Cenote Calavera Tulum – Ultimate Guide To The Temple Of Doom (2023)

Are you interested in visiting Cenote Calavera in Tulum?

Tulum in Mexico is one of the most popular places to explore the thousands of magical cenotes in Mexico. Cenote Calavera is one of the most unique and intriguing cenotes in the area and is most easily explored from Tulum.

It is not hard to see why this Cenote is such a popular spot. It is a beautiful and tranquil spot, hidden away in the jungle. Once inside you would have no clue that bustling Tulum is just a short 1.5km away.

The name Calavera comes from the Spanish word for Skull. Hence the alternative name; Temple of Doom. Don’t worry it’s not as bad as it sounds. It is named this way thanks to the 3 holes in the surface of the ground roughly resembling the face of a Skull from above.

We loved our visit to Cenote Calavera and strongly recommend it to anyone planning to visit Tulum. Whether you enjoy sunbathing, relaxing in hammocks, jumping into the water, swimming, snorkelling and more, this is the place to be.

In this guide, we will cover everything you could possibly need to know to make the most out of your visit to the wonderful Cenote.

Short On Time? Quickly Book Your Trip To Cenote Calavera Here!

🚙 Rent a Car In Tulum For More Freedom To Explore

Accommodation in Tulum;

📍 Budget Option – The Reserve Tulum

📍 Mid-Range Option – Mamasan Treehouses

📍 High-End Option – Posada Lamar Tulum

Where To Find Cenote Calavera in Tulum

Tulum is surrounded by different cenotes but Cenotes Calavera is one of the closest and easiest to get to.

From Downtown Tulum at the main crossroads head north on Coba Road or QROO 109. The entrance to the cenote is 1.6km up this road on the right.

You can find the location on Google Maps here.

map showing the location of cenote calavera just outside of Tulum, Mexico

How to Get to Cenote Calavera

Cenotes Calavera is not far from the centre of Downtown Tulum so there are a few different ways you can get there.

Get to Cenote Calavera By Car

Our top recommendation would be to hire yourself a car while in Tulum. Most things you will want to see and do are fairly spread out and renting a car gives you ultimate freedom to explore. We always use DiscoverCars to find the best rental deals.

🚙 Compare rental car prices for your trip to Tulum Here!

We have written a whole guide to renting cars in Tulum that you can read more about here.

The reason we say it will be best to drive yourself to Cenote Calavera is because it is located on a very busy highway. There are other ways that we will mention how to get there but having a car will be the safest and fastest way.

Renting a car for the day will probably cost you the same as a Taxi because the Taxi prices in Tulum are ridiculous. With your own car, you can easily come and go as you please.

Cenote Calavera has plenty of space to park in their car park at the entrance.

Get to Cenote Calavera By Bike

Another great way to get around Tulum and get to Cenote Calavera is to rent a bicycle. Cycling around Tulum is popular and a great choice if you don’t plan to visit anywhere further away.

We rented bicycles for a day to visit the beach and it cost us around $8 per person for the day. We rented ours from our accommodation. Most hotels and hostels offer bikes to rent for similar prices and there were also a few shops renting them out on the main street in downtown Tulum.

To cycle to Cenotes Calavera from town should take around 10 minutes. 30 minutes if you are coming from the beach area.

Get to Cenote Calavera By Taxi

Another option to get to Cenote Calavera is to take a Taxi. This is my least favourite option because like I said the Taxis in Tulum are crazy expensive. We paid more in Tulum for a Taxi ride than we would in Amsterdam!

However, it is still an option. Just make sure to arrange with them a time to come back and get you.

When it comes to Taxis in Tulum, always agree on a price before you get in and only get in the officially marked Taxis. In Tulum, they are white with green writing on the side.

Get to Cenote Calavera On Foot

We decided to walk to Cenote Calavera when we visited and looking back it wasn’t our brightest moment. It was a long, sweaty and pretty sketchy walk. If you do decide to walk make sure to stick to the main roads even if it is a long way round.

Be careful because the road is a busy highway and the traffic is fast. It is also super hot and exposed so careful not to burn.

It should take around 30 minutes to walk to the Cenote from Downtown Tulum.

people standing around the top of the hole at Cenote Calavera in Tulum

Cenote Calavera Opening Hours and Entrance Fees

Cenote Calavera, like most cenotes in Mexico, is privately owned and has set opening hours and sadly for us is also one of the most expensive cenotes to visit in Tulum.

But it is expensive for a reason; because it is so unique!

Opening hours

The Cenote is open from 9 am to 5 pm every day.


Entrance to the cenote costs $15 per person (as of May 2023) or 250MXN.

However, there was an extra fee of 200MXN if you had a camera or GoPro with you. And they do check.

