Cenote Cristalino: Snorkeling, Diving, and a Free Fish Pedicure?

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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.

Near Playa del Carmen lies one of several beautiful open cenotes in Mexico, the Cenote Cristalino. If you’re there to swim, this is possibly the best cenote around the general area. Some other cenotes around Playa del Carmen include Gran Cenote and Cenote Chaak Tun.

However, Cenote Cristalino is also one that can be a hit or miss based on a few factors. While it’s a well-maintained and enjoyable experience, it comes with a couple issues that are worth considering before planning your trip. They are not necessarily gamebreakers, but they can spoil an otherwise good time if you are not prepared.

With that said, though, we will do our best to keep you focused on the good while not getting caught off guard with the bad. Let’s start with the good.

An image showing the beautiful trees surrounding the water at Cenote Cristalino.

Everything to Know about Cenote Cristalino

There’s certainly a lot to enjoy when you go to Cenote Cristalino. But we feel it’s our duty to mention both the good and bad when we’ve seen some of the worse reviews about this particular cenote.

The Good

Surrounded by greenery and mangroves, Cenote Cristalino has a rich, colorful and natural vibe the moment you first arrive. There is a diving board that tempts you to get ready to jump right in.

Most cenotes offer spectacular views, with natural vegetation and clear, calm waters. Here, the water is cool but not too cold, and filled with friendly fish. But while you can find fish at many cenotes, these fish are a bit more…eager?

You may have wondered what our title was about. The fish here are so friendly that they will immediately rush you to nibble at your toes while you are in the water. Don’t fret, as it is mostly just a ticklish and perhaps slightly unsettling feeling, but they are actually doing you a favor. If you have ever desired a fish pedicure, this is where you get one, for free!

Spas in America typically charge $50 or more for a 30 minute fish pedicure. Unless you already knew, this may be interesting information. People who go to Cenote Cristalino to enjoy the waters and the relaxing environment end up getting this natural spa treatment thrown in at no additional charge.

In addition, there are a couple deep caves here as well. People enjoy cliff jumping from a height of about 15 feet, and then swimming through some narrow areas to explore the caves underneath. Tropical birds fly around and you may even see iguanas..36

The caves themselves are interesting, and have been said to go quite a long way. With an underwater camera, you may get a great set of photos of both the caves and the light that comes through the surface of the waters. Unlike some other cenotes (looking at you, Cenote Calavera), you won’t have to pay extra just to take photos.

There is a bathroom and changing area on site, that are pretty well-maintained.

A couple people swimming in Cenote Cristalino's clear waters.

The Bad

Earlier, we mentioned that there are some issues associated with Cenote Cristalino. Perhaps it’s not this cenote in particular, but travelers have not seemed to report similar experiences as much with other locations. One of these big issues is a seeming increase in theft.

When you arrive later in the day (after 11 AM), this spot gets quite busy. There may be upwards of several dozen people at these busier hours. While people can leave their belongings in lockers by paying a small fee, some elected not to, trusting that it was a safe location to set things down and simply return to them later. We urge you not to risk it if you brought anything expensive. Backpacks and small bags have been taken here, possibly by mistake, but ultimately not returned to the owners. The staff does not seem to get involved much either.

Some even say that this cenote is not well managed. One reported that there were no showers prior to entering, resulting in the waters being polluted with dozens of visitors’ sunscreen. While this may not happen every time, it’s a bit worrisome that it could get this negligent during busy hours.

With that said, this is ultimately preventable. Don’t bring anything too expensive or flashy, and consider showing up early, as with any of the more popular cenotes. You don’t want to deal with anything getting misplaced, accidentally or not, because it will quickly ruin your trip.


Entrance to Cenote Cristalino costs 200 MXN ($10), and includes a life jacket. You also have the option to rent lounge chairs. The cenote is quite shallow, so scuba diving isn’t necessarily a main appeal here. But you may go swimming and snorkeling to your heart’s content.

How to get to Cenote Cristalino

Cenote Cristalino is located in Carretera Cancun. If you are coming from Playa del Carmen, it’s roughly 18 miles (29.7 km) away. From Tulum, it’s a longer drive, but we will cover some ideal hotel locations shortly.

To save money, take a colectivo. They are much cheaper, costing about 40 MXN ($2.50), but often shared beyond a comfortable capacity. At 2nd street in Playa del Carmen, a colectivo can pick you up once every 10 minutes or so. Once you get off, it is a brief walk to the entrance of Cenote Cristalino.

Cenote Cristalino Trips & Tricks

Cenote Cristalino is located near Cenote Jardín del Eden and Cenote Azul. It’s a good idea to visit all three at the same time. But expect a little difficulty in finding it, due to the number of cenotes in the surrounding area.

To add to this difficulty, the rocks and ladder are quite slippery, making getting out of the cenote less straightforward. The staff can be

An image taken above the water inside the cave at Cenote Cristalino.

In addition, rental fees for lockers are more expensive than other cenotes, at 100 MXN ($5). This ultimately leads to people foregoing the option, and opening the door to more of the theft we mentioned earlier. Be vigilant! Don’t leave your stuff out just because others are doing it – be very careful with things like phones, wallets, purses, and bags in general.

There are lots of mosquitos, which is hard to prepare for when you don’t want to overly apply bug spray and contaminate the ecosystem. If it’s rained recently, maybe wait a day or two because they will swarm in that weather even more than normal.

To make your trip as enjoyable as possible, show up early, lock your valuables up somewhere safe (if not using the public lockers), and have a way to call a taxi

One user reported that the staff did not help much with information or offering to call a taxi for visitors. It’s best to prepare for it yourself.

We recommend going further than the main swimming location, because there is more to see. Lots of tourists stop at the main area of the cenote, take their photos, and leave without properly taking in everything around them. Don’t be like them!

Our biggest tip is to try the restaurant closest by. It received extraordinary reviews, and if you finish up at the cenote by 11, you can enjoy a great early lunch as the crowds begin to accumulate.

Guided Tours

Unfortunately, there are no guided tours specifically for Cenote Cristalino. However, there are several tours for exploring the area around Playa del Carmen, and with so many other cenotes nearby, it may be possible to visit Cristalino on your own separately while still enjoying the benefits of a guided tour in the area.

Click here for some ideas of tours around Playa del Carmen.

Hotels Near Cenote Cristalino

Paamul Hotel & Beach Club

Distance: 5.5 miles (8.9 km)

Rating: 8.5/10 (150+ reviews)

Chez Waffle Hotel

Distance: 4 miles (6.5 km)

Rating: 8.2/10 (100+ reviews)

Hotel Xcaret Arte – All Parks All Fun Inclusive – Adults Only

Distance: 12.6 miles (20.4 km)

Rating: 9.3 (900+ reviews)

Maya Eco Village

Distance: 10.0 miles (16.2 km)

Rating: 9.0/10 (150+ reviews)

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