The 15 Best Cenotes in Tulum: Bucket List + My Tips


How to visit the 15 Best Cenotes in Tulum, Mexico

Cenotes are stunning water holes that are a must-see in Mexico.

They are natural freshwater pools, formed by the collapse of limestone bedrock, exposing the groundwater underneath. Some are open-air, while others are hidden in amazing rock formations.

But with over 10,000 cenotes on the Yucatan Peninsula, how can you choose which ones to visit?

Don’t worry, I have created this guide to help you find the best cenotes in Tulum for swimming, diving and snorkeling. I have selected the most beautiful cenotes for different types of travelers. Some are perfect for families, others are more suitable for adventurers.

I have also included practical information to help you plan your visit to the cenotes of Tulum. You will find my recommendations for the best hotels nearby, as well as all my tips to make the most of your trip.

What is a cenote?

The word cenote comes from the Mayan word “dzonoot”, meaning water hole. They were sacred to the ancient Maya and today they are one of the main tourist attractions in Tulum and the whole Yucatan Peninsula.

So, which cenote in Tulum is the best for you? Read on to find out!

The best cenotes in Tulum

1. Gran Cenote

This is one of the most amazing cenotes in Tulum and a popular tourist attraction in the Riviera Maya.

It was the first cenote I visited in Tulum: I got there by biking under the sun from downtown and the water was just perfect.

You are in a cave with an opening, the water is clear, with a sandy bottom, and you can spot some turtles.

It’s also a fantastic cenote for diving, as it connects to one of the biggest cave systems in the world, many of which are partly underwater.

It’s a great option to take your kids to Tulum, as it’s easy to access for all swimmers (even beginners), with several bathrooms, and a spacious area for relaxing and having a picnic.

The Gran Cenote goes well with Coba or Chichen Itza on the same day because of its location.

But it’s better to go early as the tour buses come in the afternoon after visiting Chichen Itza.

How to visit the Gran Cenote:

  • Entrance fee 500 pesos, lockers 30 pesos, snorkeling equipment 80 pesos
  • Open from 8am to 4pm
  • About 3 miles from Tulum on the road to Coba. Big parking lot. Easy to reach by bike.

My tip
If you want to enjoy a fun and eco-friendly way to explore the cenotes of Tulum, you can also take this bike tour that includes Gran Cenote, Cenote Escondido and Cenote Cristal, with brunch. Book it here:

gran cenote tulum
Gran Cenote Tulum

2. Carwash Cenote

Its real name is “Aktun-Ha” and it got the name “Carwash” because there used to be a car wash nearby before it was discovered.

It’s a beautiful cenote, semi-open, and not too busy.

The diving area is 16 ft deep, with stalactites, aquatic plants, various fish and freshwater turtles.

You need an authorized guide to dive in the 50 ft deep cave.

The cenote is connected by an underground network with the Zacil Ha cenote.

How to visit the Cenote Carwash:

  • It’s 5 miles from Tulum towards Coba
  • Entrance fee 300 pesos
cenote carwash
cenote carwash

3. Zacil-Ha

Its name means “clear water” in Mayan and it’s a stunning natural pool that has been turned into a small ecotourism complex.

You can swim, snorkel and even dive in “Las Lagrimas”, a 26 to 115 ft deep cave that connects with the Carwash cenote and the Calavera cenote.

It’s a perfect cenote for families as it has all the facilities: swimming pool, rest areas, changing rooms, restaurant, cabins, restrooms, parking, snorkeling equipment rental.

There’s even a small zip line over the cenote!

It’s not very spacious and gets crowded fast. Go at 10am when it opens, before the groups come at 11am.

Visit the cenote Zacil Ha:

  • Entrance fee 200 pesos, 150 pesos for nationals.
  • Open daily from 10am to 6pm
  • 5.5 miles from Tulum in the direction of Cobá, just after the Carwash cenote
  • There is a large parking lot
  • Zacil-Ha Facebook page
cenote zacil ha
cenote zacil ha

4. Cenote Calavera

Cenote Calavera, or Skull Cenote, is named after its skull-like entrance with three holes on the ground.