They also have lockers and life vests that you can hire for 50MXN.

Best time to go to Cenote Calavera

As is the case with most tourist attractions, we recommend getting there as soon as they open at 9 am. That way you will get the place to yourself for an hour or 2 before it starts to get busy.

Cenote Calavera Tours

In a time where you can get a tour to pretty much anywhere, it might surprise you to know there aren’t any organised tours to Cenote Calavera. This means you can only visit independently, using any of the methods in this Guide.

The plus side to this is you don’t get coach loads of people arriving as you do with some of the bigger cenotes in the Yucatan region.

However, if you are short on time and want to see some more of Tulums famous cenotes then we can recommend this popular 3 cenote day trip.

This tour has 5-star reviews and will take you to 3 very different cenotes to swim, cliff jump and snorkel.

💧 Check out the 3 Cenotes day trip here!

When You Arrive At Cenote Calavera

When you arrive at the entrance to the cenote you will pay the entrance fee to the owner sitting at his small desk. They give you a wristband to show that you’ve paid.

This is the point they will also want to know if you have a camera or GoPro with you. If you do you pay the fee and will get yet another wristband for that too.

It is here by the entrance that the toilets and lockers are located. You can use a locker if you like but we found the area to be pretty safe as you have to pay to enter everyone else there are tourists just like you and unlikely to steal anything. It is entirely up to you.

You then walk through the paths to a small station with open outdoor showers and live vests. You can hire a life vest here if you like. Now this is where it gets a little bit weird but it is normal so don’t worry.

The guy here will ask you to shower, and most likely he will keep an eye on you to make sure you do a good job. The reason they ask you to shower is to wash off any sunscreen or chemicals you may have on you before getting into the water.

Cenotes can be extremely fragile ecosystems and this is their way of trying to protect them as much as possible. For this reason, it is best to not wear any sunscreen before you arrive because you will just be asked to wash it off again.

Also, avoid reapplying until you know for certain you won’t be going back into the water.

Once you are all done, you are free to go in and enjoy the Cenote.

a girl sitting on a swing in the water at Cenote Calavera

How To Spend The Day At Cenote Calavera

Once you are Cenote Calavera it is easy to spend a few hours here. They have plenty of relaxing beach chairs and sun loungers, a small bar with drinks and snacks and they play fun music too. It is the perfect place to grab a spot and enjoy the sun.

And of course, there’s the Cenotes itself. This Cenote is so fun and unique thanks to its adventures holes and relatively big drops into the water.

Cenote Calavera is effectively 3 holes in the ground that all lead to a large underground cave full of clear, cool water. The main hole is larger and has a big wooden ladder for access in and out. It also has a cool swing hanging down into the water.

However, the best way to get in and out is to jump in! because of the rocky ground, there are various spots around the edge of the hole of varying heights depending on how adventurous you are feeling.

The other 2 holes are much smaller. Just big enough for a person to safely jump down into. Talk about an adrenaline rush.

a girl sitting on a swing in the water in a cenote in Tulum

Once you are in the water you will see that the space underneath is much larger than you might first expect it to be. You can swim around under the ground and explore the darker corners of the cave. While you are in there you will notice you are not alone.

That’s right, this underground cave is also home to many harmless bats!

You swim around while they hang above you and talk away to each other, occasionally flying around. It’s all very exciting when you are down there trust me.

bats hanging from the roof of a cenote cave in Tulum

If you have a snorkel and mask, feel free to take it with you and see what you can see beneath the surface. It probably won’t be too much but there are some fish living in there.

When you are done exploring the water and caves, don’t forget to take a walk around the grounds. Mexico is home to a lot of different wildlife and we saw a very large Iguana chillin’ in the sun near the path when we visited.

Diving in Cenote Calavera

If you are a keen diver and want to explore the hidden underwater world inside Cenote Calavera then this is absolutely an option. This nearby dive shop takes divers into the cenote for a one-tank dive for roughly 40 minutes.

It is a special dive following a fixed ascension line where you will see magical light beams from the holes in the surface and witness the phenomenon of salt water meeting fresh water.

Cenote Calavera – Good To Know Before You Go

Heading out to spend the day at a cenote isn’t a mission but it can help to just have a few things in mind before you go.

What To Bring With You

For a fun day out at Cenote Calavera, I recommend bringing very little with you. Just the things you will need, such as;

  • Sunscreen (for after you are done swimming)
  • A towel
  • Water
  • Snacks or a picnic if you plan to stay longer
  • Waterproof phone case or GoPro (don’t forget the extra charge for this)
  • Sun hat

What Not To Bring With You

Here are a few items you should consider leaving behind;

  • Expensive equipment such as drones or cameras
  • Pool inflatables – this just isn’t the right type of cenotes for those
  • Speakers – they are already playing music

What To Wear

It is pretty obvious that when heading to a cenote you will want to wear a swimsuit. But my main piece of advice here is to already be wearing it when you arrive. Mainly due to them asking you to shower before you go in.

