Best Cenotes in Tulum for Snorkeling

The spectacular coastline isn’t the only thing people go to Tulum for. This ancient port town has been well-known for its many cenotes for thousands of years. Being an adventurer at heart, I couldn’t help but visit their best ones during my stay.

I’ve had my fair share of adventure in Riviera Maya, diving in awesome cenotes and swimming in their cool waters. Let me tell you everything you need to know about cenotes and the best ones to visit in Tulum. 

What is a Cenote?

Unless you’ve previously visited the Yucatan peninsula, you’re probably unfamiliar with the term cenote. Pronounced “seh-no-tay,” this simply means a natural sinkhole with a collapsed cave. 

They are an important feature in Mayan culture, as they were regarded as entrances to the underworld (known as Xibalba).

You will find them all over the world, but you can predominantly find them in the Yucatan peninsula, including Tulum and Playa del Carmen. There are around 6000 in the region, but many are inaccessible.

There’s actually a ring of cenotes in the region, at the edges of an impact crater from the asteroid that archaeologists believe caused the dinosaurs to go extinct.

When I first heard of them, my adventurous side couldn’t help but visit. They’re the perfect place to go snorkeling and exploring the underground cave systems. 

Over time, some dry up, so they aren’t suitable for diving or snorkeling. But generally speaking, they’re all worth a day trip if you’re in Tulum. You can find them in three types.

  • Open air cenotes
  • Underground cenotes
  • Semi-open cenotes

15 Best Cenotes to Snorkel in Tulum

Now that you’re familiar with these underground pools and their beauty, you’re probably ready to visit a few. If you’re in Tulum, step away from the ocean and wander into the jungle to see these natural sinkholes. Here are the best snorkeling cenotes Tulum has to offer.

Gran Cenote

gran cenote mexico

⌛ Hours: 8 AM to 5 PM (Last entry 4.15 PM)
📍 Location: Quintana Roo 109, 77796 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
Entry Fee: USD25 per person
Distance from Tulum: ~3 miles 

Just a short cab ride away from the beautiful beaches of Tulum, Gran Cenote is one of the most popular dive spots in the area.

With stunning blues and greens, and lots of sea turtles—this open-air cenote is also a great place for photoshoots. Although it connects to one of the largest cave systems on earth, it’s actually pretty safe.

There are many shallow areas here, so even kids and those who aren’t confident swimmers can enjoy it. There are plenty of bats in the caves, but they’re harmless, so there’s no reason to worry.

I highly recommend going snorkeling in the deeper areas if you’re up to it. I also went diving, where I could explore the white-walled caves and spectacular rock formations inside. Even if you don’t go snorkeling, the water is clear enough to see some of the underwater wildlife.

There are Plenty of facilities, including bathrooms and lockers (affordable, under USD 2). You can also rent life jackets, and there are plenty of stalls selling food and drink.  

Cenote Calavera

Cenote Calavera

⌛ Hours: 9 AM to 4 PM
📍 Location: Carretera Tulum, Av. Coba Km 1.7, 77796 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
Entry Fee: 100 MXN, Diving 200 MXN
Distance from Tulum: ~2 miles

Aptly named the “Temple of Doom,” this one is also known as the “Skull Cenote” due to its three openings that resemble a skull’s eye and mouth sockets. Due to its mystique form, it is a hidden gem within the Riviera Maya’s cenote network.

Surrounded by lush vegetation and natural rock formations, it is much quieter than others on this list. Visitors can rappel down into the cenote through one of the natural openings or leap into the refreshing waters from the edges above.

The deep, clear waters below reveal a mesmerizing underground world, perfect for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts to discover the intricate underwater formations and glimpse the diverse marine life.

Casa Cenote

Casa Cenote

⌛ Hours:  9 AM to 5 PM
📍 Location: Carretera 307. 77710 Tulum, Quintana Roo. Mexico
Entry Fee:
500 MXN per person
Distance from Tulum: ~7.5 miles

Also known as Cenote Manati, this amazing location has a spectacular white sand beach and alluring blue waters. It’s a great spot for diving, but keep in mind that there is a crocodile (named Pancho) in the waters. It stretches from the ocean for about half a mile.

