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Tulum is a little piece of paradise in Mexico with soft, sandy shores and salty air. It sits along the Yucatan Peninsula, one of the most beautiful spots in Mexico. Tulum is located about an hour from Playa del Carmen and two hours from Cancun and believe me, the trip is worth it! One of the absolute best things to do in Tulum is to visit one (or more!) of the nearby cenotes.
A cenote (pronounced Se-No-Tay) is a naturally formed pool of water that occurs in limestone rock. Basically, an underground cave collapses and the water underneath rushes in to fill it. It’s like a sinkhole or cavern with a natural swimming pool inside. Cenotes are stunning to visit and even more amazing to actually swim in!
And the best part? Some of the best cenotes in all of Mexico are right around Tulum! However, with so many cenotes to see, it can be hard to know which ones to visit.
I’ve been lucky enough to visit many of the cenotes in Tulum, and want to share my 18 favorite Tulum cenotes with you so you can plan your own trip to these natural wonders.
Getting to Cenotes in Tulum
Once you’ve decided to visit some of the cenotes around Tulum, you need to decide how to get there.
By far, our favorite option is renting a car. This gives you the most freedom to spend as much or as little time at a specific cenote. You can set your own agenda and pick the spots you really want to see. A lot of the cenotes are close together, so it makes it easy to go between them when you’re driving yourself.
Another good choice is getting to some of the cenotes by taxi. You can easily pick a couple of cenotes close to town (continue reading below to find the closest cenotes to Tulum) so it won’t be too expensive of a ride.
Public transportation is another budget-friendly option but takes a little more research. You’ll need to figure out what bus stop is closest to the cenote you want to see and you still may need to take a taxi from where the bus drops you off to get closer to the cenote.
To have all the details including transportation taken care of, we recommend going the guided tour route. This specific cenote tour takes you to three different cenotes around Tulum. You’ll get the chance to free-dive, snorkel, and cliff-jump in Casa Cenote, Gran Cenote, and The Temple of Doom. It’s $116 USD per person and includes all the gear and transportation you’ll need.
Best Cenotes in Tulum
1. Cenote Calavera
Also known as the Skull Cenote or Temple of Doom, Cenote Calavera is one of the closest cenotes to Tulum and the first you’ll find on road from Tulum to Coba. Cenote Calavera is located along Highway 109 and is about 5 minutes from downtown Tulum. There’s a gravel parking lot here and it’s a pretty quick walk from where you park to the cenote.
What makes Cenote Calavera special is the dramatic entrance you’ll have – you need to jump off a cliff to get in! I mean, there is a ladder (and you’ll need that to get out), but jumping in is the best part. There are three different spots to jump in with holes on the roof of the cave above the water – some people say it looks a bit like a skull, hence its name (“Calavera” means skull in Spanish.)
Once you’re in, you’re swimming the whole time, so make sure you’re a strong swimmer or use a life jacket. The cenote is about 15-20 feet (5-6 meters) deep. This is also a really popular diving spot and if you scuba here, you’ll see animal bones and ancient pottery below the surface. A few years ago we actually did scuba diving here and while it was a little intimidating (it’s dark down there!) it was a super unique experience.
Cenote Calavera has an entrance fee of 250 pesos ($12 USD). This is a bit more expensive compared to other cenotes, but still reasonable for the experience you’re going to get. It is a popular spot for tourists, so it can get crowded.
However, I didn’t mind the chance to meet other travelers here. I found it fun to have others cheering me on when I was hesitant to jump into the cenote. If you choose to jump in (like I eventually did!) make sure you’re careful that no one is swimming underneath and that you have enough room.
Because of this cenote’s popularity, many facilities are available here. These include clean restrooms, a picnic area, a place to buy snacks and drinks, and get life jackets.
Cenote Calavera is open from 9 am to 5 pm and you should plan to spend 1 to 2 hours here at least.
2. Cenote Zacil-Ha
Cenote Zacil-Ha is an open-air cenote that looks like someone built a swimming pool in the middle of the forest! The crystal clear waters here make it a picturesque spot and a perfect place to spend your afternoon. Cenote Zacil-Ha is located on the Highway going to Coba about 5.2 miles (8.5 kms) from Tulum or less than a 15-minute drive. The ease of access makes it one of the best cenotes in Tulum to visit.
