10 Cenotes to visit in Tulum Mexico (numbered 10-1 for worst to best)
by Mac Candee
Posted:Sunday, January 31, 2021
There are so many beautiful cenotes that you can see all around Mexico. And Tulum is no exception for having amazing cenotes both in and within a short driving distance. If you haven’t heard this term before, don’t worry, I hadn’t either! Turns out, they are mostly found here. According to Wikipedia, “a cenote is a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater.” But this rigid description doesn’t begin to illustrate just how beautiful some of them are. We spent our 31 days in Tulum exploring some of the best ones, and ultimately going to a total of ten. In this blog post, I will tell you all about each one, going in order from least favorite to the best in my opinion. Sometimes, when you do your research that can lead to higher expectations, that aren’t always met. This can lead to not enjoying a certain place as much. That’s why I want to provide you with a more unbiased opinion. I’ve included the pictures we took as well as the costs, so that you can make an educated decision on where to go. I’ve made sure to give you a detailed description of what they were like and what our experience with them was.
In general, you’ll pretty much always have fewer people in the morning, so try to get there right when it opens to avoid crowds. You’re not only going to see it in a better lighting, but you’ll feel like you have the cenote all to yourself. Some of the places on this list that are rated lower are ironically ones that we went to in midday, which can tell you just how much it influences your experience. If you have the place to yourself, you get this feeling of exclusivity, which makes it much more enjoyable. You can also take much better pictures! For example, when we went to Cenote Calavera, it was just us, so we managed to have a great time and take great photos. Around 3PM however, it got so crowded that it wasn’t at all fun anymore. I’m telling you this so that you can keep that in mind when you decide how to structure your trip. After all that said, it’s time we say a few words about the cenotes.
10. Cenote Multun-Ha
100 pesos ($5 USD)
This is the cenote I liked the least. That’s not to say it’s not beautiful, it just wasn’t my cup of tea. However, if you’re in the area, you can still pay it a visit. There’s a spiral staircase that brings you 4-5 floors down, where you have a pretty wide, relatively deep cenote to swim in. You can also rent life jackets. There’s a naturally installed light in there as well. The main problem I had with this point on our list, is it can get way too crowded. There are some ruins nearby, and when someone goes to get a guided tour, this is a spot the tour guide brings them. As you can imagine, it easily gets full of people. It was so jam packed that we couldn’t enjoy our time there at all. I wouldn’t recommend it, but I wanted to mention it so that if you visit Coba ruins, you can know what to expect if you happen to visit Multun as well.
9. Cenote Zacil-Ha
100 pesos ($5USD)
First off, I just want to say that this cenote actually ended up being a bit of a letdown in terms of what we were expecting. It’s a cool spot for families, with some man made pools. It almost seems like the cenote itself is manmade as well. Zacil-ha doesn’t give you that wilder, more in the nature experience you will get from some of the cenotes we talk about later on in this blog post. But, you can still enjoy yourself — you can get some food, hang out for a couple of hours, or even do zip line. It’s not as adventurous as it might sound, since you only slide for 3-4 seconds, but dropping from 10 feet into the cenote is pretty fun. It does cost 10 pesos for each use of the zipline. I would recommend you give it a try. You can also visit the gift shops. The reason I’ve ranked it so low, is because it’s not really what I expected when I went there, but that’s not to say it wasn’t enjoyable.
8. Cenote dos Ojos
350 pesos w/ guide ($17.5 USD)
This cenote is about 20 minutes north of Tulum, right on the main highway that leads to Cancun. I would recommend you bring an underwater flashlight, because some of the things you can do there require it. Otherwise, you would have to rent it. Anyways, when you are first entering into the cenote there are some places near the entrance where the light shines through beautifully that you can snag some amazing videos and pictures when you are snorkeling.
You can see Dos Ojos in two ways, one is paying a guide to show you the area, and two is going on your own. If you choose the second option, you can pay for the snorkel equipment or bring your own and enjoy the cenote by yourself. We chose the first way, because a local can lead you through some really cool passage ways and show you more hidden parts of the cenote which you can’t easily find otherwise. We also got to see a very interesting cave filled with bats thanks to our guide. Overall, it’s a pretty interesting experience, so if you have the time, check it out!
7. Cenote Azul
120 pesos ($6USD)
The next cenote on this list was about 30 minutes north of Tulum, Mexico, and it is a lovely place to see. You can also rent a life jacket here or get a bite to eat. There is a ledge off of which you can jump, the water is crystal clear, and you can see everything underneath it. The downside is that when we went, there was a lot of people there. This goes for most cenotes, since most of the visitors come at around the same time, and it can easily get jam-packed mid-day. That was the case with us, the crowdedness really took away from the natural beauty around us. You can’t take that many good photos, because there are just way too many people around you. It was still incredible to see, so I believe if you went earlier during the day, you will have a much better experience than us. Even so, the snorkeling and swimming there was surreal. It’s a very beautiful family-friendly place, and there are many things to do. It has some small caves you can free dive in, 7-8 feet down, and swim through some tighter passage ways. Even with all the visitors, it’s still a great spot to check out.