This is an open-air cenote, and it’s not as crowded and busy as others. I found that surprising because its depth is 6-20 feet, making it perfect for all swimming levels. You can go swimming, snorkeling, diving, and even free diving here.

The crystal-clear waters unveil an underwater paradise, showcasing a diverse ecosystem of aquatic life, including fish, turtles, and mesmerizing mangrove roots that seem to dance beneath the surface.

The open-air layout and shallow depths make it perfect for both beginners and experienced explorers, offering a serene environment to admire the underwater marvels.

There’s a restaurant at the Casa Cenote Hotel which serves delicious Mexican food at affordable prices. Overall, it’s a day trip suitable for families, solo travelers, and even couples.

Cenote Dos Ojos

Cenote Dos Ojos

⌛ Hours:  9 AM to 5 PM
📍 Location: 77774 Quintana Roo, Mexico
Entry Fee: 18 USD per person
Distance from Tulum: ~13.5 miles

Dos Ojos beckons adventure enthusiasts with its extensive cave system.  The underwater tunnels, adorned with stalactites and stalagmites, create a magical setting for exploration, unveiling a mesmerizing world beneath the surface.

This one is a diver’s paradise, with the deepest cave passage in the area (Cenote Pit). Its name, translating to “Two Eyes,” refers to its two interconnected sinkholes resembling a pair of eyes gazing into the depths.

Since there are plenty of shallow waters and lifeguards on site, I’d say this is a great option for families as well as solo travelers. There are bathrooms and life jackets available, and also a restaurant on site.

Cenote Azul

Cenote Azul

⌛ Hours: 8.30 AM to 5 PM
📍 Location: Riviera Maya, Carr. Cancún – Tulum Km 266, 77734 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico
Entry Fee: 7.50 USD per person
Distance from Tulum: ~26 miles

With expansive, breathtaking turquoise waters, Cenote Azul is a spectacular place to visit. It is actually in Playa del Carmen, so it’s a longer ride from Tulum.

This open-air cenote boasts a vast pool perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and cliff diving. It boasts a 15-foot high cliff, perfect for jumping into the cool water. 

The teal depths reveal a hidden world of underwater rock formations and diverse aquatic life. So, there’s plenty of fish in the water; some even call it a natural fish spa.

There are bathrooms and showers on site, as well as a small snack bar. I brought my own food, but both options are great. Just make sure you don’t bring any alcohol because it is restricted. 

Cenote Cristalino

Cenote Cristalino

⌛ Hours: 8 AM to 6 PM
📍 Location: Carretera Cancun – Tulum Km 269, Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico.
Entry Fee: 8–12 USD per person (dependent on age)
Distance from Tulum: ~20 miles

Azure blue, crystal clear waters are only part of the mesmerizing charm of Cenote Cristalino. It’s partially covered and usually not crowded. This is the perfect adventure for families and beginner swimmers because the waters are relatively shallow. For the slightly more adventurous, it is bordered by a low cliff, perfect for jumping into the water.

Activities include swimming, snorkeling, and even relaxing. That’s because the swimming hole is surrounded by a well-maintained garden area and lush forests all around. It’s great for unwinding, and you can even get stunning photos at this picturesque escape.

This isn’t very big (or deep), so it’s unsuitable for diving. However, the place is very tranquil and relaxing.  Facilities are average—bathrooms, life jackets, and a restaurant. Showering before you enter the water is mandatory. 

Cenote CarWash

Cenote CarWash

⌛ Hours: 8 AM to 6 PM
📍 Location: Cenote Car Wash, 77797 Rancho Viejo, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Entry Fee: 18 USD per person
Distance from Tulum: ~5.5 miles

Initially used as a car washing spot, Cenote CarWash near Tulum has evolved into a serene oasis.

Surrounded by lush vegetation, it offers a refreshing swim in its clear waters. Its underground network reveals stunning limestone formations and caves, providing divers with an adventurous exploration.

This open-air cenote is almost like a pond, and the water temperature is just right. I was told there are resident baby crocodiles, but I didn’t see any. I recommend going in the summer when there is an algae bloom, giving the water a lovely hue.

The facilities at CarWash were basic yet convenient, offering shaded areas, simple restroom facilities, and a small stall providing snacks and drinks, allowing a comfortable visit.

