If you end up planning your subsequent journey to the Yucatán, don’t miss out on Tulum’s greatest cenotes. There are actually hundreds of those sinkholes on the peninsula, and lots of to select from inside an hour’s drive from Tulum. A few of them are even accessible through bicycle!

A cenote is a limestone sinkhole crammed from underground freshwater rivers. They are often closed and cave-like, semi-open with cliff overhangs, or fully open, resembling a pond from above. Every has its personal distinctive character. Whether or not you’re an professional diver or simply in search of someplace to swim, listed here are my high picks for the very best cenotes near Tulum:

1. Gran Cenote

El Gran Cenote

Gran Cenote is likely one of the hottest on the Riviera Maya — and also you’ll perceive why as quickly as you get there. It’s a semi-open cenote with each open areas and cave-like areas underground which you can discover. Expertly positioned platforms permit guests to dip into the blue water at varied factors, and there are each shallow and deep areas for each stage of swimmer. This cenote additionally has plenty of turtles swimming about which can be comparatively unfazed by people coming out and in of their habitat.

Snorkeling gear is obtainable to lease; I like to recommend doing so as a result of there are many turtles and fish to peek at, to not point out the cool rock formations beneath the water’s floor. You could possibly spend wherever from 1 to three hours right here exploring, relying on how a lot you need to see.

There are many excursions that embrace Gran Cenote. Verify them out right here.

  • Value: 180 pesos to enter ($9 USD, however if you happen to pay in {dollars}, it prices $10 USD), a locker prices 30 pesos ($1.50 USD), and you may lease a life jacket for 50 pesos ($2.50 USD) or snorkeling gear for 80 pesos ($4 USD).
  • Hours: 8am to 4:45pm (entry till 4pm)
  • When to go: The least crowded instances to go are at 8am (proper when it opens) or round 3-4pm, when most individuals have left. Remember that the 4:45pm closing time is strict, so going within the afternoon will restrict the period of time it’s a must to discover.
  • Find out how to get there: Gran Cenote is about 3 miles from downtown Tulum, alongside the freeway to Coba. This cenote is straightforward to bike to, however you too can hop on a combi alongside the freeway and inform the driving force to drop you off at Gran Cenote. A taxi trip will value you round 70-100 pesos ($3.50-5 USD).
  • Execs: This is likely one of the greatest cenotes for snorkeling, and it’s recognized for having plenty of freshwater turtles. It’s very straightforward to get to and from. As a result of it’s semi-open, you’ll be able to discover the cavelike areas with out having to scuba dive.
  • Cons: It’s one of the vital costly and the preferred cenotes, which means there’s a likelihood you’ll encounter huge crowds.

2. Cenote Calavera

This cenote is one in every of my favorites. It’s one other semi-open one and will get its title (calavera, which implies “cranium”) from its skull-like look. The 2 openings appear to be eye holes, which is neat to have a look at from above. Though it’s on the identical highway as Gran Cenote, it attracts far fewer guests and has a way more relaxed environment.

There’s a ladder that takes you down into the cenote, the place you’ll discover a swing and a rope to carry on to. There’s one other opening which you can leap by way of into the cool water beneath. There isn’t any snorkeling gear out there to lease, so if you wish to have a look underwater, you’ll should convey your individual. Viator has a tour that features each El Gran Cenote and Cenote Calavera.

  • Value: 250 pesos ($12.50 USD)
  • Hours: 9am to 5pm
  • When to go: Anytime of day is okay, as a result of it usually doesn’t appeal to enormous crowds. In the event you go round midday, when the solar is immediately above the cenote, you’ll have the ability to snap a candy pic from the swing within the larger opening.
  • Find out how to get there: This one is lower than 2 miles from downtown Tulum, on the freeway to Coba. It’s on the way in which to Gran Cenote, so you’ll be able to hit up each of them in the identical day if you happen to’d like. It’s a simple distance to bike to, or you’ll be able to take a combi or taxi there, identical to you’d if you happen to had been going to Gran Cenote.
  • Execs: It’s a lot much less recognized than different larger cenotes, so that you probably received’t encounter enormous crowds. There’s additionally ample shade, and the vibe is far more laid again compared to Gran Cenote.
  • Cons: There are not any lockers to retailer your valuables whilst you swim. This cenote isn’t as developed as different extra standard ones, so the services are quite simple.

