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5 BEST Cenote Tours in Tulum +Our Honest Review

5 BEST Cenote Tours in Tulum +Our Honest Review

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If there’s one thing every traveler should do when visiting Tulum, it’s experience a cenote. The water-filled natural sinkholes are predominantly found in the Yucatan Peninsula, where there are over 6,000. Not only are these hidden waters beautiful, but you can swim and snorkel through many of them.

With so many cenotes in the area, we highly suggest taking a tour – and today, we’re sharing five of the best cenote tours in Tulum. Why do we recommend these tours? The main reason is that they cover all bases. You don’t have to stress about transport, snorkeling gear, entrance fees, and food in most cases. 

We’ve also visited all the best cenotes near Tulum, and we hand-picked these tours because they head to our personal favorites. No matter which you choose, we firmly believe you can’t go wrong. So keep reading to find the best cenote tour for you and add it to your Tulum itinerary.

Don’t have time to read the full article? Our absolute favorite cenote tours in Tulum include:

  1. Visit the Tulum Ruins, zipline, and snorkel on this full-day cenote tour.
  2. If you’re short on time, this Triple Adventure Tour takes you to three of the best cenotes in just one morning.
  3. This private cenote tour is ideal for budding photographers who want to both swim and snap super Instagrammable photos.

What are the best cenotes in Tulum?

People swim in Saamal Cenote, Mexico
People swim in Saamal Cenote, Mexico
Bailey swims in a Cenote on a tour in Mexico
Cenotes are the perfect place to cool off!

There are so many incredible cenotes in Tulum it’s hard to pick just a few! You could spend days exploring these natural pools. But if you want to narrow it down, these are three of my favorites – and you can see them on the tours listed below.

Gran Cenote is the perfect balance of comfort and adventure. Part of it’s open-air, but it also connects to the world’s largest cave systems. There are also both shallow and deeper sections and has a soft sand bottom. You can wade through crystal clear water or snorkel deeper to see underwater wildlife and bats hanging from cave walls.

I love Casa Cenote because it’s just so different from the rest. Instead of an underground cave, Casa Cenote is long and winds through trees and mangroves (which you don’t get to see at many cenotes). It feels like a hidden river in the jungle! When snorkeling here, you’re likely to see lots of fish and the one freshwater crocodile that hangs out here and doesn’t bother anyone!

We also had such a blast at Cenote Zemway, which is a relatively new spot since it opened in 2021. This open-air cenote is shaped like a giant bowl surrounded by towering cliffs and jungle. Here, we jumped off 18-foot (5.5 m) cliffs into the water and swung off a rope swing. Plus, there were loads of birds and butterflies fluttering about, which were super pretty to see.

What’s great about tours is you often get to see more than one cenote. Plus, they cover transport and admission fees (which can run $5-$25 USD). They also hook you up with snorkeling gear to explore deeper and fully appreciate the underwater world.

This Triple Adventure Tour actually takes you to all three cenotes we just mentioned! But honestly, all the tours we’re about to discuss take you to amazing cenotes – and each one offers something unique. So keep reading to find a tour that catches your eye!

Best Cenote Tours from Tulum 

1. Small-Group Three Cenotes Adventure Tour

Cenotes Casa Tortuga Tulum, Tulum, mexico
Cenotes Casa Tortuga Tulum

There are a couple of reasons we recommend this full-day adventure tour. Firstly, it starts with round-trip transfers from your Tulum hotel to three distinctive cenotes. We love the variety of cenotes you get to see all in one day. Nothing beats that convenience!

It also includes a picnic lunch, snorkeling gear, and entrance fees. So all you have to worry about is enjoying those incredible underwater views. Plus, the guides are fantastic and provide you with lots of helpful information about the cenotes and the region’s history.

Your first stop is Casa Cenote, and you get there early to avoid the crowds. This is one of Tulum’s most unique cenotes. Instead of an underground cave, it resembles an open-air river that runs through tropical trees and mangroves.

Snorkeling is popular here as the mangroves are home to interesting marine life. Plus, there’s a handy sandy bottom when you need a break.

Then it’s onto Taak Bi Ha Cenote. I absolutely love this underground cave because of its crystal-clear water and amazing rock formations. Trust me, you’ll want to have your camera ready!

After a hearty lunch, it’s time for Aktun Yax Kan. Here, you get to enjoy a private underground cenote experience. Yep, the whole cave is closed to just you and your tour group. When I went, I swung from the big rope swing straight into the water – such a quintessential cenote experience!

This tour also feels much more personal since it’s limited to 10 travelers. It costs $153 USD per person, and everything we mentioned is covered, making it extremely affordable and intimate. Tours are available daily and last 7 hours, with hotel pickup starting around 7:30 am.

So if you want a small-group adventure, book this tour via Viator today. You don’t have to take our word for it either, as they have almost entirely 5-star reviews!

Related Read: Also spending time in Cancun? Check out our favorite tours from Cancun right here!

2. Tulum Ruins and Three Cenotes Jungle Adventure Tour

Tulum Ruins, Mexico
Tulum Ruins, Mexico
Bailey swims in a cenote in mexico
The water is crystal clear!

If you want to enjoy your cenotes with a side of historic ruins, check out this adventure tour. I love this tour because you get a bit of everything. You get to visit some of the best Mayan ruins in Mexico, eat tasty local cuisine, and of course, explore cenotes!

This tour is also capped at 10 travelers for a more intimate experience. Once they pick you up at your hotel, you’ll head directly to Tulum Archaeological Site (aka the Tulum Ruins). I love that it’s the first stop so you can beat the crowds! For this reason, it’s one of the top-rated tours of the Tulum Ruins.

You get 90 minutes to explore this incredible ancient site. Sitting high on seaside limestone cliffs and overlooking bright turquoise water, it’s the only Mayan settlement built on the beaches of the Caribbean. Basically, it’s one of those things you have to see to believe.

When we took this tour, our guide shared loads of fascinating details about the cultural and historical significance of the different structures. It really brought the place alive.

Then it’s onto Tankah Park, which is a super fun eco-adventure park. The tour covers the entrance fee, and they provide you with snorkeling equipment. So then it’s up to you to choose your adventure!

You can go snorkeling in the three open-air cenotes, trek through the jungle, go canoeing, or fly over the jungle and cenotes in one of three ziplines. Snorkeling in Tulum is an absolute must – and doing it in cenotes is so much fun. Plus, with three hours there, you have plenty of time to experience more than one adventure. And if you love a good adrenaline rush (like me!), this is the place to do it.

After all that excitement, you’ll be ready to devour the traditional Mayan buffet lunch (plus snacks and bottled water are available throughout the day). Then it’s time to head back to your hotel for a big nap!

Tours are available every day but Sunday. They start around 7 am, lasting 8 hours in total. It’s incredible how you can fit all of this in just one day. Plus, you’ll be back in time to rest and then enjoy a delicious dinner in Tulum.

It costs $153 USD per adult, which includes roundtrip transportation, lunch, snacks, water, snorkeling equipment, and entry fees.

So if you’re looking for an adventurous day trip full of cenotes and history, this tour is definitely for you

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Lowest price guarantee – If you happen to find the same tour at a lower price elsewhere, Viator will refund you the price difference.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

3. The Best Cenotes in Yucatan Private Tour

Cenote Suytun in Mexico
Cenote Suytun in Mexico
Bailey swims in a cenote in Valladolid, Mexico
Just floating around!

If you want a personal guide to show you the best cenotes in Tulum, book this private tour. It’s designed with Instagram photographers in mind, so the guides are more than happy to take as many photos and videos of you as you wish. Along the way, they’ll also explain each cenote’s history and cultural significance.

You start bright and early to avoid the crowds (and so you don’t have people blocking your shots!).

Hotel pickup begins around 6 or 7 am, and your first stop is Suytun Cenote. This is unequivocally one of the most Instagrammable cenotes in Tulum. It’s an ethereal underground cave with sunbeams streaming through a hole in the roof. The rays perfectly hit the viewing platform.

