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Best cenotes around Tulum

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Cenotes are the pearl of Yucatan and there are thousands of them all around Yucatan. It is also a great place to go swimming or if you are up for something more adventurous, some cenotes are great for snorkeling or even scuba diving. One of the most popular places to visit in Yucatan is Tulum. And if you are visiting Tulum and are interested in cenotes than congratulation! There is a lot of cenotes around Tulum! Most of them are very easy to approach and all are equally enjoyable.

Best cenotes around Tulum

Cenotes Around Tulum

Before I even start telling you when to go, let’s start with a question on what cenotes are and why are they so special. So basically the thing that most people are so obsessed with is a natural pit or sinkhole. It was made as a result of limestone collapse. However, it is not the proper cenote if it hasn’t had natural water underneath. The water at cenotes has a lot of minerals in it and you would often have a cave somewhere nearby and in a lot of cases that means that there is a vulnerable ecosystem around the cenotes which includes special kinds of fishes or minerals in the cave wall. Cenotes are typical for Yucatan Peninsula but you can find them in Cuba or Australia as well. So, which ones are the best ones around Tulum?

Dos Ojos cenote

Best Cenotes Around Tulum

Or also two eye cenote. The name comes from the fact, that there are actually two cenotes right next to each other and so there are two big circular holes and if you would fly above the cenotes, it would probably look like two eyes. You can bathe in both of the cenotes, although one of them is more for scuba divers while in the other one you can freely swim all around the whole eye.

The second eye has also a special cave that is connected by a little tunnel. It is called the Bat cave. To go there, you would need an experienced guide that would lead you through the tunnel, otherwise, it is not possible to go there. Inside of the bat cave is a lot of bats but also a lot of stalagmites. No one is allowed to touch them because these things grow thousands of years and are very vulnerable to any touch or they can also break soon.

Before you go to the cenote, you need to shower your self outside to avoid bringing any chemicals to the water. Dos Ojos also have very decent shower facilities, changing facilities and lockers as well. There is also a small shop selling food and snacks, or you can buy there a bunch of souvenirs.

Dos Ojos is located outside of Tulum, about 15 minutes by car. Generally, it is very easy to get there, there is also a lot of companies that would do a tour to Dos Ojos, so you would get a guide, food, and tickets or snorkeling equipment.

Diving in Dos Ojos cenote

Diving in Dos Ojos

This cenote was also voted as one of the best places to do scuba diving in the world. So if you are a scuba diver, this can be a great chance for you. You don’t need a cave certification for scuba diving in Dos Ojos. What you can do in Dos Ojos is called carbon diving, which means that you are not going deeper than 20 meters and there is only one way out of the cave. Carbon diving also very often ignore carbon dioxide, as it is a normal part of life, which kind of limits the time under the water.

If you are a diver and want to go diving in Mexico, this is a great chance to do it. Mainly because the reef in Tulum is often too wild or filled with sand so you wouldn’t see much but that is not the case for Dos Ojos, where the water is clean at any time. There are a couple of companies that do Dos Ojos diving tours and are very good at it. We went with Mexidivers and my mom (I don’t dive) had a great time. Two dives in cenotes cost around 160 USD and you would get all the gears for it.

Entry fee: 14 USD

Opening times: 9 am to 5 pm

Yax Muul cenote

Yax Muul cenote

This cenote is a little bit off the beaten path – when we visited it, we were there completely alone and that was the main season. So if you feel like visiting this beauty, you can be lucky like we were. Although this cenote was rather commercial. But either way, we had great fun.

Yax muul is made out of three separate cenotes. The first one is rather small, the second is slightly bigger and the third one is pretty big. There are a lot of stones that you can stand on in Yax muul so you can rest a bit in the middle of all the swimming. The cenote is not deep, either of these cenotes is about 6 meters deep at the deepest point but most of the time it is not deeper than 3 meters. When you swim in this cenote you will be surrounded by caves when you can see some bat sometimes. Also, watch your steps here because you might swim into bigger rock and cut your self (speaking from experience).

Entry fee: 15 USD

Opening times: 9 am to 5 pm

Cenote Tankan

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Tankan is certainly one of the best cenotes you can visit around Tulum. It simply has the best of Yucatan – it is close to a beach and of course – there is the cenote. To get there, you will first need to go to Tankan beach and since it is a private beach, you will need to pay an entry fee. But the fee is joined for both the cenote and the beach so yey!

The cenote that you can find here is surrounded by jungle and generally, there is not a lot of people coming here so most of the visitors can have the cenote almost for themselves. But don’t expect any big and spectacular place to swim around. The cenote is quite shallow, so it is alright to dip your self in the freshwater, but chances are that you might not be able to do more than that.

