If you’re looking for cenotes near Tulum, Mexico to visit, you are in luck. There are tons of them! We’ve put together a list of what we think are the best cenotes near Tulum – a mix of larger and smaller options, as well as cenotes directly in town and others that will need a car or driver to get to.
If you’re not familiar with what cenotes are, they are essentially sinkholes in the limestone that makes up the majority of the rock in the Riviera Maya. The break in the limestone forms a cave that fills with fresh groundwater, creating extensive underground river systems and caverns.
Often the surface of these caves will collapse, creating a pool of fresh water open to the air. Other centotes are accessible only through small openings at the surface. Mayans used cenotes as sources of fresh water and often build cities next to a cenote for this purpose.
Regardless of the type, they are phenomenal places to swim and explore. Many cenotes have deep underground cave systems that allow adventurous scuba divers to explore at their leisure. Most people are content with just splashing in the fresh cool clear water and maybe doing some snorkeling.
The way the light reflects into the clear water against the light colored limestone also makes for some great photo opportunities.
Dos Ojos Cenote
Located between Tulum and Playa Del Carmen, Cenote Dos Ojos can easily be called the world’s most famous cenote. In fact, Cenote Dos Ojos has been featured in several movies and documentaries. Its incredible beauty can be seen through stunning blue waters with magnificent rock formations.
Cenote Dos Ojos is a system made up of two separate cenotes connected via a 400-meter long passageway. This perhaps is the reason why it is named Dos Ojos, which means Two Eyes in Spanish.
Dos Ojos also has the deepest underwater passageway, which measures about 118 meters deep. Explore the bluest waters you will ever see and have fun frolicking with divers and other tourists in the crystal clear waters of the beautiful cenote. Guests can also choose to join a snorkeling tour and go deep into the caves.
Car Wash Cenote
If you are looking for an easily accessible cenote where you can enjoy a chilled experience, you should visit Cenote Car Wash. Also known as Cenote Ak Tun, this is a 50 feet open-air pond-like cenote that was actually used to wash cars.
It is surrounded by lush green vegetation and has a large swimming area that features an underwater rock where fishes and turtles swim. Look out for the small resident crocodile.
Cenote Car Wash has a rope swing and a jumping platform. Feel free to swim around with divers and have fun in this dazzling world of wonders. The parking area is very close to the cenote itself, making it easily accessible for guests with disabilities and families with kids.
Because of its strategic location, you can combine your trip to Cenote Car Wash with a visit to other nearby Riviera Maya attractions, such as visiting the famous Tulum Ruins. Here you can find ancient Mayan structures overlooking the blue Caribbean Sea.
Immerse yourself in the beauty of the clear-water pools of Tankah. The Tankah cenotes are crystal clear and stunning with zipline diving activities available for daring visitors. Tankah consists of three different cenotes which are all above ground. There are small caves which you can swim into and take amazing pictures.
If you do not want to swim, you can also explore this hidden gem on a kayak. Paddle through the Tankah Cenote and explore the hidden caves and vibrant jungle around.
Opened in 2016, Casa Tortuga is a clear water attraction that comprises three cenotes. The three cenotes are Wisho Cenote, Cenote Campana and Open Tortuga Cenote. We advise you to join a tour group and swim through the underwater caves.
The route through these caves features beautiful millenary stalagmites and stalactites that show the geological process which shaped the cenotes many years ago.
Cenote Campana features a cavern with unique flora and fauna. Here, you get to walk in from one spot and walk or swim out from an entirely different location. Open Tortuga Cenote has a 4-meter platform where tourists can dive from and swim in the brilliant jade-green waters.
You’ll be thrilled to see some fishes, flora and some bats in the caves. Be sure to take along a water-resistant camera and enjoy the famed burritos sold at the incredible Casa Tortuga Cenote.
Gran Cenote is a very large cenote situated outside Tulum. It features a surreal collection of caves, caverns and an open-air cenote which is connected by wooden boardwalks that tourists and adventurers would find intriguing. Engulfed within lush greenery, Gran cenote attracts swimmers, divers, snorkelers, summer tourists and locals alike.
This cenote is very easy to swim and snorkel in and the caves offer spectacular views of light beams as they hit the water through cave openings.
It is not unusual to see turtles and fishes swimming in the waters of this beautiful cenote. Ensure to keep a distance and not scare the turtles and fishes away. There are a series of white-walled caves through which divers can explore the ancient rock formations.
If you are not as adventurous and would rather hang out and relax, you can stretch out and lounge at the quiet pool located at the end of the second set of stairs. There are also hammocks found in the lawn area so feel free to spend some quiet time surrounded by the beauty of the cenotes and the sounds of nature.
Cenote Azul is a unique large open-air cenote featuring beautiful shallow waters. Located on the north side of Tulum, this cenote has a fun cliff jump area for the deeper pool. Wooden boardwalks separate the main swimming area. It has a shallow side that is great for kids to paddle around in, making it a great holiday location for families with younger kids. The deeper pool is popular for snorkelers and divers.
Jump into the brilliant green waters from the easy natural platform and enjoy open-air swimming. Cenote Azul also has little fish which might nibble on your feet while you are in the water. It might feel tickly at first, but you will get used to it and soon forget that they are there.
Cenote Azul is quite popular and gets crowded during midday. It is best to visit this cenote early in the morning or later in the afternoon to enjoy a more serene and relaxing experience.
Also known as The Temple of Doom Cenote, this is a secluded, quiet cavern shaped like a skull. It is a jug-like cenote that can only be accessed from the top and starts with a cliff jump to get in. There is a ladder as well for those who prefer not to take the leap.