3. Cenote Automotive Wash (aka Cenote Aktun Ha)

Cenote Automotive Wash is likely one of the most unusual and spectacular cenotes you’ll discover close to Tulum. It’s open and fairly giant as compared with others within the space. It received its title from a literal automotive wash that used to function subsequent to the doorway alongside the freeway, which served as a landmark to search out the cenote, however the indigenous title of it’s really Aktun Ha, which implies “water cave” in Mayan.

This cenote is greatest recognized for its underwater backyard that you just completely should discover, utilizing snorkeling or scuba gear. The crops rising beneath are various, differing from these in different cenotes due to its location and publicity to daylight. Within the summertime, there may be even part of the cenote that seems like a jacuzzi, due to the way in which the algae entice warmth and launch it in bubbles.

Cenote Automotive Wash can also be a favourite amongst divers as a result of it has an 18-meter-deep underwater cave with superb stalactite formations and speleothems (constructions shaped by the deposition of minerals from water).

  • Value: 50 pesos ($2.50 USD) to swim, 120 pesos ($6 USD) to dive with your individual gear.
  • Hours: 9am to 5pm
  • When to go: It’s greatest to get there within the morning, proper when it opens, however any time of day is okay, as a result of it doesn’t get almost as crowded and infrequently sees tour teams.
  • Find out how to get there: The doorway to Cenote Automotive Wash is on the Quintana Roo 109 freeway to Coba, a few 15-minute drive from downtown Tulum. It’s additional out than Gran Cenote and could be fairly far to bike to, about 5.5 miles. A taxi trip there’ll value 120-150 pesos ($6-7.50 USD), however you could possibly additionally catch a combi alongside the freeway there for about 10 pesos ($0.50 USD).
  • Execs: The underwater backyard is an unimaginable sight, and your complete cenote is attractive. I like that almost all of holiday makers there once I went had been divers. It’s quieter and extra low-key than different cenotes.
  • Cons: There isn’t any snorkeling or diving gear to lease there, so it’s a must to convey your individual. You additionally must have a certification to dive there, which generally is a con for some individuals.

4. Cenote Zacil Ha

Cenote Zacil Ha is a go-to for households, as a result of it has all of the facilities you’d need if you happen to had been touring with youngsters. It’s an open cenote with a picket deck round it, making it straightforward to get out and in of. The important thing characteristic of this one is the zip-line which you can take over it; you’ll be able to even leap into the cenote from above. The clear turquoise water is beautiful and makes for excellent diving situations.

The typical depth is simply 3 meters round a lot of the cenote, however there may be an underwater cavern that’s standard amongst divers. The opening to the cavern has a deep cobalt blue coloration from above. It’s important to have an open-water or cavern diving certificates to dive right here. The chamber beneath is named Las Lágrimas (“tears” in English) and has stalactites that appear to be tears, which is the way it received its title.

  • Value: 100 pesos ($5 USD) to enter, 10 pesos ($0.50 USD) to zip-line
  • Hours: 9am or 10am to five:30pm, relying on the season (throughout excessive season, it opens at 9am).
  • When to go: To keep away from crowds as a lot as potential, attempt to get there proper when it opens (by 10am, simply to be on the protected facet) or an hour or two earlier than it closes. Keep away from occurring weekends, because it will get very filled with native households then.
  • Find out how to get there: Zacil Ha is correct subsequent to Cenote Automotive Wash, about 6 miles from downtown Tulum, alongside the freeway to Coba. A taxi trip there’ll value 120-150 pesos ($6-7.50 USD), however you could possibly additionally catch a combi alongside the freeway there for about 10 pesos ($0.50 USD).
  • Execs: It’s one of many few cenotes within the space the place you’ll be able to zip-line above the water. It has a really family-friendly environment, which is nice if you happen to’re touring with youngsters. It’s fairly constructed up, so there are many services there, corresponding to lockers and a restaurant.
  • Cons: It’s small in dimension, and if there are lots of people there without delay, it could really feel claustrophobic. It’s additionally so developed close by that it has extra of a swimming pool really feel than a pure cenote vibe.

