2018 has brought more visitors than ever to Mexico’s Riviera Maya in a quest to experience the Caribbean dream, Tulum style. Home to the best beaches in the world (I mean, the Corona commercials are filmed here!!!), stunning ancient Mayan ruins and a world-class culinary scene, there’s nothing anywhere else in the world that even comes close to the now-legendary Tulum lifestyle!
If you’re searching for the best things to do in Tulum, we have at least part of your journey covered! Every visitor should check out (at least) a few of the many gorgeous freshwater cenotes that dot the lush jungle landscape of the Yucatan Peninsula where the Riviera Maya is found. These beautiful underground caves offer pristine water and otherworldly vistas that are guaranteed to create lasting memories. There are seemingly endless options, so here are five of the most beautiful cenotes located close to downtown Tulum (centro) in Mexico’s Riviera Maya – enjoy!
In English, “Dos Ojos” translates to “two eyes,” and the reason is obvious once you see this magical cenote! From the surface, it appears to be two separate pools of crystal-clear blue water that resemble enormous eyes. In reality, however, Dos Ojos is actually just one single cenote that’s connected by a 400-meter underwater passage. The water is warm and super clean, making it one of the most Instagrammable spots in Tulum!
Schedule: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Situated between downtown Tulum and the ancient Mayan ruins of Coba, Gran Cenote is another one of the most popular cenotes in the area, and it’s easy to see why! The water is beautifully colored and perfect for snorkeling, with many caves full of breathtaking stalagmites and stalactites to explore. There are even small turtles to keep you entertained, and this is also a popular destination for cave diving. Regardless of how deep you go, this is always a great place to cool off and there are nice shallow areas that are suitable for swimmers and snorkeling.
Schedule: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
This is definitely one of the most convenient cenotes to visit near downtown Tulum, and it’s also right next to the popular Car Wash Cenote! If you didn’t already know it was a natural formation, you would probably think Zacil-Ha was just some kind of unusual man-made outdoor swimming pool carved into rock, but it’s actually part of an extensive cave system in the region and is connected to many other cenotes in the Riviera Maya.
Schedule: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
In Spanish, calavera means “skull,” but there’s definitely nothing dangerous – or grim – about this gorgeous cenote. Instead, the name is derived from the three sinkholes that open up into it, which from above (loosely) resemble the eye sockets and mouth of a large skull. Cenote Calavera is deeper than some of the other cenotes in the area, making it ideal for diving. You can also bike here from downtown Tulum, and it’s usually not as crowded as some of the other cenotes in the area.
Schedule: 8:00 am – 4:00 pm
This cenote is a little bit off the beaten path, which means you’re less likely to run into large groups of other tourists. Unlike many of the other cenotes in the area, Cenote Nicte Ha is largely above ground, but it’s also one of the most magical natural places you will ever swim. A small rock overhang can be found in one area, and the water is crystal clear and super clean, with some beautiful lily pads and other plants floating on the surface
Schedule: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
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