Gran Cenote Tulum Mexico: Ultimate Visitor’s Guide for 2024

woman in black swimsuit swimming in gran cenote tulum mexico


You’ve landed at the perfect article! As I’ve been living in Mexico since 2018, with several years spent in the Yucatan Peninsula, I’ve explored A LOT of cenotes. I must say, Gran Cenote stands out as a top favorite for many reasons.

With its sparkling turquoise waters, unique semi-open structure, stunning rock formations, lush tropical surroundings and amazing snorkeling, this cenote offers a breathtaking visual experience. In short: it’s one of the best Tulum cenotes, and easy to get to.

Prefer to go with a local? The best way to visit Gran Cenote on a tour is to book this Three Cenote Tour — which is rated 5 Stars ⭐️ and includes a Gran Cenote tour.

Gran Cenote Mexico Tulum is also great for snorkeling and diving, as you can expect to see lots of freshwater turtles and small fish. This cenote is a semi-open cenote, which means you can check out cave-like spots without needing to scuba dive.

From tips on enhancing your experience to avoiding busy times and the best ways to reach this natural wonder — all the essential information is right here. Let’s dive in!

El Gran Cenote Tulum Mexico: The Complete Visitor’s Guide

Looking for Gran Cenote photos? The wooden staircase that leads you to the waters of Gran Cenote is a popular photo spot.

Where is Gran Cenote located?

Gran Cenote is located at Quintana Roo 109, 77796 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico. It is in the Yucatan Peninsula, within the Mexican state of Quintana Roo.

If you’re visiting the famous Tulum Ruins in the Tulum National Park, you’re in luck because it is just a short drive away.

El Gran Cenote about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) from Tulum Town (AKA downtown).

The nearest town is Tulum, a must-visit spot known for its stunning beaches and culture.

If you’re looking for a place to stay, Tulum offers a variety of hotels and accommodations — like treehouses and all-inclusive resorts.

For those coming from further away, Playa del Carmen is about 65 kilometers (40 miles) north of Gran Cenote.

This bustling city is another great base for exploring the region’s cenotes and other attractions.

📍 Gran Cenote Map

📲 Note: I highly recommend anyone visiting to get a Mexico SIM Card.

Your signal will likely go in and out in the more rural parts of the Yucatan Peninsula, where many Mexican cenotes near Tulum are located.

You can also download an offline map from Google Maps or Maps.Me before you drive. This offline map will also come in handy for a Yucatan road trip or Tulum day trips.

Gran Cenote Mexico

What are the Gran Cenote hours?

Gran Cenote in Tulum is open every day from 8:00 AM and closes at 4:45 PM. Make sure to get there by 4:15 PM, as that’s the last time they let people in.

rock formation in gran cenote
This cenote is one of the best semi open cenotes in Tulum Mexico.

This schedule gives you plenty of time to soak in the natural beauty and take multiple dips in the cenote.

Note: Timing is everything if you want to avoid the crowds. Getting there early not only helps you beat the crowds but also allows you to experience the cenote’s tranquil morning vibes. 

Since Tulum is in the Eastern Time Zone (UTC -05:00), you can easily align your visit with other activities planned in the area.

However, if you cross into Yucatan state to visit these cenotes, that is the Central Standard Time Zone (CST -06:00).

Gran Cenote Mexico

What’s the best time to visit Gran Cenote?

Right when they open — The best time to visit is either early in the morning when it opens, or later in the afternoon after 3:30 PM.

This timing helps avoid the peak crowds that often gather during midday.

What’s the best day to visit Gran Cenote?

Mondays to Thursdays — I’d suggest visiting on the weekdays if you can. If you can’t visit on a weekday, opt for the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the weekend afternoon crowds.

Gran Cenote Mexico

How much time do I need at Gran Cenote?

The time you’ll need at Gran Cenote depends on how thoroughly you want to explore and enjoy the area. For most travelers, a visit will last from an hour to a few hours.

If you plan to swim, snorkel, and relax, allocating half a day could be ideal.

This allows you to fully appreciate the cenote’s natural beauty, including its clear waters, underwater formations, and surrounding scenery, without feeling rushed. 

A longer stay might be more satisfying for those keen on photography, or simply soaking in the tranquil ambiance.

Gran Cenote Mexico

What’s the Gran Cenote admission cost?

The entrance fee for Gran Cenote in Tulum is $500 MXN pesos per person (about $25 USD).