Cenote Escondido

Cenote Escondido

⌛ Hours: 9 AM to 5 PM
📍 Location: Mayan Blue Rd, 77765 Q.R., Mexico
Entry Fee: 12 USD per person, 18 USD if scuba diving
Distance from Tulum: ~2.5 miles

Tucked away within the Riviera Maya, Cenote Escondido lives up to its name, “Hidden Cenote.” This secluded gem boasts a tranquil setting amidst the jungle. Its pristine waters invite visitors to swim, snorkel, and revel in the natural beauty.

This is the best one for scuba divers. You can opt for a guide or go solo. There’s an underground flooded cavern that is about 400 feet inland.

For those who can’t handle scuba diving, there’s a cliff to jump into the cool waters and an epic rope swing. In short, this oasis is a dream for adventurers, and it’s not overcrowded with tourists. 

The facilities here are humble but sufficient. Wearing lifejackets is not mandatory, and there is plenty of space to have a picnic by the cenote.

Cenote El Pit

Cenote El Pit

⌛ Hours: 8 AM to 6 PM
📍 Location: 77774 Quintana Roo, Mexico
Entry Fee: 33 USD per person
Distance from Tulum: ~15.5 miles

Cenote El Pit is truly a magical place to visit, with deep, turquoise waters that mesmerize divers with crystal-clear visibility. It is an oval-shaped pit that opens up to a cylindrical cavern.

The depths reveal spectacular rock formations and a captivating underground world. You’ll see stalactites and more caverns as you dive deeper.

That’s not all. There’s a halocline where saltwater and freshwater meet. The blurry water and the way the light refracts in this area is just spectacular. 

The pit is about 400 feet deep, and there’s much to explore. Swimmers need not worry though, as the main portion of the cave is only 40 meters deep. 

The well-equipped facilities featured convenient changing rooms, clean restroom facilities, and a small shop offering snacks and refreshments, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable visit for the adrenaline-seeking adventurers.

Cenote Yaxmuul

Cenote Yaxmuul

⌛ Hours: 9 AM to 5.30 PM
📍 Location: Carretera Tulum Playa Del Carmen, Carr. Tulum – Cancún, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
Entry Fee: 37 USD per person
Distance from Tulum: ~10 miles

Nestled in the Yucatan Peninsula, Cenote Yaxmuul invites visitors to uncover its serene beauty. Its tranquil waters and lush surroundings create a peaceful ambiance. Perfect for swimming and snorkeling, Yaxmuul offers an immersive experience in a serene natural setting.

Snorkeling in Yaxmuul revealed glimpses of underwater wonders, showcasing its hidden treasures.

The facilities here were minimal yet adequate, featuring shaded areas, basic restroom facilities, and a small stall offering essentials, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the peaceful ambiance comfortably.

Cenote Jardin Del Eden

Cenote Jardin Del Eden

⌛ Hours:  9 AM to 5 PM
📍 Location: 77734 Quintana Roo, Mexico
Entry Fee: 5-10 USD per person (depending on age)
Distance from Tulum: ~25 miles

Known as the “Garden of Eden Cenote,” this hidden paradise near Tulum mesmerizes visitors with its emerald waters and lush greenery.

This one offers a peaceful escape for swimming and snorkeling amidst its serene setting, allowing guests to immerse themselves in the tranquility of nature. With a 12-foot cliff to jump from, it offers a truly exhilarating swimming experience. 

This is an open cenote with deep areas for scuba diving and shallow areas for swimming. I find it’s perfect for families or large groups. There are plenty of Garra Rufa fish that will give you a “pedicure” when you dip your bare feet in the water. 

The facilities at Jardin Del Eden were simple yet accommodating, providing shaded areas, clean restroom facilities, and a small shop offering snacks and drinks, ensuring visitors could enjoy the tranquil beauty comfortably.

Cenote Encantado

Cenote Encantado

⌛ Hours: 9 AM to 5 PM
📍 Location: Carr. Tulum-Boca Paila Km 10, Tulum Beach, Zona Hotelera, 77760 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
Entry Fee: 3 USD per person
Distance from Tulum: ~7 miles

Being one of the larger ones I’ve visited, Cenote Encantado, has a lot to offer visitors. It’s surrounded by tranquil jungle and mangroves, and the water is perfect for snorkeling. It’s also large enough for paddling activities.

