El Gran Cenote picture1 of 3
El Gran Cenote2 of 3
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Key Info

Quintana Roo 109

Details

Natural Wonders, Swimming/Pools Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
3.9scorecard
  • 4.0Value
  • 3.0Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

Considered sacred waters by the Mayans, the expansive El Gran Cenote is an underground cavern that is ideal for swimming and diving. Here you can swim, snorkel and dive amid some pretty cool geological features, including stalagmites and stalactites, while bats and birds flutter overhead.

Located about 10 minutes outside of central Tulum, this cenote can get particularly crowded, so arrive early for the best atmosphere. To get there, drive or take a taxi toward Cobá until you see the Gran Cenote sign on your right. Despite the crowds and the high prices, most travelers were pleased with their experience and recommended devoting a couple of hours to a stop here. Many said this was the perfect antidote to the heat and humidity of the Coba ruins. However, if you're looking for a less crowded atmosphere, consider other spots like the Dos Ojos Cenote or the Cenote Cristal.

Recent visitors highly recommend snorkeling while you're here, and others point out that bringing your own snorkeling gear will help keep the price down. Several visitors also appreciated that there are lockers available to store your valuables while you explore (though you'll have to fork over extra pesos for the storage). Guided tours and dives are available. The cenote welcomes visitors from 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Entrance to the cenote costs 180 pesos (or about $9.50). This does not cover any equipment rentals.

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Playa Paraiso1 of 9
Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve2 of 9
Type
Time to Spend
#1 Playa Paraiso

Just south of the Tulum ruins, the wide Playa Paraíso makes a relaxing end to a day exploring the area. With the recent arrival of the Playa Paraíso Beach Club, this stretch of sand has grown extremely popular with Playa del Carmen and Cancún daytrippers, as well as Tulum vacationers. But what it doesn't boast in seclusion it makes up for in activity – you'll find plenty of opportunities for snorkeling and scuba diving, plus a few hammocks, lounge chairs and umbrellas to choose from (if you get to the ruins early, you'll arrive at the beach in time to secure one), and a few beach bars should you want refreshment.

Reviewers were divided on the necessity of paying for access to the beach club. Some said the price (250 pesos, or about $13 for two beach chairs) isn't worth it, while others found the cost reasonable for the convenience. To save a little money, you can pack your own towels, chairs and snacks. As for the beach itself, some travelers described the shoreline as "beautiful," while others were disappointed with the amount of smelly seaweed.

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