Cenote Escondido and Cenote Cristal: How to Visit Both

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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.

Sian Ka’an is the name of a Biosphere Reserve in Mexico, known by many as the most astonishing part of the Yucatán Peninsula. Considering the variety of beautiful natural sites and cenotes that are accessible around the Yucatán Peninsula, this is high praise. In this corner of Mexico, tourists enjoy seeing thousands of species of flora and fauna, learning about ancient Mayan history, and visiting two places in particular – Cenote Escondido and Cenote Cristal.

Cenote Escondido is found within Tulum’s jungle, which offers a much more natural look than some of the other more exposed cenotes. Cenote Cristal is just across the road, which is why the two were combined in this article. When you visit one you will naturally want to visit the other, and you can pay for both at the same time.

In this article, we’ll explore both cenotes, and share some of our favorite tips & tricks to make your trip more memorable. Let’s get started.

A picture of someone swimming in the dark blue waters of Cenote Escondido.

Everything to Know about Cenote Escondido and Cenote Cristal

As we mentioned earlier, Cenote Cristal is just across the road from Cenote Escondido, and you’ll actually buy your ticket at Cenote Cristal regardless of which cenote you intended to see first.

There is a 12-foot platform to jump off of into the clear waters, and the depth ensures that you won’t get hurt. Go wild!

Snorkeling is perhaps the best way to enjoy your time here, because you will see many fish and formations underwater. However, you won’t be able to go very deep into the caves.

The depth is about 60 feet (20 m), and there are rock formations on the bottom. This also means that you can freely jump in from the cliff edges or even swing in off of a rope if you are feeling brave.

Perhaps best of all, there’s hardly any restrictions here. This should stand out after some of our other cenote articles, where we’ve shone a light on the various additional fees that the staffs charge tourists. Here, you don’t even need a life jacket if you really don’t want to wear one. You can bring your camera, drone, or GoPro for no additional charge as well. However, if you decide to go more sophisticated than that, you may have to pay an extra fee. But your camera phone will do just fine.

Both cenotes are open from 9 AM to 5 PM, and as in most cases, it’s best to show up in the first hour. However, these cenotes are not as bad as the more commericialized ones. At several times during the day, there are very few people, if any, so you may still get lucky in the afternoon compared to some other cenotes.


A green road sign points to the right for Cenote Cristal, and to the left for Cenote Escondido.

Entry to Cenotes Escondido and Cristal are combined in one transaction, for 300 MXN ($15). If you want to go to just one, it will cost 150 MXN ($7.50). Life jackets are not required, although they are, of course, highly recommended for your safety.

To go diving, it costs extra (300 MXN). Thus, it can be a bit expensive here if you want to fully explore both. Keep some pesos on hand just in case.

Getting to Cenote Escondido/Cenote Cristal

There are several hotels very close to the cenotes, which are included at the end of this article. If you are coming from Tulum beach, it’s about a 15-minute drive, but note that the cenote is a bit hidden.

Watch for the sign for Cenote Cristal on the right side of the road, and then go across the road from there to reach Escondido.

If you want to travel by colectivo, you can find one easily at Tulum Down Town, and can get dropped off right at the entrance to Cenote Cristal.

When traveling by taxi, arrange for your pickup or have contact information handy. You will not be able to get a taxi from the cenotes otherwise.

Tips & Tricks when Visiting Cenote Escondido/Cenote Cristal

We mentioned that you don’t need to pay extra for bringing your own photography equipment, provided that it is not too large or expensive. However, one user has reported that you will have to pay a small fee of 50 MXN ($1) to bring a drone. Keep that in mind if you are hoping to get unique photos from above.

If you do pay extra, keep proof of your payment so you don’t get charged again at the second cenote.

There aren’t any lockers to keep your stuff, so be vigilant with your belongings. You will, however, find showers, bathrooms, hammocks, and tables to sit down and relax if you need them.

As with most cenotes, go very early in the morning if possible. Going when it’s cool and quiet is a surreal experience. You will get plenty of great photos and be able to relax much more without the crowds. Avoid going on the weekends if you can. There are quite a lot of people who go, especially because Tulum is nearby. Plan accordingly.

If you are doing drone photography, you will need to take extra precautions at Cenote Escondido. Due to the trees, you may struggle to get good angles and also retrieve your drone when you are finished with the Return Home feature.

Cenote Escondido is a great place to scuba dive as well, whether you are just learning or a seasoned veteran. But because it’s not too deep, you’ll likely get to the bottom quickly.

A look at the short dock leading into the water at Cenote Escondido

Guided Tours and Diving in Cenote Escondido/Cenote Cristal

Unfortunately, there aren’t many great guided tours for Cenotes Escondido and Cristal. However, this tour of Sian Ka’an is worth it, for a 6 hour journey through the jungle, ancient Mayan lands, with the cenotes included. If your group is large, you may have to split it up.

Tulum: Sian Ka’an Lagoons and Cenote Escondido Tour

Price: $225.00 (per person, up to 6 in a group)

Location: The Dive Shop “Agua Clara Diving Tulum”

Start Time: 7:00 AM, for about 6 hours

Description: Sian Ka’an is a biosphere reserve, one of Mexico’s largest protected areas. With thousands of species of animals and plants, you get to experience the diverse nature of Mexico like nothing else. This tour also includes a walk through a jungle path from an ancient Mayan city, a boat ride, and of course a swim and snorkeling in the cenote.

A sandwich, snacks, refreshments, equipment, and transportation (from the dive shop) are included. They do not offer drop off or pick up from hotels.

An image showing the look inside Cenote Escondido from above.

Hotels Near Cenote Escondido/Cenote Cristal

Joy Tulum (Adults Only)

Distance: 1.9 miles (3.2 km)

Rating: 8.5/10 (1100+ reviews)

Hotel Casa Santiago

Distance: 2.3 miles (3.7 km)

Rating: 9.0/10 (100+ reviews)

Mayan Monkey Tulum

Distance: 4.1 miles (6.7 km)

Rating: 8.4/10 (3300+ reviews)

Habitas Tulum

Distance: 5.6 miles (9 km)

Rating: 9.0/10 (500+ reviews)

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