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Cenote Calavera: A Practical Guide to Visiting Tulum’s Skull Pool

Cenote Calavera: A Practical Guide to Visiting Tulum’s Skull Pool

Planning a visit to Cenote Calavera? Here’s what you need to know before you go.

Tucked away just outside of Tulum’s center, Cenote Calavera is one of the town’s most underrated spots.

Sure, Tulum is blessed with plenty of cenotes and places to scuba dive, but you shouldn’t overlook the majestic Cenote Calavera when it comes to water-based fun in the area.

Also nicknamed the Temple of Doom Cenote or Skull Cenote (we promise it’s not as scary as it sounds), here’s why you need to visit the Calavera cenote in Tulum.

Why Visit Cenote Calavera?

Alright, so your first question might be how did Cenote Calavera get its unusual name? Well, it’s rather simple actually – it comes down to semantics. 

Calavera is the Spanish word for skull, and this cenote has a rather skull-like appearance; it boasts one larger hole (the mouth, if you will) and two smaller ones that make up the eyes.

Cenote Facilities

Cenote Calavera

Wondering what to expect at the cenote? You’ll find a wooden ladder, plenty of cliff-jumping opportunities (more on that in a moment), and a rope swing so that you can live out your wildest Tarzan dreams.

Take our advice and arrive just in time for the opening (at 9am, FYI) and you might just get to enjoy the cenote all to yourself. It’ll be worth waking up early-ish, we promise. 

Along the outside of the cenote, there are a few wooden benches and places where you can leave your things and enjoy the pool – just remember to keep an eye out for your belongings, and don’t leave anything valuable unattended.

You’ll also need to remember to bring snacks and water with you as there are no shops or restaurants within easy reach of the cenote. You can stock up in a convenience store in Tulum Centro before you head out to the pool.

Rock Jumping

Cenote Calavera

One of the reasons we love Cenote Calavera so much is because it affords you the opportunity to rock jump. Sure, climbing down the ladder into the water is fun, but nothing quite beats taking a leap of faith off the rugged rocks and making a splash landing into the pool below.

Trust us, this is when arriving early really pays off as you’ll be able to jump freely without interrupting other cenote-goers. And you get all the best photographs. Just make sure you’re a strong swimmer before you throw caution to the wind.

The Calavera cenote itself opens up beneath the hole in the rock above, providing a pretty spacious place to swim, dive, and scuba.

About Cenote Calavera’s Cave System

Cenote Calavera

This particular cave system is home to one of the longest underground rivers in the world, which is pretty impressive if you ask us. If you’re after the techy details, the water flows beneath the ground and passes through many of Tulum’s cenotes – including the famous Sac Actun Cenote.

Oh, and just in case you’re wondering what kind of water fills Cenote Calavera and fancy learning all the nerdy bits allow us to explain. 

Because this particular cenote is near the ocean, it’s filled with halocline water. This means it contains both freshwater and saltwater that, instead of combining to make a mildly salty pool, sit in layers atop each other. 

If you look closely enough, you might just be able to spot the halocline layer sitting above the salty water.

Planning Your Visit to Cenote Calavera

Cenote Calavera Address 

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

Cenote Calavera Tulum Opening Times 

Cenote Calavera is open every day between 9am and 5pm.

Visiting Cenote Calavera Independently 

Sadly, there aren’t many guided tours to Cenote Calavera. Don’t let that put you off, though, as it’s really easy to visit solo.

Cenote Calavera is a short 10-minute car journey from the center of town or a 30-minute bike ride – it’s situated along the main highway towards Coba. You won’t be able to miss the cenote, just keep your eyes peeled for a white sign on the right-hand side labeled CENOTE.

If you’re really up for a challenge, this cenote is situated around an hour’s walk away from Tulum Centro. That said, we recommend downloading an offline map and making the journey during daylight hours.

Once there, you’ll need to pay the Cenote Calavera entrance fee of 100 MXN (around 5 dollars). And, if you want to scuba dive in Cenote Calavera, there are plenty of dive shops in the center of Tulum where you can rent equipment/guides.

We recommend visiting Agua Clara Diving Tulum; they have top-of-the-range equipment for hire and offer stellar diving courses for those looking to seriously improve their scuba diving skills.

Where to Stay for Cenote Calavera

Pacha Tulum

Pacha Tulum

To be within close proximity to Cenote Calavera, you’ll want to stay in Tulum Centro. And, while there are so many brilliant places to stay here, one of our favorite hotels is Pacha Tulum.

We recommend the luxe Presidential Suite, a two-floor apartment decked out in handcrafted wooden furnishings and featuring a private plunge pool. Breakfast is included and is served in the outside cafe near the pretty communal pool.

Better yet, the hotel can arrange cenote tours for you – visiting Cenote Calavera has never been easier. The reasonable price tag is only the cherry on top of a very swish cake.

Need more inspiration for where to stay in Tulum? Read our guide to the best hotels in Tulum to find your dream stay.

Cenote Calavera Map