The best cenotes to see on a Tulum tour in Mexico

The best cenotes to see on a Tulum tour in Mexico

One of the things we were looking forward to most when we visited Tulum, in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula were the cenotes. We wanted to see the best cenotes on a Tulum tour, as we didn’t have our own transport and most were far out of town. Cenotes are essentially sinkholes filled with crystal clear waters you can swim in, and can be found across the Yucatán region.

We chose to book a cenote biking tour with Baja Bikes, who runs an eco cycling tour with their partners Mexico Kan Tours to visit three cenotes, just outside the town of Tulum. On this tour, we’d get fit at the same time as exploring the jungle, and it was environmentally friendly.

BajaBikes with MexicoKanTours in Tulum

We arrived very early in the morning, after a quick bite of breakfast and met our guide Alex, a friendly and outgoing local who loved to make jokes and spoke excellent English. He sorted us out with bikes, helmets and water bottles, ready for the day ahead. The bikes were proper, sturdy mountain bikes with several gears, and were a great deal better than the bikes we’d borrowed from the hotel the day before, with poor breaks and broken baskets.

We set out with a short cycle through the town of Tulum itself, before heading out onto the main road, I was a bit apprehensive cycling alongside big trucks, but the road was wide and there was plenty of space for us all. We soon turned off onto a rugged jungle pathway, with lush undergrowth either side of us.


After cycling along the rocky paths for a while, we came to a clearing, with a thatched house, where a beautiful brunch had been set up for us at a long table. There was fresh fruit salad; bread topped with hummus, sliced carrot and courgette; juice and olla cafe. Olla cafe is when coffee is made in a large pot over an open fire and is infused with orange and cinnamon.

Olla Coffee for brunch

Gran Cenote

Back down the jungle pathway and out on to the main road again, we soon we came to a small turnoff and the entrance to Gran Cenote. Gran Cenote is one of the best cenotes to see on a Tulum tour, and possibly the most famous. This is because it’s the biggest and one of the most interesting too. The cenote is actually two cenotes connected via a system of caves. It turned out that because of this, it was my favourite cenote too.

Gran Cenote, Tulum, Mexico

Alex explained that we had to wash off completely before we entered the water so that no suncream or insect repellent remained on our skin and could contaminate the water. All the cenotes in the area are filled with fresh water and are home to many different types of fish, as well as turtles.

Down in the depths before us lay a pool of aquamarine surrounded by rugged caves and an elegant collection of stalactites and stalagmites. After showering, we slipped into the clear cold water, donned our masks and snorkels and peeked beneath the surface. Alex shone his flashlight in the depths of the cavern so we could see the eerie glow of rock formations and the shadows of tiny fish gliding above the floor.

Underwater at the Gran Cenote in Tulum, Mexico

As we swam underneath the cave’s roof, between the two open cenotes, bats flitted around above our head and Alex explained to us how the cenotes were formed.

Jungle cycling

Back along the jungle path again, and after a short tropical rainstorm, the puddles were bigger than ever. Our tyres slipped and slid in the mud and we often got stuck halfway through the giant puddles, our shoes getting soaked in the process. It was difficult navigating the pathway with all its holes, slippery rocks and water, and cycling through it all was like a maze. Not much of a mountain biker, it was actually one of the toughest rides I’d ever done. As it was the beginning of November, it was now supposed to be the start of the dry season, but this year for some reason, the rain had been continuing for longer.

Back on the main road again, the cycling was easier, but soon the rain came pouring down again in torrential sheets. It became so heavy in fact that I couldn’t even see where I was going. By now, it wasn’t only my shoes that were soaked but everything else too.

Cenote Cristal

It was a welcome break to arrive at Cenote Cristal, or ‘Glass Cenote’, so-called because the water is so clear, it looks like glass. It was still raining when we arrived, so, unfortunately, the cenote wasn’t as clear as it usually was. It was, however, still a beautiful spot to relax, surrounded by tropical palms and lush exotic plants. There was a diving platform, which many took advantage of, but I was more content looking under the water for giant fish and tiny turtles.

Cenote Cristal, Tulum, Mexico

Cenote Escondido

Cenote Cristal and Cenote Escondido are very close to each other, and one ticket gets you to entry to both. Luckily for us, our next stop was only around a 10-minute cycle ride away. The name of this cenote means ‘Hidden Cenote’. It had finally stopped raining the cenote did indeed look hidden between the trees and down between the rocks. Some people were even diving here. Rather than a diving platform, here was a rope swing where we could launch ourselves into the water from.

Cenote Escondido, Tulum, Mexico

The tour was a great way to get to visit three different cenotes in one day, without having to to pay the high taxi prices and asking them to wait for us for the return journey. The tour included all equipment, an English speaking guide and entrance fees to all the cenotes, as well as brunch.

*Disclaimer – We were invited as guests on the tour by Baja Bikes.