You may have seen it on Instagram, where its wooden ladder and rope make a cool photo. However, it is not very crowded, as it is not part of the tours and has no facilities except a basic bathroom. It is ideal for friends and couples who want to have some fun.

You can jump into the deep water from the holes, or use the ladder if you prefer. Once you are in, look up and see the bats on the ceiling. Cenote Calavera in Tulum is a hidden gem that you should not miss.

How to visit Cenote Calavera:

  • Entrance 250 pesos, life jacket 50 pesos
  • Open every day from 9 am to 4 pm
  • Only a mile away from Tulum, on road 109 towards Coba (easy to get to by car, bike or on foot from downtown Tulum)
cenote calavera
cenote calavera

5. Tankah Cenote

If you want to enjoy Tulum without sargassum and away from the crowds, you should visit Cenote Tankah.

This cenote is hidden in the jungle, just 165 ft from the stunning Caribbean beach. You can access it through the Beach Club Caleta Tankah, which offers all the services you need (restaurant, loungers, etc.). You can spend a day relaxing on the beach and swimming in the fresh water cenote.

My advice
 Don’t forget to look for My Ultimate Guide to Tulum to learn more about Caleta Tankah and how to get there!
caleta tankah tulum
Tankah Cove or Caleta Tankah, a sargassum-free place in Tulum. Photo from the Facebook page.

6. Cenote Casa Tortuga

One of my favorite places in Tulum is Casa Tortuga, where you can discover four amazing cenotes!

Cenote Campana and Cenote Wisho are semi-open cenotes with beautiful stalactites, stalagmites and other formations.

Cenote Tres Zapotes is a large open cenote, perfect for swimming and relaxing.

Cenote Dorca is a hidden gem that you can reach by a path surrounded by mangroves.

You can also see the Chechén and the Chacáh, two trees that are sacred to the Maya people. Casa Tortuga is a well maintained and spacious site, where you can enjoy the cenotes without feeling crowded.

How to visit Casa Tortuga:

  • Entrance fee from 400 pesos (includes guide, access to the 4 cenotes and life vest). Packages available with buffet and zip line.
  • 15 min from Tulum, on the Cancun-Tulum highway
  • You can also stay overnight on site (with free access to Tres Zapotes cenote)

You can book this tour to Casa Tortugas which includes transportation from Tulum, access to the 4 cenotes and some snacks:

casa cenote tulum
casa cenote tulum

7. Cenote Dos Ojos

Cenote Dos Ojos is one of the most famous cenotes in Tulum, and for a good reason.

It has two cenotes of 230 ft in diameter, connected by a large underground cavern. That’s why it is called “Dos Ojos”, which means “Two Eyes” in Spanish.

The first cenote is great for swimming and snorkeling in the crystal clear water, while the second cenote is more mysterious with stalactites and stalagmites.

If you are adventurous, you can also take a 1300 ft corridor to reach the “baticueva” (the bat cave), where you can see hundreds of bats hanging from the ceiling.

Cenote Dos Ojos is part of the world’s largest underwater cave, which spans 215 miles. 😮

To enjoy Cenote Dos Ojos, it is best to get there early in the morning or late in the afternoon, when there are fewer tour groups.

My advice
To plan your visit, I invite you to read My Guide to Dos Ojos Cenote!

How to visit Dos Ojos cenote:

  • Entrance fee 400 pesos (200 pesos for children under 12 years old) or 800 pesos for the guided tour with access to the “baticueva”, the bat cave
  • Located 12 miles from Tulum towards Playa del Carmen, in Dos Ojos Park
  • It’s ideal for the whole family as it has services, including two restaurants
  • Open from 8 am to 5 pm
Cenote Dos Ojos in Tulum

8. Nicte-Ha Cenote

Cenote Nicte-Ha or Nic Te Ha is a hidden treasure in Tulum, where you can enjoy a cenote in the wild with very few tourists. You might even have it all to yourself!

