Two Easy Cenotes to Visit Near Tulum
With over 6000 cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula, it is no wonder that visiting the cenotes is one of the most popular excursions among visitors to Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, and Tulum. A cenote is basically a sinkhole that has exposed the freshest, clearest rainwater filtered through the ground over time.
On a clear, sunny day, the water is a gorgeous shade of blue and the sun's rays create the most beautiful underwater scene for divers and snorkelers. Most cenotes are actually inside caves, so the sunlight is necessary to have the full experience.
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For the first two days of our trip we experienced quite a bit of cloud cover, so we chose to visit Cenote Cristal and Escondido which are open air instead of in a cave. We arrived via taxi just as the cenote was opening at 9:00 AM, which meant we had this beautiful tropical oasis all to ourselves. It was amazing how quiet it was... up until the point I started doing cannon balls off of the platform.
The water is so clear you can see straight down to the bottom, which appears much closer than reality. In fact some of the cenotes are over 100m deep! We watched a couple of scuba divers disappear deep below and did not see them again for the entire morning.
The water is definitely chilly, but it is the perfect way to wash off the intense humidity and heat. It's best just to jump right in! As soon as I started swimming, I noticed how amazing the water felt on my skin, probably due to all of the great minerals.
If you have better weather than I did, don't miss some of the other major cenotes in the Tulum area such as Cenote Dos Ojos, Cenote Sac Actun, and Gran Cenote, which are all less than an hour away from the main hotel zone. As always, go early to avoid the crowds.
You can also take a longer day trip to the more famous Mayan ruins Chichen Itza, which is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, followed by a swim at the stunning Cenote Ik Kil.
Be sure to keep reading for my best tips for visiting Cenote Cristal and Escondido. I can't wait to visit more cenotes on our next trip to Mexico with hopefully better weather. Have you been to any of the cenotes on the Yucatan Penisula? If so, which was your favorite?
Tips for Visiting the Cenotes:
Cenote Cristal and Cenote Escondido are a two for one deal! Pay at Cenote Cristal, then whenever you are ready drive across the street (read: highway) to Cenote Escondido.
The cost of entrance is 120 pesos cash last time I checked. Do not try to pay in US dollars, or they will charge you a higher exchange rate according to some grouchy TripAdvisor users. This is one of the cheapest cenotes you can visit!
There is a diving platform to jump off of at Cenote Cristal and a rope swing at Cenote Escondido!
There are picnic tables at both cenotes if you plan to pack a lunch. There is also a bathroom at Cenote Cristal, though I didn't use it so I can't comment on the condition.
These cenotes are best for people like me who hate crowds. If you are looking for a beach club, a snack bar, or general customer service, pay for one of the pricier cenote tours at Cenote Dos Ojos.
We took a taxi that waited for us at the cenotes.