6. Cenote Cristalino
150 pesos ($7.5USD)
This cenote was about 30 minutes away from Tulum. It’s a very nice spot that doesn’t get too crowded. We went around noon, and there were only two or three families beside us. There was a bit of rain, so that might have contributed to the fact that there was fewer people, but it’s still a very nice spot. There was a 15-foot ledge you can jump off, which was really fun. You can swim through some exciting underwater caves, which I personally enjoyed a lot. I would recommend being careful when doing that, but you only need to hold your breath for about 15 seconds to go through these caves. If this seems like something you’re not comfortable with, opt out of it, there are many other things you can do that are just as fun. Overall, it’s a very cool spot to check out, so if you have the time, definitely pay it a visit.
5. Cenote Suytun
120 pesos ($6 USD)
This is the second cenote we went to, and the time to get there is around 1 hour 30 minutes away from Tulum. It’s a good option to explore if you’re going to go to Chichen Itza or Valladolid. It’s pretty close to the location where the cenote is. The area itself is very authentic and enjoyable, so it’s definitely worth a visit. You can actually enjoy this cenote even when it rains, because it’s hidden inside a cave. As for the cenote, there is hole at the top, where light shines through. It’s incredibly beautiful, so I recommend you make the time to visit it. It’s a great spot to get some stunning photos, both up top and when the water levels are lower.
4. Casa Cenote
2.000 pesos ($100 USD)
This is probably the most expensive one on the list, but there is a reason behind this. It’s actually a very big cenote, so there is a couple of possibilities for exploring it. You can either snorkel for about $35, or you can scuba dive for $100. I went with the second option, and it was my first time scuba diving, so I was really excited about that. It wasn’t that deep, so we didn’t need any certification to be able to do it. They gave us a training beforehand, but it isn’t as risky as diving can sometimes be. I had an incredible time swimming there, and I got to see the exotic fish that live in the water. The locals said that there’s even a crocodile — that is apparently friendly with humans. We weren’t able to see it, but they say it sometimes comes out to swim. No matter which option you prefer, this is a great spot to check out, just be prepared to pay a bit more than the other ones.
3. Cenote Gran Cenote
300 pesos ($15 USD)
This one is about a 25-minute bike ride from the city center. The bike ride there can be a bit dangerous, because there is no sidewalk, and you’ll be using the main roads. You can check for some alternatives for transportation, but there is a place where you can lock your bike at the cenote. Personally, I would recommend purchasing snorkel gearoff Amazon, because this can save you money. Even if the snorkel rental fee is just $2-4 per cenote, if you’re planning on taking on multiple cenotes, it can add up quickly. By the way, you can’t bring a drone, a full-size camera, or even a phone stabilizer, but you can bring a GoPro and your phone in a waterproof case, so just keep that in mind. Other than that, it’s a very beautiful place — you can see turtles swimming with you in the cenote which was one of my favorite parts. There are caves which connect the various areas of the cenote together and the water is crystal clear so you can see everything clearly when snorkeling around.
2. Cenote Ik Kil
150 pesos ($7.5 USD)
This cenote can sometimes get really busy with people, but when I was visiting, it was pretty empty because of COVID-19. I’ve only ever seen it get crowded midday. Luckily, when we went there, we had it mostly to ourselves. It was about 150 feet deep, and there’s quite a few different spots to take stunning photos with the vines that wrap around. It’s a fascinating place for sure. There’s a stairway that leads down to where you need to go. It feels a bit more commercialized than others just because of the gift shops there, but it’s an amazing experience nonetheless. You have to wear a life jacket at all times, but they are flexible if you want to take a photo jumping in — you just need to keep your personal flotation device near you. It’s definitely worth checking out, and it’s near Chichen Itza, so you can visit it on the way.
1. Cenote Calavera
250 pesos ($12.5 USD)
This was one of the more expensive cenotes. I heard that you can get in for 100 pesos, but when we tried to negotiate, it wouldn’t work. Still, it’s actually my favorite for many reasons. I have to mention first that you shouldn’t expect it to be too big — it’s actually on the smaller side. But it’s unique nonetheless, there are actually two small holes and one large hole that are right above the water. They are about 3-4 feet in diameter, and you can jump right through them into the cenote. For the larger one, there is a rope swing you can use to take some amazing photos. It’s really fun, but definitely be safe jumping through the holes. I also would advise against it if you’re not that good at jumping in general, since you can hurt yourself — it’s a pretty small hole you’re jumping through. That said, it’s super fun! The cenote is very deep, and sometimes there are people scuba diving in it. The beautiful rays of sunlight coming in from the holes make it a magical experience. It was my favorite one just because of how great the layout was, and how enjoyable the whole experience was.
Thank you for taking a trip with me to Tulum’s fascinating cenotes! Please let me know in the comments if you’ve ever seen any of them and what you think about them. I hope you find this article helpful and I wish you happy travels!
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