Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. At no cost to you, I might earn a small commission if you make a purchase through the links in this article.
When you are visiting Tulum, you will most likely stop at a couple of cenotes, underground holes with crystal clear water that are popular for diving, swimming, and snorkeling. Gran Cenote is one of the most popular places where you can refresh in the crystal clear waters on a hot sunny day.
✅ Read my guide to renting a car in Tulum to visit some of the best cenotes in the area.
DID YOU KNOW?: There are over 6,000 cenotes around Yucatan, that were formed when the bedrock collapsed exposing the groundwater underneath. Although the vast majority of them are too hard or impossible to access, there are many cenotes where you can swim, snorkel and even dive, like some of the most popular cenotes near Tulum.
Types of cenotes
While some cenotes look like lakes surrounded by lush greenery, others are completely underground! The ancient Mayans, considered the cenotes to be the transition to the underworld. They performed religious ceremonies and rituals in these places.
✅ Open cenotes
Open cenotes look more like big lakes with plenty of sunshine, and they are generally warmer for swimming than underground cenotes. They often have open decks where you can sit down and relax after taking a swim. Some of the most popular open cenotes near Tulum are Cenote Car Wash and Cenote Escondido.
✅ Semi-open cenotes
These cenotes can be underground but have openings where you can see the light. Some of the most popular semi-open cenotes near Tulum are Cenote Dos Ojos and Cenote Ik Kil.
✅ Underground cenotes
These cenotes are located completely underground and have no natural light. They are darker and cooler than open cenotes, as they don’t get any sunshine. If you want to see underground cenotes near Tulum, visit one of Coba cenotes that can be accessed via a ladder leading into the cavern.
A quick overview
This semi-open cenote with overhanging rock formations and inlets surrounded by lush greens. It’s one of the most popular cenotes near Tulum, and you can reach this cenote by a quick bike ride. My main tip for you is to arrive early, as this cenote can get crowded quickly.
Best things to do in Gran Cenote
The crystal clear waters are perfect for swimming and snorkeling, and you can also see plenty of turtles and fish. Be respectful and do NOT bother any animal that you might see – you are a guest in their home, not the other way around.
TWO PARTS OF THE CENOTE
The cenote looks like a big river separated by overhanging rock formations. Each part of the cenote has snorkeling pools surrounded by caverns and deeper caves. To get into the cenote, you need to walk down a wooden stairs.
There are also wooden decks in each area of this cenote where you can sit down and recharge before the next swim. The area above the cenote has a nice lawn where you can sit down and enjoy the sun after swimming.
Bring some snacks and water and a towel to dry yourself after taking a swim.
What makes Gran Cenote so special?
This cenote is a lot of fun and you can easily swim from one area of this cenote to another. The cave part of the cenote is home to many bats that live in its caverns and you can see them above while taking a swim. If you visit in the morning, you can also see the incredible rays of light hitting the crystal clear water.
- Price: 500 Pesos (25 USD)
- Lockers price: 30 Pesos
- Snorkeling gear price: 80 Pesos
- Life jacket: 50 pesos
- Opening Hours: 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. The last entrance to the cenote is at 4:15 p.m.
How to get to Gran Cenote from Tulum
Gran Cenote is 5 km (3 miles) from downtown Tulum. The entrance to cenote is located along the Highway to Coba Ruins. The parking area is right outside of the entrance to a cenote and is free of charge.
You can ride a bicycle, but make sure to use caution, as cars drive pretty fast.
The cheapest way to get to this cenote is by renting a bicycle. You can rent a bicycle in many shops around Tulum as well as many hostels and hotels in Tulum.
A scooter is the most popular way to get around Tulum, and a great way to save money on expensive taxis and tours. You can rent a scooter in many shops in Tulum for a failry reasonable price.
✅ Read my guide to renting a scooter in Tulum
A taxi from downtown Tulum to should cost no more than 100 Pesos. You can also exchange contact information with the driver and ask them to pick you up when you are done. Communications are normally done via WhatsApp, and you should download this app ahead of your trip to Tulum.
By car rental
If you want to continue your adventure, rent a car, because taking a taxi to every cenote will cost you a lot more money in the long run.
I recommend DiscoverCars, my favorite car rental company that has offices across many destinations in Mexico. Discover Cars offers competitive prices and a great selection of vehicles. I booked my car with them several times and had a great experience with them every time.
PRO TIP: Read my guide to renting a car in Mexico to avoid tourist traps and save money.
By guided tour
If you don’t feel like dealing with the logistics and want to visit multiple cenotes without renting a car or relying on public transportation, book a guided tour that includes stops in other cenotes in the area and some of the best Mayan ruins.
Things to know about Gran Cenote, Tulum:
- Arrive early – Gran Cenote is one of the most popular cenotes near Tulum. The best time to visit this cenote is between 8 and 9 a.m. before it gets crowded.
