The Best Cenotes You Should Visit In Tulum

When it comes to natural beauty, Mexico and its many provinces are full of a wide range of environmental and geological features.

The Best Cenotes You Should Visit In Tulum

Even just the municipality of Tulum alone is full of outstanding sights to see, from the old Archaeological site of the old Mayan settlement that the nearby town is named after to the mangroves and reefs along its coastlines

Perhaps one of the most incredible and jaw-dropping features that you can find is Cenotes.

This guide will show you the best cenotes that you can find in the municipality of Tulum, along the Caribbean coast of Mexico.

What Are Cenotes?

Before we get any further into this topic, however, there may be some people that aren’t exactly sure what a cenote even is in the first place.

To put it simply, cenotes are natural pits or sinkholes that contain groundwater and form underground, and where the limestone collapses to reveal the sinkhole underneath.

In the most dramatic of cases, these cenote groundwater pools can be massive, forming large networks of underground waterways and pools.

The term cenote originally came from the Yucatec Maya word ts’onot, which referred to any source of groundwater.

The word has since drifted, both in spelling and in meaning, to specifically mean any sinkhole that has a body of groundwater in it.

While originally being from the Yucatán peninsula, the word is now used across Mexico, as well as other parts of Latin America, too.

Now, on to the part that you have all been waiting for!

El Gran Cenote

Starting with one of the most popular cenotes to visit in the area, we have El Gran, found just a few kilometers away from the old Mayan city of Coba.

So, if you feel like you need to cool off after a long day at an archaeological site, or just feel like relaxing in a cool underground pool for the day, this is one of THE places to go in Tulum.

The cenote is an open cenote, meaning that a good chunk of the pooled groundwater is found above ground. However, the cenote leads to several underground cave networks that snake underneath the landscape, giving you a true cave-going experience.

The caves around El Gran are also home to several animal species, so you are required to wash beforehand before going into the water, to avoid contaminating the water.

(Get used to that procedure with a lot of these cenotes. After all, you are technically stepping into their home, so it pays to be polite!)

Cenotes Dos Ojo

Dos Ojo might be one of the most impressive cenotes on this list.

From the service, it may just look like two smaller cenotes, but once you make your way under the surface, you’ll find that they are a part of the same system.

The name ‘Dos Ojo’ means ‘two eyes’ in Spanish!

While this cenote is technically part of a much wider network of cenotes in the area (a pattern that we’ll see come up a few times in this list), each one has different prerequisites.

The two major cenotes that makeup Dos Ojo, the ‘Blue Eye’ (named for its open blue waters), which is an open cenote open to all swimmers and snorkelers, and the ‘Black Eye’ (for its pitch-black darkness and distinct cave features), for which you’ll need a guide to go into (as well as a flashlight)!

The two open cenotes are perfect for snorkelers and all swimmers, as we’ve said, but the darker cave system cenotes can be a great spot for experienced scuba tours, provided that you are experienced enough.

Worth checking out if you’ve got the time and experience (as well as the Pesos!)

Cenote Calavera

Cenote Calavera

Don’t let the ‘Temple of Doom’ nickname throw you off from this site.

This cenote might be one of the best when it comes to diving opportunities!

This particular cenote was considered a pretty overlooked site until a few years ago when people started to realize the photo opportunities that this place provided!

These days, it might just be one of the busiest cenotes in Tulum!

There are ladders for getting in and out of the cenote, as well as a swing for those perfect Instagram photos for your page!

If you’re as much of a sucker for a good photo op as we are, then this is an absolute must for you to take a peek at!

Cenote Carwash

This particular cenote got its name from the fact that, before it was a tourist attraction, this groundwater source was used for just that: Washing cars!

Don’t worry about swimming in car debris, however.

The old automobiles have long since been removed, and this cenote is now a tourist and natural hotspot, filled with fish and turtles for you to marvel at and swim alongside!

The cenote carwash reaches depths of up to 50 feet in some areas.

So, if you have a little diving experience, you’ll find an underwater world of opportunities waiting for you here!

Cenote Zacil Ha

If you’re the kind of person that loves to stumble on natural beauty as you’re on your next hiking adventure, then this is the cenote that you should be visiting.

This particular sinkhole is a little off the beaten path, so reaching it could be a little tricky for people with mobility issues.

However, if you can make the journey, then the cenote that will be at the end of that hike will be worth it!

Despite being located right next to the Carwash cenote we covered in the last entry, this particular cenote was only discovered around 30 years ago, making it a pretty recent find when compared to some of these other entries.

This underground system is peppered with stalactites that hang down from the roof of the cave, as well as a zip line that allows you to rush across the top of the water.

While it’s not the most ideal for snorkeling if you’re looking for a great place to have fun in the water and under the ground, look no further for an amazing day out!

Cenote Sac Actun

One of the many sinkholes that can be found in the Dos Ojos park, one of the cenotes we have already touched on, Sac Actun is another spot of watery natural beauty that can be found in this particular nook of Tulum.

Sac Actun, as well as the next set of cenotes, are all part of the same wider network or groups of cenotes in the area.

Sac Actun has been the home of human and consumed animal remains for the past 10,000 and older, making this cenote and the surrounding cave system one of the oldest inhabited human sites in the area.

And with a natural beauty spot like this, it is not hard to see why.

So if you find that one of these sinkholes is a little too busy, all you have to do is check one of the others nearby, and see if there’s a little more freedom to move around.