I would also highly recommend wearing some kind of water shoes if you have them. The ladder to get in and out of the water was pretty slippery so wearing water shoes would help with that.

a girl climbing up a wooden ladder out of a cenote in Mexico

Where To Stay In Tulum

When it comes to deciding where to stay in Tulum you will have so much choice it can get pretty overwhelming. Tulum is split into 2 main areas, the beach area and downtown.

Here are some of our top accommodation choices based on different budget ranges;

Budget Option – The Reserve Tulum

This is where we stayed when we visited Tulum and we loved how quiet and peaceful it was here. Tucked away at the edge of downtown Tulum this place is a great option for anyone on a tighter budget. Our apartment was HUGE and had a great balcony view over the pool.

Check out The Reserve Tulum for yourself here!

Mid-Range Option – Mamasan Treehouses

This is a really fun and stylish place to stay if you are looking for something a little unique. The treehouses are by the beach and are beautifully decorated.

Check out Masaman Treehouses for yourself Here!

High-End Option – Posada Lamar Tulum

This Eco-Friendly hotel is located right on the beachfront with its own private pool with sea views. The rooms here are light and spacious and breakfast is also included.

Check out Posada Lamar Tulum for yourself here!

More Things To Do In Tulum

Naturally, Cenote Calavera is not the only thing to do in Tulum. So here are a few more ideas to give you some inspiration;

Spend a day at the beach

Tulum is well known for having beautiful white sand beaches, as well as magical Cenotes. The majority of the beachfront in Tulum is lined with hotels and resorts and to access the beach you will have to pay.

They usually just have a minimum spend for anyone wanting to enter. However, if you are looking for a more natural and less developed area to relax by the sea then I recommend heading north slightly further to Playa Paraiso.

Visit Tulum Ruins

In the same area as Playa Paraiso, you can access Tulum Ruins. Ancient Mayan ruins are all over Mexico and Central America but it is great to have some so close to go and explore.

Built up on the sea cliffs they offer some stunning views.

Find the famous ‘follow that dream’ sign

I recommend grabbing a bicycle and cycling along the beach road all the way south until you reach the famous sign. You can find the exact location here.

Visit the giant wooden structure by Daniel Popper

We didn’t personally visit this impressive sculpture but you’ve no doubt seen the influencer shots of them standing in front of it. A woman’s bust with the chest folded open and you walk through it. It’s pretty cool, I have to admit.

A very popular spot to go and admire in Tulum.

Swim at Cenote Cristal and Cenote Escondido

If you are interested in exploring some more cenotes by yourself then these 2 are a couple of good options. Found just outside of downtown they are located right next to each other on opposite sides of the main road.

They aren’t quite as exciting as Cenotes Calavera but still great to enjoy some nature and have a swim. These open-water cenotes are also easy to get to by Bicycle.

a view from underneath one of the small hole openings at Cenote Calavera in Tulum

Cenote Calavera FAQs

Before we wrap up this Guide to visiting Cenote Calavera, I wanted to answer a few more commonly asked questions.

When is the best time to visit Tulum?

Tulum is a destination that can easily be visited all year round. However, it does have a rainy season from June – October which you might want to avoid.

February to May is when the weather is at its best, making this a great time to visit Tulum.

What is the history of Cenote Calavera?

Cenotes Calavera, otherwise known as the Temple of Doom is named after its skull-like appearance. Cenotes throughout Mayan history have been incredibly important for civilizations as sources of water and also for rituals and ceremonies.

It is not known for certain but believed that Cenote Calavera would have also been used by the ancient Mayans due to how close it is located to Tulum Mayan Ruins.

How deep is Cenote Calavera?

Cenote Calavera is 50ft or 15.24 meters Deep.

Is there a restaurant at Cenotre Calavera?

There is no restaurant at Cenote Calavera, just a small bar selling some drinks and pre-packaged snacks. Because of this, we recommend bringing food with you. Alternatively, Tulum is only 1.6km away and has plenty of great restaurants to eat at.

Cenote Calavera, Tulum – Final Thoughts

So there you have it. Cenotes Calavera was one of our favourite places we visited in Mexico because it is so unique and fun to explore.

Guido loved jumping in through the small holes and I loved swimming around with the bats. We really haven’t experienced anything quite like it.

So grab yourself a hire car and get there for 9 am. Don’t forget to leave the sunscreen for after the swimming, take some snacks and you are good to go.

We hope you enjoy this magical cenote as much as we did!