Next is Cenote San Lorenzo Oxman. This is a large cenote that’s known for its tree roots hanging down the sides of the cave. The underground cave-style cenote has an open roof, allowing natural light to filter through. The money shot is the rope swing if you dare!

Then it’s time for a scrumptious breakfast in the historic center of Valladolid. After filling up, you have free time to explore the picturesque colonial town. I love being able to wander around at my own leisure, snapping more photos of the historical sites here. Don’t miss the 16th-century Convent of San Bernardino of Siena and the Baroque-style San Gervasio Cathedral.

The final stop is Cenote Xux Ha. This is an underground cave hidden inside a huge limestone dome with the most magical azure water. There is a hole at the top of the cave allowing some natural light in, if that’s a concern. However, I liked that this cenote was a bit darker and different than the others, giving it a mystical vibe. 

These private tours are offered every day but Sunday, and last about 8 hours. The price depends on your group size, with a minimum of 2 people per booking. A party of two costs $360 USD total, and a group of 6 costs $990 USD total. It covers all private transport, a meal, water, and entry to the cenotes.

Since the per-person price goes down with more people, you may as well invite the whole family – or a large group of friends.

Who’s ready to book this private tour now? I am!

4. Magical Cenote and Paradise Lagoon Snorkeling Adventure

A bird in Yal-Ku Lagoon, Mexico
Yal-Ku Lagoon, Mexico

Do you want to visit the world’s third-longest underground river system? Then book this half-day adventure tour. You’ll make your way around limestone rock, exploring cenotes with impressive rock formations. To top it off, you’ll also snorkel underwater and walk through nearby trails.

The experienced guides make sure you get to the river before other tour buses. This means you have time to soak up its magic and capture a photo without other tourists. Here, you can also spend your time swimming and snorkeling.

Then you move on to Yal Ku Lagoon, which is located in a protected cove. What sets this lagoon apart from others is that it’s a mixture of seawater and freshwater. The warm seawater combined with the cool freshwater equals a very unique ecosystem – and another awesome spot to snorkel!

Grab your gear and get up close to several species of colorful tropical fish. The crystal-clear water also creates prime snorkeling conditions, as does the shallow water (the maximum depth is 4 meters/13 feet). The provided life jackets make this the perfect snorkeling spot for beginners and families with kids.

Snorkeling was the highlight of this trip for us. We recommend taking your time exploring the caves and valleys underwater. If you have spare time, you can stroll through the landscaped grounds surrounding the lagoon. There’s also an on-site restaurant and hammocks and chairs available for rent.

The tour is offered daily and costs $99 USD, including roundtrip transportation from Tulum, snorkeling gear, water, and your guides. The tour itself starts at 9 am and lasts 3.5 hours, so it’s easy to fit into your schedule. They also cover transportation if you’re coming from Cancun or Playa del Carmen, but you’ll want to factor in the extra travel time. It’s a good option if you only have time for a quick Tulum tour and you’re staying in Playa del Carmen though!

If you only have half a day to explore the best cenotes in Tulum, book this half-day snorkeling tour. Yal Ku Lagoon is said to offer some of the best snorkeling in the Yucatan Peninsula after all.

Related Read: If you enjoy snorkeling, you might love scuba diving too! To learn more, read our guide to scuba diving in Tulum!

5. Cenote Triple Adventure Tour

Cenote Zemway in Tulum, Mexico
Cenote Zemway in Tulum, Mexico
Bailey swims in Cenote Zemway in Tulum, Mexico
Bailey loves Zemway!

This Triple Adventure Tour squeezes three cenote visits into a half-day experience. It’s one of the best cenote tours in Tulum if you’re short on time. 

The first stop is Cenote Zemway. One of the newest cenotes surrounding Tulum, this open-air cenote has towering cliffs and is surrounded by lush jungle. For those seeking an adrenaline rush, you can jump off 15-foot and 18-foot (or 4.5-meter and 5.5-meter) tiered platforms here. You can also take a dive from the rope swing.