Translating to “Enchanted Cenote,” this hidden gem enchants visitors with its secluded beauty. Tucked away from the bustling tourist spots, Encantado offers a serene escape for swimming and exploring its pristine waters, allowing guests to indulge in a peaceful encounter with nature’s allure.

Since it’s quiet, it is great for relaxation, and you can even stay at the Tent Lodges if you prefer. It’s pretty close to the hotel area, yet it seems relatively unknown, so don’t expect crowds of tourists. Still, the facilities around are more than satisfactory.

Cenote Cristal

Cenote Cristal

⌛ Hours:  9 AM to 4 PM
📍 Location:  Carr. Tulum- Chetumal Km. 3, Tulum, Mexico
Entry Fee: 9 USD per person
Distance from Tulum: ~2.5 miles

One of the closest to Tulum, Cenote Cristal, is famous for a reason. It captivates visitors with its crystal-clear waters and serene atmosphere.

Surrounded by lush greenery, it invites guests to swim and snorkel in its refreshing depths, providing a tranquil retreat in the heart of the Riviera Maya.

Visitors can immerse themselves in the refreshing waters, swim, snorkel, or even scuba dive to explore the hidden chambers and tunnels adorned with intricate geological formations.

The serene ambiance and natural beauty create an otherworldly experience, inviting a sense of tranquility and wonder.

This cenote holds cultural significance for the Mayan civilization, often considered sacred. Its ethereal beauty and historical importance make it a must-visit destination for travelers seeking both adventure and a deeper connection to the natural marvels of the world.

Cenote Zacil-Ha

Cenote Zacil-Ha

⌛ Hours: 9 AM to 8 PM
📍 Location: Coba km 8, México 180D, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
Entry Fee: 12-18 USD per person (depending on age)
Distance from Tulum: ~5.5 miles

Cenote Zacil-Ha, nestled in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, is a breathtaking natural sinkhole surrounded by dense jungle. Its name, “Zacil-Ha,” translates to “clear water” in the Mayan language, perfectly encapsulating its pristine, transparent waters.

Here, you get a unique experience with its tranquil, emerald-colored pool, inviting visitors to swim, snorkel, or simply bask in its serene ambiance.

What distinguishes Zacil-Ha is its partially covered cavern, casting ethereal rays of sunlight into the water, creating a mesmerizing play of light and shadows. The natural formations within it, including stalactites and stalagmites, add to its allure, providing a fascinating underwater landscape for exploration.

Kaan Luum Lagoon and Cenote

Kaan Luum Lagoon and Cenote

⌛ Hours:  9 AM – 4 PM
📍 Location: 77760 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
Entry Fee: 15 USD per person (non Mexicans)
Distance from Tulum: ~7 miles

A very large open-air cenote that’s perfect for family picnics and swimming. There’s an 80m sinkhole in Kaan Luum Lagoon that’s roped off due to safety concerns. But the rest of the lagoon is actually pretty shallow and a lot safer than most others. It’s only a 15-20 minute car ride from the center of Tulum, so it’s a pretty popular destination. 

Although it is a little more expensive compared to others, I believe it’s definitely worth a visit. I enjoyed paddleboarding, while a friend preferred kayaking in the lagoon.

There is a cafe with limited options, so most people bring their own food and drink. It’s best to bring a picnic blanket, but there are a few benches available if you don’t.

I found that the facilities were acceptable, with bathrooms and showers available for everyone to enjoy.

Note that showering is mandatory if you’re getting into the water. Life jackets are also available for rent. Overall, this is a beautiful place to visit. 

Important Tulum Cenote Guide

Now that we’ve reviewed the best cenotes to visit, here’s what you need to know regardless of which cenote you are going to.


Cenote entrance fees vary widely. Some may charge a nominal fee, while others, especially those with more amenities, might have higher prices. It’s good to carry cash in smaller denominations to cover these fees. You might also need to pay for bathrooms, snorkeling gear, life jackets, etc. 

Additionally, if you’re hiring a guide or going on a guided tour, factor that into your budget. I would say the budget (excluding guide) is typically around $100 for two people.

Where to Stay

Tulum offers various accommodation options catering to different budgets. There are luxurious resorts, eco-friendly boutique hotels, beachfront cabanas, and even budget hostels. Choose based on your preferences and proximity to the cenotes you plan to visit.

