Looking for the most beautiful cenotes in Tulum? This guide will take you through 18 of the best cenotes in and around Tulum, Mexico.
Cenote (pronounced seh-NO-tay) is the Spanish word for “sinkhole.” These natural sinkholes are limestone rocks that created caves and stalagmites over thousands of years. The Yucatan Peninsula has around 6,000 cenotes.
The caves and caverns contain crystal clear water and were an important water source to the ancient Maya. Today, these are great diving, snorkeling, and swimming spots. These natural pools are a wonderful way to cool down after visiting some of these unmissable things to do in Tulum.
Tulum has many gorgeous cenotes in and around the town for you to discover, many within a short drive from the center.
We’ve split this Tulum guide into those cenotes in Tulum and its immediate surrounds and those a little further away. Anything mentioned in the outside Tulum section is typically a 20-minute or longer drive.
Only question is… how many cenotes in Tulum from this list can you visit?
Best Cenotes in Tulum
El Gran Cenote, Tulum
Gran Cenote is one of the most popular cenotes in Tulum, Mexico. It is an open cenote surrounded by caves and caverns.
The best way to explore the cenote is through a diving excursion. It has two diving sites frequently explored by snorkelers, scuba divers, and the occasional sea turtle.
The eco-systems around this underground cenote are well protected and preserved.
Before entering the cenote, you should rinse under the on-site showers first to preserve the ecosystem. Some cavern roofs have bats hanging from the magnificent stalagmites.
Arrive a few minutes early before opening time to enjoy a few minutes without big crowds.
Cenote Calavera, Tulum
Cenote Calavera translates to “skull sinkhole” in English. It got its name from the three swimming holes that resemble two eyes and a mouth.
You’ve probably seen this cenote all over your social media feeds. Its tell-tale swing over the sinkhole is in countless Instagram and Pinterest posts.
The ladder on the side of the cenote gives you a 13-foot drop as you jump in the pools. It is one of Tulum’s must-visit spots.
Cenote Carwash, Tulum
Cenote carwash (also known as Aktun Ha) is an open-air cenote.
The name comes from the fact that it was used by local taxi drivers to wash their cars along the road!
While it is easily accessible, the cenote has few visitors and rarely gets crowded.
It is popular with snorkelers and sunbathers who want a more relaxing trip. In summer, algae forms on top of the water. This traps in the sun’s heat, and the cenote becomes a heated pool.
Cenote Zacil Ha
This cenote is a bit off the beaten track and, as a result, is one of the less crowded sinkholes near Tulum center.
It is right next to Cenote Carwash, less than a 12-minute drive from Tulum city center.
Discovered around 30 years ago, Zacil Ha is a relatively new find compared to the other cenotes on this list.
While it was only found a few decades ago, these caves are ancient. The cave chamber, Las Lágrimas, has unique stalactites shaped like teardrops.
While this cenote isn’t so great to snorkel in, it makes up for that with a zipline in the middle to help you jump in the pool. Thrills galore.
Cenote Angelita, Tulum
Cenote Angelita is beautiful, but the underwater views are more thrilling than what’s above. This is a ±196-feet deep cenote that is ideal for diving. This cenote is interesting because of a peculiar natural wonder that happens here.
Due to the phenomenon called halocline, water densities in this cenote differ. As a result, this cenote looks like it has an underwater river running through it.
Another oddity about the “river” has a strong egg-like smell because of the gas that some divers say they can even smell underwater.
This natural park cenote is just 15 minutes north of Tulum. It is another well-kept secret and has very few visitors.
Yax-Muul is an underwater crystalline cave in this cenote that sports thousand-year-old stalactites. The sunlight peeks in ever so slightly and hits the water, creating a beautiful play of lights on the cave walls.
There is another smaller cave just next to Yax-Muul called Sac Tuunich. The forest’s fauna and flora engulf this cave. The water in Sac Tuunich is clear and shallow, which is great to float in.
Besides the beautiful caves here, you’ll also see an actual ancient Mayan Ritual on the grounds.
Cenote Cristal, Tulum
This open-faced cenote almost feels like a giant swimming pool. Towering trees and shrubs surround this natural swimming pond in the forest. Cenote Cristal, unsurprisingly, has crystal clear waters.
There are three platforms with a rope in the middle of the water tired swimmers can hang on to.
The platforms are at varying depths so the whole family can enjoy the cenote. Divers can jump from the 12-foot platform and make a splash landing in the crystalline pool below.
The cenote is right next to Cenote Escondido, and most tourists buy one ticket to visit both.
Escondido Cenote, Tulum
Escondido translates to “hidden” in English. This hidden cenote in Tulum is in the heart of the Quintana Roo forest.
Plunge off the rock with the rope, swing into the icy pools, or spot the fish in the hidden pools.
Escondido is ideal for cenote diving in Tulum. Both beginners and experts can dive in these deep waters to see the 66 feet deep rock formations.
Kaan Luum Lagoon
This lagoon is close to downtown Tulum. It looks more like a lake than a cenote because it’s so big. Locals love this cenote and visit here often because of the lack of crowds and tourists.
It has a beautiful contrast of light, and dark blue waters that kind of resembles an eye. The light blue ring is shallow waters, which are ideal to lazy or float in.
The staff supervising the cenote prohibits anyone from entering the dark sinkhole. There’s also a net placed in the middle to keep swimmers safe.
