If there is one thing the Riviera Maya is known for, it is a the beautiful underwater ecosystems called cenotes (pronounced se-NOH-tehs). You can’t have a Tulum travel guide without talking about these swim spots.

Morbi vitae purus dictum, ultrices tellus in, gravida lectus.

What are these cenotes you speak of?


et me tell you a bit more about these bodies of water. Cenotes were formed millions of years ago when the meteor Chicxulub hit Mexico between Merida and the Gulf of Mexico. This shifted the plates of Central America forming what we know as the Yucatan Peninsula and part of the Bahamas.

Let me blow your mind by telling you that all cenotes are connected by the smallest tunnels. I wouldn’t even call it tunnels, because some of them are as thin as the veins in our bodies. It was insane learning how impactful ice ages were in the formation of what we know now as cenotes.

Basically here is what happened: Stony coral skeletons of calcium carbonate turned into massive reef structures, (which probably explains why the best diving is in Cozumel and Isla Mujeres).

Over time thick limestone slab was formed by the reef, and this is where all the chemistry happens. No, really, chemistry is responsible for these beauties. During ice ages, sea levels would rise and sink repeatedly, and during those sink periods it would leave the limestone exposed to acidic rain. The carbonic acid from the rain would dissolve the calcium carbonate from the limestone. This led to the formation of tunnels, stalactites, and stalagmites. Remember that stalactites grow about 0.4 inches every 1000 years, some of these are huge!

I think that’s enough history and chemistry for now, so let me actually tell you about all the amazing cenotes Tulum has to offer.

General Information To Know Before Going

Entrance fees: 100-300 pesos

It is very important that you remove all sunscreen and insect repellant before swimming. All cenotes will have a shower head available for you to rinse before arriving to the cenote. Think of as going to a public pool. I recommend rinsing off before and after swimming.

Most of these places will also offer snorkeling equipment for rent as well as life vests (some places might even require the life vests for swimming).

I highly recommend to bring cash, most of the places are still small businesses and they don’t have card payment options. To be safe, I would designate 100 pesos – 300 pesos for each cenote.

Packing Checklist:

  • Water bottle (It gets hot and humid sometimes, you want to stay hydrated!)
  • Towel, although on some hot days you will dry off without the need of one.
  • Bug spray for post-swimming chillin’ & biodegradable sunscreen. Remember to rinse any products off your hair and body before going into cenotes.
  • Cash
  • Snorkeling gear
  • Camera (go-pros are the best choice in my opinion. Some cenotes will charge you extra if you bring professional camera gear)
  • Water shoes over flip flops. Remember that you are in the jungle and swimming in natural swim holes, most trails to the cenote are muddy and rocky. Water shoes will keep you comfortable and adventurous so you don’t miss out on any of the fun.

How To Get To The Cenotes

Car Rental: This is the best option in my opinion. You have the flexibility to go at your own pace and not feel rushed, plus it will make it easier for you to carry your belongings and explore many more cenotes in a shorter amount of time.

Taxi/Colectivo: Taxis are not expensive, but it can add up if you are trying to go to cenotes far away. Colectivos are like the local buses of the area. They are slightly bigger than vans, but smaller than buses.

Bike: I would only recommend using a bike if you are staying within Tulum and checking out the cenotes down near the beach or in Aldea Zama. You can rent a bike for the day for 20 pesos a day ($7). You can also ask your hotel or airbnb because they have some for their guests as well.

Cenote Calavera

Cenote Calavera (”Skull” Cenote) is about a 10 minute drive from downtown Tulum. You have probably seen Cenote Calavera on social media, and in my opinion it’s one of the cooler looking ones. It’s a fun cenote that can give you a bit of adrenaline when jumping into the pit that makes one of the eyes of the skull. The best time to get cool photos is right around noon time, but if you want to avoid crowds, going as early as possible is the best choice.

Location: Carretera Tulum Coba Km 1.7, 77796 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

Cenote Encanto

Cenote Encanto was one of the first cenotes I got to check out while I was getting my scuba diving license. It is right on the Tulum beach strip, so if you’re staying at one of those magnificent hotels, it’s right there for you to enjoy. You can enjoy swimming around the cenote, jumping from a double deck, or renting a kayak to explore the area. They have everything you need at the entrance, and here life vests are not required but definitely recommended.

I did see a baby alligator when I was kayaking down one of the streams so keep an eye out for wild life.