The Gran Cenote price includes a life jacket and snorkeling equipment. However, if you need a locker to store your belongings, the locker rental will cost an extra $30 MXN pesos (about $1.70 USD).

Gran Cenote Mexico

Note: Gran Cenote is Cash-Only

Gran Cenote in Tulum operates as a cash-only facility for entrance fees.

Carrying enough cash for the entrance and any additional services like rentals is essential, as paying for credit cards on-site will not be possible. 

You’ll want to bring pesos, though they sometimes accept U.S. dollars, but at a low exchange rate.

For example, the entry fee is $500 pesos, which is about $25 USD.

However, if you pay in dollars, you’ll likely end up paying $30-35 USD because the staff has to take your dollars to a currency exchange so they can get pesos — and you’ll pay that cost.

Gran Cenote Layout and Structure

Are there facilities at Gran Cenote?

Yes — Gran Cenote in Tulum is well-equipped with facilities to ensure a comfortable visit for all guests.

entrance and scanner in gran cenote tulum
You have to pass through the scanner at the entrance before entering the Gran Tulum Cenote.

These include restrooms, life jacket rentals, and food vendors. Additionally, there are areas with hammocks for visitors to relax and unwind.

Let’s do a deeper dive on the facilities at Gran Cenote Tulum, so you’re prepared for your visit.


The facilities include rustic but functional bathrooms. Though simple in design, these bathrooms effectively serve the needs of visitors coming to enjoy the cenote.

Although there are bathrooms with flushing toilets, there is no formal changing area, which can be tricky if you want to sit on a bench to change into your swimsuit.

My recommendation? Come with your swimsuit on. 

As with nearly all Tulum cenotes, you must shower to preserve and protect ecosystems before entering.

Note: If you were planning to wear sunscreen, insect repellent, or lotion, don’t bother because you’ll have to rinse it off before swimming.

There is an outdoor shower the staff will require you to use before entering this popular cenote in Yucatán Peninsula.


gran cenote staircase going to bathroom
The Gran Cenote staircase is among the most popular Tulum Instagram spots.

​​At Gran Cenote, visitors access the water via a T-shaped wooden boardwalk. This boardwalk leads to two separate snorkeling pools.

There are two sets of staircases that descend to the cenote waters. For a quieter and more relaxed experience, I recommend the pool at the end of the second staircase.

🔐 Gran Cenote Lockers 

Lockers are available for visitors to securely store their belongings while they enjoy the cenote.

The cost of renting a locker is usually 30 MXN pesos (approximately $1.50 USD), though I once had to pay 50 pesos.

These lockers are a practical option for keeping your items safe as you swim, snorkel, or explore the cenote’s unique environment.

Note: The lockers are quite small and won’t fit a big backpack, so when heading to Gran Tulum cenote, pack light.


gran cenote ticket counter
Ticket counter where you pay the Gran Cenote Tulum ticket price.

When you arrive, the ticket booth is conveniently located near the entrance. Here, you can pay the entrance fee and receive any necessary information about your visit. 


Gran Cenote does have a snack bar where visitors can grab a light bite and a cold drink.

This makes it convenient for those spending time swimming and snorkeling at the cenote, as they can easily refresh themselves without leaving the site.

A snack bar adds to the comfort of your visit, allowing you to enjoy a full day at the cenote with refreshments readily available. 🤑 Note: Remember to bring cash. 

Gran Cenote Mexico

Are there restaurants at Gran Cenote?

​​No — At Gran Cenote, there isn’t a full-service restaurant on site.

However, visitors have access to a small snack shop with a small menu where they can purchase light refreshments and snacks. 

However, this cenote is very close to downtown Tulum, so you have plenty of options nearby.

Want some recommendations? Within about a 15 minute drive from the cenote, there’s La Coqueta, Burrito Amor Tulum and Tropi Tacos. If you’re looking for delicious tacos in Tulum, that last one’s a great option.

Best Gran Cenote Tours

clear waters of gran cenote tulum
Gran Cenote is one of the famous Tulum cenotes because of its crystal clear waters.

If you’re planning a trip to Tulum and want to explore the surrounding areas but dread the logistics of transportation and navigating around unfamiliar cities, tours are the perfect solution. 

Gran Cenote Tours are a convenient and stress-free way to explore the beautiful sights around Tulum, including the cenotes in Tulum Mexico.

Many full-day adventures offer stops at more than just Gran Cenote (because one cenote in Mexico is simply not enough).

