From its vibrant food scene and sandy white beaches to the gorgeous Mayan ruins, there’s so much to do in Tulum. This is one of the most popular tourist towns in Riviera Maya and is known for its crystal-clear cenotes, where visitors enjoy swimming and snorkeling. There are so many Tulum cenotes just waiting to be explored, making ideal spots for water activities, picnics, photography, diving, and more. If you’re confused about where to start, here is our guide to the 20 best cenotes in Tulum and a few tips for making the most out of your stay.
Check out our Mexico travel guides too, from Tulum, Playa del Carmen, Cancun, and many more. Enjoy your trip!
Before diving in, you might wonder what the cenotes in Tulum are. A cenote (seh-no-tay) is a water-filled sinkhole created by nature. When an underground cave collapses on itself, it exposes the groundwater under and transforms into a cenote.
A cenote can be open, meaning the cave completely collapses on itself, exposing the water. As for a semi-open cenote, it has small openings in the ceiling but is mostly underground. A closed cenote is underground with no natural light getting in.
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If you want to check out cenotes Tulum Mexico, there are different ways to do this. You can book the best cenote tours in Tulum and explore these places with the help of a professional guide.
Another option is to check them out yourself by renting a car. Many day trips to Tulum tours also include cenotes in the itinerary.
In case you are the impatient type and want to know the closest and nearest cenotes in Tulum. Here are our top 9
When planning your trip to the best cenotes in Tulum, there are a few important things that you should keep in mind.
At the top of our list is the Cenote Calavera, one of the most popular Tulum cenotes. Its name translates to ‘skull sinkhole’ because the semi-open cenote has three swimming holes that look like two eyes and a mouth. It’s also a pretty popular cenote on Instagram and Pinterest posts, and locals can tell you some creepy stories about its origin.
The Cenote Calavera has a ladder on its side, which gives you a 13-foot drop for diving into the pool. There is also a swing and picnic table, making it a fun visit with friends. It is located about 10 minutes away from the Tulum town center.
Another famous cenote in Tulum is the El Gran Cenote, which is well-loved for its clear, blue-green waters that offer a jaw-dropping view. It is an open cenote surrounded by caverns and caves. To explore Gran Cenote, you should do so with a diving excursion and snorkeling Tulum.
The Tulum cenote features two diving sites, popular among scuba divers and snorkelers. You might even see a sea turtle pass you by while swimming or a bat hanging from the intimidating stalagmites. Before entering the cenote, it’s important to rinse at the on-site showers, as the ecosystem is well-preserved.
The El Gran Cenote is about 15 minutes away from the town center.
Next on our list is the Cenote Zahil Ha, one of the less crowded cenotes to visit near the town center. Although it’s a bit off the normal path, visiting Zahil Ha is worth it. It is also one of the newest discovered cenotes, as it was found 30 years ago.
The cave chamber, called Las Lagrimas, has a majestic appearance and stalactites shaped like teardrops. You can’t snorkel in this cenote, but there’s a zipline in the middle that offers a thrilling dive into the pool.
It is less than 12 minutes away from the Tulum city center.
Your visit to the best cenotes in Tulum isn’t complete without checking out Cenote Carwash. It’s one of the least known cenotes in the city, making it a perfect way to avoid crowds and relax on your own. Also called Aktun Ha, the open-air cenote is named after local taxi drivers who washed their cars along the road.
At Cenote Carwash, you can enjoy snorkeling and sunbathe in this open area. During summer, the cenote is transformed into a heated pool, as the algae on the water will trap the heat from the sun.
The Cenote Carwash is right beside Cenote Zahil Ha.
Another well-kept secret in Tulum cenotes is Yax-Muul. It is a natural park and cenote with few visitors, but the beautiful cave, fauna, and flora make it a good choice to visit. Yax-Muul is an underwater crystalline cave that displays gorgeous lights on the cave walls when sunlight reflects on the water.