Cenote El Pit

As we’ve already mentioned, El Pit cenote is part of a wider network of sinkholes that are dotted across Dos Ojos park, including Sac Actun and Nicte-ha.

El pit gets its name from its appropriately deep network and pools of groundwater.

El Pit might just be one of the deepest sinkholes that you’ll find in the Yucatán peninsula.

El Pit, indeed!

Cenote Nicte-Ha

Cenote Nicte-Ha

If you’re looking for natural beauty, you’re pretty spoiled for choice in the Dos Ojo part, it turns out!

However, if you had to ask us, Nicte-Ha might just be one of the 

Probably the stand-out feature that you’ll find at Nicte-Ha is the lily pads that grow across the pond.

They lend this little sinkhole a kind of natural and above-ground beauty that sets it apart from many of the others on this list, including its sister cenotes.

Cenote Yax Kin

Many of the cenotes that we have covered in this list are spots of incredible beauty and should be on everyone’s to-do list when they visit Yucatan and Tulum.

However, one of the things that you may have noticed while looking at this list is the fact that many of these sinkholes are deep. Very deep. Nature doesn’t come with a building code, after all!

This means that finding a cenote that is safe for kids to explore, while not impossible, can be a tricky job to handle.

That is why Yax Kin should be the place to go if you want your kids to splash around in a cenote without having to worry if it is too deep for them.

This particular water hole is a great place to find some peace and quiet on your busy Mexican holiday.

Plus, with plenty of shallows for your kids to paddle in, it’s also a great place for them to explore as well.

There’s even a spot for overnight camping if you feel like hanging around this cenote for a little while longer!

Cenote Angelita

Of course, their unpredictability and deepness are often what makes so many cenotes such an enticing place to explore.

So, if you’re more into the exploration of these expansive underwater spaces, tomb raider-style, then you need to get yourself over to Angelita.

The top of the cenote, while still beautiful, is rather unremarkable, as far as other cenotes go on this list.

The real surprise is what lies underneath its inconspicuous surface.

This cenote goes to a depth of almost 200 feet deep in some places, making this the perfect water spot for experienced divers to explore for themselves.

Not only that, but the water is so deep, that you can visually see the salinity of the water change as you go through the cave.

The only thing that we would point out is that the cave does smell a little like eggs, thanks to the bacteria and minerals that can be found in these caves and water systems.

Other than that, just hold your breath, and dive in!

Jardin Del Eden Cenote

Moving away from the more cave-like and deeper cenotes, we have this luscious and beautiful open sinkhole spot in Xpu Ha, just northeast of Tulum.

Jardin del Eden is known for its flat center that houses a collection of shallow rocks that make for the perfect bathing spot, with the shallow water lightly lapping to keep you cool in the hottest part of the day.

And for those people that still love a classic diving spot in your watering hole, there is still a cliff to one side with the perfect diving spot to try out!

Plus, there are also plenty of amenities around the cenote, from life jacket rentals, restrooms, and even a small snack bar on-site!

Casa Cenote

If you have driven along the highway between Tulum and Playa Del Carmen, you may have spotted a little beaten path that seemingly leads away from the road, wondering what it is or where it goes.

Well, wonder no more, and this little wandering hike takes you to the perfect cenote that is perfect for a family day trip!

Surrounded by lush mangrove trees, and home to a crystal clear-blue groundwater hole, this idyllic little cenote is the perfect little spot to take a break at.

The water accommodates all swimming levels of confidence, from shallow parts for young kids to diving spots 20 feet deep. Perfect for amateur snorkelers, divers, and the whole family.

Plus, there is even a beach just a small walk from this spot, if you’re looking to mix your swimming experience up a little!

Tak Be Ha

Tak Be Ha

Of course, cenotes aren’t just a place to get your swimsuit on for.

They’re also places of stunning natural beauty in themselves, unlike anything you’d see in a typical nature walk or hike.

So, if you’re looking for those underground networks that will leave you with a view that you won’t soon forget, or the perfect snapshot to remember the holiday by, you should track down the Tak Be Ha cenote!

Located in the same region as the Dos Ojo network of cenotes, this open sinkhole opens up on one end to the outside world.

When the sun hits midday, it hits these formally light-deprived stalactites and mites in a jaw-dropping display of underground beauty.

Couple that with the shallow waters that reflect onto the cave walls, casting all kinds of gorgeous shadows, and you have one of the most beautiful caves on this list!

Yax-Muul

If you’re looking for a cenote that isn’t too far out from town, then you should take a look at Yax-Muul. With it being a short 15 minutes out from town, it’s the perfect quick visiting spot.

Not that you’ll want to keep it a quick tourist spot, once you get there!

This cenote is one of two caves. Yax-Muul itself is a gorgeous cave, preserving thousand-year-old and older rock formations that simply must be seen, especially when the sun briefly hits them around midday.

Its neighboring cave, the Sac Tuunich, is almost the complete opposite, in terms of aesthetics.

While the former is a cave empty of the outside world, Sac Tuunich is full of the encroaching forest life, from fish to turtles.

The mangrove trees are some of the most gorgeous, and really lend a sense of privacy to this little nook of Mexico (see also ‘Travel Comparison: Mexico Vs Costa Rica‘).

Plus, the water in these caves is just the right depth for wallowing in, too!

Final Thoughts

So, there you have it!

There are so many beautiful cenotes in this part of the world, that we weren’t able to cover all of them here.

Like these amazing sinkholes themselves, we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface here.

However, we hope this guide has given you some ideas on what to do next vacation!

Mylene Mace