You can choose to make pit stops at any cenote near Tulum — including open air cenotes, like Casa Cenote, Cenote Cristal, Cenote Zacil Ha, and Cenote Carwash, and some hidden in caves and caverns amidst the jungle, like Cenote Dos Ojos.

While you’re out there, why not choose a private cenotes of Tulum tour so that you are in control of the whole experience?

What better way to experience Mexico than with local guides who know Tulum and the surrounding attractions best?!

Gran Cenote Mexico

How to Get to Gran Cenote

leaves in the waters of gran cenote tulum
Gran Cenote, meaning big cenote or great cenote, ties with Cenote Calavera for most Instagram worthy Tulum cenote.

Prefer exploring the Gran Cenote on your own? No problem! It is located minutes from Tulum Town (AKA Downtown Tulum), so you have several options for getting to this cenote.

Depending on your departure city, you can rent a car and drive there on your own time, catch a ride with a taxi, or rent a bike and pedal your way there.

🚘 Want to rent a car in Tulum Mexico? I book all my Mexico rental cars with Discover Cars because they have FREE cancellation, great rates, and an easy-to-use interface.

On the way, you’ll enjoy the scenery as you make your way about 2 miles (3 km) through the Yucatan jungle.

Gran Cenote Mexico

Can you visit Gran Cenote on your own from Tulum?

Yes — Those coming from Tulum, Mexico have the most travel options for how to get to Gran Cenote (all listed below).

man swimming in gran cenote
This open-air cenote is open everyday of the week!

The one thing you won’t want to do is walk, as it’s very hot for most of the year and the roads going to the cenote aren’t very walkable because there aren’t sidewalks.

Want more tips on the how to get to this famous cenote in Tulum? Keep reading for the 5 best ways to get to Gran Cenote from Tulum on your own.

1. Drive your Tulum rental car

car rental tulum mexico locations
For more info on Mexico car rentals, head to Renting a Car in Tulum: Everything You Need to Know.

The best way to get to this cenote is via rental car, allowing you to travel the whole Yucatan Peninsula at your own pace.

As someone who lives in Mexico and travels often, I personally use and recommend Discover Cars for all my rentals.

This company’s search feature will check prices at both local Mexico companies and large international companies so you get the best rates.

They also offer FREE cancellation up to 48 hours before your rental.

2. Gran Cenote Bus or Colectivo

colectivo tulum mexico
You can catch the colectivo to Gran Cenote Tulum Mexico on the main road. You’ll head into the direction of Coba Gran Cenote and make sure to ask the driver to stop at the cenote.

Colectivos are popular, affordable Tulum transportation options — great for getting to the top attractions in Tulum.

While it’s not usually described as comfortable, the colectivo is inexpensive, so if you’re traveling to Tulum on a budget, this is the way to go.

To use it, head to the main road in Downtown Tulum, and make sure you’re on the south side of the street.

Hop on the colectivo (shared van) heading to Coba, and as you get on, let the driver know you’re going to El Gran Cenote so they can let you off there.

3. Hire a private driver or take a taxi

tulum taxi SUV
Tulum taxis are readily available, both day and night.

If you’re not renting a car, taking a taxi or hiring a private taxi driver is the next best option. Expect to pay roughly $200-300 MXN pesos (about $12-17 USD) each way from downtown Tulum to Gran Cenote.

If you’re hiring a private driver, they’ll wait for you at the cenote. If you’re taking a taxi, see if you can work out a deal where they wait for you, or try to schedule a pickup ahead of time.

🚙 Pro Tip: This cenote in Tulum is located on a major road; it’s not quite a highway, but is a busy street where cars often go much faster than they should!

For safety, plan your return trip home to avoid waiting for a taxi on this busy roadway.

4. Tulum Bike Rentals

blue bikes in tulum mexico
Wondering, What’s the best way to get around in Tulum? Biking is one of the most popular options.

If you’re up for an adventure, renting a bike in Tulum is an affordable and active way to reach the cenote, and to get around Tulum itself.

It’s 2.5 miles from Downtown Tulum (less than 5 km), so it’s close enough to reach by bike quickly.

⚠️ Note: Use some caution with this option as it requires biking on a highway, but if you’re looking to stay active, it might be worth a try.

The bike ride from Tulum to Gran Cenote should take about 30-40 minutes, and you can celebrate at the end by jumping into the cenote’s refreshing waters.