5. Cenote Cristal

Cenote Cristal is one other open sinkhole that has the looks of a lake or lagoon. Its pristine waters are perfect for a swim, and it has a excessive picket deck which you can climb to the highest of and leap into the water from. The cenote is kind of deep all through, a lot as a way to’t see the underside of it no matter the truth that the water is totally clear.

You’ll largely see fish swimming about, so if you wish to discover what lies within the depths of Cenote Cristal, think about diving. The cenote has a number of underwater caves to discover, in addition to an underground tunnel that connects it to Cenote Escondido, which is on the opposite facet of the freeway from Cristal.

This cenote is good for a picnic and a chill, stress-free day. There are palapas (small, thatched-roof huts) and tables across the water’s edge the place you’ll be able to hang around alone or with pals. You may even have the ability to spot a toucan or iguana if you happen to’re fortunate!

  • Value: 120 pesos ($6 USD), which incorporates admission to Cenote Escondido throughout the highway. You should purchase your two-cenote cross at both of them.
  • Hours: 8am to 5pm
  • When to go: Even when this cenote is crowded, it’s large enough and has sufficient locations to relax out that it’s not too huge of a deal. If you wish to have the place to your self, go as quickly because it opens or a pair hours earlier than it closes.
  • Find out how to get there: This one is near downtown Tulum (below 4 miles) and straightforward to bike to. You may as well take a taxi for round 70-100 pesos ($3.50-5 USD). A less expensive possibility is hopping on a combi headed south towards Chetumal or Felipe Carrillo Puerto, which is able to solely value 15 pesos ($0.75 USD). Simply ensure to inform the driving force that you just need to get off at Cenote Cristal or Cenote Escondido (which is throughout the road).
  • Execs: It’s a comparatively quiet cenote for a swim and to benefit from the sunshine. It’s fairly huge and likewise very straightforward to get to.
  • Cons: The stroll from the highway to the cenote can get very buggy in the course of the wet season. I’m speaking literal swarms of mosquitoes. Convey (eco-friendly) bug spray!

6. Cenote Escondido

Though Cenote Escondido is simply throughout the freeway from Cenote Cristal and joined to it through an underground tunnel, they’re fairly totally different. Whereas Escondido can also be an open cenote, it’s lengthy and skinny, kind of like a river. The distinction of the plush inexperienced jungle with the deep blues of the water is beautiful.

There are rock cliffs on the sting of the water, about 2-4 meters excessive, which can be nice for leaping into the water beneath. There’s additionally a enjoyable rope swing for all of the daredevils on the market.

This cenote is a well-liked diving spot, due to the variety of caves beneath the floor. You’ll have to organize your dive with an area firm.

  • Value: 120 pesos ($6 USD), which additionally contains admission to Cenote Cristal throughout the highway. You should purchase your two-cenote cross at both of them.
  • Hours: 8am to 5pm (entrance closes at 4pm)
  • When to go: This cenote is comparatively uncrowded, so any time of day is okay to go to. There’s loads of shade, and the water stays cool, so it’s an important place to take a break from the sweltering solar.
  • Find out how to get there: Comply with the identical instructions for Cenote Cristal, besides look to the opposite facet of the freeway for the Cenote Escondido signal. From the doorway, you should have a brief stroll to the cenote.
  • Execs: It’s excellent for a noon swim, because it’s one of many least crowded cenotes within the space. There are usually extra households and small teams there versus huge tour teams, which makes it extra serene in comparison with different, extra standard cenotes.
  • Cons: Similar to Cenote Cristal, it could get very buggy on the stroll from the highway.

7. Cenote Dos Ojos

Dos Ojos (which means “two eyes”) will get its title from the 2 adjoining sinkholes which can be related by an extended hall. Technically, Cenote Dos Ojos is 2 cenotes, one in every of them being extra standard than the opposite. The extremely clear water is breathtaking and undoubtedly price seeing, if you happen to don’t thoughts the steep entrance price.

Snorkeling is a good way to totally take pleasure in the fantastic thing about Dos Ojos, and it’s additionally a favourite of divers — and an important place for newbie divers too! — however it’s a must to arrange your dive with a diving firm upfront, per the principles of the cenote. If you wish to snorkel, you’ll be able to convey your individual gear or lease it there.

