Gran Cenote: You’ve Never Seen Wild Turtles Like This

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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 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.

Gran Cenote is named after its extraordinary size. This cenote is popular with swimmers, divers, and snorkelers who enjoy a ton of open space and interconnected caves. Located just outside Tulum, you will certainly enjoy a trip here. In addition, there are several other cenotes in the general Playa del Carmen area, including Cenote Chaak Tun, Cenote Cristalino, and others.

When snorkeling, it’s likely to find turtles and take in a spectacular view underwater. Be kind, however, to not scare the turtles by approaching them toos suddenly.

In this article, you will find all the information you’ll need to prepare for a trip to Gran Cenote.

Let’s get to it!

An overhead view of Gran Cenote and a woman floating on the water surface.

What You Should Know About Gran Cenote

Gran Cenote is located at Quintana Roo 109, 77796 Tulum, sandwiched between Tulum and Coba of the Riviera Maya. It’s found in a lush, tropical jungle setting, as you will see in the photos on this article. This contributes to its natural beauty. What gave it its name is the fac that it’s over 195 feet (60 m) in diameter. It’s likely it was one of, if not the, largest cenotes at the time when it was first found.

For cavers who enjoy taking in natural cave formations, you will find many stalactites and stalagmites here. However, one of the best parts of this cenote is the nature and the wildlife that comes with it.

I personally love turtles. You will be able to find turtles swimming here and enjoy the sights through the crystal clear waters. You won’t even need a snorkel to see them. Some of the fish you’ll find include tilapia, catfish, and bass. Bats also fly overhead at times.

As with other cenotes, you will have to wash off before you get there, removing all potentially harmful chemicals from the skin to preserve the environment. However, Gran Cenote is commonly listed as one of the best attractions in Tulum, so it is all well worth it.

Some areas are more shallow which allow children and more timid swimmers to have a relaxing time as well.

One of the biggest draws here is the underground caves, which are fascinating to explore underwater. These caves are not suited for less experienced divers, because some areas are quite dark and narrow. If you wish to dive and snorkel, as always, be safe and responsible! There are staff present who can assist with any issues.

A close-up view of a turtle swimming in the water at Gran Cenote.

Price of Admission

The entrance fee is 500 MXN ($25), and as we always say, please bring pesos to save yourself any potential surcharge and wasted time. If you’ve read some of our other cenote guides, you will recognize that this price is quite steep compared to others. This is due to the higher demand and general popularity.

Gran Cenote opens at 8:10 AM and closes at 4:45 PM. If you want to arrive later in the day, the latest entry is 4:15 PM. Plan accordingly!

How to Get to Gran Cenote (plus Parking)

Gran Cenote is located about 7.4 miles (12 km) from Tulum. From Tulum, head south on Highway 307, and you will notice a sign for Gran Cenote on the right of the road.

After you turn right at the sign, you simply follow this road until you reach the parking area. We will provide information on guided tours in a bit.

Parking is easily accessible, and a fee is collected by an attendant upon arrival. This fee can vary by time of year and the length of your visit.

The best way to get there is by your own car or by booking a tour that includes transportation. Walking directly to Gran Cenote is not an option.

Once you are there, however, you will find a large T-Shaped boardwalk made of wood, which will lead to the waters. At first, you will find an open-air pool area, which is connected to two snorkeling pools and the cave system that goes deeper underwater.

Diving in Gran Cenote

As mentioned earlier, diving requires certification. You can, however, and should, bring your own snorkeling gear and go wild. If you are not able to, you can opt to rent snorkeling gear, including mask, snorkel, and fins, right there.

Dive centers will also supply information and equipment rental around Tulum.

Try Tulum Diving Center or Acuatic Tulum if you’re in the area!

Gran Cenote Tips & Tricks

Gran Cenote is one of the most busy and popular cenotes in Tulum. You don’t want to get caught in peak season with crowds and having to wait for parking or your turn to enjoy the sights. When it’s crowded, it gets really crowded. Try to arrive as early in the day as possible.

Because this is such a grand (no pun intended) and popular destination, the price is the most expensive of all the cenotes. If you are on a tight budget, you may get more bang for your buck and see more than one cenote for the same price elsewhere. Many users feel that this cenote is overpriced for what you get, so keep that in mind.

Remember that the latest entry is 4:15 PM, even though Gran Cenote closes 30 minutes later. We recommend going sometime before 11 if possible.

Cenote Dos Ojos is roughly 13 miles (21.5 km) away, so if you are able to, try visiting one on the way to the other.

Due to the size of this cenote, there really is something for everyone. The facilities and restrooms are excellent and well-maintained, based on user reviews.

If possible, rent your own car. A colectivo is even better. You will quickly spend more money trying to taxi from site to site, and will have to spend time waiting for one as well.

If you plan to rent snorkeling equipment, bring your ID. They will not allow you to do so without it. you want to limit any potential skin exposure as much as possible.

Gran Cenote 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.

Cenote Triple Adventure Tour in Tulum

Price: $116.00


Av. Tulum Mza 4 Lt 5. Departs from an office on Avenida Tulum.

Time: Begins at 9:00 AM, for roughly 4 hours

Description: This tour takes you on a trip through three separate cenotes: Gran Cenote, Casa Cenote, and Cenote Calavera. GoPro photos are provided, along with necessary equipment and transportation.

Note that the description mentions Casa Cenote, but the “What to Expect” section mentions Cenote Zemway.

An image of a person swimming in a large body of water, at Gran Cenote.

Full Nature Day Tour (3 Cenotes!)

Price: $110.00

Location: No pickups in hotels or Airbnbs – meet at Super Aki market main gate.

Starting Time: 6:00 AM

Duration: 12 hours

Description: Another three-for-one deal, with a trip to Cenote Zacil-Ha, Cenote Cristalino, and Gran Cenote included. You’ll also get to go Playa Paraiso and experience the beautiful beaches and blue waters at each spot.

A boxed restaurant meal is included, but no mention of equipment.

A beautiful blue pool surrounded by trees and hanging branches.

Tulum Area Guided Scooter Tour to 3 Cenote’s, Snorkel/Swim & Local Lunch

Price: $179.95 (varies by group size)

Location: Venus Ote. 238

Starting Time: 8:00 AM

Duration: 7 hours

Description: This unique tour will take you through Tulum Downtown and into the wilderness on a scooter for the whole day. You learn about the significance of Mexican Cenotes to Mayan culture, and then get to explore them yourself. This trip takes you to Gran Cenote, Rustic Cenote Escondido, and Natural Cenote Cristal. A Mayan local lunch, snacks, and water are also provided.

You can even substitute your scooter with an ATV or E-Bike.

A red and black scooter rests on its kickstand, as part of the Tulum Area Guided Scooter Tour.

Hotels Near Gran Cenote

Casa Chiit by Mi Casa es Tu Casa

Distance: 3.9 miles (6.3 km)

Rating: 9.8/10 (< 50 reviews)

Hotel Poc Na Tulum 

Distance: 5.3 miles (8.6 km)

Rating: 8.6/10 (1100+ reviews)

Mi Amor a Colibri Boutique Hotel-Adults Only

Distance: 4.9 miles (7.9 km)

Rating: 9.2 (330+ reviews)

Maria Del Mar Tulum – Adults Only

Distance: 5.0 miles (8.1 km)

Rating: 8.6/10 (400+ reviews)

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