Best Cenotes In Tulum: A Beauty Created By Nature
“You haven’t fully experienced the beauty of Tulum if you never visit a cenote before.” As daring as it sounds, for us it was true. Our adventures have been fascinating as we journeyed to all the great beaches and the sacred Mayan temples in Yucatan, but swimming and diving in the underground water of the cenotes is a lifetime experience.
So, exploring Tulum’s mother nature is definitely something you can’t fully understand before snorkeling in a cenote. We listed some of our favorite cenotes and you should definitely check them out and feast on the magic with your very own eyes. You will find the cenotes categorized on the activities to do during your day there: diving with a tour, snorkeling or just chilling and swimming.
So, stick around to find out if it’s better to reach them by car, if you should book a tour, what time is the best to visit a cenote, how much MXN pesos it costs to visit one and where to take great photos during your trip to Tulum!
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What Makes Cenotes In Tulum Worth Visiting?
A cenote is a part of mother nature as it is formed when the ceiling of an underwater cave collapses and creates an opening to the surface. Essentially, it is like a “nature’s swimming pool”. In the past, Mayan didn’t swim or dive into cenotes, but used them as a source of water supply for survival. There are also some cenotes used for religious practices, such as ceremonial offerings by throwing precious objects into the underground water. If this didn’t sound enough, just try the experience on your own skin. Whether you can swim or not, we are sure that being in one of nature’s wonders, surrounded by bird sounds and gently touched by the light entering the cenote’s cave will make you uncover a completely new world.
“Entrances Of Cenotes Are Not Always Welcoming”
“But It's Magical Inside”
The best Cenotes in tulum For Swimming, Diving And Snorkelling
1. Discover an Underground Cave in the Cenote “PET CEMETERY - Sac Actun”
Best for: Diving, Snorkeling and Cave Exploration | Opening Time: 9am – 5pm
This is one of the best and the most popular cenote we have ever visited, and it is definitely a “must go” adventure for you! For a fee of 650 MXN pesos / 35 USD per person, your visit tour includes being led by a guide, receiving a snorkeling gear, a life vest, and a wetsuit (we recommend using the wet suit because it is freezing). Only now you will have everything you will need to go snorkeling or eventually diving: that’s why we really recommend you to book a tour before organizing your visit to this cenote. In a few minutes, you will reach the entrance of the cenote that may look unexciting, but as you descend into the cold water and journey through the underground cave, you will soon realize that you are in another world! A world where you can barely see any sunlight, surrounded by countless cave tunnels to get lost in, and the echoing sound of bats flying over your head. To capture some great photos during your trip to Mexico, you should certainly bring a waterproof GoPro or purchase a waterproof phone case by the site for 10 USD / 200 MXN pesos.
2. Dive in the Crystal Clear Water of Cenote “DOS OJOS”
Best for: Snorkeling, Swimming and Exploration | Opening Time: 9am – 5pm
Considered one of the most beautiful cenote in Mexico, it is located close to Tulum’s town near Cenote Pet Cemetery. You can even organize your visit in both cenotes the same day if you’re not spending so much time in Tulum. Once you pay the entrance fee, that costs 350 MXN pesos / 18 USD per person, you will be free to swim in the water and capture many photos in this great scenery. If you are not familiar with cenotes and water in general, you can also get a tour guide and a swimming apparel for 350 MXN pesos more. This cenote with a backdrop made of white sand and rocks, will make your snorkeling session unforgettable. Its cave is less close than the Pet Cemetery Cenote, so if you want more natural light and a more chilled visit, then Cenote Dos Ojos is for you.
3. Take a Dive to the Depths of Cenote “LAGUNA DE KAAN LUUM”
Best for: Diving with a guide | Opening Time: 9am – 4pm
The cenote is located at the center of the lagoon with a whooping depth of 85m (279 Ft.), and it will take your diving game to a new chapter! Last time we went to the Laguna, we met Chris, an experienced diving instructor, who organizes diving classes and leads a group of divers that tours many cenotes around Tulum. He told us that we are prohibited from diving alone into the Kaan Luum Cenote. He also mentioned that we must have a certified diving instructor to guide us who had explored the cenote before. So if you do plan to dive here, be sure to connect yourselves with diving communities around Tulum: in this way you’ll be able to discover many new cenotes and find a guide that will make your visit there safe. Now, do you dare to descend to the dark entrance of Kaan Luum Cenote? Who knows what awaits you underground.