Cenote is about 5 km from Tulum, so you can take collectivo and just tell them that you are going to Tankan cenote. They will drop you off close to the junction to the beach. From the main road, you would walk for one kilometer to get to the beach itself and then a couple of meters to the cenote close by.

Opening times: 9 am to 5 pm

Entry fees: 150 pesos joined fee for both beach and the cenote

Gran cenote

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The only also perhaps the best-known cenote around Tulum. A lot of people are coming here to see this natural beauty, which means that you will most likely not be alone in this one. There is a lot of tours heading in that direction. The cenote is just on the road to Coba and just about 5 kilometers from Tulum. The water there is crystal clear so you can see the fishes swimming all around you. It is one of the best places to snorkel, although you will see a lot of life without necessarily take a lot of gear on you.

If you have accommodation this cenote is easy to get to. Of course, you can catch a taxi, but perhaps the best way of getting there would be to rent a bike from your hotel and just ride there. It is only 4 km from the city center, so it is not too far.

Diving at Gran cenote

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Similarly to Dos Ojos, this is one of the cenotes that you can dive in. The water can be as deep as 120 meters, but most of the divers don’t go even near to that depth. The cenote is also very big, so under the natural opening, you can swim around 150 meters into the cave. However, if you are diver, there is a 202-meter circuit that you can dive to and see various fishes and sometimes even turtles.

There is a lot of companies who are doing this tour but expect a higher price since this is one of the world-known cenotes. Two dives cost here around 200 USD at that price you should have all the gears and diver guide.

Entry fee: 25 USD

Opening times: 9 am to 5 pm

Casa Tortuga cenote

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Another popular place to have a dip, snorkel, or go scuba diving. Casa Tortuga cenote is about 15 km from Tulum and it is a cenote river that flows in the middle of mangrove trees. These are taking water from the cenote itself. Since it is an open area than unlike other cenotes water here isn’t as cold as in cave cenotes. But it has a different disadvantage – the current here is quite strong, so you need to be good at swimming, cause it can be quite tiring to swim against it. Or you can rent fins to swim faster. You can also rent here all of the snorkeling equipment, but take your towel because they don’t rent any.

You can exit the cenote to the ocean – not a lot of cenotes ends like this. As for facilities, there are changing rooms and lockers also if you are hungry, there is a great restaurant with an ocean view. But don’t expect fancy food, it is quite a small menu but with local cuisine.

Diving in Casa Tortuga

This cenote is great for any beginners who want to start diving. A lot of introduction courses for diving are taking place here. The main reason for diving here is the fact, that without scuba diving, you won’t be able to see the caves under the mangrove trees. What you can see here under the water is a lot of turtles and fishes. That is mainly because the mangrove trees make a specific environment, that those little fishes thrive in.

Opening times: 9 am to 5 pm

Entry fees: 8 USD + 2 USD for lockers

Cenote Nohoch Nah Chich

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Unlike other cenotes, this one is for divers and divers only. More specifically for those who have a cave license, because this is legitimately a cave. Nohoch Nah Chich is about 15 km away from Tulum and since it is only for divers, there is a lot of companies that would get you there.

The cenote is about 70 meters deep in some parts and has both fresh underground water and salty water from the Caribbean sea nearby. The cenote is connected with the sea itself. There is supposed to be about a 16 km cave system in between all of these caves, but only 8 km is explored.

There is only one company in Tulum that would offer you diving in this cenote and that is Zen Tulum. You will need to show them your cave diving certification and you will have to have a certain number of dives. One dive here costs 160 USD, two are for 220 USD. Equipment is not included so you will have to rent that for an extra price which should be around 50 USD.

Jaguar cenote

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Another off the beaten path cenote close to Dos Ojos. Most people would just head to Dos Ojos straight away, but don’t miss this gem. It is certainly not for diving tours but there is a lot of fun around. Jaguar cenote is an open cenote which means that there are no caves but there is still a lot of wildlife in these crystal clear water.

You can enjoy a lot of fun around the jaguar cenote. There are a couple of jumping platforms, but also it is possible to come ziplining here. Since there is only a couple of people, the atmosphere is unique. Unlike a lot of other cenotes, it is very quiet there. Fewer people also mean one thing – there are no facilities. This means that if you need a bathroom, you should probably jump to the forest.

Except for jumping and ziplining, this cenote is great for snorkeling as there are still a lot of fishes and turtles here as well. Most of the fishes live around the roots of mangrove trees.

