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If you’re visiting Tulum, visiting the cenotes in and near Tulum should be the top of your itinerary. This Cenote Tulum guide will cover off on all of my favorites, but know that there are still so many more to explore.
What are cenotes?
The first question you probably have is what the heck are cenotes? Cenotes (pronounced sei-now-tay) are sinkholes that were created by the ceiling of caves collapsing. This results in sinkholes that hold salt-free water, making them great areas of swimming, diving, and scoping out the wildlife. Seriously, these cenotes are some underground magic. The water in any of these cenotes tend to me quite cold, but often a refreshing break from Tulum’s heat. There are actually three different types of cenotes. There are covered cenotes, open air cenotes, and a mix of the two (the best of both worlds).
Cenotes are extremely popular in Tulum, and throughout the Riviera Maya. I think it would be impossible to visit the region with hearing about these water pools, and they are definitely something that should be on any Tulum itinerary. I usually just stick to swimming, but there is tons of wildlife from fish and turtles to alligators, so grabbing some snorkeling gear or booking a dive session is totally worth it. And of course, after any cenote trip you’ll want to check out my guide to restaurants in Tulum.
Where to Stay in Tulum
The first thing to know when deciding on accommodation in Tulum is that there are actually a number of distinct areas to stay in: 1) Tulum Beach, Hotel Zone, 2) Tulum Pueblo and 3) Aldea Zama. Staying in Tulum Beach is significantly more expensive, as most of these properties are located right on the beach. Tulum Town, or Tulum City Center, is a much more affordable option. Personally, I prefer staying in the town as it offers a (somewhat) more authentic glimpse into life in Mexico. Furthermore, some of the best, most affordable restaurants are located in the town. I haven’t personally stayed in Aldea Zama but it is a good option if you want to be closer to the beach, but the beachfront properties aren’t in your budget.
Budget: Amorcito Corazon Hotel y Hostel
The rooms are clean and the staff is super friendly and helpful. The property has both a downstairs common area and a rooftop with a small pool. Dorm beds start at $16 USD/night, while private rooms start at $50 USD/night, making it a great option for anyone traveling to Tulum solo or on a budget. Breakfast is included in the price of the room.
Budget: Mama’s Home Hostel
Mama’s Home hostel is a great option if you’re traveling solo and looking for a more social atmosphere. Dorm beds start at $16 per night and private rooms start around $65/night.
Mid-Range: Turquoise Petit
I recently spent 5 nights at Turquoise Petit and couldn’t recommend it more! At about $75 per night, it is a great mid-range option in La Valeta in Tulum Town. The rooms are small but cute, there are two pools, the best jungle vibes, and free breakfast. They also have free filtered water, complimentary bikes, and great security.
Mid-Range: Una Vida
Una Vida is a great, moderately priced accommodation option in Tulum. Located in Tulum center, Una Vida has a large, Instagrammable pool, minimalist decor, and a great location for exploring the city. Prices start around $90 USD/night.
Luxury: Be Tulum
Be Tulum is one of the top hotels in Tulum, but with it comes a steep price tag. A night at Be Tulum averages close to $1,000 USD/night, for what will definitely be an unforgettable experience.
Everything about Nomade is perfect, from the decor to their various restaurants. Not to mention, your room will be only steps from the beach! Rooms typically range from between $300 USD – $700 USD per night.
Azulik is a luxury, eco-friendly haven. With no wifi or electricity, this hotel boasts some of the most interesting looking rooms. Whether you stay here as a guest, or stop by for a meal, Azulik should definitely be added to your Tulum itinerary.
Gran Cenote is easily the most famous cenote in the Tulum. I typically try to avoid the overly popular destination spots, but Gran Cenote is definitely worth a visit in my opinion. I mean look at the color of that water!!
Despite the name, Gran Cenote is not actually all that large. There are about 140 square meter for swimming, which includes a large cave, a smaller cavern and a middle area where you can sit and take pictures. There are two sinkholes, separated by a small tunnel. I recommend heading to the second sinkhole first, as it is the best for pictures and tends to be less busy.