“We Love The Color Of The Water”
“Chilling Spot Close To A Cenote”
Cenotes In Tulum To Hang Out and Unwind
1. Relax on a Hammock above the Water of “LAGUNA DE KAAN LUUM”
Best for: Swimming and Taking Photos | Opening Time: 9am- 4 pm
On another hand, Kaan Luum is also a great place to enjoy a hot day while having the cold and fresh water up to your waist. For the entrance fee of 300 MXN pesos / 15 USD, you can swim around in the lagoon and take great photos on the deck, on the swings and on the hammocks by the water. They also offer other types of accommodations to make your day more enjoyable, such as a cool shaded area with seats and tables, a clean public bathroom and a mini nourishment booth that serves fresh coconut drinks and store-bought snacks.
2. Enjoy a Slow and Relaxing Day in Cenote “ZACIL - HA”
Best for: Swimming and Hanging out | Opening Time: 10am – 5:30pm
Only ten minutes by car from Super Aki in Tulum’s town, this is a naturally formed cenote where many locals and tourists spend their time together on the weekends. It might not have the adventure that you are looking for, but it is such a great place to enjoy a picnic with your loved ones. Forget about diving here, but it can be the right place if you want to snorkel. You can also ride the zipline or jump from the diving platforms and cannon-ball yourself into the water! It was the highlight of our visit. They also have clean bathrooms, changing rooms and a bar. The entrance fee here is lower than in other cenotes, in fact you can spend the whole day for 200 MXN pesos / 10 USD.
3. Experience the Aquatic life of the Cenote “CORAZÓN DEL PARAÍSO”
Best for: Snorkeling, Taking underwater Photos and Hanging Out | Opening Time: 9am – 5pm
Cenote Corazon Del Paraiso is popular for being a heart-shaped cenote, as it is rich with underwater flora and fauna. If you enjoy swimming with small fishes and taking pictures of aquatic plants, this is the perfect place for you. It is a great place for snorkeling and capturing the beauty of the underwater scenery with some photos. If you are lucky, you can have this place all to yourself, because there will be fewer visitors on the weekdays.
“Ready To Jump?”
“Imagine Spending Your Weekend Here”
4. Take a Plunge at the Cenote “CALAVERA”
Best for: Short Traveling time and Taking Photos | Opening Time: 9am – 5pm
Just five minutes away from Super Aki, the formation of Cenote Calavera is unique compared to other cenotes located in Tulum, or even in Mexico. It is like an underground swimming pool, where the only entrance is to jump from the two open holes. The visit costed us 250 MXN pesos / 15 USD and we really enjoyed taking action videos of us jumping into the cold cenote water. IMPORTANT: Always be very careful as you dive into the water because there have been several reports of tourists getting injured from jumping.
5. Never Feel Alone Swimming in “GRAN CENOTE”
Best for: Swimming, Taking Photos and Diving In Cave | Opening Time: 8am – 4:45pm
Come visit Gran Cenote and swim in its cold-refreshing waters, it is a great way to spend the morning! We are talking about how fascinating it is to encounter cute little turtles and fishes as you swim. Oh, it does not end there because you can visibly see bats hanging on the roof of the cave as you enter. Pretty cool, right? Just for the entrance fee of 500 MXN pesos / 25 USD, you are free to spend the whole day there and enjoy a Sunday picnic on the lawn. There is no restaurant there, so prepare some snacks and drinks on your journey!
NOTE: Cenote Calavera and Gran Cenote are located very close to one another. From each other, it only takes six minutes of cycling or even less by car. So it is easy to visit these two cenotes in the same day!
Fun fact: The cenotes Pet Cemetery, Dos Ojos, Gran Cenote and Calavera are all connected by The Sistema Sac Actun, and it is known as the world’s largest underwater cave network not only in Yucatan, but in Mexico!
Take Advantage Of Free Concierge Service
As excellent to explore Tulum and its surroundings alone, you may need help figuring out where to start. To make the most of your money and time, contact Virginia and Kelly - two incredible Mexican girls living in Tulum for more than 15 years. They're familiar with the ins & outs of the Tulum town and hotel zone like the back of their hand!
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“Virginia Will Transform You In A Tulum Insider”
Which Is The Best Cenote Out of Tulum?
Although it takes a two-hour car ride from Tulum, we can not help but include this one in the list because this cenote is just amazing.