It is a small cenote, but full of life and beauty. You can see tree roots and rocks around the cenote, and water lilies, fish and turtles in the clear water. The bottom of the cenote is covered with aquatic plants that sway gently in the current.

Cenote Nicte-Ha is a place where you can find peace and tranquility in the middle of nature.

And the best part is, it is very close to the popular Dos Ojos cenote, which is part of Dos Ojos Park. You can easily visit both cenotes in one day and have a memorable experience.

How to visit the Nicte-Ha cenote:

  • Entrance costs 300 pesos and is purchased at the Dos Ojos parking lot
  • Open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m
  • Changing rooms and basic toilets, life jacket rental
  • There is nothing on site, so make sure to bring enough water.
  • Located 14 miles from Tulum. You can also get there by colectivo, but then you will have to walk 15 min to the Nicte Ha cenote

9. Taak Bi Ha Cenote

Taak Bi Ha (or Tak Be Ha) is a non-touristy cenote in Tulum, run by a local community of 7 families.

It is a stunning cenote in a submerged cave, where you can see many stalagmites, stalactites, roots and skylights. The water is clear and inviting.

You should not miss the 30 minute guided tour, which lets you snorkel in different depths and narrow areas. It is a lot of fun and a great way to explore the cenote.

How to visit Taak Bi Ha cenote:

  • Entrance 350 pesos (life jacket included) or 400 pesos with the guided tour
  • Open from 8am to 5pm
  • 20 minutes from Tulum on the 307, you have to go to the entrance of Dos Ojos Park (but it’s not part of it), then continue about 2 miles inside.
  • You can only buy the entrance fee when you get to Cenote Taak Bi Ha, not at Dos Ojos Park.
tulum cenote taak bi ha
Cenote Taak Bi Ha. Photo from Facebook page

10. Sac Actún

Sac Actun is one of the most beautiful cenotes in Mexico, where you can explore caves, clear waters and numerous rock formations.

It’s also called “Pet Cemetery” because of the animal bones that have been found there, likely from Mayan rituals.

Sac Actun is part of the largest underwater cave system in the world, which has several cenotes.

You have to visit Sac Actun with a guide, who will take you to the different cenotes in about 45 minutes.

How to visit the Sac Actun cenote:

  • It’s 15 miles from Tulum, on Highway 307. You can find it in Dos Ojos Park.
  • The entrance fee is 650 pesos

I suggest this guided tour to Sac Actun with transportation from Tulum for a complete experience.

It includes a boat ride in the bay of Tulum, where you can snorkel and enjoy a stunning view of the ruins for amazing pictures. Then, you can swim in the cenote of Sac Actun with a guide.

cenote sac actun
cenote sac actun

11. Cenote El Pit

Not only is it the deepest known cenote in the region (430 ft), but it’s also one of the most beautiful cenotes to dive in the Yucatan Peninsula!

You’ll find Cenote El Pit in a cave, and you’ll have to go down some vertical stairs to reach the water level.

In the first dive zone, you’ll encounter a layer of hydrogen sulfate, and then, as you go up, you’ll see the entrance to two caves, one of which connects to the Dos Ojos cenote.

Higher up, you’ll be amazed by the various geological formations and the stunning sight of light rays shining through the water.

How to visit the El Pit cenote:

  • It’s an intermediate level dive, with a maximum depth of 130 ft
  • Each parking spot has a table where you can set up your diving gear
  • You can access it through Dos Ojos Park and then drive for 15 minutes to get to the entrance
cenote el pit
cenote el pit

12. Cenote Encantado

Cenote Encantado is a hidden gem located at the end of the Tulum hotel zone, right before the Sian Ka’an reserve.

