Cenote Calavera

Last Updated Oct 18, 2023

Hidden deep within the tropical jungles of Tulum, Quintana Roo lies a natural wonder that will leave you in awe - Cenote Calavera, which translates into the Skull Cenote in English.

This mesmerizing cenote, also known as the "Temple of Doom", is a must-visit destination for any adventurous traveler seeking an unforgettable experience in the heart of the Riviera Maya. From its unique geological features to the thrilling activities it offers, Cenote Calavera is a natural treasure that is sure to captivate your senses. It’s one of the most popular cenotes in the area, and definitely worth your time.

Why You Cannot Miss the Cenote Calavera

One of the reasons why Cenote Calavera is worth visiting is its unique geological features.

The skull-like shape of the cenote, with its two eye-like openings and small mouth-like entrance, is a fascinating natural formation that sets it apart from other cenotes in the region. The partially exposed ceiling of the cenote allows for stunning rays of sunlight to filter through, creating a mesmerizing play of light and shadows on the water. The cenote's clear turquoise waters are inviting and refreshing, providing a surreal experience that won’t leave you indifferent. Additionally, Cenote Calavera offers a range of activities for different interests and adrenaline levels. Whether you're a thrill-seeker looking to cliff jump into the cenote's depths, an underwater enthusiast eager to snorkel or dive in its crystal-clear waters, or simply looking for a serene spot to relax and take stunning photos, Cenote Calavera has it all. The cenote's natural beauty and unique features make it a perfect destination for adventure seekers, nature lovers, and those looking to connect with the natural wonders of the Riviera Maya. Apart from the activities, Cenote Calavera also holds cultural significance. Cenotes are considered sacred by the Mayan civilization, and they were often used as places for rituals and ceremonies. Exploring the cenote not only offers a thrilling adventure but also provides an opportunity to learn about the rich cultural heritage of the region and its deep connection with cenotes.

Cenote Calavera

How to Get to Cenote Calavera?

Getting to Cenote Calavera is an adventure in itself. Located just about 3 kilometers south of Tulum town, on QROO 109 (road to Coba) and it is easily accessible by car, bike, or even by taxi from downtown Tulum. You can also hop on a public bus (colectivo) heading to Coba and get off early. If you feel like it, you can simply walk from Tulum and arrive at the spot in about 50 minutes.

The cenote is situated off the beaten path, tucked away in the jungle, on the right side of the road. There is a sign that reads: Temple of Doom and CENOTE so it’s impossible to miss it.

Once you arrive at the parking lot, a small fee of $250 MXN is required for admission, which goes towards the conservation and maintenance of the cenote. The Cenote is open for visitors from Monday to Sunday from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, all year round. There are restrooms for your commodity, a restaurant, and plenty of colorful chairs scattered around. You can also rent a life jacket but they are not mandatory. There are no lockers so avoid bringing valuables and too much cash.

Take into consideration that you will have to take a shower before entering the cenote to protect the ecosystem.

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What to Do in Cenote Calavera?

Upon entering Cenote Calavera, you will be greeted by a surreal sight. The cenote is a natural sinkhole surrounded by lush vegetation, adding to its charm. It's essential to note that Cenote Calavera is a semi-open cenote, meaning that it has a partially exposed ceiling with small openings that allow natural light to filter through, creating a captivating play of light and shadows on the water that I mentioned earlier. One of the most popular activities to do at Cenote Calavera is obviously swimming. The clear turquoise water is inviting and refreshing. You can go down a wooden ladder to the cenote and plunge into the cool waters below. You will definitely feel alive and rejuvenated. For those looking for a more adrenaline-pumping adventure, Cenote Calavera also offers cliff jumping and does not charge extra for the thrill as some other cenotes do. The cenote has three different entrances at varying heights, ranging from 3 to 5 meters, perfect for adrenaline seekers to leap into the cenote's depths. There is one large hole at a low height and two others that are narrower and offer higher and more exciting jumps. It's an unforgettable experience that is sure to get your heart racing and leave you with memories to last a lifetime. Exploring the underwater world of Cenote Calavera is also a must-do activity. The cenote offers excellent snorkeling and diving opportunities for those who want to discover the mesmerizing beauty beneath the water's surface. The crystal-clear water allows for excellent visibility, and you can admire the rock formations, stalactites, and stalagmites that decorate the cenote's walls. If you're a certified diver, you can even explore the caves and tunnels stretching out from the cenote, providing an unforgettable diving experience. Yes, what looks like a small cavern, spans hundreds of miles underground. The unique thing about diving in Calavera Cenote is that you will experience both freshwater and saltwater. You will be able to spot the difference not only by taste but also by their appearance. At the end of the dive, you can also see some ancient Mayan pottery.

And last but not least —the swing! Yes, if all you want is a great photo to post on Instagram, you have to take one on a rope swing hanging over the cenote.

Cenote Calavera underwater

What to Bring?

When visiting Cenote Calavera, it's essential to come prepared. Be sure to bring your swimsuit, towel, and a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated. Don’t apply any sunblock before getting into the water to help preserve natural resources. Water shoes or sandals are also recommended as the rocky terrain, or the wooden ladder can be quite slippery. If you plan to go snorkeling or diving, it’s best to bring your own snorkel or diving gear to save some money. Still, if you want to rent them don’t forget to bring your ID.

If you want to take photos, only small cameras, GoPro type are allowed free of charge. If you want to bring a bigger professional one or a drone, you will need to pay extra, about 200MXn for a camera and 300MXN for a drone.

When to Visit?

Although the cenote is open all year round, the best time of the year to visit Cenote Calavera is during the dry season, which typically spans from November to April. During this time, the weather is generally sunny with little rain, allowing for optimal visibility and ideal conditions for swimming, snorkeling, and diving. However, it's important to note that cenotes are natural formations and can be affected by weather conditions, so always check for any closures or safety warnings before planning your visit. If you want to avoid crowds, visit early. The water won’t be beautifully lit up but there will be significantly fewer people. Another good slot is from 3 to 5 pm, as tourists coming from far away tend to leave by then.

Ready for the Thrill?

I hope I convinced you why you absolutely have to include the Calavera Cenote on your itinerary during your vacation on Riviera Maya. So, pack your swimsuit, camera, and adventurous spirit, and get ready for an extraordinary journey to Cenote Calavera - the "Temple of Doom" that will captivate your senses and leave you in awe of nature's wonders.

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