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Visiting the Gran Cenote is one of the best things to do in Tulum, Mexico. Cenotes are naturally formed sinkholes that often extend deep underground and are generally filled with freshwater. With as many as 30,000 cenotes found on the Yucatan Peninsula, these underground caves are popular with tourists looking to admire their natural beauty. The Gran Cenote, also known as the Grand Cenote, is one of the best cenotes to visit from Tulum as it’s located just 5 kilometres from the town centre. As well as being a naturally beautiful spot, it’s a brilliant place to go for a swim to cool off from the Mexican heat. In our opinion the Gran Cenote is a must visit, but that doesn’t mean you should necessarily rule out visiting Cenote Calavera or Dos Ojos or any of the other cenotes in the area. Find out everything you need to know about visiting the Gran Cenote from Tulum with this guide!
Looking for more naturally beautiful places to visit in Mexico? Make sure to visit the stunning Bacalar Lagoon!
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Information about the Gran Cenote, Tulum
Gran Cenote opening hours – 8am – 4.45pm. Last entry to the cenote is at 4.15pm.
Gran Cenote entrance fee – 180 pesos.
Gran Cenote location – Around 5 kilometres from the centre of Tulum.
How to get to the Gran Cenote from Tulum
There are a number of ways to get to the Gran Cenote from Tulum, depending on your budget and how much exercise you’re willing to do. The easiest way of getting there is by taking a taxi. Expect a taxi to the Gran Cenote to cost around 100 pesos one-way from Tulum. Alternatively, if you want to rent a car to explore the area then you can drive yourself to the cenote. It takes around 10 minutes to drive to Gran Cenote and parking at the cenote is free. Car rental prices are relatively reasonable in Mexico, so it’s definitely worth considering if you have the budget. Click here to get a car rental quote for your trip!
Another option is biking to the Gran Cenote. Some of the hostels and hotels in Tulum offer free bike rental, which makes this an easy way to reach the cenote. Even if you don’t have access to a free bike, it should only cost around 100 pesos a day to rent one. Cycling from the centre of Tulum to the Gran Cenote should take around 15-20 minutes.
If you don’t fancy riding a bike then another alternative is to walk. It takes around one hour to walk to the Gran Cenote from the ADO bus station in the centre of Tulum. The walk is relatively easy as you just have to follow a main road out of town towards the cenote. Walking is ideal if you’re looking to save money and your accommodation don’t offer free bike rental, but be warned the walk can be tiring in the Mexican heat.
The final alternative is to take a collectivo. Collectivos from Tulum to the Gran Cenote cost 25 pesos and can be flagged down on highway 109 near the large Super Aki supermarket. Once you’ve flagged a collectivo down just tell them where you want to go and hand over your money. As collectivos are infrequent and don’t stick to a set schedule, they aren’t a very reliable way of getting to the cenote. Personally we’d recommend finding another way there, or at least being prepared to walk if no collectivos are running at the time.
Once you arrive at the cenote, pay the entrance fee and head straight to the outdoor showers. It’s important to shower before getting in any cenote to prevent chemicals getting into the freshwater. There is usually a man waiting near to the cenote who expects to see you covered head to toe in water to prove that you’ve showered thoroughly. If he doesn’t think it’s good enough he will send you back to shower again before you can access the cenote.
Best time to visit the Gran Cenote, Tulum
The weather is best in Tulum from late November until April as there is less rainfall and the daytime temperatures are warm yet still a comfortable level. On top of this, it’s generally less humid at this time of year. This means that if you’re looking for good weather the best time to visit the Gran Cenote is between late November and April.
Although there is more rainfall between May and October, it shouldn’t affect your trip too much if you do choose to visit during these months. Storms normally only last about an hour or two, after which it generally isn’t too long until sunny skies return. These months see an increase in both temperatures and humidity, so make sure to book accommodation with air con if you’re visiting at this time.
If you want to avoid the crowds at Gran Cenote then you’re best visiting between May and October. These months are generally quieter in Tulum as the weather isn’t as good. The peak tourist season in Tulum is between late December and March, meaning the Gran Cenote will be busiest during these months.
The best time of day to visit the Gran Cenote is around 8am, as soon as it opens. By visiting at this time you will be one of the first people there and should be able to enjoy the cenote’s natural beauty without the crowds. Alternatively, visit the cenote late in the afternoon. Although it is likely to be busier than the morning, the majority of people will have left by then so it will still be quieter than the middle of the day.
Tips for visiting the Gran Cenote, Tulum
Turtles – Quite a lot of small turtles can be found in the Gran Cenote. Some turtles can be seen from the surface, but it’s well worth bringing a snorkel as there are lots more to be seen underwater. If you don’t have your own snorkel then you can rent one for 80 pesos at the Gran Cenote. Keep in mind that you should keep your distance when snorkelling with the turtles so as not to intimidate or scare them.
Second pool –There is a second pool at the Gran Cenote that can be accessed by swimming through the cave. Alternatively you can walk back up the stairs, go slightly to the left and then down those stairs. This little pool is the most photogenic spot at the cenote, so it’s well worth going to. Not everyone who visits knows about this spot so it can be a bit quieter – which makes it perfect for taking photos!
Lockers – If you want to keep your belongings dry and safe, lockers are available to rent at the Gran Cenote for 30 pesos each. Alternatively you can just leave your things on the ground near the cenote for free, but the downside is they may get soaked if you do this!
Life vests – Although the cenote is relatively shallow, life vests are available to rent for 50 pesos if you aren’t a confident swimmer.
Get there early or late – For the best experience we recommend visiting the Gran Cenote at opening time or during the last hour before it closes. It doesn’t take much for the cenote to get crowded so if you’re one of the first or last to arrive for the day it should be a lot less busy.
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