In the event you’re not staying in Tulum however nonetheless need to embrace Dos Ojos throughout your Cancún or Riviera Maya trip, this tour contains Dos Ojos and a full tour of the Tulum archaeological web site in the identical day.

  • Value: Entrance is 350 pesos (about $18 USD). Snorkeling gear is 50 pesos ($2.50 USD) for a masks and snorkel plus 70 pesos ($3.50 USD) for flippers.
  • Hours: 8am to 5pm
  • When to go: As quickly because the cenote opens at 8am is the very best time to go. Crowds will begin arriving at this super-popular spot round 9:30 or 10am.
  • Find out how to get there: Dos Ojos is about 14 miles north of downtown Tulum, on the freeway to Playa del Carmen. You’ll be able to both take a taxi there for about 200-250 ($10-12.50 USD) pesos or take a combi (40 pesos, $2 USD) going to Playa del Carmen and inform the driving force to drop you off on the flip for Cenote Dos Ojos. From there it’s a few 20-minute stroll to the cenote.
  • Execs: It’s shut to 2 different nice cenotes: El Pit and Nicte Ha (see beneath). The water is attractive, and the passageway between the 2 swimming pools is exclusive to Dos Ojos.
  • Cons: The value for Dos Ojos is costlier compared to most others, and it’s simply as standard as Gran Cenote, which means crowds accumulate fairly rapidly.

8. Cenote El Pit

This cenote is a diver’s paradise. Solely skilled divers are allowed to dive right here due to its depth (119 meters), making it the deepest cenote on the Yucatán Peninsula! There’s a floating hydrogen sulfide cloud at 30 meters deep, which is likely one of the most enjoyable options of the dive. Actually, it’s recognized to be one of the vital legendary locations to dive in the entire world!

Cenote El Pit is a part of the Sac Actun system, which is the most important recognized underwater cave system on this planet. This contains Dos Ojos and Nicte Ha, all of which you could possibly go to in the identical day.

  • Value: 300 pesos ($15 USD) if you happen to’re visiting this alone, or 500 pesos ($25 USD) for a mixed ticket with Dos Ojos
  • Hours: 8am to 5pm
  • When to go: In the event you’re diving (which is an additional value), the morning hours have the very best gentle streaming into the depths of the underwater cavern.
  • Find out how to get there: El Pit is a part of the identical cenote system as Dos Ojos and is lower than 2 miles previous it. To get there, observe the instructions for Dos Ojos and proceed strolling, following the indicators for El Pit.
  • Execs: The diving is the primary attraction right here, so if you happen to’re a diver, the largest professional is that you just’ll have one of the vital epic dives of your life.
  • Cons: In the event you aren’t a diver, this cenote is kind of costly for only a swim and a go searching. You’ll be able to snorkel and see the stalactites beneath, however the floor of the cenote is kind of similar to different inexpensive ones within the space.

9. Cenote Nicte Ha

One other a part of the Sac Actun system is Cenote Nicte Ha, an open cenote that has lovely turquoise waters good for a swim. The colourful inexperienced fauna across the edge give Nicte Ha a Backyard of Eden vibe. You’ll even see loads of lily pads and their flowers floating nearer to the water’s edge. There’s additionally a rock overhang on one facet that’s enjoyable to swim over to and discover.

Because it’s so near Dos Ojos and El Pit, this place usually will get overshadowed, regardless that it’s top-of-the-line cenotes within the space for swimming and absorbing the encircling jungle. It’s excellent after your early-morning cease at Dos Ojos, as it’s a lot much less standard, so it’s not essential to get to tremendous early. I like Nicte Ha greater than Dos Ojos due to how peaceable and quiet it’s.

To see Nicte Ha and Pet Cemetery (see beneath) in the identical day, this tour from Viator is a superb possibility.

