Cenote Angelita: A Beautiful Landscape and Surreal Dive

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Beware: You should never explore wild caves alone or without proper gear. Consider getting in touch with a Grotto of the National Speleological Society at www.caves.org or a qualified cave club. These groups are skilled and will train you. Without sufficient knowledge, preparation, and equipment, cave exploring can lead to serious injury or death.

Angelita means “Little Angel.” This unique spot is known for its stunning underwater landscape. What draws tourists to Cenote Angelita each year is the illusion of a floating river, which is simply unforgettable. Some even call it the world’s most unique dive.

This is a sight that always attracts divers and snorkelers. Deep in the Mayan jungles, this 200-foot hole appears rather suddenly. You can dive in off of a wooden dock, but probably shouldn’t without some preparation. However, don’t fret. You’ll have the option to take a guided diving tour for a full day of adventure and exploration.

In this article, we will cover everything you need to know here regarding Cenote Angelita. Let’s get started!

An image showing the beautiful trees and foliage surrounding the Cenote Angelita surface.

Everything to Know About Cenote Angelita

Cenote Angelita is located about 10.5 miles (17 km) south of Tulum. It is the furthest visited cenote from Playa del Carmen.

The biggest feature of Cenote Angelita is the underwater river. There is a massive cloud of hydrogen sulfide here, created by the interaction of freshwater with saltwater. As the sulfur is heavier than salt water, it gradually accumulates at this level, as a distinct separate layer.

Seeing this from underwater is quite an experience. The hydrogen sulfide layer is also home to a variety of interesting underwater flora and fauna, including small fish and crabs.

The depth of the cenote can reach over 100 meters, with various alternating layers of fresh water and salt water. Nearby trees provide a beautiful and colorful foliage as branches and leaves fall down into the river, remaining near the surface due to the water density.

The organic matter from this debris decomposes and lines the underwater cloud. As a result, it appears that you’re in a sort of underwater forest. This once-in-a-lifetime sight comes into view about 60 feet (18m) below the surface. An eerie, ghostly aura surrounds the underwater river, with trees jutting out from the thick poisonous cloud like sharp bones.

How poisonous, you ask? Well, let’s just say that if you were breathing it in, it would take a very small amount to render you unconscious. Underwater, if the exposure is brief, there won’t be any real risk.

In addition to the floating river, Cenote Angelita is also home to a number of underwater caves and tunnels. These caves are popular among divers, who can explore the underwater passageways and marvel at the stunning rock formations.


Unfortunately, you are not permitted to freely go diving here. If you wish to swim, it will cost only 100 MXN ($5), but if you want to dive, be prepared to pay more with everything that comes with it. Scroll down to learn more about the diving tours that are available here.

How to get to Cenote Angelita

Cenote Angelita is about 15.6 km (15 minutes) south of Tulum. You will be on Chetumal/Mexico HWY 307. From the highway, there is a bump dirt track which you use to enter the Mayan jungle. A hike of a few hundred meters will get you to your destination. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding it, and it will take only about 5 minutes once inside the jungle.

Diving in Cenote Angelita

The drop into this cenote is quite steep. Angelita is meant for experienced divers only. In addition, because of the depth, it is quite dangerous for an inexperienced diver to attempt to explore the lower regions of the river.

If you are interested, we highly recommend a guided diving tour, like the “Diving in Angelita and Actun-Ha Cenotes Tour”. We’ll elaborate on this tour in a bit.

One person mentioned that it was “like traveling to an alien planet, with the tree island at 19m, then descending below the gaseous layer to crystal clear salt water at 29m.” You can see this tree island below. Try to wrap your head around the fact that there is much more water below this!

That pile of branches is actually floating underwater.

Cenote Angelita Tips & Tricks

As with many of the other Mexican cenotes, you will want to dress comfortably for the walk. This cenote in particular is located in a remote area, and you’ll be hiking on uneven road through the jungle to get to it. Bring shoes that you wouldn’t mind getting wet.

Two images of a group dive in Cenote Angelita.

The hike itself will likely be hot, so have enough water with you as well. Bring extra clothes for after the dive, along with a towel and any snorkeling or diving equipment you plan to use. If you want to explore the cave system, you may need to rent some equipment.

Please don’t leave any trash there! This is a fragile ecosystem, and we must all do our part in helping keep it clean and safe. There are often signs at cenotes warning not to touch some more fragile parts of the environment, so please read and act appropriately.

Once underwater, go with your guided diver if you have one, and be careful. The depth here is quite dangerous, but the underwater river is as well.

The hydrogen sulfate can be harmful to your skin and eyes. It’s important to be careful and not linger too much near the cloud when you first find it. It’s about 5 feet (1.5 m) tall, but exposure to your skin may result in an uncomfortable rash, or worse.

A mass of hydrogen sulfate found like this in any other situation would kill you from skin absorption. Exposure to hydrogen sulfide can cause apnea, coma, convulsions, etc. The list of bad news is long, and protective face gear and an oxygen tank help to circumvent these risks.

Either way, do not attempt to swim through the cloud itself, as you want to limit any potential skin exposure as much as possible.

Guided Tours

With some cenotes, you are free to go snorkeling and diving as you wish. But with Cenote Angelita, there are some requirements. Due to its depth and complex underwater layers, beginners are not permitted to go diving here.

First, you must have a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver certification. While this is not a barrier to novice divers – the course is designed to advance your diving skills – it may be If you don’t, guided tours are the best way to experience this mystical place.

Two for One: Cenote Angelita and Cenote Casa from Riviera Maya

Price: $215.39 (price varies by group size)

Location: Pick up at any hotel in Riviera Maya.

Time: Begins at 8:00 AM, for roughly 5 hours

Description: Experience a professional tour through two separate cenotes from the Riviera Maya: Cenote Angelita and Cenote Casa. Diving equipment can be rented separately ($15/day), but 2 tanks, weights, and a belt are provided.

Private transportation, snacks, and water are included.

Two for One: Cenote Angelita and Cenote Actun-Ha from Riviera Maya

Price: $194.88

Location: Pick up from Playa del Carmen to downtown Tulum is free.

Starting Time: 7:00 AM

Duration: 1 day

Description: Another two-for one deal, this time exploring Cenote Angelita and Cenote Actun-Ha. 2 tanks, weights, and a belt are provided. Private transportation, snacks, and water are included.

A diving torch can be rented ($5), and photo/recording is provided at an extra cost.

Note: The URL for this tour includes “Cenote Calavera” but the description says “Cenote Actun-Ha”. Please double-check before booking.

Hotels Near Cenote Angelita

Hotel Poc Na Tulum 

Distance: 13.3 miles (21.4 km)

Rating: 8.6/10 (1100+ reviews)

Maria Del Mar Tulum – Adults Only

Distance: 12.9 miles (20.9 km)

Rating: 8.6/10 (400+ reviews)

Bahia Principe Grand Tulum All Inclusive (newly renovated)

Distance: 24.4 miles (39.3 km)

Rating: 8.6/10 (1000+ reviews)

Hotel Casa Santiago

Distance: 9.1 miles (14.7 km)

Rating: 9.0/10 (200+ reviews)

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