Many of you may have heard about the infamous cenotes that Mexico has to offer - or, at least, have seen photos of them splashed across social media. With over 6,000 scattered across the Yucatan Peninsula, these remarkable underwater sinkholes are one of the largest tourist draws of the area. And with Tulum being home to the largest underwater river system ever discovered, you’re likely to find the very best of these hidden gems during your travels! So to make your journey easier, we have put together a list of some of our favourite cenotes which are guaranteed to provide a magical and unforgettable experience.
What are cenotes?
You might be wondering what makes cenotes so special. Well, these underwater sinkholes were created over hundreds - even thousands - of years of limestone erosion that exposed the groundwater underneath. To the ancient Mayan people, they were sacred. Used for religious sacrifices and ceremonies, they were considered crossroads to the underworld - and even home to some of the Gods!
Today, these secret gems offer tourists a completely unique experience to anything else in the world. In Tulum, there are over two hundred cenotes, though not all of them are open to the public. Below we have included a list of some of our top favourites.
The Gran Cenote
One of the most popular cenotes in Tulum also happens to be one of our favourites! Located just twenty minutes from Tulum, the Gran Cenote is made up of a collection of smaller caves that are connected by wooden walkways.
Surrounded by lush greenery and jungle, the Gran Cenote is made up of caves full of stunning stalagmites and stalactites, two snorkelling areas and crystal clear water. It’s the perfect all-rounder, ideal for swimming, snorkelling and diving. It’s also located in the direction of Coba from Tulum, so if you’re thinking of taking a trip to the Coba Ruins (which we would always recommend!), then it’s a great choice for a joint Coba Cenote Tour.
Cenote Dos Ojos
Next on our list is the amazing Cenote Dos Ojos, so named as it includes two underwater sinkholes (approx. 70 metres each) which are connected by one passageway - giving it the appearance of two eyes.
This winding underwater cave system is particularly popular amongst divers, but its ‘eyes’ are also a great place to go snorkelling! Located south of Playa del Carmen and north of Tulum (about a 30 minute drive away), Cenote Dos Ojos is one of the best cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula and should absolutely be included in your itinerary!
Once there, you can also visit the beautiful and tranquil Cenote Nicte Ha, which is included in the Dos Ojos Park.
At Casa Cenote, you will find crystal-clear turquoise water full of fish and vegetation, nestled within lush trees and mangroves. This stunning cenote is open and perfect for snorkelling - at only 6 metres deep, it is also one of the most family-friendly cenotes to visit!
You will find the option for a multiple of activities in the cenote, including swimming, snorkelling, paddle boarding and kayaking. Thanks to its proximity to the beach, you can also enjoy a swim in the ocean afterwards for the best of both worlds. It is definitely one of our favourite places to visit on our private tours.
The final choice for our list is the incredible Cenote Calavera - or ‘Temple of Doom’ - whose name translates to the “Skull” cenote in reference to its three sinkholes, which look like two eye sockets and a mouth.
We absolutely love this cenote - and take a number of visitors to it during our private O2 Tulum tours. To drown down the 4 metres into the water, you can either use the ladder on its edge or, for an extra thrill, you can launch yourself inside by simply jumping straight in. For all you Instagrammers looking for the perfect shot, Cenote Calavera also has a rope swing that you can enjoy. Despite its close proximity to Tulum, it is still less touristy than other locations so it’s perfect if you want to avoid large crowds.
While it may look small from the surface, it actually opens up to a circumference of 170 metres once you’re inside! Thanks to its impressive depth, it’s perfect for those looking to go cenote diving in Tulum.
We hope you found our list of the best cenotes in Tulum helpful! Each one of our favourite cenotes is featured in our private O2 Tulum tours- so if you’re looking for the perfect cenote tour, you can book yours here.
We offer a number of scenic tours in Tulum - for the full list visit our homepage.