While it can get busier here, this tends to be a quieter cenote if you’re here earlier in the day. There are also two swimming pools here you can use if the cenote gets crowded or if you have kids with you.
The entrance fee for the cenote is 200 pesos (about $10 USD), which has gone up a lot from my first visit a few years ago. The entrance fee also includes life jackets if you need one.
One of the highlights of this cenote is the fun zipline you can try! It’s 10 pesos (.50 USD) each time and you’ll drop right into the center of the cenote.
The cenote itself is surrounded by a forested area (so bring mosquito repellent!) and keep an eye out for some spectacular birds around you. Cenote Zacil-Ha is open from 10 am to 6 pm daily.
3. Cenote Dos Ojos
Dos Ojos should be your pick if you want to go diving in a cenote! Known as the most popular diving area in the region, there are incredible rock formations here to explore and the crystal clear water makes it easy to navigate around and see everything. It’s recently been designated as the world’s longest underground cavern!
Cenote Dos Ojos is located about 30 minutes from Tulum, just off the highway to Playa del Carmen. The entrance fee is 350 pesos ($18 USD), which includes a rented lifejacket, parking, and permission to swim and snorkel in all areas except the underwater caves. You can bring your own snorkel gear or rent it here for an additional 100 pesos.
If you want to dive here, which is why most people come, you’ll need to be accompanied by a professional diver and have your certification already.
For a tour including transportation, this Dos Ojos Caven Dive tour includes two 45-minute dives. You’ll see incredible stalactites, stalagmites, and columns and get a chance to surface partway through a dive in The Bat Cave to see hundreds of bats on an open-air dome.
While the cenote is a well-known spot, it doesn’t feel too crowded since there are so many different areas to explore. In fact, when we last visited, we went first thing in the morning and had certain areas completely to ourselves! The cenote is open from 8 am until 5 pm.
4. Gran Cenote
Swim with turtles and watch bats above at the Gran Cenote. This is not just an excellent spot for snorkeling and swimming but a nice place to relax and dry off on the surrounding lawns. It’s located only 3 miles (5 kms) from Tulum, so it’s an easy drive or taxi ride.
What’s great about Gran Cenote is that it has both shallow and deep areas, so you can wade in it – making it great for kids or if you’re not a confident swimmer. Most of the cenote’s floor is soft sand as well so it’s nice to walk on and doesn’t cut your feet! With that said, there are parts of the cenote with lots of rocks.
Gran Cenote is awesome for cave diving and actually connects to one of the largest cave systems in the world. Many of the caves and tunnels here aren’t fully submerged, so you can get through and explore by swimming or snorkeling. While snorkeling in the deeper areas, you will be able to see the underwater wildlife and unique walls of the cenote with many bats flying above you in the caves!
The entrance fee is 500 pesos ($25 USD) and includes a lifejacket which you have to use as parts of this cenote do get deep.
This is one of the most popular cenotes near Tulum, so expect it to be busy. I find you can avoid the crowds if you go first thing in the morning on a weekday. It opens at 8:10 am, so be there at 8 am or just before and you’ll enjoy a more relaxing swim. The cenote closes at 4:45 pm with the last entry at 4:15 pm.
Related read: Another beautiful spot for snorkeling nearby is at Playa El Cielo. This secluded beach is one of the best places to visit on the island of Cozumel.
5. Cenote Car Wash
No, that is not the official name of the cenote – it is Cenote Aktun Ha – but the nickname stuck as this used to be a popular spot for taxi drivers to wash their cars. Now, Cenote Car Wash is a quiet place to escape the crowds and swim or dive surrounded by lush greenery. In fact, if you come in the mornings, you may have the entire place to yourself!
Cenote Aktun Ha is located only 5.5 miles (9 kms) away from Tulum on Highway 109. It’s really close (like across the street close) to Cenote Zacil-Ha and is only 2.5 miles (4 kms) from Gran Cenote. This makes it a great cenote to combine with others in the area so you can spend the day visiting cenotes without traveling too far.
