Gran Cenote Tulum.
Gran Cenote Tulum, sometimes incorrectly called Grand Cenote is one of those places you just have to visit. I’d heard about Cenotes on a nature documentary many years ago and I always wanted to snorkel and see them. If you have too, then my advice, for what little weight it carries is, do it!
Ahhh, Gran Cenote! OMG, It was one of the best things I have ever done! And this is with typical British understatement! I have never used the word awesome – unless, of course, something has really and truly inspired awe! But, Gran Cenote Tulum was awesome!
That’s not just hyperbole, it really was fantastically brilliant swimming through the caves with fish and turtles! Swimming between stalactites and stalagmites! It is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life! Let me tell you a little about it…
Snorkeling with turtles and snorkelling with fish.
Gran Cenote is just 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. Just click on the picture of the map and Google maps will give you directions on your phone.
What you need is…
We brought our own snorkels and masks. However, you can rent the equipment, but if you can do several Cenote and some snorkelling at sea while in Mexico 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. Here is a link to it on Amazon. You are not allowed fins in Grand Cenote Tulum so leave them behind. We just had swimming shoes on.
Entrance fee to Gran Cenote Tulum was one of the more expensive, that is in comparison with the other Cenote’s we tried. But still not a massive cost considering what you are getting. It’s, at the time of writing, 180 pesos which are about €10 / $10USD. Also, a word to the wise, don’t pay in US dollars.
We found exchange rates varied, sometimes ridiculously so! And you’ll end paying more than you should. Get hold of some Mexican currency either before you go or when you get there and it will save you a bit of money.
Also, top tip, take some ID with you. To rent a locker you need an ID or you have to fork out the hundred peso deposit, which you will get back. Also, mask and snorkel can be rented here for 50 pesos.
However you can never guarantee the quality of the equipment so, as I say, it’s best to invest in your own.
Gran Cenote Tulum Impressions
But grand cenote itself, what’s it like? It is one of the most popular cenotes in Tulum. And its popularity is well deserved! On-site, there are showers, changing rooms, public conveniences and a hammock area to chill out in after you swim. There’s also plenty of shade in the hammock area and under the trees.
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. They actually have a non-slip matting on the stairs to stop you making a complete Muppet of yourself falling over!
On the pontoon in the cenote can be found the lockers to stow your kit away while snorkelling. Also from the little hut on the pontoon, you can rent a life vest and snorkelling gear if you haven’t got your own.
Grand Cenote Tulum is actually several interconnected caves. The launching area, for want of a better word, is a ladder into the water. And after the heat of the day, it’s a welcome and refreshing change to get in the water. We guess the water temperature to be somewhere in the 22 to 24° region, that was based on the fish we could see there!
Snorkelling Gran Cenote Tulum
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. And if you look up, you can see some bats too! The dark areas are fun, when you look back towards the light underneath the water you see this!
As well as the bats and the fish, there are also turtles to swim with. Happily, the turtles also have their own area which you cannot swim in, so they get a bit of peace and quiet from the tourists.
Cenote’s 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.
There are over 6000 Cenote’s known in Mexico. For more on what Cenote’s are and how they formed see here.
Gran Cenote Tulum – Conclusions
There is plenty of room to spread out but if you are going to pack a picnic don’t take the Bollinger – no alcohol is allowed! Showers are compulsory before entering the Cenote. This is so you don’t upset the fragile eco-system with insect repellants and deodorants and such like.
All in all, this was one of the best cenotes to snorkel in and richly deserving of its popularity. If you are only going to swim in one cenote, make it this one. It’s a fantastically brilliant experience! If you fancy doing more and getting a range of cenotes on offer, try my top 3 cenotes.
Car wash Cenote is just up the road from Gran Cenote and is an open cenote experience. Choo-Ha near Coba is ideal for an enclosed cenote adventure. Gran Cenote, Car Wash and Choo-Ha offer 3 very different, unforgettable experiences!
Click for full reviews
How to get there
Address: Quintana Roo 109, 77796 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
Hours: Open ⋅ 8 am to 4.45 pm
Phone: +52 998 980 0332
Cost 180 Pesos – about $10usd
If you’re renting a car, Gran Cenote is five minutes from Tulum up the 109, the road that leads Northwest out of Tulum
You can also take a collectivo from Tulum. If you’re coming from the north, the Playa area, you will need to change collectivo in Tulum itself. When you board, tell the driver you want to get off at Gran Cenote and confirm the price!
We hired a taxi from our hotel. We had several stops to make that day and we negotiated with our driver the best price we could, based on our itinerary. I would thoroughly recommend this way of doing it if you’re trying to pack in as much as you can in your time on the Yucatán Peninsula.
Click for Directions to Gran Cenote Tulum – Opens in Google Maps
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