Jaguar cenote is in the areal of Dos Ojos, which means that if you are visiting Dos Ojos, you don’t have to pay special fees for it.

Yax-kin cenote

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An alternative to all well-known cenotes just a 6 km north of Tulum. Like a lot of cenotes, this one also has a crystal clear water and a lot of fast-moving fishes round. It is not the best destination for snorkeling, but not the worst one either. You can snorkel here just fine, but there aren’t too many things to see. The cenote is mainly for dipping and swimming.

The place has a shallow entrance and the water goes deeper the longer you go. But nothing too wild. The deepest place has around 4 meters. There is a lot of facilities around, including things like a small restaurant, lockers, a rental place. There you can borrow snorkeling equipment or life west. This place even offers kayaking so if you want to try something different, there you go.

If you can choose when to visit this little hidden gem, the best time would be in the middle of the workweek. Cenote is popular by locals so there would be a lot fewer people at that time.

Opening times: 10 am to 5.30 pm

Entry fees: 100 pesos

Escondido Cenote

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Place with crystal clear water and very relax surrounding is just a couple kilometers south of Tulum. The cenote is very close to the highway so it is easy to get there just by collectives that are heading south.

But more about the cenote! It is not the most popular cenote, possibly because it is another open one and doesn’t have any caves. But it is a very relaxed place with surrounding full of exotic plants. You will very much feel like being in the jungle – and you kind of will be. It is possible to snorkel or swim here. If you don’t feel too strong with swimming there are ropes in the water for people who want to relax for a bit.

Other than that, you can rent a swimming west and snorkeling equipment at the gate.

Once you step into the area, you will have to pay an entry fee – that is actually for two cenotes. There is also cenote Crystal nearby. But Escondido is kind of more popular and to me, it was more beautiful. It is also much bigger than Crystal.

Opening times: 8 am to 5 pm

Entry fee: 120 pesos

Practical info about best cenotes in Tulum

Inside cenote

Ethical behavior at the cenotes

Cenotes might seem to be easy to enjoy, but there are still some things that you need to think about. It is a very vulnerable place to step into and so you should be careful about your behavior. Here are a couple of tips on what to do and how to behave ethically in the cenotes.

Regarding bats – Bats are very common animals in cenotes. But keep in mind that it is an animal that doesn’t want to hurt you neither it wants to be hurt. Bats have very good hearing and are used to dark places. By entering cenotes during the day you are already kind of disturbing them. So try to be as considerable as possible. Which means that you shouldn’t point at them with a flashlight or scream too loud.

Regarding the environment – I have already mentioned it many times, so I’ll do one very short version. Cenotes are a vulnerable environment. Mainly due to the fact, that there are very special minerals in the water that keeps alive both the growing stalagmites and the fishes as well. you should use sunscreen, but be careful which sunscreen it is. Make sure it is the degradable sunscreen. The one that is reef-friendly will do. Otherwise, the chemicals in some other creams can be harmful to the waters.

Regarding the stalagmites – One centimeter of stalagmite grows approximately a thousand years. They are very hard to grow and even harder to regrow. You mustn’t touch any of them. They are very fragile and can break easily in your hands. Luckily this is also in Mexican laws and it is punishable by rather high fees.

What to pack for cenotes around Tulum

Going to Yax muul cenote

Bug spray – The mosquitos around cenotes are restless so it is better to have one of those.

Biodegradable sunscreen – For both protecting your skin and the environment of cenotes. If you don’t have one at home, you can actually buy one at any bigger supermarket in Tulum.

Water bottle – Mexico’s sun can get you very warm and it is a good idea to stay hydrated. Besides – don’t get your self fooled. The water in cenotes is crystal clear but you shouldn’t be drinking it. Mainly because there are so many minerals in the water that it is highly unhealthy for your

How to get around Tulum

Collectivo – People also call them shared buses. It is a very cheap way of how to get around. Usually, it is enough if you tell them where you want to go and they will drop you off in the closest place possible. The disadvantage of this bus is the fact, that often you would need to walk quite a bit and sometimes on the highway. But it is still doable and a good solution if you want to save some money.

Taxi – Taxis in Tulum have quite decent rates and most of them will know the location of where you will go and they will be able to get you as close as possible.

Bikes – Biking is very popular around Tulum and it is also very safe. You would usually bike on the sidewalk. Sidewalks are not everywhere around Tulum but for example, if you want to get to Gran cenote by bike, it is completely possible.

Tours – There are a lot of tour operators around Tulum that would offer you to go to several cenotes. It is not necessarily a bad idea, but at least for me, it is quite a pricy solution for something that I can do just by myself.

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