The entrance fee of this underrated cenote is only 200 pesos ($10 USD) per person. It is an open-air cenote with a breathtaking underwater garden, a diving platform, and plenty of wildlife all around you. These include freshwater fish, plenty of turtles, cichlids, and even some tiny (and friendly!) freshwater crocodiles.
The depth of the cenote ranges from 12-21 feet but does get deeper at close to 50 feet or more in the underground caves. Cenote Car Wash is open daily from 8 am to 5 pm.
6. Casa Cenote
Not all cenotes are the same, and Case Cenote is one of the more unique ones. Instead of an underground cave, Casa Cenote is long and winding through trees and mangroves. It feels like a hidden river in the jungle! It’s a good spot for swimming and you can even rent a kayak here to glide across the cenote’s waters.
Casa Cenote is located 20 minutes outside Tulum on the way to Playa del Carmen. Once you arrive, admission is 150 pesos ($7.50 USD) and kayaks are an additional 100 pesos ($5 USD). There are also lifejackets here and it’s a good idea to grab one as the current in this cenote can get strong.
Snorkeling is popular here and I recommend bringing your own gear if you can to avoid the higher rental fees. You’re likely to see lots of fish and the one freshwater crocodile that hangs out here and doesn’t bother anyone!
There are also underwater caves that connect right to the ocean, making this a good diving spot. Because it’s so close to the ocean, you can also visit the beach that’s close by if you want to spend a bit more time here.
Casa Cenote is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily. While this is a well-known cenote, it isn’t nearly as popular as some of the others in the area. We recommend it as one of the best cenotes in Tulum because of the mangroves – it’s something you won’t see at many other nearby cenotes.
7. Cenotes Casa Tortuga Tulum
If one cenote just isn’t enough, come to Cenotes Casa Tortuga Tulum to see four cenotes in the same place! There are two open-air cenotes and two cenotes inside caverns to explore. Plus there’s a fun zipline and a restaurant for lunch. Admission here starts at 650 pesos ($32 USD) and increases in price if you want to add on ziplining or food options.
This group of cenotes is located only 15 minutes from Tulum along Highway 307. The cenotes here vary in depth from 3-26 feet (1-8 meters) and you’ll love the brilliant jade-green waters where you can see all the way to the bottom. Make sure to check out the Wisho Cenote’s secret passageway where you can see fossils and some of the bats who call these caverns home.
You can just show up and pay for everything once you arrive (make sure to have enough pesos on hand) or go the tour route. This guided tour of Casa Tortuga includes all four cenotes as well as transportation and snorkeling equipment. If you’re short on time, but want a fun cenote experience, this is the way to go. Plus, it’s only $65 USD per person.
Related read: If more day trips from Tulum are on your agenda, don’t miss heading to the nearby beautiful town of Bacalar, Mexico.
8. Cenote Yax-kin
Cenote Yax-Kin is a hidden gem popular among locals. This cenote has a nice shallow area for kids to play in and the water is warmer than other cenotes – so it’s one of the best cenotes in Tulum for families to visit.
If you’re driving here, Cenote Yax-Kin is located about 15 minutes from Tulum and just down the highway (about 3 minutes) from Cenotes Casa Tortuga Tulum. Yax-Kin means “New Sun” in the Mayan language and this spot on a sunny day is gorgeous.
Yax-Kin isn’t typically busy, so coming first thing in the morning or about an hour before closing means you could be one of the only people here. This is also an excellent place for pictures – look for the swing and cute bridge over the water for good Instagram shots.
The entrance fee here is 120 pesos ($6 USD) and you’ll have access to the cenote as well as the picnic and grilling area. Make sure you bring your own lifejacket or snorkeling equipment as there aren’t typically rentals offered here.
9. Cenote Azul
If turquoise-blue waters in a large open-air cenote sound like paradise, head to Cenote Azul. This is one of the bigger cenotes located on the Riviera Maya and apparently one of the largest in all of Mexico! The cenote here is divided into two places to swim with a wooden boardwalk between them.