You will also see stalactites aging back to a thousand years ago. If you’re not good at swimming, you can check Sac Tuunich beside Yax-Muul. It’s a smaller cave with shallow water, flora, and fauna. Besides the two caves, you will see a real ancient Mayan Ritual.
Yax-Muul is 15 minutes away from Tulum, to the north.
Another beautiful cenote Tulum Mexico is Cenote Angelita. If you think the above-water views are gorgeous, wait until you go diving underwater. The 196-feet deep cenote is the perfect choice for diving.
Cenote Angelita is pretty popular because of the natural phenomenon called a halocline. This means that the water densities in the cenote are different, so it looks like an underwater river is running through it. The river also has a strong egg-like smile, but you might not smell it when diving underneath.
Cenote Angelita is south of Tulum and will take less than 15 minutes.
When visiting Tulum cenotes, you should check out Cenote Cristal. The open cenote looks like a massive swimming pool surrounded by shrubs and towering trees. Despite this, the water is crystal clear for swimming and diving.
It has been constructed with three platforms and ropes in the middle of the water that you can hold on to when you’re tired. The pool also has varying depths, making it ideal for kids and people who can’t swim. And if you’d like to dive, there’s a 12-foot platform to help you with that.
It’s about 10 minutes away from the Tulum city center.
You should also consider adding Cenote El Pit to your list of Tulum cenotes to visit. The cenote is located close to Dos Ojos and Sac Actun, also featured on this list. Per the name, the cenote looks like an intimidating, bottomless pit in the forest’s center.
This makes it a top location for diving in Tulum, especially since it’s 130 feet deep. Another major attraction is the color of the water as you descend, with beams of light sparkling in it. It looks like there are clouds under the water.
It’s one of the best cenotes near Tulum, located about four hours away to the north of Tulum.
Right beside Cenote Cristal is the Escondido Cenote, which means ‘hidden.’ Per the name, the cenote is hidden at the center of the Quintana Roo Forest. Here, you can use the swing to dive into the water or hang on to a rope instead. There are also hidden pools where fish swarm.
Escondido should be on your list if you’re visiting the best cenotes in Tulum for diving. It’s a beginner-friendly diving location but also fun for experts. When you dive in, you can explore the 66-feet deep rock formations.
It’s about 10 minutes away from the Tulum city center
It’s not surprising that the Cenote Sac Actun is on this list, as it boasts the largest underwater cave system in the world. When visiting cenotes Tulum Mexico, you should enjoy cave diving at this cenote. The cave system is 390 feet deep.
Even non-divers are welcome to this cenote. Swimming, floating in the vibrant turquoise water, and viewing its rock formations is exciting. You can also plan cenote hopping trips around Sac Actun since it is connected to multiple cenotes.
One of the best cenotes near Tulum is the Cenote Corazon del Paraiso, which will blow your mind with its unique shape and glistening water. It is a heart-shaped cenote and isn’t very popular among tourists yet. So, you can avoid a crowd when you visit.
Corazon del Paraiso is the perfect spot for a picnic or sunbathing in Tulum. The Tulum cenote is designed with platforms for sitting and diving into the water. The water is so clear that you can see the fish swimming from above.
The heart-shaped cenote is less than 10 minutes away from Tulum.
A popular Tulum cenote among photographers is Tak Be Ha, a stunning closed cenote. Despite being closed, the cenote has been lit up with artificial light, making it perfect for taking pictures of the rock formations, beautiful water, and yourself.
If you’re going snorkeling Tulum, Tak Be Ha offers exciting opportunities for this. You can also go swimming and diving in the water. Keep in mind that you might see some bats in the cave.
Tak Be Ha is less than 40 minutes away from Tulum.
You can see some of the best cenotes in Tulum at once at Cenote Casa Tortuga. It is an eco-park with four cenotes, including two open cenotes, one cave cenote, and a semi-open cenote. These cenotes are Jaguar, Tres Zapotes, Wisho, and Campana.