- Cash only – All cenotes near Tulum and the majority of cenotes in Yucatan accept ONLY cash. If you want to rent snorkeling gear, a life vest, or get a snack, you also have to pay in cash.
- You have to take a shower – You have to rinse yourself off before entering the cenote. This is the main rule because cenotes are filled with fresh groundwater that can be be contaminated by chemicals in your sunscreen, body lotion, or perfume. Many cenotes near Tulum have showers where you can take a quick rinse, but it’s also a good idea to take a shower before leaving your hotel.
- No sunscreen is allowed – Chemicals contained in sunscreen and bug repellent can contaminate the water and harm the animals that live in it.
- There are no jumping platforms – While some Tulum cenotes have jumping platforms from where you can dive into the water, and this cenote is not one of them. This cenote is too shallow and you can get in the water only by using a wooden ladder leading in the water.
What should I bring?
- Snorkeling gear – This is a great idea if you plan on visiting other cenotes near Tulum. While snorkeling gear is not expensive to rent, it will add up if you want to visit multiple cenotes in one day. Buying your snorkeling gear ahead of your trip will save you money, as you will renting it whether you want to snorkel in cenotes or the open water
- Towel – This cenote doesn’t offer towels and you should bring your own to dry yourself after a swim.
- Shoes with a good grip – the stairs leading down can be slippery, so wear shoes with a good grip.
- GoPro – If you want to capture the beauty of this cenote, bring a camera or a GoPro with a stick that will allow you to film your adventure
- Cash – Only cash payments are accepted to get into the cenote. And they also have to be in Mexican pesos not in U.S. dollars.
Here’s what you can find on site:
- Bathrooms and showers – you will be asked to rinse yourself off before getting into a cenote
- Changing rooms
- Lockers – You can use them for an additional charge
- A small store – you can buy some basic snacks and water on site
- Picnic tables – you are allowed to bring your food, but there are also many great Tulum restaurants where you can stop after your visit to cenote.
Pros and cons of Gran Cenote, Tulum
- Easy access – you don’t need to rent a car or pay for a taxi to get to this cenote. You can just ride a bike.
- Plenty of facilities – As one of the most popular cenotes near Tulum, it has great facilities and gear rentals.
- Scenery – It’s one of the most visited cenotes near Tulum, and for a good reason: it offers amazing photo opportunities with stunning backgrounds
- Crowds – the downside of its proximity to Tulum is that this cenote is often crowded
- High price – 500 Pesos is a lot of money for a cenote, considering that you can visit other other cenotes near Tulum for a lot less money
How much does Gran Cenote cost?
The price to enter the cenote is 500 Mexican Pesos. It’s one of the most expensive Tulum cenotes.
Is Gran Cenote worth visiting?
Yes! It’s a spectacular cenote where you can easily spend a few hours swimming, snorkeling, and catching some sun afterward.
Can you go to Gran Cenote without a tour?
Yes, you can visit this cenote without a tour, but you will be responsible for your transportation, entrance tickets and rentals like snorkeling gear, vests and lockers.
Can you swim in Gran Cenote?
Yes, you can swim in this cenote. You can also rent snorkeling equipment on site and explore underground caves, and observe wildlife like fish and turtles.
Can I buy food at Gran Cenote?
Although there are no restaurants, you can buy some snacks and water at a small store on site.
How long am I allowed to stay in Gran cenote?
You can stay in this cenote as long as you want to after punching the entry ticket.
What is the best time to visit Gran cenote?
The best time to visit this cenote is between 8 and 9 a.m. before it gets busy or around 4 p.m. when most people leave. The cenote tends to be the busiest from around 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
What are other cenotes near Tulum?
There are several cenotes near Tulum. Cenote Calavera is a close neighbor just a few minutes away. Further away along Coba Highway there are cenotes Zacil Ha and Car Wash.
Gran Cenote is one of the most popular cenotes in Mexico’s Rivera Maya and for a good reason. It boasts a convenient location, great amenities, and stunning scenery.
More resources for planning your trip to Tulum Mexico
- WorldNomads – Great service for insurance coverage that will keep you safe on the road.
- Safety Wing – Excellent insurance plan for long-term travelers that offers competitive rates is you are planning to stay on the road several weeks in a row.
- iVisa – the best website for getting help with your Mexico visa.
- DiscoverCars – There’s nothing like exploring Tulum and surrounding areas at your own pace. Consider renting a car at Discover Cars if you want to visit other places in the region.
- GetYourGuide – This is one of the best platforms for finding best tours in Tulum. Get Your Guide is my favorite platform that offers awesome tours and top-notch guides in many destinations in Mexico.
- CheapoAir – One of the best platforms for saving money on flights within Mexico and beyond.
- Booking – a popular website with tons and tons of options for accommodations of all sorts.