It’s actually a pretty big lake with fresh water (16 to 33 ft deep) surrounded by mangroves where you can spot iguanas, crabs and even raccoons.

You can swim, snorkel (bring your own gear) and kayak (rent for 50 pesos).

There’s not much space to sit around the cenote, but there’s a small tower with a dock.

How to visit Cenote Encantado:

  • The entrance fee is 100 pesos
  • It’s open daily from 9 am to 5 pm
  • It’s located at KM 10 of the Tulum hotel zone along the beach, just less than a mile before the entrance to Sian Kaan.
  • There are two entrances, one with the sign “enchanted cenote” and the other with a yellow kayak. The second entrance is better, as it has parking
cenote encantado
cenote encantado

13. Cenote Cristal and Cenote Escondido

These are two outdoor cenotes that are across from each other and you can access them with the same entrance ticket.

Both cenotes are surrounded by lush vegetation and have clear waters, ideal for swimming and snorkeling.

Cenote Cristal, also called Cenote Naharon, is more popular because it has several areas for sunbathing, hammocks, a table and a 6 ft platform to jump into the water.

If you enjoy diving, you can dive in the 550 yd corridor that links Cenote Cristal and Cenote Escondido.

How to visit Cenote Cristal and Cenote Escondido:

  • They are south of Tulum, 2.5 miles from downtown on the 307. There’s parking for cars and bikes.
  • By public transportation, take a colectivo to Felipe Carrillo Puerto, then walk a little more than a mile.
  • The entrance fee is 300 pesos for both cenotes
  • They’re open daily from 8 am to 5 pm

14. The cenotes of Coba

When I first visited Coba, I had no idea there were several cenotes near the archaeological site.

Right now, there aren’t many organized tours that include them, and it’s mostly travelers who come by car who make time to visit them.

But they’re amazing!

Cobá’s cenotes are in underground 2 caves and each one has a different experience:

Choo-Ha is the easiest to get to, with shallow water. This is the one I recommend for children.

Tamcach-Ha is like a big natural pool with 2 jumping platforms (16 and 33 ft). It’s also the most touristy.

Multun-Ha (sometimes spelled Multum-Ha) is the hardest to get to, but the best for snorkeling, as the water is crystal clear. For me, it’s the most magical of the three.

How to visit the cenotes of Cobá

  • The entrance fee is 100 pesos per cenote (you can buy tickets at the parking lot of Coba)
  • They’re near the town of Cobá, towards San Juan de Dios (it’s marked). There’s parking available.
  • If you go to Cobá by bus, you’ll have to take a cab to get to the cenotes.
  • Another option is to rent a bike in Cobá (4 miles)

15. Cenote Azul

The Cenote Azul (blue cenote) is a gorgeous place with trails that lead to different water sources.

There are 3 natural pools, and the first two are shallow.

You can swim and snorkel in the pools to see the rocks, plants and fish.

There’s also a spot where you can jump into the water from a height of 16 ft. A little adrenaline, in total safety 😉

Cenote Azul is great for families with children because of its shallow areas. It’s also close to Playa del Carmen, and just a short distance from the cenotes Jardin del Eden and Cristalino, Xpu-Ha beach and Akumal.

My advice
To learn everything about Cenote Azul, read my article: How to Visit Cenote Azul

How to visit Cenote Azul

  • The entrance fee is 150 pesos, children up to 7 years old pay 100 pesos
  • It’s open Monday to Sunday from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm
  • It’s 25 miles from Tulum and 15 miles from Playa del Carmen on Highway 307
  • By public transportation: from Tulum it’s 40 pesos (20min), from Playa del Carmen it’s 45 pesos (corner of 20 north avenue and 2 north street). From Playa del Carmen, the colectivo drops you off at the entrance but from Tulum you have to cross the road, so watch out.
cenote azul
cenote azul

The tourist map of the cenotes of Tulum

To help you organize your trip in Tulum, here is the location of the cenotes mentioned in the article:

