As a certified scuba diver, the top of my bucket list was to experience Tulum cenote diving and experiencing Mexico’s Mayan Riviera Cenotes. Tulum scuba diving in a cenote is the closest you can get to cave diving with just an open water qualification. Cenotes were their sacred ground for offerings to the gods and something very unique to this area of Mexico. I love swimming and snorkeling in cenotes and I was desperate to explore these incredible underwater caves for myself.
There are so many cenotes near Tulum and a lot of Tulum scuba diving companies operating in the area so choosing the right company and picking the best cenotes is important.
Did You Get Travel Insurance Yet?
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Read my full travel insurance post here, where I go into detail about all companies.
Everything you need to know about Tulum cenote diving
Why Scuba Dive in Tulum
Diving cenotes in Tulum can be a lot of fun, it can also be a little bit terrifying. Especially if you are a new diver or have a fear of being in enclosed spaces. Tulum diving in the sea really isn’t that great. If you want to dive in the open water then my suggestion would be to dive in Cozumel. But to explore the magic of cenote diving you can’t get any better than scuba diving in Tulum.
Quick Tip: Book accommodation, tours, and transport ahead of time online to save money and stress.
Best Tulum Tours: Click here to check out the top Tulum tours
Best Tulum Accommodation: Click here to check out the best accommodation in Tulum
Best Tulum Transport: Click here to book a bus, ferry, or train in Tulum
What you need to know before diving in a cenote
Diving in a cenote is very different from diving in the sea. For one, you are diving in freshwater so your buoyancy is going to be very different. This means you will use less weight than you would when diving in open water. Secondly, and this is the big one. You are diving in an enclosed space. This means depending on the cenote you dive in you may not be able to surface as easily as you would in the open water.
When diving in the open water normally you let the divemaster know when you have 1000 bar of air left and then you surface at 700. However, when cenote diving, you will need to let the divemaster know when you have 2/3 of your tank left so he/ she can plan the appropriate route for safety reasons. But don’t worry about this, it will all be explained to you in the pre-dive briefing.
I am a pretty new diver (even though I actually qualify in 2005), I don’t have so many dives under my belt. But I have been diving quite a bit in the weeks leading up to my cenote dive. It is important that you are comfortable diving and have experienced before diving in a cenote. Although you can dive in many of the cenotes with just the open water qualification, this is more of an intermediate experience and I really wouldn’t recommend diving cenotes Tulum for novice divers.
For 2 reasons:
- Mentally knowing you are in an enclosed space can be pretty unnerving and you will need to be able to keep yourself calm while underwater. Something many novice divers struggle with within the open water.
- Buoyancy is different in the freshwater and as there are often a lot of swim-throughs it can be pretty tricky for novice divers to keep their body under control.
However, as I said, I am a novice diver and I was totally fine. So it really depends on the individual.
QUICK TIP: Book your tours, rental cars, and transfers through my local contacts
I’ve been working with Living Dreams Mexico for years and they are who I send all my family and friends to when they visit the Riviera Maya. I really can recommend them enough for private tours and experiences. They have solid 5* reviews on Trip Advisor and Google from almost 4000 reviewers! You can view all their tours here.
If you’re looking for private airport transfers and rental cars then Vanessa and Oliver from Turismo Channel are personal friends of mine and I can 100% recommend them to make an inquiry click here and complete the form. Someone will be in touch within 24 hours.
Need Somewhere to Stay in Tulum?
I wrote a guide to the Top Boutique Hotels in Tulum, Where to Stay in Tulum, and The Best Hostels in Tulum, Mexico.
Here are my picks:
Top Budget Pick: Chill Inn
Top Boutique Pick: Elements Tulum Boutique Hotel
Top Resort: Nah Uxibal Villa and Casitas
Top Luxury Pick: Nomade Tulum
Choosing the best diving company in Tulum
I can not stress how important this is when planning your Tulum diving experience. For me choosing a good dive company to dive in a cenote with was even more important than choosing a good company to dive in the open water with. I felt like there was a lot more that could go wrong in a cenote. I wanted to find a company that I could trust with my safety as well as a company that matches up with my ethics and values. This can often be a challenge in itself!
If you read my blog regularly you know I don’t work with just any old company. I make sure they are as plastic-free as possible, support the local economy, sustainable, ethical, professional… The list is long! And when scuba diving Tulum it is even longer because there is often marine life and conservation to think about.
However, it was actually pretty easy to find the perfect company to go cenote diving within Tulum. Koox scuba Tulum stands out a mile! The work Koox means ‘Let’s go” in Mayan and this energy and positive attitude run throughout the company. I had been following them on Instagram for a long time before I approached them to talk about diving with them. I love their commitment to the environment, employment of local people, and professionalism.
Yes, with Koox you will pay a little more than some of the other dive shops in Tulum. But for me, it is worth it to know I’m diving with the best most ethical company I can find.
Where to Scuba dive Tulum
For this post, though I am going to focus on diving in Cenotes and more specifically the cenotes you can dive in with an open water qualification.
