Top 9 Best Cenotes in Tulum

By David Bolaños on Feb 22, 2022

Filled with crystal clear waters and exotic wildlife, Cenotes are a must for visitors exploring Tulum in the Yucutan Peninsula.

These organically-formed pools along the Mexican coastline are the best way to relax, swim and enjoy time alone or with friends. Created with a natural limestone filtration system, snorkelers and divers can enjoy perfect visibility as they see some of Mexico’s best aquatic life.

Tulum is now well-established as one of the world’s go-to destinations for both holidaymakers and digital nomads. Having been described as “a digital nomad’s dream”, Tulum’s Cenotes can help to slow the pace of a stuffed schedule for tourists and longer-term travelers alike. It’s the only Mayan city built along the Riviera Maya, which means that the town itself holds particular cultural significance for indigenous people.

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To find out more about the best cenotes in Tulum, check out the rest of the article.

What is a cenote?

Cenotes (pronounced se-note-ay) are naturally formed underground water pools. The local Tulum area is built on top of many underground caves, and cenotes are formed as a result of the collapse of the upper part of these caves (the roof). Once this collapses, the cenote is exposed as an open or semi-open pool. Some cenotes are even found completely underground, still in their classic cave form.

The Yucatan peninsula, where Tulum is located, is largely made from limestone which is a weak material. When exposed to the elements, thin layers of limestone can easily collapse. This, combined with the sheer volume of underground caves in the area, is the reason why over 6000 cenotes have been discovered in the Yucutan peninsula alone.

The History of Cenotes

Cenotes in Mexico hold a lot of cultural significance to the indigenous Mayan people. The primary reason of importance is that the Mayans believed cenotes to be a portal to the underworld, known as Xibalba. Therefore, every cenote Mexico has to offer is deemed a sacred site and should be respected upon visiting.

Traditional Mayan practices include the sacrifice of precious metals such as gold, and gemstones, as well as animals. Even human remains have been pulled from some cenotes in Mexico. Cenotes are still used today to connect and communicate with Mayan water gods.

Alongside this, cenotes have been a source of fresh water for thousands of years. Since the pools tend to collect rainwater or be connected to underground rivers, they are typically very clean and cool and have been used to sustain the local population in the past.

Accessing Cenotes in Tulum

When searching for what to do in Tulum, most tourists will want to try out at least one cenote during their time in the Yucutan peninsula. They are a staple part of Mexican culture, and fortunately, we are spoilt for choice.

Due to the good spread of cenotes at every corner of Tulum, visitors who position themselves near the beach will find it just as easy to access cenotes as those in the center of the town. Fortunately, Selina Tulum is right on the beach, and only twenty minutes from the closes cenote on this list, cenote cristal.


Price $$ Location: Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila Km. 7.5, Zona Hotelera, Tulum


How much do Cenotes in Mexico cost?

The entry price of cenotes can vary depending on whether a tour guide is needed. Generally, the entry price for travelers who go alone can expect to pay between $80-300 MXN, equivalent to around $4-15 USD. Alternatively, those who opt for a tour can expect to pay more than double, at around $700 MXN (just over $30 USD).

Typically, tourists are also charged for use of the bathroom facilities and for rentals of life jackets at cenotes in Mexico. These can cost anywhere from $20- $50 MXN ($1- $3 USD).

Transport to Tulum Cenotes

Tulum cenotes are located in every direction of the town’s center: to the North, South, East and West. This means that no matter where the accommodation is, there should always be a cenote within reach. Moreover, this is great news for travelers looking to explore further afield or more spontaneously, since many of Tulum’s cenotes are within walking or cycling distance.


A guided shuttle tour is the best way to reach Tulum’s cenotes. With a tour, travelers can also explore multiple cenotes within the same day; the perfect solution when looking to maximize adventure time.

Tours have the advantage of delivering you from door to door, which, after a long day of exploring, is always needed. Guided tours sometimes also offer extra experiences, such as snorkeling or scuba diving. For example, the Mayan Underworld tour is a cave-to-jungle adventure, offering snorkeling in a 2000 foot cenote in Tulum.

To book a tour, head straight to the Selina tour desk. It will contain all of the information required to choose which tour is right for you, and start planning your adventure!


Probably the cheapest way to reach a cenote in Tulum without walking or cycling is a collectivo or local van. In the rest of Mexico, these are usually small, sweaty and cramped- but Tulum’s collectivo drivers have upgraded their vehicles in recent years to include airconditioning (what a win!).

They have set routes and can pick you up along the highway, just like a public bus would. Taking a collectivo to Tulum’s cenotes may cost anywhere from $20-$40 MXN (or $1-$4 USD), with Cenote Cristalino, Azul and Casa Tortuga easily reachable.