If you are going on a cenotes tour in Tulum:

  • Check with the tour operator about the itinerary, which cenotes are included, and any additional costs not covered in the initial tour price.
  • Ask your tour operator which hotels/stays they recommend that are neat to your destination, 
  • Ensure you have the necessary items packed for the tour as outlined in a cenote packing list, including swimwear, towels, sunscreen, and snacks.

Closest Cenotes to Tulum

The following are the closest cenotes to Tulum:

  • Gran Cenote: A popular choice due to its proximity to Tulum. It features stunning crystal-clear waters and impressive cave formations, perfect for snorkeling and diving.
  • Dos Ojos Cenote: Known for its mesmerizing underwater cave system, ideal for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts.
  • Cenote Calavera (Temple of Doom): Offers a thrilling experience with its underground caverns and platforms for cliff jumping.

These cenotes are relatively close to Tulum and offer diverse experiences. However, there are numerous others in the vicinity worth exploring, each with its unique charm as we’ve already established.

Cenote Packing List: Do’s & Don’ts

Packing for a day trip to a cenote has a few requirements. Here’s a quick rundown of what you should be packing (and what you shouldn’t.)

Do Pack

  • Swimwear: Opt for comfortable swimwear suitable for water activities.
  • Towel: A quick-dry towel will come in handy after your swim.
  • Sunscreen: Protect your skin from the sun’s rays, especially when you’re in and around the water. They will make you shower before you enter the cenote, so make sure to wear waterproof sunscreen.
  • Water Shoes: Slip-resistant footwear for walking on slippery rocks or surfaces near the cenote.
  • Snorkeling gear:  If you have your own, it’s better to bring it along because rentals aren’t always available.
  • Change of Clothes: Bring dry clothes to change into after your swim.
  • Waterproof Bag: Keep your belongings dry while exploring.
  • Snacks and Water: Stay hydrated and energized throughout the day.
  • Waterproof Camera/Phone Case: Capture the stunning underwater views without risking your devices.
  • First Aid Kit: Include basic supplies for any minor injuries.
  • Insect Repellent: Some cenotes are surrounded by lush vegetation where insects thrive.
  • Cash: For entrance fees or any additional amenities that may not accept cards.

Don’t Pack

  • Valuables: Leave unnecessary valuables at home to avoid any risk of loss or damage.
  • Large Bags: Opt for compact bags to move around comfortably in the cenote areas.
  • Disposable Plastics: Be eco-friendly and avoid single-use plastics that could harm the environment.
  • Glass Containers: Many cenotes prohibit glass due to safety concerns.
  • Alcohol: Alcohol consumption is restricted in many cenotes due to safety concerns.

Remember, the aim is to enjoy the cenote while being considerate of its ecosystem and other visitors.


As you can see, cenotes in Tulum have a lot to offer. Exploring Tulum’s stunning cenotes unveils a world of natural wonder and adventure. These captivating sinkholes, each with its unique allure, offer a gateway to an underground paradise.

From Gran Cenote’s inviting waters to the ethereal depths of Cenote El Pit and the serene beauty of Cenote Cristal, each cenote presents an enchanting experience. Whether diving into the mesmerizing cave systems or snorkeling amidst diverse marine life, these hidden gems embody the essence of Tulum’s natural beauty. 


Do I need a guide to visit Cenotes in Mexico?

A guide is not necessary to visit Cenotes in Mexico, as they are open to the public and most are easily accessible. So unless you need a diving/snorkeling instructor, you can visit on your own. 

Can I see fish while snorkeling in Cenotes?

It depends on the cenote, but many have amazing underwater wildlife that you can explore while snorkeling. A variety of fish species and plants live in the cenotes, even a crocodile in some!

How deep are cenote waters?

Cenotes have an average depth of 8-15 meters, but some go much deeper. The deepest is Cenote the Pit (119 m). Shallow cenotes are great for snorkeling, and diving is only allowed in cenotes with depths less than 40m. 

What is the water temperature in the cenotes?

The water temperature averages at 25°C (77°F) in most Mexican cenote waters. The temperature is slightly lower in closed or partially covered cenotes, and divers are instructed to wear full wetsuits to stay warm.