There was recently a rule implemented that prohibits you from entering with a camera or tripod. This is most likely to limit the number of photographers and content creators taking photos at this famous Instagram spot in Tulum. However, you are still welcome to snag a photo with your phone.
Cost of Visiting Gran Cenote
The cost to visit Gran Cenote in Tulum was recently increased, so make sure you’re always checking official websites for up-to-date information. The current entrance fee, at the time of writing this article, to enter the cenote is MX$300 (or about $15). This is a bit pricier than some of the other cenotes in the area. Additionally, it is cash only, but they do accept US dollars as well.
If you’re interested in renting additional gear you can do so for an extra cost. Gran Cenote is definitely one of the most popular spots to snorkel, but the water is seriously so clear that you can see the wildlife without even putting your head under the water. There is also the option to rent some additional gear at Gran Cenote. This includes snorkeling gear for MX$80, a locker for MX$30, and a life jacket for MX$50.There are bathrooms, changing rooms, and lockers on the premises. There is a cost to use the lockers, but it’s worth it if you’re carrying any valuables.
How to get to Gran Cenote in Tulum
Gran Cenote’s popularity is partially due to its proximity to Tulum city center. Located just 3 miles (5 kilometers) away from Tulum city center, it can be reached by car in approximately 10 minutes.
If you’re visiting Tulum on a budget, you could also bike in approximately 30 minutes, but be mindful of the busy road. There are some guided bike tours that cover the cenote, so this might be a good option for you if you’re less comfortable biking alone.
Another option is to take the ADO bus to Gran Cenote. Just make sure to chat with the bus driver and confirm that he can drop you off here.
Cenote Calavera is one of the most unique cenotes near Tulum. It is located nearby to Gran Cenote, so you could easily visit both in the same morning. Cenote Calavera is for the adventurous type, with two different areas that allow for jumping, along with the swing pictured above.
The entrance fee was recently raised to 350 MXN ($17 USD), similar to Gran Cenote, so it is on the pricier end for its size. You can get from Gran Cenote to here in about 5 minutes by bike or 1 minute by car.
Right next door to Cenote Calavera you’ll find Restaurante Cetli, one of the best restaurants in Tulum.
Cenote Dos Ojos
Sadly I have never visited Cenote Dos Ojos myself, but I have heard so many great things that I couldn’t not include it on Tulum Cenote Guide. Cenote Dos Ojos is one of the biggest cenotes on this lists, and one of the most famous cenotes in the world.
The cenote itself, which translates to “Two Eyes Cenote”, is actually made up of two cenote areas. You can purchase a combo ticket which gives you access to two additional areas as well. You can scuba dive or snorkel here.
Many people recommend doing the guided tour for diving to get the full experience of the cenote. Having a guide will give you access to the Bat Cave, which otherwise isn’t open to the public. You can upgrade your ticket while at the cenote for a private tour, or you could book a tour ahead of time with a reputable diving company.
Cost of Visiting Dos Ojos
The current entrance fee, at the time of writing this article, to enter the cenote is MX$350 (or about $18). The entrance fee for Dos Ojos is cash only, but you have the option to purchase a ticket online in advanced as well.
How to get to Dos Ojos in Tulum
Dos Ojos is located approximately 30 minutes from Tulum Pueblo, or 45 minutes from the main beach strip. The easiest way to get to the cenote is by taxi, however you could take a collectivo as well. Due to the distance, I personally wouldn’t recommend getting there by bike.
Cenote Azul is one of the most popular cenotes in Riviera Maya, Mexico due to its proximity to both Playa del Carmen and Tulum. It is located in Riviera Maya, directly on the main road. Cenote Azul is known for it’s beautiful, bright turquoise color, with its name translating to “blue cenote”. The large turquoise pools are perfect for swimming and hang out in the sun. Plus, the water is crystal clear and super refreshing! Before we dive too deep into the nitty gritty details, I want to clarify that this cenote is not to be mistaken with Cenote Azul in Bacalar, although I’ve heard that that one is beautiful as well!
