One of the most magical things about Mexico is the countless cenotes! There are over 6000+ cenotes discovered in the Yucatan Peninsula alone! A cenote is a natural sinkhole that exposes underground water. While this sounds like nature is crumbling, it actually reveals hidden gems of turquoise colored water and caves for swimming and diving in. Many hold significance in the Mayan culture, some are sacred and others are just plain beautiful. No trip to Tulum is complete without seeing some cenotes!
📍Quintana Roo 109, 77796 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
📞 +52 998 980 0332
Hours: 8:10am – 4:45pm | Daily
Cost: 180 pesos/$9 USD
While visiting Tulum we visited two cenotes that are close to each other and it’s very easy to do both in one day! The first one we visited was the Grand Cenote, it was only a few minutes away from our hotel in town. We decided to do a whole afternoon of hanging out in the cenotes since they open early and close pretty early as well. We highly suggest getting to the Grand Cenote early (as soon as they open would be the best time), especially since this one is the most popular and highly visited among tourists. Also good to know, it can be considered a little more pricey compared to other cenotes nearby.
There are lockers that are available for rent to put your belongings in. And if you want to have a super fun experience, you can rent snorkeling equipment too! Or bring your own!
It’s actually more than just a cenote, it’s a park too with beautiful flowers and plants throughout and plenty of areas that are great for relaxing! Including a picnic area, an open manicured field that’s perfect for laying out, or they have a few colorful hammocks that would make the perfect spot to kick back and read a good book! This cenote is very popular so it’s setup very well for tourism, even their showers and changing areas are nice.
The downside is the staff isn’t very welcoming. We almost got rejected at the door because we were carrying a tripod and cameras, which they weren’t happy about. Luckily we got in by promising not to take our gear out. More than likely you’ll find security and lifeguards monitoring the area like hawks, but of course for safety measures!
Before anyone can enter the cenote everyone needs to be showered from head to toe, including your hair! This is super important for the safety of the cenote itself. By showering, this will help these magical blue gems of the earth be in less risk of being contaminated by harmful chemicals that are found in sunscreens, bug sprays, etc.
To get down to the cenote there’s a wooden stairway and boardwalk area, which is great for chilling out and getting some close-up photos of the water!
The water at the Grand Cenote was so clear and absolutely captivating! It’s almost hard to describe, it was so magical in person. The crystal clear water surrounded by the lush Mayan jungle and hanging vines. So dreamy!😍💦 They even had a “turtle zone”, where we saw so many little turtles swimming around us it was so cute! 🐢
Since the water is so clear, you can really see stunning stalagmites and rock formations. There’s an open area where you can swim through the cave and it leads to a whole other side of the cenote. It’s very narrow and the cave is low to your head but it opens back up once you get to the other side. And if you listen closely you can hear bats squeaking and you might even see a few fly past you!🦇
They even have a cafeteria to grab some snacks like chips and cookies. We didn’t eat there but we walked in to take a look at the options. We did find out that you’re allowed to bring your own food for a picnic!
The Grand Cenote is one of the easiest to access, and although it can be crowded, it’s definitely one of the cenotes in Tulum that you don’t want to miss!
📍Quintana Roo 109, Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
Hours: 8am – 4pm | Daily
Cost: 100 pesos/$5 USD
Cenote Calavera is only a few minutes from the Grand Cenote, which makes it really easy to do both in one day! Also known as the Temple of Doom, Cenote Calavera is much different than the Grand Cenote. It’s way less organized (not very touristy) and doesn’t have any amenities like a park or a cafeteria. There aren’t lockers or anywhere secure to hold your things (or at least we didn’t notice anywhere), and no public showers. It basically felt as if we were hanging out in someone’s backyard!
In Spanish “calavera” means skull 💀, which makes sense why there’s colorful sugar skulls painted on the main building where you pay the entrance fee. What makes this even more interesting is that you can actually see the shape of a skull if you look up while swimming down in the hole. There are three “holes” or ways to get into the water, one large hole and two small ones labeled with signs like “jump here” and “photo here”! Since you can’t see anything below, it’s so scary to jump in either of the smaller holes. When you look in, it literally looks pitch black!
In the big hole, there’s a large ladder (careful it’s very slippery) to get in and out of the water but the best way is to jump right in! Beware that the water in the cenotes isn’t very warm. Because it’s underground and doesn’t see much sunlight it’s pretty cold. There was so many fish in the water, along with bats flying around right behind us!🦇
Unlike the Grand Cenote, you won’t notice the staff monitoring around blowing whistles. It’s actually really chill and a cool place to hang out on some of the rock edges and maybe make some fellow traveler friends! Not many people know about this cenote which makes it great for a peaceful swim by yourself or taking a million photos for the ‘gram!
Tips for Visiting the Cenotes:
Go early! As with most touristy places you want to go early to avoid the crowds. Especially the more popular cenotes like the Grand Cenote!
Check their hours before you go. Cenotes have hours of operation and most of them close pretty early in the afternoon so make sure you check before you go!
Leave the tripod at home. Tripods are not allowed into the cenotes so leave it home. We almost weren’t allowed in because we brought one!
Go light on the makeup. Before entering the cenotes, you have to shower head to toe (including your hair) so we wouldn’t recommend getting super glammed up before!
There are so many cenotes that are worth visiting, but these two are easy to check off if you’re planning a trip to Tulum! Like we said they’re super close to each other making it really easy to do both in one day. Visiting the cenotes is such an incredible and unique experience to Mexico that everyone should have on their bucket list!
**Check out our Ultimate Girls’ Guide to Tulum in our blog post here!