  • Value: 200 pesos ($10 USD)
  • Hours: 8am to 5pm
  • When to go: The perfect time to go is within the morning, however it can save you this one for late morning after you go to Dos Ojos, because it’s much less crowded.
  • Find out how to get there: The doorway to Nicte Ha is definitely earlier than Dos Ojos, so observe the instructions to Dos Ojos however maintain a watch out for the Nicte Ha signal after you head inland from the freeway.
  • Execs: It’s a gorgeous, tranquil place to calm down, swim, and snorkel. It’s near different standard cenotes and subsequently an important place to take a look at whilst you’re staying in Tulum as a result of you’ll be able to hit up all of them in the identical day. It’s much less crowded than different cenotes, and there aren’t many excursions that go to it.
  • Cons: There isn’t wherever to lease snorkeling gear, so that you’ll should convey your individual. The stroll in from the freeway is about 20 minutes, which could possibly be a con for some individuals.

10. Cenote Pet Cemetery

Are you confused or intrigued by the title of this one? Don’t fear, I used to be too! Cenote Pet Cemetery will get its title from the abundance of animal bones that may be present in its depths. Some researchers imagine that the Mayan individuals made animal sacrifices right here hundreds of years in the past.

That is one other cenote that’s greatest explored by scuba diving. The white stalactite, stalagmite, and column formations, paired with the abundance of pure gentle pouring in, create an thrilling glowing impact that may also be seen by snorkeling. With the intention to see the animal bones, nonetheless, you’ll have to dive.

Across the opening to the deep a part of the cenote, there may be a median depth of simply 3 meters, making it a pleasant place to swim and snorkel. Nonetheless, the steep entrance price and the truth that you’ll be able to solely go to Pet Cemetery with a information make it actually solely definitely worth the value if you happen to can dive there.

  • Value: 450 pesos ($22.50 USD)
  • Hours: 8am to 5pm
  • When to go: Since you’ll be able to solely go to Pet Cemetery with a information, select a time that works greatest for you. The sunshine is greatest within the early morning and afternoon.
  • Find out how to get there: Comply with the instructions to Dos Ojos and proceed alongside the identical highway till you see the signal for Pet Cemetery.
  • Execs: It has a wealth of historical past and is likely one of the solely locations the place you could find artifacts like animal bones.
  • Cons: It is extremely costly for non-divers and maybe not price visiting if you happen to aren’t diving.

11. Cenote Xunaan-Ha

This cenote is likely one of the most off-the-beaten-path ones you’ll discover within the Riviera Maya. It’s in Chemuyil, a small village between Tulum and Akumal. If you’re in search of a cenote that has a way more down-to-earth, native vibe, that is it. On any given weekend, you’ll probably discover individuals from the group hanging out right here, however it stays comparatively quiet in the course of the week.

Xunaan-Ha is an open cenote with a platform which you can leap from and ropes to carry onto whilst you swim. Convey your individual snorkeling gear to profit from the underwater natural world, as there isn’t wherever close by to lease it.

Viator has a tour that features this cenote together with the Tulum archaeological web site. What an important combo!

  • Value: 100 pesos ($5 USD)
  • Hours: 9am to 5pm
  • When to go: Since this cenote is comparatively unknown, you’ll be able to go any time of day and discover only a few individuals there. Locals have a tendency to go to extra on the weekends, so keep away from going then if you would like the place largely to your self.
  • Find out how to get there: The cenote is about 14 miles from downtown Tulum, within the village of Chemuyil. The simplest and most cost-effective method to get there may be by taking a combi towards Playa del Carmen and telling the driving force to drop you off at Chemuyil. The trip ought to value you round 45 pesos ($2.25 USD). From the freeway, you’ll be able to stroll to the cenote entrance.
  • Execs: It’s fairly candy that this cenote hasn’t gained plenty of recognition but, as a result of it’s simply as lovely as different cenotes however with out almost as many individuals. It’s additionally fairly straightforward to get to from Tulum.
  • Cons: There aren’t many facilities out there on the cenote itself, and there isn’t a lot else to do in Chemuyil in addition to go to the cenote.

12. Cenote Azul

Cenote Azul is sizable, with a number of totally different related swimming pools. One among them is shallower and nicely fitted to youngsters or not-so-confident swimmers. There’s one other one that’s a lot deeper and has a cliff to dive in from. The water is so clear which you can see all the way in which to the rocky backside in most locations.

This cenote is greatest for swimming and snorkeling, however flippers usually are not allowed. It’s not fitted to diving in any respect. With the cliff to leap off, it’s a enjoyable place to take a leap, swim round, and benefit from the environment of the jungle.

