Where can you find the best cenotes in Tulum? Tulum is famous for its cenotes, which are one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, along with the ruins and the beaches. There are a wide variety of cenotes in Tulum, deep cenotes with crystal-clear, warm waters that are perfect for snorkeling or swimming, cenotes with steep rock faces that are great for rappelling and rock climbing, cenotes with long chambers and caves that are incredible to explore via kayak, and scenic cenotes that you can zipline over. Here is a list of the best cenotes in Tulum, and the factors that make them the best.
One of the most incredible diving and snorkeling sites on the Yucatan Peninsula, Cenote Dos Ojos (Two Eyes) is a true natural wonder. The cenote consists of an extensive underwater cave system with crystal-clear waters connecting two sinkholes (the two “eyes” of the cenote).
The main cave connecting the two sinkholes is 440 yards long, and full of stalactites and stalagmites. Some of the caves in the area are not fully submerged, and it is possible to swim or snorkel into a bat cave.
The facilities at Dos Ojos are state-of-the-art, and the cenotes attract over 100 visitors per day, primarily divers interested in exploring the freshwater caves. You can rent snorkel and scuba diving gear at the on-site facilities, although it is cheaper to take your own.
The entrance fee to get to the cenote is 200 pesos, or about $10 USD. After paying the fee, you will walk down a set of wooden stairs to a platform on the water, where you can get your snorkel or scuba gear on and get in the water. Or just hop right in, if you are only planning to swim.
The cenote, like all the cenotes in the area, is freshwater, and water is warm year round, averaging 77 °F. In the hot summer months, there is nothing more refreshing than taking a dip in the cenotes.
If you do plan on scuba diving, there is no better location in Tulum than Dos Ojos. The cave system connecting the two sinkholes is absolutely stunning, with incredible subterranean rock formations, and various species of freshwater fish and shrimp swimming around. There are tour guides who work at the cenote who will be more than happy to take you on a diving tour of the caves and show you the best areas to explore.
Located a short drive outside of the city center, in an easy to find location along the highway with a gravel parking lot in front, Cenote Calavera is one of the best cenotes in Tulum. Surprisingly, despite its easy accessibility, the cenote is rarely crowded, and is generally pretty quiet. Entrance to the cenote costs 200, or about $10 USD.
Cenote Calavera is a partially covered cenote, with sections of the “roof” that have broken away, leaving a 15 foot drop to the water below. “Calavera” translates to “skull,” a name the cenote earned due to its three most prominent entrances, which are said to resemble two eye sockets and the mouth of a skull.
To get into the water, you can climb down a ladder leaning against the main entrance to the cenote. The ladder leads directly into the water, and once you get down there, there is no land to stand on, so you have to swim. You can also get into the cenote by jumping right into the water. Jumping from land into the cenote is one of the more popular activities at Cenote Calavera, as is swinging from the large rope swing hanging from the roof near the main entrance.
Cenote Calavera is also well known for its snorkeling and scuba diving. Despite the cenote’s small entrance, it is actually quite vast inside, especially under the water, which is also 50 feet deep at its deepest.
The water in Cenote Calavera is crystal-clear, and makes for an incredible snorkeling and diving experience. For divers, it remains clear even deep under the surface, and the beams of light that shine in though the entrances make for stunning views and photo ops.
Snorkelers and divers will be able to see schools of small fishing swimming around the cenote, and if you float on your back, you may be able to see bats hanging from the ceiling in certain areas.
Located a 10-15 minute drive south of Tulum, Cenote Angelita, which translates to “Little Angel” is one of the the best cenotes in Tulum for scuba divers to explore. The cenote is famous for its “underwater river,” which is one of the most incredible natural phenomena in the world.
The surface of Cenote Angelita is wide and surrounded by trees. Getting there involves a 5 minute walk through the jungle from the site’s parking area. From land, the cenote looks almost pondlike, but the waters are perfectly still, with no detectable currents, waves, or ripples. Beneath the surface, the water is crystal clear, with beams of sunlight dancing off the limestone.
The cenote descends straight down, with nearly 200 feet between the surface and the bottom. But after descending about 100 feet, divers will find themselves in a misty layer of hydrogen sulfate, which hangs like a huge cloud suspended in the water. This cloud is caused by water with a higher level of salinity sinking to the bottom of the cenote. Along the bottom, this creates an optical illusion where it appears that there is a river running along the bottom of the cenote.
This dive is truly a once in a lifetime experience, and one of the most unique diving experiences in the world. A word of caution–this is a deep cenote and the dive can be challenging for inexperienced divers. Be sure to go with a diving tour group or a group of seasoned divers.
One of the best cenotes in Tulum for families, couples, and solo travellers, Gran Cenote is a 1500 square foot cenote located just a couple of miles outside of Tulum’s city center. The water is still, calm, and crystal clear, and there are wooden boardwalks and facilities surrounding the cenote, including bathrooms and changing rooms, and a stall selling snacks and drinks.
Entrance to the cenote costs $15 USD per person, and for a little extra you can rent snorkel gear, a gopro, or a locker. Once inside, there are plenty of areas around the cenote where you can enter the water. There are shallow wading areas where children and anyone uncomfortable swimming can stay, and deeper areas for snorkelers and more experienced swimmers to explore. Underneath the surface, you can see turtles and fish swimming freely.
Gran Cenote can get crowded during peak hours, so you are better off going early in the morning if you want to swim and relax in peace. That being said, this cenote is so large that even when there are crowds, it usually is not difficult to find an area to yourself.
A wide, pond-like cenote 150 feet across and 10 feet deep on average, Cenote Carwash is one of the best cenotes in Tulum for swimming. The waters are still and crystal-clear, with wooden paths and boardwalks around the cenote that make for easy access.
The unusual name of this cenote comes from the fact that it was once used by cab drivers as a stop between Tulum and Coba to wash their cars. Today, the cenote no longer serves as a car wash, but is used widely for swimming, diving, and snorkeling.
The entrance fee is $5 USD for swimmers and snorkelers and $10 USD for divers. Underneath the surface of the cenote, you can see many submerged trees and branches, algae and other plant matter floating in the water, and caves and crevices along the sides.
For the more experienced divers, there are tunnels in the cenote that lead to open chambers named the Room of Tears and Adriana´s Room, which are very interesting, and can be accessed with the help of a diving guide.