Located about 30 minutes from Tulum and close to Puerto Aventuras, Cenote Azul looks like a giant natural swimming pool. It’s great for families because it has both shallow and deep sections.
There’s also a cliff you can jump off of if you’re feeling adventurous! Or, just hang out or jump off the deck into the refreshing water.
Because Cenote Azul is a popular spot, you’ll find lots of facilities here including bathrooms, lockers, a snack bar, and even a shop to buy food to feed the fish. The entrance fee is 140 pesos ($7 USD), which is really reasonable. It’s open daily from 8:30 am to 5 pm and you can avoid the crowds easily by visiting on a weekday.
Related read: Swimming in cenotes is also one of the most popular things to do in Puerto Morelos!
10. Cenote Cristalino
For crystal-clear waters, a cave you can swim through, and really cool rock formations under the water, head to Cenote Cristalino. It’s located at around the halfway point between Tulum and Playa del Carmen on the main highway. It’s also a great day trip from Cancun as it’s only an hour from Cancun’s popular hotel zone.
Once you’re here, you can walk to other cenotes like Cenote Azul and Cenote Jardin Del Eden, so you can visit a few on the same day if you come here.
For me, the highlight is swimming through the tunnel-like cave to check out the stalactites on the top and enjoy the water. For a thrill, you can jump off a ledge into the main cenote that’s about 12 feet (3.5 meters) high.
If you’re up for a bit of exploring, there’s also a more secluded and hidden cenote near the back of the property. For a free pedicure, dip your feet into some of the shallow ponds, and tiny fish will come and give you a spa day!
Entrance fees here are 200 pesos ($10 USD) per person and Cenote Cristalino is open every day from 8 am to 6 pm. One thing to note is that this is a popular spot for locals and tourists, so it can feel a bit crowded on weekends.
11. Cenote Caracol
Cenote Caracol is considered one of the most mysterious and mesmerizing cenotes and is so different from the others. This cenote is in an underground cave, so you’ll be swimming in the dark with only some light filtering in and illuminating the stalactites hanging from the ceiling. It’s part of the Sac Actun Cave System, one of the world’s largest cave systems.
Getting here is a bit more off the beaten path. Cenote Caracol is located about 30 minutes from Tulum, but you’ll need to turn off the main highway onto a dirt access road. It’s typically pretty bumpy and in the wet season, you’ll need an SUV. Because it isn’t as easy to get to, it isn’t nearly as busy!
Expect to see fish and lots of bats when you’re here. A plus is that all the bats keep the mosquitoes away, so you don’t need to worry about that while you’re swimming.
It’s 300 pesos ($15 USD) for admission, but parking is free. You can come any day of the week from 8 am to 5 pm.
Hot Tip: Because of its remote location, it’s best to rent a car to visit Cenote Caracol!
12. Cenote Santa Cruz Tulum
Cenote Santa Cruz Tulum is one of those hidden gems if you’re looking for a relaxing afternoon. It’s an open-air cenote, so it’s like a large swimming pool with gorgeous blue water. The cenote has a little rock island in the middle that you can swim around.
Make sure you’re going to the right cenote as there are several with the same name., Cenote Santa Cruz Tulum is located 10 minutes north of Tulum. What’s great about this cenote is you can visit even on the weekend and it won’t be packed!
The entrance fee is around 250-300 pesos (about $15 USD), but you can easily spend an afternoon or morning here. There’s even a nice little restaurant to grab some food and drinks at. Other facilities include washrooms, changing rooms, and a picnic area.
13. Cenote Ik Kil
Cenote Ik Kil is a cenote deep in the ground where the cave ceiling has collapsed, leaving it completely open to the sky. There are long vines and tree roots that cascade into the water from the top creating this magical atmosphere that is a must-see. It’s a unique feature that not many cenotes have.
This cenote requires more of a road trip, but it’s totally worth it. Cenote Ik-Kil is located two hours from Tulum, but only five minutes from Chichen Itza. This astonishing Mayan ruin features an incredible pyramid structure and is one of the Seven Wonders of the World! I recommend staying nearby so you can see both this amazing cenote and the ruins easily and get there early before crowds arrive later in the day.