Location: Carretera Boca Paila Km 10.5, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

Muyal Tulum

Muyal is a complete package. It is also located right on the Tulum beach strip, and it has crystal clear waters on a sunny day. It is smaller than Cenote Encanto, but what’s so awesome about this cenote is that you can enjoy it while casually having drinks and a meal since there is a seating area that surrounds it. It also has live music that gives it the best vibe for a relaxing day.

You can check out their instagram here: Muyal Tulum

Location: Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila km 7.6, Tulum Centro, 77760 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

Gran Cenote

Gran Cenote is one of the most instagrammable cenotes you will come across in your search. Mainly because of the popular staircase that bring you down to the water. Gran Cenote has crystal clear waters and one of the most popular ones in Tulum. Spending a morning here will be fun and relaxing. You will get to see turtles and lizzards, while you take a break from swimming and lay on their lawn.

Location: Quintana Roo 109, 77796 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

Cenote Escondido

“Hidden” Cenote aka Escondido Cenote is 5 minutes south west of Tulum pueblo. From the road entrance you need to walk or drive 1km inland to reach this magical swimming area. The water is crystal clear blue and there are lots of fish, so make sure you bring your snorkeling gear!

Location: Kilómetro 218 tulum-chetumal, 77760 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

Cenotes Tankah

Cenote Tankah will offer everything you need for a full day of adventure. This area is often closed off to the public, unless you get a reservation or tickets ahead of time, but it is totally worth it. What I love about these type of enclosed is that they allow you to fully relax and connect with nature and Mayan culture. These cenotes are also great for scuba diving. I went with Origin Dive Project to get my open water scuba license, and it was the perfect place for it.

You can learn more about it here: Cenote Tankah

Location: Carretera Federal Tulum km 233 + 200, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

Dos Ojos Cenote

Dos Ojos means “Two Eyes” is one of my favorite cenotes because of all the scuba diving you can do. The underwater cave system in this place is indescribable and will leave you speechless.

As I was telling you before, cenotes are all connected through tiny channels and they are basically all caves. Cenote Dos Ojos park is a place where you will be able to really experience the cave environment.

Always play it safe and don’t try to swim into the caves by yourself if you don’t have the training or proper gear.

Location: Tulum Federal Highway. Km 124, Jacinto Pat, 77780 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico

Cenote El Pit

Cenote El Pit is one of the coolest cenotes to scuba dive in all of Mexico. You can most definitely just go for a swim, but you will truly appreciate its beauty if you scuba dive the whole cave system. Seeing the rays hit the water and light up the cenote all the way to its depths will blow your mind. Our guide took us to the back of the cave where we got the full view and it felt like being in a completely different world.

To get in, you will also need to go through the entrance of Dos Ojos Park.

Location: 77773 Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Car Wash Cenote

This Tulum cenote is very well known by the locals. It is right off the road, and it adopted its name because people would stop by to clean off their cars from the dust and cool off during hot days.

It is very accessible, but rarely gets crowded, so if you are looking for a nice swim without any tourist crowds, this is your place. If you check out this cenote, you should totally visit Cenote Zacil-Ha right next door!

The entrance fee for this cenote is 50 pesos, if you would like to bring your diving gear, it will cost 120 pesos.

Location: Coba km 8, Carr. Cancún, Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

Cenote Jardin Del Eden

This might be one of Tulum’s favorite cenotes, and a must-visit. Technically, it is located in Playa del Carmen but it’s half way between downtown Playa and downtown Tulum. Right next door you will also find Cenote Azul and Cenote Kantub Chi, so enjoy the whole morning checking those out!

Cenote El Jardin del Eden is an open swimming space surrounded by beautiful greenery. It honestly feels like you’re in an Eden, it’s a fun place to swim on a sunny day and fully enjoy the crystal clear blue waters. This place also has a 12 ft jump on one end of the cenote if you’re seeking for some adrenaline.

Location: 77734 Quintana Roo, Mexico

Kaan Luum Lagoon

I will be completely honest, on my first trip to Tulum, I didn’t have the chance to visit Kaan Luum even though it was right around the corner, but I’m already planning on going back because it is absolutely stunning and I want to dive it ?.

I have a few friends who have been, and talk very highly of it. The lagoon is a magical combination of a light and dark blue color since because of its different depth levels. It is very safe for families because the shallow are is quite large. The long boardwalk is a cool place to chill out and take in the little paradise off the beaten path.

Check it out and let me know how you like it!

Location: laguna kaan luum, 77760 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

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