can change at any time at the owner’s discretion. I check prices regularly whenever I can but sometimes the price I have listed may not be the most recent. Feel free to comment and let me know if a price is different to what I have listed in this article.

      Pin Me!

      The Ultimate List: Best Cenotes in Tulum. Mexico’s best kept secret. Looking for things to do in Mexico? You haven’t seen Mexico until you’ve experienced these caves and underground rivers! Go snorkeling, scuba dive or just explore these spectacular structures! Visit Cenote Azul, Dos Ojos and Gran Cenote. You MUST see a cenote in Mexico, and these are the top ones.  💦 🇲🇽 🏊‍♀️ #Cenote #Mexico #Tulum #Maya #Swimming #CwC #Snorkel #Travel #Cancun #Vacations
      Best Cenotes in Tulum: The Ultimate List. Mexico’s best kept secret. Looking for things to do in Playa del Carmen, Mexico? You haven’t seen Mexico until you’ve experienced these caves and underground rivers! Go snorkeling, scuba dive or just explore these spectacular structures! Visit Cenote Cristalino, Dos Ojos and Gran Cenote. You MUST see a cenote in Mexico, and these are the top ones.  💦 🇲🇽 🏊‍♀️ #Cenotes #Mexico #Tulum #Mayan #Swimming #CwC #Snorkel #Travel #Cancun #Holiday
      Best Cenotes in Tulum: The Ultimate Guide. Mexico’s most spectacular secret. Looking for things to do in Tulum, Mexico? You haven’t seen the real Mexico until you’ve experienced these caves and underground rivers! Go swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving or just explore these amazing cenotes! Visit Cenote Ponderosa, Dos Ojos and Gran Cenote. You MUST see a cenote in Mexico, and these are the top picks (from a person who’s seen loads of them).  💦 🇲🇽 🏊‍♀️ #Cenote #Mexico #Tulum #Maya #Snorkel #CwC #Dive #Travel #PlayadelCarmen #Vacation

      Heading to Mexico Soon? Read more of our Mexico content!

      I hope this post has helped you choose the best cenote in Tulum for your needs. If you need any help or have anything to say, feel free to comment them below!

      Originally Posted: November 30, 2016. Frequently updated.

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      Categories: Adventure & off the Grid, Featured, Mexico, Most Hits
      Crystal Egan

      Passionate baby goat cuddler and part-time adventurer, Crystal can often be found doing headstands on the edges of cliffs, taking photos of abandoned buildings or sleeping on deserted islands with dangerous criminals. She has too many awesome stories and helpful tips to keep them all to herself so follow along and in return she will bring you inspiring pictures, travel videos and a whole load of fun!

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