When you get there, you’ll find FREE bike parking.

5. Tulum Scooter Rentals & ATV Rentals

tulum bike rental and tulum scooter rental company

Enjoy the wind in your hair as you breeze to Gran Cenote Tulum with a scooter rental or ATV rental.

Not only is it a fun alternative to renting a car or taking a taxi, but it’s also a bit safer than walking or biking on the highway.

Gran Cenote Mexico

How to Get from Cancun to Gran Cenote

people snorkeling with the whale sharks in mexico
Cancun is famous for its whale shark tour, where you can swim with whale sharks.

Gran Cenote is approximately 83 miles (133 kilometers) from Cancun. If you’re driving, it’s a direct route that typically takes around 2 to 2.5 hours, depending on what route you take.

For those preferring a more comfortable and hassle-free journey, taxis and private shuttles offer service from Cancun to Gran Cenote. However, due to the distance, prices can be high.

If you’re considering public transportation, buses are an affordable option. ADO buses run from Cancun to Tulum.

And from Tulum, you can take a taxi or a colectivo to Gran Cenote. This option is less costly but will take longer and involves a change of transport in Tulum.

  • Cancun to Gran Cenote Distance: Approximately 83 miles (133 kilometers ) 
  • Travel Time: Roughly 2-2.5 hours by car; longer if using public transportation
  • View route on Google Maps
Gran Cenote Mexico

How to Get from Playa del Carmen to Gran Cenote

people walking on 5th Avenue Playa del Carmen Mexico
Quinta Avenida, or Fifth Avenue Playa del Carmen, is the main pedestrian street and a hub of activity.

Gran Cenote is located about 65 kilometers (40 miles) from Playa del Carmen. Driving is a straightforward option, usually taking around 1 hour.

Taxis and private shuttles are also available, offering a more comfortable journey but at a higher cost. 

If you are taking a bus from the ADO bus station in Playa del Carmen, there is a bus that will take you directly to Gran Cenote, which will take around 1.5 hours.

But beware, not all will make this stop, so make sure to double-check when you board the bus. 

Alternatively, public buses to Tulum, followed by a taxi to Gran Cenote, present a more economical but less convenient choice. 

  • Playa del Carmen to Gran Cenote Distance: Approximately 65 km (40 miles)
  • Travel Time: About 1 hour by car; additional time for bus transfers
  • View route on Google Maps
Gran Cenote Mexico

How to Get from Valladolid to Gran Cenote

colonial church in valladolid mexico
Valladolid has several significant landmarks, including the Valladolid Cathedral, Plaza Mayor, and the National Sculpture Museum.

Gran Cenote is located about 62 miles (100 kilometers) from Valladolid. If you’re driving, the trip typically takes around 1.5 hours, depending on traffic.

The drive is straightforward, mainly along Highway 109, heading towards Tulum.

For a more relaxed journey, taxi services and private shuttles are available from Valladolid to El Gran Cenote Tulum.

Keep in mind that these options might be more expensive due to the distance involved.

Public transportation is another option, as buses are available from Valladolid to Tulum.

From the ADO bus Tulum station, you can catch a taxi or a local colectivo (shared van) to Gran Cenote.

This method is more budget-friendly but takes longer, as it involves a transfer in Tulum Town.

  • Valladolid to Gran Cenote Distance: Approximately 100 km (62 miles)
  • Travel Time: About 1.5 hours by car; additional time required for bus and taxi/colectivo transfers.
  • View route on Google Maps
Gran Cenote Mexico

How to Get from Merida to Gran Cenote

pink building in merida mexico yucatan
Merida is a culturally rich city, also known as the Cultural Capital of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Gran Cenote is about a 3-hour drive from Merida at about 155 miles (250 km) away from Tulum.

The most straightforward route is to take the Federal Highway 180 eastbound towards Tulum and then head onto Coba Road in the town of Tulum. This route is generally easy to navigate.

If you prefer not to drive, buses run from Merida’s bus station straight to Tulum. The journey is less than 4 hours, and it is an affordable and convenient option.

When you arrive in Tulum, you can continue to Gran Cenote by local bus, colectivo, or taxi.

This final leg of the journey is relatively short, and these local transport options are readily available in Tulum.

  • Merida to Gran Cenote Distance: 155 miles (250 km)
  • Travel Time: About 3 hours by car; additional time required for bus and taxi/colectivo transfers.
  • View the route on Google Maps

What to Bring to Gran Cenote

underwater shot of people swimming in gran cenote
Aside from the Gran Cenote entrance fee, take note of the items we recommend you bring to the cenote.