  • Value: 120 pesos ($6 USD) to enter
  • Hours: 8am to 5pm
  • When to go: Like a lot of the extra standard cenotes, this one is greatest to go to within the morning on a weekday when there are fewer individuals there.
  • Find out how to get there: Cenote Azul is simply south of Puerto Aventuras, about half-hour north of Tulum. A taxi from Tulum will value round 200 pesos ($10 USD), however taking a combi is simply as straightforward. To take a combi from downtown Tulum, discover one that claims Playa del Carmen and inform the driving force to allow you to out on the entrance to Cenote Azul.
  • Execs: The water is pristine and the limestone is sweet to sit down on to relax out. There’s a extra family-friendly vibe, with individuals cliff-jumping and having a superb time.
  • Cons: It could get a little bit rowdy within the afternoons when it’s extra crowded.

13. Cenote Angelita

Cenote Angelita is one other famous person in relation to diving. Most divers flock to this cenote to see the optical phantasm that the hydrogen sulfate cloudlike layer creates underwater. This halocline is actually the place freshwater and saltwater meet, at round 30 meters beneath the water’s floor. There are tree branches reaching out from beneath the halocline, which create a mystical impact similar to strolling by way of a misty forest at night time.

Whereas Cenote Angelita is greatest recognized for its diving, it’s not a nasty spot to calm down and take a dip. Actually, it’s recognition amongst divers simply may imply that you’ve got the place to your self if you happen to’re simply there to swim.

  • Value: 100 pesos ($5 USD), plus a further price to dive.
  • Hours: 8am to 5pm
  • When to go: Anytime of the day is appropriate to go to if you happen to’re there to swim, because it not often will get crowded. In the event you’re diving, the morning hours are the very best, as a result of the sunshine can penetrate to the depths beneath a lot simpler.
  • Find out how to get there: Angelita is additional south than Cristal and Escondido, and a bit too far to bike to. The simplest method to get there may be to take a taxi for round 100-120 pesos ($5-6 USD) or to seize a Chetumal- or Felipe Carrillo Puerto-bound combi for 20 pesos ($1 USD).
  • Execs: It’s unlikely to be crowded. The halocline impact is an unimaginable sight to see if you happen to’re a diver.
  • Cons: There aren’t many facilities, and also you’ll have to rearrange to dive with an area firm if you want to take action.

Tips and Greatest Practices

  • Sunblock: Most sunblocks comprise chemical substances which can be very dangerous to the the ecosystem of cenotes, lagoons, and the ocean. Actually, lots of the chemical substances in conventional sunblocks are partially answerable for coral bleaching. Yikes! Both omit sunblock, or go for one that claims “reef protected” or “ecopark pleasant” on the label. These are mineral sunblocks and don’t trigger harm the way in which chemical ones do.
  • Rinsing off: At some cenotes, like Gran Cenote, for instance, you’ll see an open bathe space. Typically there are indicators instructing guests to rinse off earlier than entering into the cenote, however final time I visited the realm, a lot of them didn’t have an indication. Be sure to maintain a watch out for these bathe areas, so you’ll be able to rinse off any residue in your pores and skin from lotions, soaps, and so forth.
  • Depart no hint: Would you need to roll as much as your chosen cenote and discover a ton of trash there, floating round within the water? In fact not! Be conscious of every part you convey with you, and ensure to not go away any trash behind.
  • Respect the native tradition: Cenotes had been and proceed to be, in some circumstances, locations of worship for the Mayan individuals. As you’ll be able to see above with Pet Cemetery, these sacred sinkholes have a wealthy historical past and immense cultural significance. Tulum is notorious for its raves, and a few of them are held in privately owned cenotes. This has upset locals, and I personally suppose it’s fairly uncool, though I perceive that everybody could make their very own selections. Simply meals for thought.
  • Convey money: A few of the extra standard cenotes have card readers, however the smaller ones will solely take money. Be sure to convey sufficient pesos to your entrance price, transportation, and snacks.

Map

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Not all cenotes are created equal. Some are greatest fitted to seasoned divers, and a few are glorious locations to swim, snorkel, and calm down for the day. No matter cenote journey you’re trying ahead to, I hope you’ve discovered your subsequent favourite spot on this checklist!

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