My family and I decided to do Christmas a little differently this year! Instead of exchanging gifts we wanted to make it more memorable by taking a family vacation! We had not taken a trip together since my little brother and I were kids, so I was ECSTATIC at the opportunity for some quality family time. Since I am the world traveler in the family, they turned to me for where we should jet set to! After all of the Tulum inspo on Instagram this year, I decided that Tulum, Mexico was the place to be!
I like traveling to destinations that give you lots of options of things to do. From super rad bars, delicious food, pristine beaches, and most importantly for this articles sake, the best cenotes in Mexico, you will never be bored! Since we only had five days in Tulum, I wanted to make sure that I did as much as I could! I’m writing this blog post because there are literally THOUSANDS of cenotes near Tulum, and I want to make sure that you hit up the top five best cenotes in Tulum!
What Are Cenotes In Mexico?
Cenotes are underground freshwater caves. They are formed by the collapse of porous limestone bedrock. Interestingly enough, all of the cenotes are the same temperature because they are all connected underground and eventually lead to the ocean! When we were out to dinner our first night, we saw what looked like a sinkhole out in the ocean, but it was actually the rock falling and leading to a secret subterranean world of groundwater pools! SO COOL!
The water at these cenotes is some of the clearest water I have ever seen because it has been filtered by the earth. It was even clearer than the oceans I had been in in Thailand and Bali! The cool part about the cenotes is the Ancient Mayans used them as a portal to speak with the gods and for sacrificial offerings. The water is so clear that I can see why!
Should You Visit Alone Or With A Tour?
I recommend visiting on your own, RIGHT WHEN the cenote opens up! We woke up at 7:30 AM on the days we were visiting the cenotes to make sure we were there when they opened right at 9:00 AM. By doing this we were always the only ones there for at least a little bit!
If you are looking at diving cenotes in Tulum, Dos Ojos is the one you’re definitely going to need a guide for! We did not visit Dos Ojos, but if you love to scuba, I highly recommend it! If guided tours are more your thing, and you want to check out some awesome tours, here are some top picks below!
We skipped the tours, purchased a snorkel and fins set from Amazon before we left for our trip, and went exploring on our own! Here is my guide to the five best cenotes in Tulum.
Best Cenotes In Tulum
Cenote Zacil Ha
Price: 50 pesos ($3 USD)
Hours: 9AM- 6 PM
Address: Coba km 8, Carretera Federal, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
This was a great beginner cenote and the first one we visited after climbing the ruins of Coba! The cool thing about this cenote is the snack bar! I actually had one of the best pina colada’s here while relaxing in the sun. You can sit on a rope or swim deep to check out the cave system beneath. This cenote also is almost never busy, so you can visit at almost any time of the day.
Price: 120 pesos (about $6 USD)
Address: Tulum 77780, Mexico
This was my brother’s favorite cenote because you get to witness all kinds of nature! In the hour we swam around, we saw all kinds of exotic birds, fish, a family of raccoons, and a big lizard! This cenote is HUGE! If diving is your thing, there are lots of mangroves to explore. Apparently, there is a crocodile in this cenote named Panchito. I was a little worried but apparently he is harmless and used to people!
Price: 170 Pesos ($9 USD)
Opens: 8:00 AM
Address: Quintana Roo 109, 77796 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
This cenote was my favorite cenote because I was able to take such pretty photos! It was also the only cenote we visited inside of a cave. A bat LITERALLY flew into me as I was taking photos! There are also lots of cute turtles swimming around.
When you first arrive they will ask that you rinse off any bug spray or sunscreen in the showers. This is to protect the ecosystem of the cenotes. We bought some reef safe sunscreen for the trip but we rinsed off anyways!
** BIG TIP**
Arrive right when the cenote opens to avoid the crowds! When you first walk in there will be a cenote to your left. If you’re into photography like I am, JUST KEEP WALKING! The real epic cenote photo spot is further down the stairs to your right! Don’t stop at the first cenote you see on your left!
Price: 100 Pesos (about $5 USD)
Address: Quintana Roo 109, Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
I first saw this cenote on Instagram and loved the cute photos I saw of people sitting on the little rope. NEWS FLASH! The rope is really hard to climb onto (don’t worry, I did) and the rope will give you rope burn!!! I ended up just taking a photo on the ladder!
We arrived to this cenote around 9:30 AM after visiting the Gran Cenote and it wasn’t super crowded at least for the first 20 minutes of being there. Calavera, meaning skull, has three holes that you can jump through if you’re brave enough!
Caleta Tankah (hotel)
Address: Km. 233+400, México 307, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
After visiting both Gran Cenote and Cenote Calavera, we were pretty hungry. Our cab driver, Andres, recommended this cenote to us because it had a beautiful beach and food! By the way, if you need a driver, hit up Andres on Whats App at +52 1 984 132 9220. He drove us around the entire time we were in Tulum and gave us great tips on what to do and where to go!
We relaxed on the beach and ate some fish tacos then swam for a little in the cenote before heading back to our hotel for the night.
Diving Cenotes: Tulum
Price: 300 Pesos + 130 Pesos for diving
Address: Cenote Jaguar Rd, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Dos Ojos is one of the largest and probably one of the most famous cenotes in Mexico (meaning it’s crowded so we did not venture to this one!) Dos Ojos means “two eyes” and describes it’s two pools of water: one super blue for snorkeling and the other is dark for diving! If you are an avid diver, this is your spot!
You can rent diving gear at the cenote, and don’t forget your underwater light so that you can see the stalactites and stalagmites! If you are claustrophobic, I maybe would skip out as it can get a little cramped. There are many bats and you can walk through the cave and explore.
Where Are The Best Cenotes Near Tulum?
There are literally thousands of cenotes in the the Yucatán Peninsula, but the two most popular cenotes in Tulum are Gran Cenote and Dos Ojos. If you live scuba diving, I highly recommend checking out Dos Ojos!
We opted for a more remote and private experience instead of hitting up the super popular ones! If you do go to the popular ones, make sure that you arrive RIGHT when the cenote opens!
What To Pack For The Cenotes Of Tulum
We brought reef safe sunscreen, a snorkel and fins set that we bought off of Amazon, water, and my mom also brought a flashlight for us to see in the darker parts of the cenotes. I was SO HAPPY I brought my Go Pro Hero 6 along to capture some cool underwater shots! This above and below the water Go Pro dome also came in handy for taking fun above and below the water shots like the one featured in this blog post. I got eaten by mosquitos at times and wished that I had brought bug spray – this spray is the best I have found that doesn’t use deet.
Transportation To The Cenotes
It may be best to rent a car but we just stuck with using our driver Andres. Taxis can get pretty expensive and I do think we spent $100 USD for Andres to drive us to the ruins of Coba and two cenotes in one day. If you are thinking about renting a car, I use and recommend Turo! It’s basically like Air Bnb but for cars! You can use this link to get $25 dollars off of your first ride. If you rent a car for five days it will be around $260. You can also opt to take a colectivo!
Best Yucatan Cenotes
If you have time to check out more cenotes than just the cenotes near Tulum, I’ve compiled a list of the best cenotes in the Yucatan!
- Cenote Suytan (Valladolid)
- Ik Kil (near Chichen Itza)
- Cenote X’Keken (Valladolid)
- Cenote Samula (Valladolid)
- Zazil Tunich (Valladolid)
Best Cenotes In Playa Del Carmen
- Cenote Azul (A favorite in the area)
- Cenote Jardin del Eden
- Cenote Cristaliano
What are your favorite cenotes in Tulum?! I would love to hear your top picks!!