Wondering, What do I bring to Gran Cenote, and what to pack for Tulum cenotes in general? You’re not alone!

Since this will likely be your first visit to any of the best Mexico cenotes, you’re probably unsure what to take and what to leave home. Don’t worry — I’m here to help!

Below, you’ll find a list of seven things you need to consider when making your Tulum cenotes packing list. This list will come in handy for other places too, beyond just Gran Cenote.

If you’re visiting any cenotes in Tulum (or cenotes near Tulum), like Cenote Calavera, Laguna Kaan Luum & Cenote, Cenote Sac Actun, Cenote Carwash, don’t forget the things below.

Gran Cenote Mexico

1. Go Pro Waterproof Camera

If you’ve been considering getting a GoPro Hero, the photogenic Yucatan cenotes are the perfect place to put that camera to good use.

📸 Looking for an inexpensive GoPro alternative? I recommend this Akaso EK7000, an Amazon Best Seller.

Gran Cenote Mexico

2. Long Sleeve Bathing Suit (AKA Rash guard or Swim shirt)

🚨 In case you didn’t know: Sunscreen is prohibited in ALL cenotes!

That’s right: You’re not allowed to wear sunscreen in any cenote in Mexico. Yes, this also includes eco-friendly sunscreens and reef-safe sunscreens because they can harm the natural environment.

However, you will want sun protection, so opt for these long-sleeved bathing suits and even these waterproof sun hats so you don’t end up with a bad sunburn on your Tulum vacation.

Gran Cenote Mexico

3. Mask and Snorkel

If you do plan to snorkel in Gran Cenote to see the rocks underneath and all the little fish, you’ll need your own equipment.

YES, equipment comes with the entrance ticket, but isn’t your own gear just so much better?

For those who want to conserve luggage space, these small goggles and this roll up snorkel are a great option, but this combo mask and snorkel is the best option for snorkeling in Gran Cenote.

Gran Cenote Mexico

4. Water Shoes

Here’s one of the best Gran Cenote travel tips: Don’t forget to buy and bring your water shoes! As cenotes are natural pools, most have slippery rocks, muddy ground, etc.

Water shoes also help you not slip in general, especially when walking down any staircase entryways.

Gran Cenote Mexico

5. Waterproof Phone Holder

If you’re planning to take Instagrammable cenote photos, this inexpensive waterproof phone holder that goes around your neck really comes in handy.

With a waterproof phone case, you can take your phone in water and capture the Tulum cenotes from all angles — including those cool underwater shots.

Gran Cenote Mexico

6. Waterproof Fanny Pack

This waterproof fanny pack is another great option. Not only are they cute, but they will also hold all your valuables, not just your phone.

Wondering about lockers at Gran Cenote? Sadly, the lockers in Gran Cenote are small, so one of the best options is to keep all your belongings on you with a waterproof waist bag.

Gran Cenote Mexico

7. Quick Dry Towel

This quick dry towel is one of the best things to throw in your suitcase when packing for Mexico, and will definitely come in handy when you visit the cenotes and Yucatan beaches.

Gran Cenote Mexico

8. Bring Cash

🤑 The cost to enter El Gran Cenote Tulum is 500 pesos, and it’s cash only!

In Tulum, many places are cash only, particularly things like taxis, street taco shops and cenotes. For the most part, Tulum cenotes are cash-only — including Gran Cenote Tulum.

While some cenotes take credit cards for your admission price, they won’t take cards for things like life vest rentals, locker rentals, food and drinks at the snack bar and/or convenience store shops on the premises.

These have an extra cost.

Best Things to Do at Gran Cenote

Can you go swimming at Gran Cenote?

Yes — Diving, snorkeling and swimming at Gran Cenote in Tulum are popular activities due to its clear waters and stunning natural environment.

woman in black bikini swimming in gran cenote
If you want to beat the heat, Gran El Cenote Mexico Tulum is a perfect spot.

The cenote also offers a spacious grass area and a large decked area connecting the main swimming and snorkeling spots.

Visitors can explore the first and second caves, which reveal beautiful cave formations.

They might encounter wildlife like freshwater turtles and blue crabs.

Gran Cenote Mexico

Can you go snorkeling at Gran Cenote?

