Best Cenotes Tulum (My Top 3 Cenotes in Tulum)

Best Cenotes Tulum – Mexico is an amazing place, with warm tropical evenings surrounded by birdsong, picture postcard sunrises, great food and, not forgetting, cenotes! Cenotes are natural sinkholes in the limestone rock. And, it is an amazing experience to swim and snorkel in them! If it’s not on your bucket list, it should be!

Grand Cenote mexico

This is a list of the Best 3 cenotes, in my opinion, in the Tulum region.

There are so many cenotes in Mexico to try, but nobody has unlimited time, so I have listed here 3 great cenotes to visit.

Also, they are very different cenotes!

One is an open cenote that is like swimming in a fish tank. Another, a cave cenote, completely enclosed with stalagmites and stalactites. And, lastly, a cenote connected by caves you can swim through with amazing wildlife.

Gran Cenote

First in the list of great cenotes near Tulum is Gran Cenote! Sometimes incorrectly called Grand Cenote, it is about 10 minutes outside Tulum. Everybody knows where it is, taxi drivers and collectivo drivers alike, but I have put a map at the bottom of this page that will give you directions to this and all the other cenotes. 

Gran cenote

Gran Cenote Tulum – Best Cenotes Tulum

This is probably the most popular with people out of the three listed. There are some good solid steps leading down into the cenote. Not like some of the rickety contraptions in some of the less popular ones! As can be seen below.

pontoon area and steps Gran cenote Tulum

Pontoon area and steps Gran Cenote Tulum – Best Cenotes Tulum

Grand Cenote is actually several interconnected caves. The water temperature I guess to be about 20-22c. In the dark areas, there is a rope with floats to guide you. It’s a fabulous feeling swimming along in a cave, an experience hard to replicate unless you’re cavern diving.

Not a Confident swimmer?

It is also quite a shallow cenote in places, so non-confident swimmers are ok here. Also, you can rent life vests here if needed. Lockers are available here if you take some ID.

turtle gran cenote Best Cenotes Tulum (My Top 3 Cenotes in Tulum)

As well as bats above and fish in the water, there are also turtles to swim with. 

Showers are compulsory before entering all the cenotes listed here. This is so you don’t upset the fragile eco-system with insect repellants and deodorants and such like. Click for my full blog on Gran Cenote.

Cost

$180 pesos

The best time to visit Gran Cenote is early in the morning or later in the afternoon after the crowds have gone.

Car Wash Cenote

Next, on the list of Top Cenotes Tulum and in direct contrast to Gran Cenote is Car Wash Cenote. Or to give it it’s proper Mayan name Actun-Ha. Car Wash Cenote is an open swimming experience, just like floating in a fish tank! However, it looks like any swimming hole from above. 

Car Wash Cenote Panorama

Also, the water is at ground level, with only a few steps to descend. Although there is a jumping/diving platform if you wish to enter the water that way!

Car Wash cenote jumping platform

The water is pleasantly warm, and there are lots of fish to frolic with, amongst the lily type plants growing from the bottom of the cenote.

car wash cenote 1

Car Wash Cenote is only five minutes up the road from Gran Cenote on the left. It is called Car Wash Cenote because taxi drivers used to come here to wash their cars. Lockers, showers and changing rooms are available here.

Car wash cenote facilities

Car Wash Cenote facilities

Cost

$50 Pesos

While not as crowded as Gran Cenote, the best time to visit Car Wash Cenote is early in the day or later afternoon.

Click for my full review on Car Wash Cenote.

Cenote Choo-Ha

Further away from Tulum, this cenote is near Coba and is ideally paired with a trip to the ruins. After the heat of the Coba Ruins, relax at Cenote Choo-Ha.

Cenote Choo-Ha above ground

Cenote Choo-Ha above ground – Best Cenotes Tulum

From a Mexican revolutionary-esque hut above ground, there is a very small entrance hole leading to an enclosed underground cavern full of stalactites and stalagmites. Cenote Choo Ha is part of a group of 3 cenotes, Tamcach-Ha, Multum-Ha and Choo-Ha. 

Best Cenotes Tulum (My Top 3 Cenotes in Tulum) Cenote Choo-Ha

Cenote Choo-Ha – Best Cenotes Tulum

For my money, Cenote Choo-Ha was the best for peace and quiet. Also, this cenote gives you a real cave experience.

Cenote Choo-Ha -The Eccentric Englishman

Cenote Choo-Ha -The Eccentric Englishman – Best Cenotes Tulum (My Top 3 Cenotes in Tulum)

Stairs

The steps can be damp so be careful going up and down them. The stairs are well made, it’s just that with the humidity they can be a bit slick. And they are an impressive set of stairs!

Cenote Choo-Ha stairs

Cenote Choo-Ha stairs

If you are looking for a quiet cenote, then this is it! During my visit, there were no more than 8 people and for about 10 minutes, it was just us! A huge contrast to Gran Cenote

Cenote Choo-Ha Panorama

Cenote Choo-Ha – Best Cenotes Tulum (My Top 3 Cenotes in Tulum)

It really was a great ‘cave’ snorkelling experience. Even the fish changed – in Cenote Choo-Ha there are catfish, all adding to that subterranean feel. You really get that ‘underground’ feeling with the cavern arching over you. Lighting in the cenote is provided by electric lights. 

Cost

The cost for Cenote Choo Ha is $100 Pesos at the time of writing. That’s about $4 USD per person. And, for what you got it was an absolute bargain. That said, I’ve heard reports of people paying more and less. It seems you are charged what they think they can get away with!

It’s worth noting that while there are changing rooms and showers here, there are no lockers at Cenote Choo-Ha. However, we just took our stuff down into the cenote and just kept an eye on it without problems

The best time to visit Cenote Choo-ha is a bit academic – it seems to be quiet all the time! But earlier in the day up until 2 pm would be best.

Click for my full blog on Cenote Choo-Ha.

About Cenotes

Cenotes or sinkholes are numerous in this area of Mexico, the Yucatán Peninsula. They can just be sinkholes in the ground, open to the air or they can have very small openings widening out big cave areas underneath. Generally, the waters are crystal clear, the end result of rainwater having been filtered through rock. The advantage of this is that the reflective colour of the sky can turn a cenote blue and you can see all the fish and wildlife in the cenote.

Gran Cenote Tulum 1

Gran Cenote Tulum

There are over 6000 cenotes known in Mexico. For more on what cenotes are and how they formed see here.

Gran Cenote, Cenote Car Wash and Choo-Ha Cenote offer 3 very different, unforgettable experiences!

What to take

We brought our own snorkels and masks. However, you can rent the equipment, but if you can do several cenotes and some snorkelling at sea while in Mexico it will probably pay you to buy one either out there or before you go. I use a full-face mask and snorkel combined, this is it here. I find it to be quite a good model especially with the little mount for my ‘go pro’ on top.

I’ve also used the mask snorkelling at Abang Island in Indonesia, so I knew it and trusted it. That’s not something you can say about hire gear.

Also, take plenty of water, snacks and of course a hat. I found a set of swimming shoes to be useful, too. None of these cenotes allows fins, so you can leave them at the hotel. And those are my Top 3 Cenotes near Tulum. 

Click on any of the maps for directions

Map Gran Cenote Tulum
car wash cenote map
Best Cenotes Tulum (My Top 3 Cenotes in Tulum)

Click for full reviews

Gran Cenote Tulum
Car Wash Cenote Tulum
Cenote Choo-Ha

Best Cenotes Tulum (My Top 3 Cenotes in Tulum)

Best Cenotes Tulum (My Top 3 Cenotes in Tulum)

 

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