Capture the Beauty and Swim in the Cenote “IK-KIL”
Best for: Swimming, Taking Photos and Hangout | Opening Time: 9am – 5pm
This is one of the most popular cenotes located in Yucatan! Few hours by car from Tulum, it is close to Valladolid central town and the Mayan ruins of Coba. Cenote Ik Kil is the most picturesque cenote you can ever capture in Mexico, but first, you will need to walk down the 91 steps underground. Don’t worry: it’s worth it! You will be free to swim around the cenote and dive from the two jumping platforms. For the entrance cost of 150 MXN pesos (or 200 MXN pesos more for a lunch package), you also have access to clean bathrooms, changing rooms, and lockers (30 MXN pesos more for the whole day). Furthermore, Cenote Ik Kil is located very close to Chichen Itza and it only takes ten minutes by car. In the same area there are many secret and free cenotes, so be ready to explore!
TRAVELING TIPS for your day at the cenote
TRANSPORTATION - Should I Use a car, a scooter, or a taxi to reach a cenote?
To travel to these cenotes and get the most out of your cash, you should rent a scooter or an ATV for the whole day or longer. There are plenty of open shops located in the main road in town that you can visit, just be sure to check the conditions of the vehicle, ask for a helmet and the complete paper documents. Furthermore, a car can also be a good option if you are traveling with a group of people.
Taking a taxi can be more expensive, because the driver may charge you more for your trip to the cenote, especially if you are a tourist. You can find them on the main town road at any time. The key to getting a cheaper price for your car ride is to be good at bargaining with the driver in Spanish.
If you are on a tight budget, you could take a Colectivo (Tulum – Playa del Carmen) and ask to stop at Cenote Dos Ojos. We strongly advise you not to do this because you need to cross the freeway (which is dangerous) and walk a long distance (3 km/1,9 miles) to finally visit the cenotes.
SAFETY - Should I worry going alone to a cenote?
It will be so much fun to visit the cenote with friends and families to create memories together! However, if you plan on traveling alone, you will be greeted by friendly locals and tourists on your journey. Furthermore, you can ask for their advice about the best cenotes to visit in Mexico or in Tulum, who knows what secrets they may tell you. For what concerns safety, if you’re alone or not during your visit, remember to always keep your personal belongings close to you when you dive or swim. We always leave the most important stuff in the car or in the lockers just to be sure.
BOOKING A TOUR - Discover cenotes with other divers
Do you like going on adventures with less hassle and time? If you do, then we recommend you to hire a tour agency instead because you only need to pay once and their service usually includes car transportation, lunch, the entrance fee of the cenote and swimming gear for diving or snorkeling. They may also offer a package of cenotes tours, such as exploring cenote Pet Cemetery and Dos Ojos for 200 USD per person (which my friend did and was very satisfied with). The cost may vary depending on the agency and the tour, but just be sure to check for great customer reviews or ask around.
WHAT TO BRING - Towels and Waterproof Bags
Bring a small towel, enough to dry off your body, a swimsuit, a snorkel mask and a book if you enjoy reading. Some light snacks could also be a great idea because in many cenotes there’s no bar or restaurant, especially if you’re far away from town like Tulum, Valladolid and you’re in the middle of nowhere in Yucatan. Water is also very important to stay hydrated and to eventually wash your body after swimming or diving. As for the waterproof bag, you can use it to carry your wet swimming apparel so it is separated from any dry belongings: that was life changing to us!
How to pay - Cash is King!
Bring Cash in MXN Pesos rather than a card, because some places do not accept debit/credit cards as a form of payment. It is also better to pay with pesos than in USD because it saves the hassle and time of negotiating USD-to-MXN currency exchange just to pay the entrance fee. Trust us, it will save you plenty of time, so you can enjoy your visit in the cenotes more. It is also good not to bring too much cash, because there can be some incidents of theft.
Be one with the cenote and enjoy your visit
Now that you have an idea of the cenotes to visit and what to expect, let us tell you one thing that we learned from going to all these different cenotes.
The key is to immerse yourself in the experience. Be aware of the green nature that surrounds you, the cold water that you are swimming in and the presence of the wildlife habiting the cenote. This sounds like a general statement, but we noticed people were so busy with their gadgets and too focused on capturing the moment instead of living it.
So remind yourself to live in the moment whenever you plan to go to a new place.
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