Dos Ojos is probably the most popular cenote to dive in and it is the one everyone asks for. Most people book a two-dive package in two different locations. I did my first dive in Casa Cenote is a great place to do your first dive as the cenote is mostly open. So if you are new to diving in cenotes and feeling a little nervous I highly recommend requesting this as your first dive site.
Tulum Cenotes to Dive in:
Cenote El Pit
Ideally, you need to hold your advanced certificate to dive here unless you can prove you have done some deep dives already. This is not a dive for new divers. On a sunny day, the light is magical and this is one of the ‘dream dives’ especially if you have your camera to capture the magic. The water is pretty cool and it is one of the deepest cenotes in the area (hence the name el pit). You will dive to depths of around 120ft.
If you have a friend who is not diving and wants to snorkel this is a great spot for you both to have underwater fun. It has beautiful light and underwater scenery both in the shallow areas and the deep parts. You will dive to depths of around 30ft.
Because of the delicate cave formations, this is not a dive you will be able to do unless you have already done a few dives with Koox and the divemaster has given you the ok. They just need to check you are in control of your buoyancy so you don’t do damage in the cenote. You will dive to depths of around 30ft.
This was one of the cenotes I dove in and I highly recommend it especially if you are new to diving in cenotes. The waters are beautiful and it was a real highlight for me. It is a pretty shallow dive (just 10 meters) and there is also an area for snorkeling if you are with a nondiving friend.
This was my first cenote dive and it was a perfect choice. As most of the cenote is uncovered it built up my confidence diving in enclosed spaces and gave me a chance to get my buoyancy right before doing the swim-throughs which come midway through the dive. If you are nervous about doing in a cenote I recommend requesting this as your first dive.
Car Wash Cenote
This is another great cenote to dive in if you are a new diver. It is a big sinkhole so very open generally but with plenty of places where once you have got your buoyancy in check you can explore the cave formations. There is a shallow section, but in the deepest area, you can go down to 50ft.
Otherwise known as the temple of doom… It is a well-known cenote on the road to Coba where you can see the halocline (where seawater meets freshwater). Don’t let the whole temple of doom thing put you off though. It actually gets its name because of the way the three holes in the cavern roof look like a skull as you look up at them from inside. Expect depts of up to 57Ft.
This cenote involves a little walk through the jungle to get to it, totally worth it though! The cenote is very deep so be sure to hold on to your belongings as they may be hard to recover if you lose anything! Fallen trees, voodoo dolls, and hydrogen sulfur clouds make this one crazy dive you need to experience! This dive is only for advanced divers though so you will need to be experienced in doing deep dives to be taken here. Expect depths of up to 120ft.
How much does it cost to dive in a cenote
For a one tank dive, you can expect to pay around $174
For two tanks at two different cenotes, you will pay $250
If you just want to snorkel then you will be looking at around $125 and if you want to try diving without a diving certification then you can do what is called a Discovery Dive for around $155.
You can find the full price list here.
Tulum Travel Guide Planning
🧳 Any recommendations on what I should pack for Tulum?
🚗 Where can I book bus or private transportation while I’m in Tulum?
I strongly recommend using GottoGo. You can book almost all transport in the major Mexican tourist destinations through them online. They don’t just cover buses they also cover shuttles, ferries, and private drivers.
🎫 Where can I buy tickets for museums, attractions, and tours in Tulum?
If you are traveling to Cancun you can use GoCity and save up to 55% of the initial cost of entrance tickets to various museums, tours, and attractions!
If you are traveling to Playa del Carmen then I recommend booking through my friend Vanessa at Turismo Channel. You can check out their tours by clicking here and using the following discount codes for the best prices clairecaroff (car rental), claire10off (for 10% off group tours), claireprivate (for a discount on private tours). You can also send her a WhatsApp message quoting the above codes to receive the discount.
👩⚕️ What is the best insurance to have while traveling?
I have also written a blog post covering all my recommended travel insurance here
✈️ Any flight recommendations?
📱What do you use for internet connection while traveling?
I’m a big fan of personal WiFi devices and they have saved my ass so many times when traveling. I wrote a full review of the top travel WiFi devices you can read here. I personally use GlocalMe as I can either pop in a physical sim card or use their local carrier.
With regards to my phone connection, I use e-sims while traveling, so rather than having to swap out my regular sim card I can download the app and buy a virtual sim card. I recommend using eitherAirhub or Alosim. Both have great coverage of multiple countries and are very easy to use.
🛏️ What is the best platform to use for booking accommodation?
🛅 Do you have any luggage recommendations for traveling?
I loved my experience diving in cenotes in Tulum and I’m determined to check a few more off my list while in Mexico. It is such a different experience to diving in the open water and I loved it. Especially the part where I didn’t feel seasick traveling between dive sites or struggle to put on my dive gear in a rocking boat. If you are in the Riviera Maya I highly recommend diving in at least one cenote.
This post was proofread by Grammarly