Yes — Snorkeling is a popular activity at Gran Cenote in Tulum.

people snorkeling in gran cenote
Gran Cenote is one of the most popular cenotes for snorkeling.

The cenote’s crystal-clear waters and captivating rock formations provide an excellent environment for snorkeling. 

Visitors can explore the first and second caves, which showcase formations and a variety of wildlife, including freshwater turtles, blue crabs, and cave bats. 

Snorkeling gear is included in the entrance fee. However, if you don’t like using rental gear, make sure to bring your own mask and snorkel.

I always have my own for sanitary reasons, and because their equipment isn’t the best and tends to leak.

Remember to rinse off before entering the water to protect the cenote’s sensitive environment, and be aware that sunblock is prohibited (including eco-friendly sunscreen).

Gran Cenote Mexico

Can you go diving at Gran Cenote?

Yes — Scuba diving is an option at Gran Cenote in Tulum. Diving at Gran Cenote in Tulum offers a unique experience due to its turquoise waters and stunning limestone formations. 

scuba diving in gran cenote
Scuba diving in Gran Cenote is another popular activity.

This sacred site is culturally significant and features fascinating geological structures.

The cenote’s depth reaches approximately 10 meters (33 feet), allowing divers to explore its underwater rock formations and flooded caves. 

If you don’t swim well, stick to the side of the cenote where it’s shallow.

It’s a captivating exploration experience for both experienced divers and beginners.

To truly appreciate the wonders of Grand Cenote, guided tours are recommended, providing safety and insightful information about the cenote’s ecosystem and history.

🤿 Note: Before you pack your gear, diving at Gran Cenote requires an advanced certification and must be done with a professional guide.

Luckily, dive shops all around Tulum will help you plan your dive. Trust me, it will be worth every penny, and you’ll have fun Gran Cenote diving!

Gran Cenote Tulum: FAQ & Travel Guide

terrapins in gran cenote
You can also spot small turtles in Gran Cenote.

What’s the closest city to Gran Cenote?

The closest city to Gran Cenote is Tulum, located approximately 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) away. 

🚗 Tulum to Gran Cenote

  • Tulum to Gran Cenote Distance: 2.5 miles (4 km)
  • Tulum to Gran Cenote Travel Time: About 15 minutes in normal traffic
  • View route on Google Maps

While Tulum is a popular tourist destination and culturally rich hub with trendy street vendors, co-working hostels, beautiful beaches, Tulum ancient ruins and Instagrammable locations — don’t forget to add Gran Cenote to your Tulum itinerary.

Even with so many things to do in Tulum, Gran Cenotes Tulum Mexico is still well worth a visit. 

Gran Cenote Mexico

Is there parking at Gran Cenote?

Yes — There is free parking available at Gran Cenote. This includes parking for cars and bike parking.

bicyles and vehicles parked outside gran cenote
You can save some cenote cost because the parking in Gran Cenote is free.

The parking facility at Tulum Gran Cenote is conveniently located near the entrance, providing easy access to the cenote.

There are plenty of spots, but they do go quicker during peak times, like weekends and holidays.

Gran Cenote Mexico

What’s the best time to go to Gran Cenote?

The best time to visit Gran Cenote is early in the morning, right when it opens, or later in the afternoon, after the peak visitor hours.

Visiting during these times helps avoid the larger crowds and allows for a more peaceful experience. The cenote tends to be busiest around midday.

Gran Cenote Mexico

Is Gran Cenote free?

No — Gran Cenote is not free to enter. The Gran Cenote Tulum entrance fee is 500 MXN pesos per person (approximately $25 USD).

The Gran Cenote price includes a life jacket and snorkeling equipment. However, if you need a locker to store your belongings, it will cost an extra 30 Mexican pesos (about $1.70 USD).

Gran Cenote Mexico

What is the history behind Gran Cenote?

Like many cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula, the Gran Cenote history is intertwined with the ancient Maya civilization.

float markets in gran cenote
Fun Fact: According to Gran Cenote Wiki, the Ring of Cenotes is about 110-miles in diameter (180 km), and 12 miles deep (20 km).

The Maya considered cenotes sacred, serving as sources of freshwater and gateways to the underworld, known as Xibalba (pronounced she-bal-bah).

In fact, they often played a role in Maya rituals, including offerings and sometimes human sacrifices.

The unique geological formations of cenotes, formed by the collapse of limestone bedrock exposing groundwater beneath, have also made them a focus of archaeological and geological interest. 

