Gran Cenote? What is a cenote? Cenotes, pronounced say-note-tay, are lime stone sink holes that are naturally formed in the area of Tulum, the Yucatan and other small cities throughout the Yucatan Peninsula. Many of the Mayan villages have a cenote as their city center as they are a natural well, place of worship and meeting place.
Cenotes are a must see while in Tulum and the coast of the Mayan Riviera
Most visitors come to see the ocean, the clear blue waters of the Mexican Caribbean that make this coastline so famous. What many don’t know is that deep in the jungle are clearer, more pristine fresh water that provide visitors and locals with a cool, natural pool that is refreshing on a hot, Mexican day.
The short version of Cenote formation
Here is the short version of how cenotes were formed: Billions of years ago the Yucatan Peninsula was a submersed coral reef. Over time, the coral reef was exposed and became limestone. Rain water filtered through the limestone to create stalagtites and stalagmites. This is what makes these caverns so unique. The caverns are open to the jungle but form underground tunnels that are filled with limestone formations. Due to the filtration of the water through limestone, the water is clear, so clear it is hard to believe that you are in water.
Why Gran Cenote is a great adventure in Tulum
Gran Cenote is called ‘the Big Cenote’ for a few reasons. The formations are big. They are tall and wide..watch dogs, local people who are always in the cenotes, make sure that visitors don’t touch the fossils. They could be called fossils as they are preserved in the very waters they are immersed in. They will no longer become larger, as stalagmites and stalagtites are only formed when the caverns are dry. Once they become submersed in water, the formations are preserved. The no touching rule is for everyone and local residents are great educators, nicely informing people not to touch.
The second reason this is the called the Big Cenote is the cavern opening. Many of the openings to the cenotes are small, so small that only a person can enter the cavern opening. Gran cenote has a huge opening that has vegetation, jungle trees and interesting water plants in the entrance of the cenote. Other cenotes are either very open caverns without formations or small entrances with incredible decorated caves below. Gran Cenote has it all, big formations, dcorated caverns and amazing vegetation.
What to do in Gran Cenote
Snorkel in this super cool water pool and witness for yourself the formations, and clear water. If you are a diver, you will need to hook up with a local dive center to arrange for a dive. Open water divers can dive in the caverns with a certified guide. None of the property owners will let you enter the cenote with scuba equipment unless you have a guide. They are super protective of the rules that govern cavern diving.
What you need to know before you go to Gran Cenote
Where: located on the road to Coba about 5 kms from the 307 highway. Easy to drive, take a cab (10 USD) or if you are feeling like it, ride a bike. Beware of the heat, 5kms on a hot day feels like 20 kms.
What to bring : towel, biodegradable sunscreen and snorkeling equipment. You can rent snorkel equipment there or rent it in town (a bit cheaper) and take it with you. Take your camera and if you have an underwater camera make sure you have a flash.
Entrance fees: Yes there are entrance fees. Take pesos with you and it is 110 pesos per person to get into the cenote. Spend some time there so that you get your money worth.
Food: if you really want to make a day out of it, bring a lunch or snack. Water is always recommended. There is a dry platform where you can have a snack, or tables are around at the top of the cenote.
Hours: 9 am to 5 pm Monday to Saturday. Sundays is 9 am to 3 pm.
Looking for other adventures in Tulum and the Riviera Maya? See information on adventures in Tulum and the coast of the Mexican Caribbean.