The next stop is Gran Cenote, a half-open half-closed cave. This is one of our favorite cenotes in Tulum, as it’s connected to one of the world’s largest cave systems. You can snorkel or free-dive through the caves, where you can see incredible underwater wildlife swimming through the crystal-clear freshwater.

Gran Cenote also has both shallow and deep areas, making it perfect for families. Paired with incredible rock formations and sandy areas so you can comfortably stand in the water, it’s easy to see why this is a favorite.

The final stop is Casa Cenote, which is also visited on the first tour. As mentioned, it’s known for its sandy bottom and mangroves. Lots of marine life call these mangroves home, so this is another great place to snorkel.

This tour is offered daily and starts at 9 am, lasting about 4 hours. It costs $130 USD per person, including snacks, water, snorkel gear, and your guide. It also covers roundtrip transportation from a central meeting point in Tulum. However, it does require a minimum of two people per booking – but makes a great day trip for couples or friends!

I love how after an adventurous morning, you still have time to explore Tulum in the afternoon. You could even take a sunset catamaran cruise afterward if you wanted!

So if you’re on a time crunch but want to see a variety of cenotes, book this half-day cenote tour in advance!

Other Activities to do While You’re in Tulum

Tulum Ruins, Mexico
Tulum Ruins, Mexico

Exploring the incredible cenotes in Tulum is fun, but don’t forget to see more of what this awesome city has to offer before you leave! Here are a few of my favorite things to do in Tulum:

  • Check out the Tulum Ruins – Honestly, if you don’t do anything else while you’re here, make sure to check out the Tulum Ruins! This is an amazing place to get a glimpse into the area’s Mayan history, and with a 90 pesos ($5 USD) entrance fee, it’s also pretty inexpensive. For the best experience, I’d recommend going with a private guide, which also includes early access to beat the crowds! While you’re here, don’t miss the incredible Mystika Immersive experience right next door!
  • Have a beach day – With all the adventuring and exploring you’ll likely be doing on a day trip from Tulum, a lazy beach day is a perfect activity to relax! Tulum has some of the best beaches in Mexico. The closest beach to Tulum is Paradise Beach, and the name speaks for itself. You can rent lounge chairs here for $10 USD and enjoy the nearby restaurants.
  • Try a Temazcl ceremony – A fun and authentic way to experience Mayan culture is to try a Temazcl ceremony, which is a bit like a sauna where a shaman helps you rejuvenate and cleanse the body! I’ve tried one before in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala and had a blast. I’d recommend this Temazcal tour for Tulum, which offers both shared and private tours, great for bringing along friends for the journey.
  • Go ziplining – Traveling with kids? Or maybe you’re a big kid like us and still get a huge kick out of swinging through the trees? You’re never too old to let your hair down, and this 4-hour ziplining, rappelling, and cenote tour makes for an epic half-day out.

Related Read: Tulum is also an ideal spot to swim with turtles! Read about the best 5 tours to see turtles in Tulum.

Where to Stay in Tulum, Mexico

the pool at Hostel Che in Tulum, Mexico
The pool at Hostel Che. Photo Credit: Hostel Che Tulum

Now that you know about some of the best cenote tours in Tulum, you’re going to want to stay a while. After all, there’s so much to explore in Tulum, so we recommend staying at least a few days.

No matter what you’re looking for in a hotel, Tulum has it! There’s everything from affordable hostels to luxury hotels to glamping! These are some of the best places to stay in Tulum for any budget.

Luxury – $$$

Hotel Boutique TerraNova is one of the top-rated in all of Tulum. They haven’t cut any corners when it comes to comfort, and the staff is wonderful. All rooms are spacious and have air conditioning and a garden patio. There is an outdoor pool, and the hotel is located right in town.

It typically costs around $300 USD per night for a deluxe queen room. However, we’ve seen prices as low as $71 USD per night when you book in advance online.

