Light beams through the water on a cave dive at Gran Cenote

Things are grand at Gran Cenote…

Cenote… a word that’s hard to pronounce and amazing to explore. Phonetically it’s CEH – NOH – TEH and they're one of the Yucatan Peninsula’s natural wonders, considered sacred by the Maya. Cenotes are created by vast underground rivers systems that upwell into caves and lush sink holes. They are home to fish, turtles, lilies, stalactites, and stalagmites.

Light beams through the water on a cave dive at Gran Cenote

One of the most popular in our area, the Grand Cenote, is best known for it’s lighting. Divers go deep into the caves following the fluorescent blue-green light of the sun streaming through and across the limestone. The less adventurous can swim around the cenote, peaking into crevasses and tickling fish. On one end of the cenote is a soft sand bank, renowned for it’s exfoliating and smoothing properties. You'll invariably find a group of ladies (and men) scrubbing their arms with it. The other end boasts a deep cave you can swim, snorkel or dive in. Our suggestion? Grab a mask and swim the whole way around, stopping to caress a purple lily pad or dive down for a stalactite fragment.

Things to know:

Sunscreen is frowned upon here because it kills the flora and fauna. Apply yours an hour in advance for optimal absorption and bring a shirt!

You can dive, snorkel, or just swim about. Equipment rentals are available at the entrance but we recommend renting from a dive shop (there is one on the ZAMAS property) for the best rate.

This is one of the most expensive cenotes to visit (about $9 USD per person), and you’ll soon see why. When you plunge into the invigorating water, you’ll be immediately submerged in a world that is not quite our own. It’s why the Maya performed their rituals here—they didn’t understand how they were born, but they knew the cenotes were definitely supernatural. A must-see in Tulum for travelers of all levels and interests.

Underwater view of the surface of Gran Cenote