Bicycles are the most popular form of transportation in Tulum. Many tourists will choose to rent a bike from their hotel for approximately $170 MXN or $8 USD per day, or cheaper for long-term rentals.

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To rent a bike, simply ask at the Selina Tulum reception, the staff will be more than happy to help.

Just remember that bike riding to cenotes in Mexico involves exercise and heat, so it’s likely to be tiring work. Even though most of the roads in Tulum are flat, it might get pretty sweaty, so bring water!


Alternatively, a taxi will be able to get you from A to B when visiting cenotes in Tulum. Depending on the distance, taxis to cenotes can cost anywhere from $80- $200 MXN, equivalent to around $4-10 USD.

Sometimes, taxi drivers can take advantage of tourists by overcharging. So, remember to agree on a price before you get into the taxi, or ensure the meter is turned on during your ride.

4 Most Popular Tulum Cenotes

The most popular cenotes are well-loved for a reason; they are some of the best cenotes in Tulum. With 17 million visitors to the Yucutan in 2017, the most popular cenotes, like Dos Ojos, can receive over 2000 visitors per day.

Those looking to avoid the busiest times should try to visit cenotes in Tulum in November or December. This allows travelers to avoid peak season between January and April, while also escaping the rainiest period of the year. Since Tulum is prone to hurricanes, visiting between later summer and fall is not recommended.

Cenote Dos Ojos

Meaning “two eyes” in Spanish, Dos Ojos actually contains two water pools connected by an underground river. Although travelers cannot enter the 400m passageway, each pool is around 70m deep. Cenote Dos Ojos is located in Parque Dos Ojos, there are plenty of other, smaller cenotes within driving distance, such as Nicte Ha.

The exposed stalactites on the semi-open roof have made Dos Ojos Tulum’s premier diving spot for cavern scuba divers. Basic admission costs $350 MXN or $17, with unlimited time to spend inside the park. For solo travelers, signing up for a group tour inside Dos Ojos is a great way to meet new people and make friends as you explore the rest of Tulum.

Gran Cenote Tulum

Gran Cenote is one of the largest swimmable sinkholes in the entirety of the Yucutan peninsula. Located about halfway between Tulum and Playa del Carmen, it is a collection of smaller caves connected by wooden walkways.

Its crystal clear water makes Gran Cenote Tulum’s most ‘instagrammable’ spot, with some lucky visitors spotting turtles as they explore. As such, it’s one of the most popular cenotes and gets pretty crowded, so best to arrive early before the crowds. The standard entry price is $180 MXN or $9 USD.

Cenote Azul

Cenote Azul, or blue cenote in English, is also known for its crystal clear waters. Being an open cenote with shallower parts, it’s very popular with local families. They tend to visit on Sundays when most Mexicans don’t work and can get free entry. If you want to avoid the crowds, try to visit Cenote Azul midweek.

The surrounding tree and rock area houses iguanas among other wildlife and the fish inside the pools are very friendly. Located 25 miles from Tulum, a collectivo to Cenote Azul costs $30MXN or $1.5 USD. The entry price is $120 MXN or just under $6USD, with kids and local residents getting a discounted rate.

Cenote Car Wash

Weird name, right? Car Wash is not the official name of this cenote, its original Mayan name is Aktun Ha. The nickname is derived from the fact that a car wash used to operate on the side of the road as you enter this cenote. Cenote Car Wash is located very close to the center of Tulum, which leads to big crowds during high season.

The unique part of this cenote is its temperature: it’s much warmer than many of the others. This is due to the presence of algae on the surface of the water, which traps heat and makes the cenote feel like a hot tub.

The wild flora and fauna also means that Car Wash Cenote is a good option for divers. Note: here is a resident crocodile that lives at Cenote Carwash, and although there haven’t been any reported problems, it’s something to be aware of. The standard entry costs $50 MXN ($2.5 USD), but those with diving equipment should expect to pay $120 MXN ($6 USD).

5 Best Hidden Cenotes in Tulum

Here’s the thing: the best cenotes in Tulum are not only the most popular ones. The sheer number of sinkholes means there are a bunch of hidden gems to enjoy a day of swimming and diving. Even though these cenotes are off the beaten track, they are no less exceptional or magical.

Cenote Oxman

For visitors willing to explore a little further afield, Cenote Oxman could be a perfect adventure. Located in Valladolid, this cenote semi-open cenote is guarded by hanging tree roots, giving it a special spiritual place among the Mayans. While it takes an hour and a half to reach, the cenote is a hidden gem that should not be ignored.

The distance from Tulum’s hub combined with a rope swing on the grounds means that visitors can really make the most out of their day trip at Cenote Oxman. Plus, the water temperature is usually warm since the sinkhole is exposed to sunlight for most of the day. A standard ticket costs $150MXN ($7.50 USD), but for those wanting to use the restaurant facilities, it’s $250 MXN or $12.50 for entry with food credit.