My tips for visiting the cenotes of Tulum

  • Don’t judge a cenote by its price: some of the best cenotes are cheap and run by communities that don’t have much publicity.
  • Bring cash to pay for the cenotes (pesos or US dollars). Most cenotes don’t accept cards and you may need to rent some equipment (like snorkeling gear or life jackets).
  • Arrive before 16:00, as most cenotes close at 17:30 or 18:00 and won’t let you in after that.
  • If you take public transportation to a cenote, make sure to tell the colectivo driver where to stop, as it may not be their final destination.
  • Wear aquashoes! They will protect your feet from the rocks in the cenotes. They were the best thing I bought in Mexico.

Where to sleep in Tulum

Here are my recommendations for hotels in Tulum, for all budgets:

  • Mayan Monkey Tulum: An excellent value for money. Nice modern hostel with a good atmosphere, a pool, bar and garden. Including fast wifi, kitchen access, yoga classes, coworking spaces, and bike and motorcycle rentals. Dorms and private rooms starting at only 24 $usd per night.
  • Casa Almendro: If you are looking for a little more comfort, you will like this small cheap hotel in the center of Tulum. It’s a green oasis with a rooftop terrace with chairs and hammocks. There are king size beds and breakfast is included, from only 50 $usd per night!
  • Diamante K: Is a high-end hotel but at a very fair price, which is exceptional in Tulum, especially for a hotel with direct access to the beach in the hotel zone! Bohemian chic atmosphere, including a restaurant, hammocks and beds on the private beach, and a massage service. Bungalows are 207 $usd per night.
  • Our Habitas Tulum: This small eco-friendly hotel with a chic design is ideal for a romantic stay in Tulum. It is a true oasis of peace, hidden among the palm trees, with a magnificent swimming pool and a private beach. There are also yoga classes on the terrace at sunset. From 371 $usd per night!
  • Kanan Tulum- Adults Only: This is the ultimate option for a luxury stay in Tulum. It is an ecological hotel for adults only, located on a beautiful private beach with hammocks and beds. With a fantastic rooftop terrace with a bar; the hotel also has an excellent restaurant, great rooms and a very friendly welcome. From 566 $usd per night!

Want to rent a car in Mexico?

Renting a car is for sure the best way to visit tulum and make the most of your stay!

To rent a car, personally, I always use Cars, for a few reasons:

  • You can easily compare the rental cars prices between all the agencies: for sure the easiest way to find the best rate!
  • Cancellation is often offered free of charge: no need to worry if you change your mind
  • Booking Cars offers full insurance coverage at a lower price than the rental companies, so it’s an instant saving with no effort

Simply click on the green button to find your rental car at the best price:

Book your plane ticket at the best price

Until recently, there was no airport in Tulum, and the nearest airport was Cancun. So you had to take a flight to Cancun (e.g. Iberia, Aeromexico, Interjet, KLM, etc.), then transfer from Cancun to Tulum (3h15).

Alternatively, Tulum’s brand-new airport Felipe Carrillo (TQO) is located at 40 min away from Tulum.

Before choosing an airport, compare the prices and stopovers from your original destination. Cancun might still be better than Tulum, since there are not many direct flights to Tulum right now.

To find a cheap flight to Tulum or Cancun, I recommend using our flight comparison service in partnership with Skyscanner. You’re guaranteed to pay the best price!

My tip
To get to Tulum from the Cancun airport, you can rent a car, take an ADO bus, or book an airport transfer

Book your trip now and save money!

You’re traveling in Mexico? These articles will help you!

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cenotes tulum mexico
cenotes tulum mexico

I have created this blog to give you all my best tips to plan your next trip to Mexico, regardless of your budget. I share detailed itineraries, advice about places to visit as well as recommendations for transportation, hotels and restaurants. I hope I will also help you to discover amazing off the beaten path destinations in Mexico!

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