Cenote Casa Tortuga is an ideal location for snorkeling Tulum. It also features a jumping platform for diving and swimming. The gorgeous structure of the stalactites and stalagmites will amaze you.
Casa Tortuga is 15 minutes away from Tulum. And don’t let the name fool you, as there are no turtles.
Considered a hidden gem in Tulum Cenotes, Cenote Choo Ha is five minutes away from the Coba ruins, deep into the ground. There are stalagmites everywhere, making it a perfect choice for photography.
You can also get into the water, although it’s not ideal for snorkeling or diving. The highlight is the cute black fish you can spot swimming around the transparent water. You can visit the cenote after checking out the Coba ruins.
Cenote Choo Ha is one of the best cenotes near Tulum, about an hour away from the Tulum Archeological Zone.
The Casa Cenote is one of the top Tulum cenotes for a group of friends. You can swim, go diving, or kayak around the mangroves. You can also enjoy picnics and take amazing pictures. There is no shallow space at this cenote, and since it’s popular, you can expect a large crowd.
If you want to learn how to scuba dive, Casa Cenote offers lessons for exploring the water. The highlight of the cenote is the abundance of wildlife and the mix of freshwater and saltwater. Some of the wildlife includes blue crabs and coati.
Casa Cenote is about 20 minutes away from the Tulum city center.
One of the best cenotes near Tulum is Cenote Dos Ojos, a popular snorkeling center. The cenote is designed with two sinkholes that look like piercing blue eyes, hence the name. It has the deepest underwater passage, 387 feet deep.
While snorkeling in these deep waters, you can spot underwater rock formations and schools of fish. You can easily find your way around with the reel lines on the cave systems.
The Cenote Dos Ojos is 20 minutes away from Tulum and is pretty popular, and you can expect large crowds later in the day.
Cenote Azul is pretty close to Playa del Carmen, but is one of the top cenotes in Tulum. It has a large pool with varying depths to swim in. The main area has a cliff for diving into the water and a dock for those scared of heights.
Cenote Azul is also a great location for snorkeling Tulum. You might even feel the fish in the water nibble on you as you swim. Beside the cenote is a shop selling snacks.
It is about an hour’s drive away from Tulum.
Cenote Manati is another fun Tulum cenote that you can visit, popular for the manatees in the area that used to visit. It comprises seven cenotes linked by one channel, covering underground caves and mangroves. In the end, you get to the sea.
This is an ideal choice if you need cenotes Tulum Mexico for kayaking. You can rent a kayak at the cenote site or bring your own. You can also go snorkeling and dive into the 164-foot cenote. Whether you’re kayaking above or snorkeling below, you can view Riviera Maya’s hidden forests.
It’s less than 20 minutes away from Tulum by car.
Located between Playa del Carmen and Tulum is Cenote Xunaan-Ha. It is in Chemuyil village and features crystal clear waters. Also, tourists rarely visit despite being the fourth-longest cave system in the Riviera Maya.
Xunaan-Ha is appealing to cave divers, but snorkelers and swimmers enjoy the cenote too. It’s also a fantastic place for ziplining in Tulum and features high cliffs that its visitors use for diving.
You can get to this cenote from Tulum in less than 30 minutes.
Finally on our list is Cenote Eden, which lives up to its name. The cenote looks like a forest paradise, with lush shrubs surrounding the turquoise blue waters. Since it’s a bit far from Tulum, tourists don’t always visit, giving you this scenic cenote to yourself.
There are different cenotes at this Eden, including open and closed cenotes. Some of the rocks that caved in on the open cenotes are in the middle of the pool and have been transformed into a lounging spot. The cenote is ideal for exploring underwater caves.
Cenote Eden is about an hour away from Tulum by car.
With this guide to the best cenotes in Tulum, you can enjoy snorkeling, diving, and swimming at picturesque cenotes. You can visit these places alone, with family and friends, and have an unforgettable experience.