When you first arrive at Cenote Azul you’ll pass the ticket booth, were you can purchase your ticket and any rentals with cash – MXN pesos or US dollars. You’ll be instructed to head to the showers to rinse off before continuing on to the cenotes. You’ll then walk through a beautiful jungle area, passing two small cenotes on either side. While these aren’t as big for swimming, they are perfect for a quick photo and don’t get super crowded.
Things to Know About Cenote Azul
Cenote Azul is known for its large swimming area, which makes it possible to spend hours swimming under the sun. There are both deep and shallow areas where you can actually see the ground. Be careful though, as many of the rocks are covered in moss and can be quite slippery. You’ll find two platforms to jump from, including a cliff jumping spot of about 15 feet for the more adventurous type. I personally stuck with the platform, which was only a few feet from the water.
The cenote is located right next to a number of other cenotes including Cenote Cristalino, Kantunchi and Jardin of Eden. You can easily combine a visit with these cenotes, but you’ll need to pay the entrance fee at each of these.
If you stand still in the water for a few moments, you may notice small nibbles around your feet. Nothing to be worried about! The fish are known to bite at any dead skin on your feet, a spa practice that is quite common in Asia. At one point there were around 15 fish nibbling at each of my feet! The small shop actually sells food specifically to feed the fish, but I think they had quite the feast on my toes!
How Much Does it Cost to Visit Cenote Azul?
Entry into cenote azul costs 140 MXN pesos for adults and 80 MXN pesos for children ages 4 to 8. Life jackets are not required at Cenote Azul, but you have the option of renting on at the front desk for 40 MXN pesos. You can also rent snorkel gear for an additional 70 MXN pesos. Only cash is accepted, but you have the option to pay in US dollars as well. It is a relatively cheap activity that can easily be visited without a tour, so it is perfect for visiting Tulum on a Budget.
How to Get to Cenote Azul?
Located just on the main road of Carretera Federal, Cenote Azul is super easy to get to. If you are renting a car while in Mexico, driving is super easy. It is located on Carretera Federal, the main road between Tulum and Playa del Carmen. There is a large parking lot with free parking, so you shouldn’t have any issues if you arrive early. Rental cars are a great way to get around Quintana Roo if you feel comfortable driving in Mexico.
If you’re arriving at Cenote Azul by taxi, I recommend either arranging for your driver to wait, or to make sure sure that you have a phone number to call for a pickup. I have heard that later in the day there are often drivers sitting around waiting for pickups, however this was not the case when we visited, so best to be prepared.
If you plan on having your driver wait for you while you swim and hang out, make sure to arrange a price ahead of time, and pay after you’ve completed your trip.
Because Cenote Azul is located on the main road, you can arrive by colectivo. Colectivos are shared vans that drive back and forth along specific routes. In this case, you will be traveling along the route between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. Rides typically cost between 20-40 MXN per person, and can be hailed down on the side of the road if there is space. Just let the driver know that you are going to Cenote Azul, and you will be dropped off right in front. While colectivos lack the comfort of a private taxi, they are a cheap and easy way to get from place to place.
If you get one thing out of this blog post, it is that you should not miss out on Cenote Oxman. It is located just outside of Valladolid, approximately 10-15 minutes by car. By far, the highlight of Cenote Oxman is the famous rope swing. I think I must have swung at least 25 times, and had such a blast. Arriving early meant that we didn’t have the share the cenote with other travelers, with easy access to the swing. Tip: if you’re trying to get the swing, pull really hard to yank it back! It took us a while to nail the rope swing retrieval method. Because the water at Cenote Oxman actually gets a lot of sunlight, the water isn’t too cold.
How Much Does it Cost to Visit Cenote Oxman?
There are two different ticket options when visiting Cenote Oxman, but make sure to bring cash. The first option costs 150 MXN ($7.50) and gets you admission into the cenote only. The second option costs 250 MXN ($12.50) but includes a 200 peso credit to the on-site restaurant and access to the pool. This is a great option if you’re already planning on eating at the restaurant. We stopped by to check it out and the food is pretty decent, especially the traditional Longaniza. But if you’re heading back to Valladolid you can get better food for cheaper.