Cenote El Pit
El Pit is near Dos Ojos Cenote and Cenote Sac Actun. The name is fitting in that it looks like a bottomless pit in the middle of the forest.
The oval-shaped sinkhole is 130 feet deep and is a popular diving destination in Tulum for this reason.
However, the main attraction is the sunbeams sparkling through the water as you dive. The beams of light dance above the layer of hydrogen sulfide at the bottom. The smokey layer looks like clouds swaying below the water.
Cenote Sac Actun
This is a cave diver’s dream because it’s the largest underwater cave system in the world. The cave system is about 226 miles long and around 390 feet deep.
If you’re not a diver, you can still enjoy this cenote because it has vibrant turquoise water you can float in. The cave system has multiple cenotes connected to it, which makes cenote hopping easy.
Cool Cenotes Near Tulum
Cenote Dos Ojos, Tulum
Dos Ojos, meaning two eyes, got its name from the two sinkholes in the middle that stare up at the sun like two piercing blue eyes. Dos Ojos boasts the record for the cenote with the deepest underwater passageway at 387 feet deep.
This deep passageway makes it a popular snorkeling cenote near Tulum. The clear waters help you effortlessly spot schools of fish or underwater rock formations. Reel lines map out the cave systems so even a novice snorkeller won’t get lost.
The cenote is about a 20-minute drive from Tulum. Arrive before 9:30 to bypass most tourists.
Cenotes Casa Tortuga, Tulum
Casa Tortuga is a cluster of cenotes close to Tulum. This cenote cluster consists of four cenotes- Cenote Wisho, Cenote Tres Zapotes, Cenote Campana and Cenote Jaguar, Tulum. They offer a nice variety of open, semi-open and cave cenotes.
Tres Zapotes is popular among swimmers because of the open-pool area which offers a great spot to splash around in. It’s also the largest of the cenote clusters, at about 9 feet deep.
The semi-open cave cenotes, Cenote Wisho and Cenote Jaguar lead to a dry cavern with some fossils and tree roots.
The only closed cavern, Cenote Campana, has an underground cavern where you swim under bats and stalagmites.
Cenote Manati got its name from the manatees in the area that used to visit this cenote. There are seven cenotes connected by a single channel. The channel travels through underground caves and mangroves before reaching the sea.
Visitors often snorkel and dive in the ±164-foot deep cenote. While that is fun to do, this is one of the few kayak cenotes in Tulum. Bring your own or rent one at the cenote site.
Here, you can see the hidden forests of the Riviera Maya both under and above water.
Cenote Azul, Bacala
This Tulum cenote’s near Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Cenote Azul is thus about an hour’s drive from Tulum. This “Blue cenote” is quite big, so the pools have varying depths to swim in.
The main area has a cliff visitors love splashing into the pool from. There’s also a dock to jump from if you don’t like heights.
The fish in the pools will swim by and gently nibble on you to say hello. Bring your snorkel gear to see the bigger fish underwater.
The cenote has a little tuckshop that sells snacks if you get peckish.
Cenote Eden, Tulum
This is the perfect name to describe this watering hole. The paradise of a cenote has lush green shrubs all around it as well as turquoise blue waters.
Tourists don’t overrun this cenote since it is a little distance away from Playa del Carmen and Tulum.
Caves cover some cenotes, while others’ roofs have caved in, allowing some sun to shine through. Some of these rocks now lie in the middle of the pools creating a nice lounging spot for swimmers.
Some divers prefer exploring the underground caves at this Eden. There are many fish and fauna underwater.
Cenote Xunaan-Ha, Tulum
The crystal clear cenote is in Chemuyil village, just a few minutes away from Tulum. It sits between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, and tourists rarely visit it.
Cenote Xunaan-Ha is the fourth-longest cave system in the Riviera Maya. The cave system is especially enticing for cave divers, but swimmers and snorkelers are welcome here too.
There are quite a few fun things to keep visitors entertained, like the high cliffs to jump off of or the zipline.
Cenote Choo-Ha, Coba
Cenote Choo-Ha is a cenote near Tulum in Coba. The cenote is about a 52-minute drive from Tulum and 11 minutes away from Coba.
This cenote is part of a series of cenotes close to the Mayan site. Follow the wooden staircase to the underground cave. It has shallow waters and some days has almost no crowds. This sinkhole cave is the perfect stop for a tranquil swim in the turquoise waters.
Practical Tips for Visiting Tulum’s Cenotes
How To Travel Cenotes In Tulum, Mexico
If you’re visiting the many cenotes near the town center, then the best way to see cenotes in Tulum is by bus or bicycle. Both are the most economical ways, but not always the most convenient.
You’ll still need to walk a few steps to reach the cenotes if you take the bus or cycle there.
The most convenient way to reach Tulum’s cenotes outside of town is by renting a car or taxi.
Some cenotes can be quite far, especially if they’re out of the city of Tulum.
Taxi fares add up and can become expensive. It’s much cheaper to rent a car or a driver if you’re not comfortable driving in a foreign country.
Cenotes in Tulum Tours
Alternatively, you can book onto one of these tours
Top 10 Cenotes Near Tulum’s Town Center
The best cenotes close to Tulum, on this list are:
- El Gran Cenote
- Cenote Dos Ojos
- Cenote Carwash
- Cenote Angelita
- Cenote Zacil Ha
- Cenote Calavera
- Kaan Luum Lagoon
- Cenote Sac Actun
- Escondido Cenote