Kan Tulum is actually built around its own private cenote! The rooms here are uniquely designed and feel almost like a jungle treehouse. Every room is huge with a private seating area and terraces to watch the sunset from. This sustainable property also has an outdoor pool, a bar, and a restaurant that can happily accommodate vegans. And although you feel completely immersed in nature, you’re super close to beaches and nightlife.

Rooms here cost around $300-400 USD per night and can be reserved on Booking.com.

Mid-range – $$

Aruma Boutique Hotel is just a few minutes walk from Tulum’s center and close to restaurants and shops. The breakfasts here are exceptional (there’s also espresso!), and the staff is super friendly. Plus, the rooftop pool and bar are so nice for relaxing after a day of exploring. Expect to pay around $50-100 USD per night, depending on when you’re visiting.

You can check prices and secure your spot at Aruma Boutique Hotel right here.

Hotel Blanco Tulum feels like a luxurious accommodation without the ridiculous price tag. For around $80 USD per night, you can get a deluxe double room with air conditioning and a balcony. The hotel is centrally located, so you can walk right into town. It also offers a rooftop and outdoor pool, as well as a hot tub!

For an upscale hotel at a great price, check availability and book Hotel Blanco Tulum right here.

Budget – $

Hostel Che Tulum prides itself on having a great social vibe and frequent events. They have a beautiful pool (and hot tub!) and an outdoor area to chill. The whole place is adults-only, and they have a bar, fully-equipped kitchen, large lockers, WiFi, and coworking space – so you really get all your needs met in one location. It’s also central, with cafes, restaurants, and minimarts just around the corner.

For only $19 USD a night, you can get a dorm bed in an air-conditioned room with breakfast included. Private rooms start around $95 USD. Easily book a stay on HostelWorld.com or Booking.com.

Oryx Hostel is just a few steps from downtown Tulum. Gardens surround the property, so you’ll feel like you’re staying in a tropical jungle. There are hammocks, a nice pool area, and fun activities like salsa dancing! Stays here are as cheap as $21 USD a night in a dorm room or around $82 USD for private rooms and can be booked on HostelWorld.com or Booking.com.

Related Read: Flying into Cancun? Here’s everything you need to know about getting from Cancun Airport to Tulum.

Renting a Car in Mexico

Bailey and Daniel take a selfie while driving around Mexico
A rental car means freedom to go to the beach whenever you want!

Undoubtedly, one of the best ways to get around Mexico is in a rental car. 

I struggled to get around by bus and taxi for the longest time. But after renting a car in Cancun in 2023, I never looked back. It allowed me to explore the country without worrying about tours or taxis. It was why I fell in love with Mexico and eventually decided to live here periodically. 

I refuse to use local services whenever I rent a car in Mexico. The truth is they sometimes can’t be trusted or come with hidden fees (or costly insurance that doesn’t make sense.) There are even rental car scams! So instead, I use Discover Cars, the company most experienced travelers or ex-pats in Mexico recommend. Read my honest review of Discover Cars here for more details!

The rates on Discover Cars are cheap, too, with the average rental costing around $25 USD per day. Full coverage insurance can be added for an extra $10 USD a day too. 

Driving in Mexico also only requires a driver’s license using the Roman alphabet. If yours uses another like Japan and China, you simply need an international driving permit. 

Insurance is required, but if you book with Discover Cars and get the full coverage, that’s all you need! Oh, and being over 18 is required, and if you’re over 25, your rental will be much cheaper! 

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie on a catamaran tour from Tulum, Mexico
Thanks for reading!

If you’re considering taking a cenote tour in Tulum, we say go for it! It’s a great way to see some of the best spots, and you won’t have to worry about any of the logistics. We absolutely loved snorkeling through these cenotes, and our guides shared interesting info about each one. And for a fun-filled morning or day, we highly recommend the tours on this list!

To learn more about Mexico, check out our other blogs here. We’ve traveled all over and fell in love with the country. After all, there are just so many gorgeous places to visit and fun things to do. To get started, you can click on one of the links below. Thanks for reading!

15 BEST Beaches in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

Things to Know BEFORE Going to Coco Bongo in Cancun

21 BEST Day Trips from Playa del Carmen