How to get to Cenote Oxman from Tulum
By far the easiest way to get to Cenote Oxman from Tulum is by car, either a rented car if you feel comfortable or a taxi. We hired a taxi driver from Tulum and paid 2800 MXN ($138 USD) plus tip. This included the 1.5 hour drive each way to get to the Valladolid region, two cenotes, and a stop for lunch in Valladolid proper. The full day was about nine hours, so well worth the price in our opinion, especially if you have 2-3 travelers in your group.
If you are traveling to Tulum on a budget, or exploring Tulum solo, then the ADO bus is a great option as well! Tickets start at 140 MXN ($7 USD) each way from Tulum to Valladolid. Once you arrive at the bus station, you should expect to pay around 100 MXN pesos ($5 USD) to get to cenote oxman.
Cenote Choo Ha
Cenote Choo Ha might just be my favorite cenote in Tulum, Mexico. That’s probably not a fair statement becauses Cenote Choo Ha isn’t actually in Tulum, but it’s close enough that I’ll stand by my statement. Also, I say that about every cenote on this list haha. Without a doubt, a visit to Cenote Choo Ha, an underground cenote filled with stalactites and stalagmites, should be on your itinerary for any trip to the Yucatan Peninsula. I only had the chance to visit Cenote Choo Ha, but if you have the time make sure to add Cenote Tamcach and Cenote Multum to your list.
How much does it cost to enter Cenote Choo Ha?
Choo-Ha Cenote has an entrance fee of $100 mxn (apx $5 USD), so it’s a great activity if you’re visiting Tulum on a budget. Make sure to bring cash as credit cards are not accepted.
How to get to Cenote Choo Ha
Cenote Choo Ha, and the other nearby Coba cenotes, are located just a few kilometers down the road from Coba, and just under an hour from Tulum. I would recommend visiting Coba in the early morning, before it gets too hot, and then heading over to the cenotes to cool off.
When you arrive, you will come across a ticket booth just off of the main road.Once you purchase your tickets (remember to bring your cash), continue by car down a dirt path to reach the first two cenotes, including Cenote Choo Ha.
You will need a car to reach Cenote Choo Ha, as there is no public transport available that will take you to the cenote. You have the option of either hiring a rental car or getting a tax, or private driver.
I have not personally rented a car in Tulum, but have heard that it is easy and the roads are quite manageable. The cenote is relatively quiet and it is generally easy to find parking.
On your way back from Coba and Cenote Choo Ha, Cenote Carwash is another great cenote to stop by. Located just 10-15 minutes from Tulum center, it is one of the best cenotes near Tulum. Cenote Carwash is an open air cenote, which makes the water a great temperature for swimming and diving. Similar to Cenote Oxman, there is a rope swing that adds a whole lot of fun!
How much does it cost to enter Cenote Carwash?
Cenote Carwash is one of the cheaper cenotes on this guide, with the entrance fee set at 100 MXN ($5 USD). Similar to other cenotes, this cenote is cash only so come prepared.
The last cenote on this guide is Cenote Escondido. Sadly this is another cenote that I haven’t had the chance to visit myself, but due to its proximity to the city center it is a must for this list. You can reach Cenote Escondido from Tulum Pueblo in just a few minutes. I stayed at Turquoise Petit Hotel, and you can reach the cenote in 5 minutes by car and 10-15 minutes by bike. I recommend biking over from town for a nice refreshing swim.
Open from 8AM to 5PM daily, Cenote Escondido and Cenote Cristal have the same entrance fee and ticket booth, but are located on opposite sides of the highway.
What to Pack for the Tulum Cenotes
- Flip Flops, or shoes that are easy to slip on and off
- Bug spray (for after you’re done swimming)
- GoPro for underwater shots
- Travel towel
- Snorkeling Gear
Planning a visit to Tulum, Mexico? Here are some other articles to check out:
- Tulum Itinerary
- Tulum on a Budget
- Breakfast in Tulum
- Restaurants in Tulum: Comprehensive Guide
- Tulum Solo Travel Guide
- Best Tulum Instagram Spots
- 15 Things to do in Tulum