Cenote Zacil Ha

Located just 8km outside of Tulum’s center, Cenote Zacil Ha feels like an untouched world of crystal clear waters. Connected via underground river to Cenote Car Wash, this is a smaller and more commercialized area, with two artificial swimming pools also on site.

The entrance fee to Zacil Ha Cenote sits at $100 MXN, equivalent to almost $5 USD. Due to its open-air nature and depth of just three meters, it’s popular with local families. Try to avoid visiting at the weekends in order to escape the crowds.

Casa Cenote

Those excited to snorkel should look no further than Casa Cenote. Located only 500m from the beach, this cenote houses a range of aquatic marine life that offers snorkelers and divers a run for their money.

Other activities available at Casa Cenote include Kayaking and Paddleboarding, which offer hours of exploring through the mangrove forests and cavern routes. Entry to Casa Cenote is $150 MXN or $7.50, with divers paying a premium of approximately $400 or $20 USD to hire equipment.

Cenote Cristal

Cenote Cristal (also referred to as Cenote Crystal) actually houses a second natural pool on its site: Cenote Escondido. Cristal is an open-air sinkhole with three artificial platforms for jumping and diving into the water. Cenote Escondido is more hidden, as the English translation of the Spanish name would suggest.

Both of these cenotes fall under the same entry ticket, at a price of $150 MXN or $7.50 USD. Due to the large open surface area, it’s hard for these pools to feel as busy as some of the others. Therefore, Cenote Cristal is a perfect option for those looking to relax and unwind in a peaceful environment.

Chichen Itza

Finally, it would be rude not to include a special mention of the glorious Mayan ruins site, Chichen Itza. Otherwise known as Sacred Cenote, this pool is not suitable for swimming or diving. In fact, it has traditionally been used by Mayans for sacrificial purposes, including the sacrifice of warriors.

The two visible platforms at Chichen Itza were used to first purify victims with steam, before throwing them into the pit. Those who visit the Mayan ruins can do so for $230 MXN or $11.50, which also includes access to a private beach.

Ready to see the best cenotes in Tulum?

Cenotes in Mexico are pretty common, but reaching the best cenotes in Tulum means you will have an experience that is head and shoulders above the rest.

Plan a better vacation or digital nomad experience in Mexico by choosing to visit a mix of the popular and more hidden cenotes. Fortunately, staying at Selina Tulum will put you in the center of the action, and the staff can provide all the information you will need to make your decision. For travelers wanting to fully immerse themselves in the Mayan culture, it’s the place to be for a truly authentic experience.

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Enjoy beautiful accommodation, coworking spaces, and the ultimate community experience at Selina Tulum!

Cenotes in Tulum FAQs

  • What is the best cenote in Tulum?

    It highly depends on your opinion. The most popular cenotes in Tulum are Gran Cenote and Dos Ojos, but the hidden gems shouldn’t be discounted quite yet. Those looking for a cenote experience without crowds would prefer one of the hidden gems on this list. For the cenote most connected to Mayan culture, head to Chichen Itza.

  • When is the best time to visit a cenote in Tulum?

    Most pools open between 8 am-9 am, which is the best time to visit a cenote in order to avoid crowds. Cenotes tend to fill up as the day goes on, so the later you visit, the busier it should be. Also, avoid Sundays if possible as many cenotes offer free entry to locals on weekends and most Mexicans have the day off work.

  • When is the best time to visit a cenote in Tulum?

    Most pools open between 8 am-9 am, which is the best time to visit a cenote in order to avoid crowds. Cenotes tend to fill up as the day goes on, so the later you visit, the busier it should be. Also, avoid Sundays if possible as many cenotes offer free entry to locals on weekends and most Mexicans have the day off work.

  • What to wear in Tulum cenotes?

    Swimsuits are fine to wear to cenotes since you’ll be swimming and diving. Those looking to dive can usually bring dive gear with them, although some cenotes allow visitors to hire out snorkeling and diving equipment too. 

    It’s important to note that the ecosystem inside cenotes is incredibly fragile. Wearing sunscreen while visiting a cenote in Tulum should therefore be avoided.

  • What is the water temperature in cenotes?

    The average year-round temperature in cenotes is 77 Fahrenheit or 24 Celsius. The general rule of thumb is that open-air cenotes will be warmer than covered or semi-covered cenotes since the water is exposed to sunlight all day.

  • How deep are cenotes in Tulum?

    The depth of cenotes can vary but usually range between 10 and 30 meters. Some more family-friendly areas of the pools are as little as one- three meters. The deepest cenote in Tulum is located in Dos Ojos Parque, known as Cenote El Pit, with a depth of 40 meters.

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