Cenote Ik Kil is an EXTREMELY deep cenote – both in terms of how far into the ground it is and then how deep the water is. The surface of the water starts at 80 feet (25 meters) below ground level and then the water itself is 160 feet (50 meters) deep! If you’re not a confident swimmer, a life jacket here is a must.
Once you arrive, you’ll have to take the stairs down to the cenote as you can’t jump from the top of this one. There are a couple of really great viewing points to pause at along the staircase, so bring your camera!
The entry is 100 pesos ($5 USD) per person and there are also two restaurants on-site. It’s open daily from 9 am to 5 pm and you should come right when it opens to avoid the crowds.
Hot Tip: When we last visited Cenote Ik Kil, we stayed at Hotel Doralba just across the road so that we could easily walk over first thing as soon as they opened. We beat all of the tour groups here and pretty much had the whole place to ourselves!
Related read: If you’re going to the nearby Mayan ruins, don’t miss seeing Chichen Itza at night! The light show here (projected on the side of the pyramid!) is incredible.
14. Cenote Zemway
Cenote Zemway is one of the newest cenotes in the area, opening in 2021 so it’s not as well-known yet. It’s a large open-air style cenote surrounded by towering cliffs. It feels a bit like swimming in a bowl!
It’s surrounded by the jungle, so you’ll see lots of birds and even butterflies while you’re here. You can jump off the cliffs into the water (about an 18-foot drop!) or there’s a fun rope swing to try out.
Getting here isn’t too complicated as Cenote Zemway is located about 15 minutes from Tulum and about 8 minutes from Gran Cenote. Admission is 250 pesos ($12.50 USD) and the cenote is open from 9 am to 5 pm every day but closed on Saturdays.
15. Cenote Corazón del Paraíso
Cenote Corazón del Paraíso, also widely known as Cenote Corazon, is a beautiful cenote near Tulum. True to its name (“corazon” means heart in Spanish), the water here is in a large natural pool that is shaped like a heart. It’s an especially romantic place to visit if you’re on your honeymoon in Mexico!
The cenote here is surrounded by wooden platforms that you can sit on and relax or jump off of the little dock here. It’s located about 8 minutes from Tulum, so an easy day trip to make and one of the best things to do in Tulum.
You’ll love swimming here with the gentle sounds of the jungle around you and all the little fish in the water. This is a great spot to snorkel! Plus, once you work up an appetite, there are stands selling fresh fruit and tacos!
The entrance fee is 150 pesos ($7.50 USD) and it’s open daily from 9 am to 5 pm.
16. Cenote Jardin Del Eden
Cenote Jardin Del Eden is a huge cenote that’s really deep (50 feet or 15 meters in places!) that’s perfect for swimming, snorkeling, or scuba diving. The open-air swimming hole is surrounded by lush greenery and dark, turquoise water that is so clear you can see the bottom!
To get here, head out on the highway toward Playa Del Carmen, and Cenote Jarden Del Eden is located about 30 minutes from Tulum. It’s also really close to Cenote Azul and Cenote Cristalino, so it’s easy to combine this spot with a visit to one of those two.
Once you’re here, there are multiple ledges to jump off of or if you’re feeling brave, climb up even higher and jump off a tree branch! The tree extends right over the swimming hole and is the highest point to jump from.
If you choose to snorkel here, there are lots of fish to see and you may even spot a few blue crabs. Some of the tiny fish also like to nibble on your feet (don’t worry, it just tickles!) if you sit on the shallow rocks to rest. Scuba diving is also popular as Cenote Eden connects up to an underwater cave network. If you look closely, you may even see the scuba divers swimming below you!
The entry fee is 200 pesos ($10 USD) for adults and like most cenotes, they only accept cash. The cenote is open 9 am to 5 pm daily but is closed on Saturdays.
17. Cenote Xcan ché
Combining history and natural beauty, Cenote Xcan ché is inside the Maya site of Ek Balam, so it’s sometimes referred to as Cenote Ek Balam. You can see the ruins nearby (considered the younger brother of Chichen Itza) and then cool off with a swim in the cenote.