Gran Cenote in the Riviera Maya, with its stunning crystal clear waters and cave systems, continues to be a site of natural beauty and historical intrigue.

Wondering, Is the Gran Cenote best cenote in Tulum? While subjective, it is considered one of the best Tulum cenotes Mexico has to offer.

As one of the most famous cenotes near Tulum, it and shouldn’t be missed. 

What NOT to Do: 3 Gran Cenote Tips

1. Sunscreen is not allowed at Gran Cenote

The oils and chemicals in lotion and sunscreen (even eco-friendly sunscreens) will harm the cenote.

Please do your part to practice sustainable tourism in Mexico by not applying lotion, insect spray and/or sunscreen on the day you plan to visit Gran Cenote.

When you are out of the lagoon, you can apply sunscreen, and this Bullfrog Anti-Bug SPF 50 Sunscreen is great for both sun protection and mosquito protection.

2. Don’t visit Gran Cenote on weekends (If you can help it)

There have been quite a few mentions throughout this article about this being one of the most Instagram-worthy cenotes in Mexico.

On that note, remember the Instagram vs. Reality factor when you’re planning to visit.

If you want those people-less Instagram photos, try to visit Gran Cenote on a Tuesday morning at 9am when they open because there will likely be no one else there.

If you visit during peak times, expect large crowds at this small cenote.

3. Don’t Forget to Pack Your Own Food to Gran Cenote

Unlike other Tulum Mexico cenotes, Gran Cenote is the perfect place for a picnic! You can pack your own snacks, food, and drinks to enjoy on the hammocks and chairs scattered around the lush jungle.

Remember to stay hydrated by packing plenty of water, especially on hot afternoons in any of the cenotes Tulum Mexico you visit. You are allowed to bring in water, but not alcoholic beverages.

No worries if you don’t want to haul anything to the cenote, though!

As Gran Cenote grows in popularity, they’ve made it more convenient by adding a few small food stands with vendors offering food and drinks for guests to enjoy.

Gran Cenote Mexico

What are cenotes?

A cenote is a deep sinkhole in the natural limestone floor, which exposes the freshwater underground. This sunken-in area forms a natural pool (or cenote), and these cenotes are found especially in Yucatan Mexico.

cenote azul
Wondering, What are some different cenotes in Tulum? Gran Cenote Tulum is what’s called an open cenote, as no rock covers the top of it.

The word “sinkhole” describes the process of how the cenotes came to be. At one time, all cenotes were encased in the Yucatan Peninsula’s native limestone rock.

Over time, some rock has eroded, collapsed, and “sunk in” to reveal the water beneath — which is the cenote water we can now swim in.

🛑 TL;DR: Just want a short answer to, What is a cenote? Mexico’s cenotes are natural freshwater pools located primarily in the Yucatan Mayan jungle.

The cenotes aren’t individual pools, but rather the same water that comes from massive freshwater rivers flowing beneath the Yucatan Peninsula.

In fact, some cenote water comes from one of the the largest underground rivers on Earth, the Sistema Sac Actun.

Gran Cenote Mexico

How many cenotes are there?

There are about 6,000 cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula — the largest concentration of cenotes found anywhere on Earth. 

How do you pronounce cenote?

Cenote pronunciation is sen-no-tay in singular. It’s sen-no-tays in plural, as in the word “cenotes.”

Gran Cenote Mexico

How many cenotes are in Tulum?

Depending on who you ask, some sources say there are exactly 226 cenotes in Tulum, though others say differently.

cenote zacil ha entrance
When you visit any cenote, it’s essential to respect the rules and guidelines provided by the cenote management.

Of the approx. 200 cenotes in Tulum, not all of them are accessible to the public, which is why it’s not easy to get an accurate number.

Gran Cenote Mexico

What are the 4 types of cenotes?

Of the (approx.) 6,000 cenotes in Yucatan, there are four distinct types of cenotes: open, semi-open, cave, and diving cenotes.

Each type is unique and beautiful in its own way, so make sure to visit as many types of Mexican cenotes as you can.

1. Open Cenotes (Swimming Pool cenotes)

people swimming in cenote zacil ha
Like the same says, open cenotes are cenote pools that have no rock over the top.

You may see these called “swimming pool cenotes,” as they are completely open and look like a natural swimming pool — like Cenote Azul.

The water is crystal clear at these more than others because the sun can fully shine on the water.