It is perfect for swimming and diving and provides the best atmosphere for some quiet time alone or with friends. This cenote is not as family-friendly so if you have young kids, who may need a more shallow area for swimming the relaxing.
This cenote is famous for the light beams which cascade into the cenote cave. it has become a famous location for Instagrammers who come there to take pictures of the glorious light rays streaming through the roof of the cenote onto the circular platform below and the brilliant clear waters of the cenote.
As always, it is recommended that you plan your visit early in the day to avoid the crowds. But in order to fully experience the magical light beams, it’s best to go during the late afternoon.
If you plan to swim in Cenote Suytun, be ready to wear a life jacket as they are compulsory. They are also complementary and will be given at the entrance of the cenote.
Swimming here is a surreal, refreshing experience. As an added treat, you will enjoy seeing stunning peacocks strutting around on the grounds.
Located near Cenote Carwash on the Coba road, this is a small open-air cenote with beautiful clear waters. It looks like a regular swimming pool but in a lush exotic setting. Cenote Zacil-Ha offers great jumping sites as well as zip lines from which you can plunge into the cool water.
The sinkhole is about three meters deep and has little caves for visitors to explore. The cave systems also connect with other nearby cenotes and can only be explored if you have an open water certificate.
With several hammocks available for guests and other regular swimming pools found on the grounds, Cenote Zacil-Ha is quite family-friendly, so be sure to bring your kids along with you.
Casa Cenote is an exclusive oasis found between a freshwater cenote and a sandy white beach. This breathtaking waterway is surrounded by a lush mangrove. It is also the most extensive underground cave system in the world, giving it yet another reason to stop by during your visit to the Riviera Maya.
Both divers and snorkelers will enjoy the beauty Casa Cenote offers. You can immerse yourself in the extraordinarily clear green waters and bask in awe of its play of light, intricate root forest and overall magic.
The best snorkeling route is the natural route through the jungle and past the mangrove, which houses thousands of newly hatched fish.
Casa cenote measures about 250 meters and the water levels vary depending on the area. The deepest part is about 8 meters deep. Visitors can swim, paddle or kayak in the cenote.
Cenote El Jardin Del Eden
Also known as the Garden of Eden, or Cenote Ponderosa, this cenote is popular for its spectacular beauty. Located 18 minutes south of Playa Del Carmen, this cenote is secluded, exclusive and quite affordable. It is surrounded by plants growing in the water and the rocks around it are covered in beautiful green moss.
This cenote’s translucent green water makes snorkeling an extra special experience while exploring this awe-inspiring underwater world. Above ground, you will find massive rock formations with selected spots set aside for cliff jumping. This jumping spot is about 12 foot high but if you would rather go higher, there is a tree you can climb to maximize the adrenaline rush.
Another unique feature of this cenote is the collapsed roof. The middle of the cenote has rocks submerged about 1 foot underwater which used to be the roof of this cenote. Now, those rocks are used as resting spots for swimmers. Here, little fish swim around and might nibble at your feet. Do not worry though; they are harmless and will only tickle a bit.
Cenote Ik Kil
Cenote Ik Kil is an open-top, jug-like cenote. The ceiling of the cave has collapsed entirely, and the roots of trees surrounding it kept growing and cascaded into the water, creating a very surreal view. To fully experience this cenote’s adventure, climb up to the limestone staircase and jump into the calm green waters.
When swimming in Cenote Ik Kil, gaze up to the sky and enjoy the nostalgic and exclusive feeling that seeing those cascading roots envelope the space brings. Expect to see different harmless water creatures swimming around the cenote with you.
The swimming area is about 25 meters below the cave opening on the surface, so you can imagine how grand and dramatic it is. Photos of the area are spectacular, but seeing Cenote Ik Kil in person is something not to be missed. Apart from its beauty, this cenote is located only few minutes away from Chichen Itza, another not to be missed area to visit Mayan ruins.
This is a popular hotspot for tourists who want to see some Mayan ruins and enjoy a swim at the same time. X’Canche Cenote can be accessed close to the entrance of the Ek’ Balam archeological zone. It features swing jumping spots and zip lining options for visitors looking for that extra adventure.
Cenote X’Canche is absolutely beautiful, particularly because it has a waterfall that runs from the surface into the cenote. This serene location is perfect for relaxing after a long day.
Enjoy the incredible swimming experience by zip-lining and jumping in or going down the steep stairs into the heart of the cenote. Either way, you are sure to enjoy taking a dip in the refreshing cool waters.
Nice, quiet cenotes are a great experience – but you never know if it’s going to be a busy day or not. With Cenote Elvira, you DO know. You can rent out the entire cenote and grounds for your small group.
Climb down the steps into the cave and enjoy a private exclusive cenote experience with just you and your family and friends.
In addition to a beautiful, crystal clear cenote, the grounds offer grills, refrigerators, and picnic tables to make an entire day of your experience. You’ll likely meet the resident coati, who will be more than happy to go through your bags looking for snacks it can pilfer as well.
Yax-Kin is a great choice for a full day of cenote relaxation. It’s less busy than many of the others on this list – on our last visit, our group were the only ones there for 2-3 hours in the morning.
Despite this, Yax-Kin is still very well equipped. Lounges surround the beautiful open cenote, which has varying levels of depth, making it ideal for families. The facility also provides grill and picnic areas for use during the day. And there are lots of harmless iguanas hanging around, ready for their photo op.
There is even a simple cafe which serves empanadas and quesadillas as well as coconut water.
Guided Cenote Tours
There are lots of guided tour options for those who would like to leave the planning and driving to someone else. You are on vacation after all.
Enjoy this post? Check out some of our other content about Mexico: