Hidden Worlds Cenotes Park
Although sometimes crowded, Hidden Worlds Cenotes Park (Hwy. 307 between Tulum and Akumal, tel. 984/120-1977, www.hiddenworlds.com, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily) is a great intro to underground snorkeling or diving, with a gorgeous on-site cenote system, frequent departures, and a staff that’s accustomed to first-timers.
It also has various nondiving attractions, like zip lines, rappelling, and a sky cycle; it’s fun for families, though serious divers may find it all a bit overwrought.
Snorkelers can take a guided tour (US$25 pp, 1 hour, one cenote; US$40 pp, 1.5 hours, two cenotes); prices include all gear except wetsuit, and you can continue snorkeling after the tour. Divers can take one- or two-tank cavern dives (US$80–100, gear rental US$15) or visit less-frequented parts of the cave system, including a stunning cavern known as Dreamgate. Reserve online, where you may find seasonal or Web-only specials.
Dos Ojos (tel. 984/877-8535, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. daily) is located just north of Hidden Worlds but is far less commercialized. Dos Ojos, or Two Eyes, is a reference to twin caverns that are the largest openings—but far from the only ones—into the labyrinthine river system that runs beneath the ground here.
You can snorkel on your own (US$8.50), but you’ll see a lot more on a guided snorkeling tour (US$25 pp, no reservations required), after which you’re free to keep snorkeling solo. Diving trips (US$95–120) should be arranged in advance. Unlike Hidden Worlds, a car is required to reach the entry points.
Other Nearby Cenotes
Other favorite cenotes include Zazil Ha, Car Wash/Aktun Ha, Gran Cenote, and Calavera Cenote (all west of Tulum on the road to Cobá); Cristal and Escondido (Hwy. 307 just south of Tulum); Casa Cenote (at Tankah Tres); Cenote Azul and Cristalina (Hwy. 307 across from Xpu-Há); and Chac Mol (Hwy. 307, 2 kilometers/1.2 miles north of Xpu-Há).
All can be visited on a tour or by yourself, and most have snorkel gear for rent (US$6). Most are on private or ejido (collective) land and charge admission fees, usually US$3.50–6 for snorkelers and US$8.50 for divers. If you take a tour, ask if admission fees are included in the rate. Most cenotes are open 8 a.m.–5 p.m. daily.
© Gary Chandler & Liza Prado from Moon Yucatán Peninsula, 9th edition