Considered on of the most beautiful cenotes in Tulum, don’t miss Cenote Zacil-Ha, one of the completely open cenotes you need to visit.

2. Semi-Open Cenotes

people swimming in cenote ik-kil mexico
Surrounded by caves, the water is crystal clear in most cenotes so you still get a glimpse of the underwater world.

These cenotes are semi-encased in their native limestone rock.

Semi-open cenotes have large walls surrounding the pool itself, and a large hole in the top of it so some sunlight gets in — like Cenote Ik-Kil and andthe Gran Cenote Tulum Quintana Roo Mexico.

3. Closed Cenotes in Caves

woman in cenote suytun circular platform
Suytun Cenote is one of the best completely underground cenotes, so you can check out the rock formations all around you.

Cave cenotes are exactly as the name says. These are located underground in a cave, and you’ll have to access them by going down some stairs — like Cenote Suytun.

While many are located underground but have small openings at the top where come light can get in.

This helps you see the cool stalagmites and stalactites above, and snorkelers can better see the fish and turtles swimming below.

4. Dive Cenotes for Diving

diver diving in cenote el pit mexico
For divers, this Cenotes Scuba Diving Tour, with a visit to Cenote El Pit, is a must. (Photo: Airbnb, Visiting Gran Cenote Mexico)

The final type is also located inside a cave, but the water in these cenotes is much deeper so they are sought out for diving — like Cenote Dos Ojos, Cenote El Pit and Cenote Calavera.

🤿 Note: You must be certified for cenote diving! For those who are, check out these tours: Cenotes Scuba Diving Tulum Tour and Go Dive Cenotes in Tulum Tour — both of which have great reviews on Tripadvisor.

Final Thoughts: Visiting El Gran Cenote Tulum Mexico

While I’ve never found the need for bug spray at Gran Cenote, some visitors do bring it.

Gran Cenote Tulum stands out as a must-visit for its crystal-clear waters and unique underground cave system.

Unlike typical semi open cenotes, it offers a mesmerizing mix of open and cave-like areas.

The Gran Cenote Tulum price is reasonable, ensuring value for money.

It’s perfect for families and adventurers alike, providing a safe, exciting, and affordable experience. 

Whether snorkeling or just soaking in the beauty, Gran Cenote captures the essence of Tulum’s natural wonders, making every visit memorable.

Additional Tulum Cenote Blogs

cenote escondido tulum mexico
Tulum is home to more than 200 cenotes, so there’s more to explore — like Cenote Escondido, a popular snorkeling cenote near Downtown Tulum.

Looking for more info on Tulum cenotes? Smart choice, as the cenotes are some of the top sites you can’t miss when you visit Tulum. Check out these additional Tulum cenote guides:

The Best Cenotes Near Tulum Mexico

Tulum Travel Planning Guide

1. Should I buy Mexico travel insurance?

100% YES! — With basic coverage averaging just $5-10 USD per day, enjoy peace of mind with a plan from Travel Insurance Master, one of the biggest names in travel insurance. (Read more)

2. Can you drink the water in Tulum?

No — You’ll want to buy this Water-To-Go Bottle, which filters your drinking water so you don’t get sick from drinking water in Mexico, and helps keep you hydrated while traveling Mexico. (Read more)

3. Is it safe to rent a car in Tulum?

Yes — Renting a car in Mexico is one of the best ways to see the country! I always rent with Discover Cars, which checks both international companies and local Mexican companies, so you get the best rates. (Read more)

4. Will my phone work in Tulum?

Maybe — It depends on your company, so check with your provider. If you don’t have free Mexico service, buy this Telcel SIM Card. As Mexico’s largest carrier, Telcel has the best coverage of any Mexico SIM Cards. (Read more)

5. What’s the best way to book my Tulum accommodations?

For Tulum hotels, is the best site, but for hostels, use Hostel World. If you’re considering a Mexico Airbnb, don’t forget to also check VRBO, which is often cheaper than Airbnb.

6. What do I pack for Tulum?

Head to the Ultimate Tulum Packing List to get all the info you need on packing for Mexico.

7. What’s the best site to buy Mexico flights?

For finding cheap Mexico flights, I recommend Skyscanner.

8. Do I need a visa for Mexico?

Likely Not — U.S., Canadian and most European Passport holders don’t need a visa for Mexico; but check here to see if you do a Mexico travel visa. The majority of travelers will receive a 180-Day FMM Tourist Visa or passport stamp upon arrival.