The cenote and the archaeological site are located about 1 hour and 45 minutes from Tulum. You can visit Cenote Xcan ché without visiting the nearby ruins, although it’s nice to do both while you’re here.
Entrance to the cenote costs around 70 pesos ($3.50 USD), but an upgraded ticket that includes fun activities like ziplines, rappeling into the cenote and a bike rental is only 400 pesos ($20 USD). You’ll need the bike to get down the dirt road to the cenote and it’s much faster than walking the approximately 1 mile (1.5 km) path.
While you’re here you can use the rope swing for free or jump off the cliffs surrounding the cenote. There’s also a dedicated jumping platform about 9 feet (2.5 meters) above the water.
If you want to spend the night here, camping is allowed at the nearby campground if you have your own tent. Otherwise, there are cabanas to rent.
18. Cenote Suytun
For one of the most memorable photos of your time in Mexico that you’ll want to frame, visit Cenote Suytun. This underground cenote is famous for the sunbeams that stream in from the hole in the cave roof illuminating a viewing platform you can walk out onto. It truly doesn’t look real!
Cenote Suytun is located about 1 hour and 15 minutes from Tulum, just outside of Valladolid. While mornings are best to avoid the crowds, to see the incredible sunlight coming through the roof, you’ll want to plan for a later morning or early afternoon visit.
The photo you’ll want to capture is walking down the narrow stone pathway to stand on the circular platform in the middle of the cave with the water all around you. There’s usually a bit of a wait to get the photo, but lifeguards help keep everyone moving quickly so you’ll get that shot.
The entrance fee here is 150 pesos ($7.50 USD) and includes a lifejacket rental as those are mandatory for swimming. The cenote is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily.
Where to Stay in Tulum, Mexico
Now that you know about some of the best cenotes in and around Tulum, you’re going to want to stay a while. There’s no way to see them all in one day, so plan to stay a few days in the area if you can. 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.
Hostels in Tulum – $
Hostel Che Tulum – This hostel prides itself on having a great social vibe. They have a beautiful pool and a central location. For only $15 USD a night you can get a dorm bed in an air-conditioned room with breakfast included. Easily book a stay on HostelWorld.com or Booking.com.
Oryx Hostel – 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 and a nice pool area and fun activities like salsa dancing! Stays here are as cheap as $11 USD a night in a dorm room or around $40 USD for private rooms and can be booked on HostelWorld.com or Booking.com.
Budget-friendly hotels in Tulum – $$
Caribeña – For a hotel only a few minutes’ walk from Tulum’s center and close to restaurants and shops, this is it. The breakfasts here are exceptional and the staff is super friendly. Plus, the private balconies are so nice to relax on after a day of exploring. Expect to pay around $50-100 USD per night depending on when you’re visiting.
Joy Tulum Adults Hotel – For those looking for some peace and quiet in Tulum this is the place. No kids are allowed and a location slightly out of town makes for a quiet getaway. The outdoor pool is located among the trees. For $30-40 USD, you’ll get an entire double bungalow with a fan and included breakfast.
Hotel Blanco Tulum – This hotel is luxurious without the ridiculous price tag. For around $60-80 USD per night, you can get a deluxe double room with air conditioning and a balcony. The hotel is centrally located and offers an outdoor pool as well as a hot tub!
Luxury Hotels in Tulum – $$$
Hotel Boutique TerraNova – This boutique hotel 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.
Kan Tulum – This hotel 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. You’re close to beaches and nightlife and rooms here cost around $300-400 USD per night.
Related Read: Check out the best restaurants in Tulum while you’re here!
Thanks for reading!
While there are thousands of cenotes around the Yucatan Peninsula, Tulum is home to some pretty special ones. Hopefully, our list has helped you narrow down which ones to visit. Each cenote is uniquely special and no matter where you decide to go, I’m sure it will be memorable.
As you plan your trip, have a look at our other Mexico blogs for lots of vacation and travel inspiration. If you have any questions about our favorite cenotes or traveling to Mexico, please reach out and we’ll be happy to help.