Located in the heart of the Riviera Maya, Tulum is a stunning place to spend a summer vacation. While staying here there are lots of things to do, including everything from exploring the Tulum Mayan ruins and visiting the nearby Xel-Ha water park to snorkeling in Akumal.
The Riviera Maya is a destination famous for its beaches and ruins, but there are also an abundance of cenotes. These freshwater sinkholes are sacred to the Mayans, and offer a different way to spend a relaxing day in the area. Listed below are some of the more popular cenotes close to Tulum.
1. Cenote Dos Ojos
A tour of Cenote Dos Ojos is the perfect way to have an unforgettable scuba diving experience. Located just north of Tulum, it takes its name from the Spanish for "two eyes", referring to the two connected sinkholes with a large cavern area between them. The underwater cave system is among the longest in the world, featuring very clear water and the deepest known cave passage in the state, "The Cenote Pit", at almost 400 feet deep. One interesting feature of this cenote is a cave with a resident population of bats.
2. Gran Cenote
This spectacular cenote is located just a couple of miles from Tulum, and it's one of the most well-known in the area. Perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving, this circular cenote is home to wonderful stalagmites and stalactites, as well as crystal-clear water. Featuring great natural light and a depth of approximately 30 feet, this is one cenote not to be missed during your next vacation in Tulum.
3. Cenote Calavera
This fantastic cenote is popular with first-time divers looking for a cave-diving certificate. Complete with impressive rock formations and crystal-clear water, it is a breathtaking place to enjoy a refreshing swim or a fascinating exploration below the surface. From inside you can look up to the ceiling and, with a little bit of imagination, see the holes that create the image of the skull ("calavera" in Spanish) that the cenote is named after.
4. Cenote Carwash
This cenote used to be where taxi drivers would wash their cars next to the Coba highway, which is why it has such a strange name! Located just five miles from Tulum, this impressive sinkhole is enormous, at over 150 feet wide, and with an average depth of 10 feet. Admire turtles and fish as you snorkel or scuba dive during a fun day out with friends or family.
5. Cenote Escondido
Hidden in the jungle, Cenote Escondido can be accessed by foot or by car. This cenote has it all: wooden platforms for accessing the water, 5 to 15 foot high rocks to jump from, and underwater caves to explore. Sunbathe under the thatched roof palapa, or put on your mask and admire the fish swimming below as you make the most out of this beautiful natural setting.
Written by Andrew Birch