The Two Cenotes You Need To See in Tulum, Mexico
Cenotes are some of the most enchanting attractions in Mexico. A unique type of geological formation found on the Yucatán Peninsula, particularly the Riviera Maya, cenotes are natural sinkholes that were formed by the collapse of limestone bedrock, creating a fresh groundwater pool at the bottom. Many of them have also formed stunning underground cave systems that can be explored by swimming, snorkeling, or scuba diving.
If you’re in the mood to go chasing cenotes on your next trip to Mexico, Tulum is a good place to start. Not only is Tulum one of the most popular resorts on the Yucatán Peninsula — famous for its white-sand beaches, warm Caribbean waters, proximity to Mayan ruins, and bohemian atmosphere — but it also provides easy access to some of the area’s most incredible cenotes, including Cenote Minotauro and Cenote Xux-Hah. But if you only have time to visit one or two, consider dedicating your time to the two Tulum cenotes described below.
Must-see Tulum cenotes
Situated roughly 20 minutes inland of Tulum’s hotel zone by car, Gran Cenote is one of the best-known cenotes in Mexico. Its underwater cave system is particularly popular among scuba divers, and its incredibly clear water helps to explain why. Swimming, snorkeling, and free diving are excellent ways to enjoy Gran Cenote, but with the assistance of a scuba tank, divers are better able to explore the submerged passageways and get an up-close look at the numerous fish species that call the natural swimming pool home. Scuba and snorkel rentals are available, but you’re going to want to get there early if you plan on avoiding the crowds.
Parque de Cenotes Yax-Muul
Drive 20 minutes north of Tulum along the coast and you’ll hit the Parque de Cenotes Yax-Muul, which is something of a hidden gem compared to Gran Cenote. The park is home to a network of cenotes, including namesake Yax-Muul and a second cenote called Sac Tuunich. One of the most exciting things about these cenotes is the opportunity to rappel down into them. At Parque de Cenotes Yax-Muul, you can also see a traditional Mayan blessing ceremony or arrange an ATV tour through the jungle.