Tulum is an area well-studded with hidden gems.
Cenote Caracol is one of the most beautiful among them.
But to get the most out of Cenote Caracol, you need to set your Inner Adventurer free, and engage with the place.
The cenote or natural pool is shaped like an air dome made by Mother Nature and Mexican water-sprites. It’s powerfully impressive, and not just the first time you see it.
The road to get there is tricky to navigate. But it’s the sort of place your eyes would never forgive you for not seeing if you had the opportunity to go, and didn’t take it.
Like many of life’s best treasures, it can be hard to find Cenote Caracol if you’re not actively looking for it. So be prepared – this is not a short airport bus ride away.
Embrace your Inner Indiana Jones.
Take the dirt road. Find the mysterious hole in the ground.
Take the time and the trouble to discover Cenote Caracol.
When you do, you’ll be rewarded. Your heart, mind, body and soul will never be quite the same again.
If, by the time you get there, you just want to chill out, you can swim in the cenote, and simply enjoy the beauty all around you. Many people do.
Many more though go to Cenote Caracol for the diving.
Oh, the diving.
Spectacular is an overused word these days.
Cenote Caracol is the kind of thing for which it was originally coined.
You can dive past incredible rock formations. Investigate mysterious passages, each with something unique about them that will stay with you forever.
If you’re a fan of stalagmites and stalactites, beware – you might lose track of time staring at them all, and not want to come out.
Breath-taking is your starting point in Cenote Caracol. You can expect to be blown away by the incredible speleothem formations, the intense diving experience, the spectacular natural beauty.
It’s impossible to fully prepare you for the surprises.
Passages that open up into incredible, unlikely stalactite and stalactite caverns.
And so much more besides.
Every dive in Cenote Caracol offers you something new.
A new view you’ll never forget. A new experience you’ll want to try again. A new appreciation for nature and its wonders.
And the best thing is that none of the diving is too deep, so you don’t need to be an advanced diver in order to qualify to dive in Cenote Caracol.
The second best thing is that the water temperature is an average of 25 degrees Celsius.
Cenote Caracol Information
- Opening hours: 8 AM to 5 PM
- Entrance fee: 100 pesos for the cenote (25 extra for admission to the park)
- Excellent for scuba diving: Yes
- Excellent for swimming: Yes
- Facilities: Yes. If you need them, there are even some restaurants and a camping site near Cenote Caracol
- Car parking: Yes
Cenote Caracol is part of the Labnaha group. The Labnaha group in turn belongs to the Sac Actum System.
It’s one of the world’s largest cave systems.
Imagine Mother Nature made a Disney World out of all natural elements. Then imagine she made it with swimmers and divers in mind. And put it down right in the middle of historical Maya country.
That’s Cenote Caracol.
Now, it’s a truth universally acknowledged that anything that is too easily achieved is always under-appreciated.
So you have to work to get to Cenote Caracol.
First of all, you have to know it’s there. If you’ve read this far, congratulations – you’ve passed Mother Nature’s first test.
Second, there’s the road.
There’s no sugar-coating this for you. The road to Cenote Caracol is…not fun.
Let’s just say the advice you need to hear about the road is that…well, you’re going to need a 4WD vehicle.
Spare tires. Maybe a tool kit. Possibly a donut cushion or two.
We don’t want to oversell the drama of the road to you. But while you’re manifesting your Inner Indiana Jones, perhaps make just a little room for your Inner boy or girl scout and Be Prepared.
Possibly, if there’s room, get in touch with your Inner MacGuyver too. You never know when that guy’ll come in handy.
So, yes. The road is challenging.
But the reward is a communion with one of the world’s largest cave systems. A place that will leave you refreshed, invigorated, and with your mind blown by the wonder of nature.
You will not be alone.
There will be tourists.
They’re there having their moment of extraordinary communion with nature too.
You can’t blame them – they heard about it and couldn’t resist the lure of the crystal clear waters either.
While the road is an adventure in itself, the Labnaha Eco Park, where you’ll find Cenote Caracol, is only 40 minutes away from Playa del Carmen. You can do 40 minutes of rough roads for a reward as spectacular as Cenote Caracol.
The Eco Park itself has a wide range of facilities. You’ll also find restaurants, snack bars and other amenities on site.
Cenote Caracol may be a stunning watery hole in the ground, but it’s not by any means just a stunning watery hole in the ground.
Once you’re in the park, you get into Cenote Caracol by going down a wooden staircase.
There’s natural light, so even the journey down to the hole will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. The view once you’re down in the cenote is like the best meal you ever ate. Only you never get full.
Getting to Cenote Caracol
To get to Cenote Caracol, take Highway 307, and turn west.
You’re looking for the Sascab Road.
If you hit Oscar & Lalo’s Restaurant, don’t panic. You haven’t gone too far.
The Sascab Road is around half a kilometer beyond that point.
Drive past Rancho Felipe, and keep going for two kilometers.
You’ll see a stone wall.
An impressive stone wall.
Then you’ll find the gated entrance, with signs to Cenote Caracol.
And then the fun begins.
Places to Stay, Caves to Dive
You can access Cenote Caracol from both Tulum and Playa del Carmen.
Book accommodation in a town local to Cenote Caracol while you’re still in either of those big towns. It just makes for a happier, less confused life for you.
You can choose to stay in any of the local towns. Setting up a local base means you can return to Cenote Caracol as much as you like. It also means you can hit any of the other cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula as a day trip.
While you’re in the region, you’re not going to want to miss Chichen Itza.
What’s Chichen Itza?
It’s the most important archaeological ruin of the Mayan civilization.
To miss it if you’re in the area would be like going to Arizona, and then deciding not to visit the Grand Canyon.
If you decide to visit Chichen Itza, you won’t just be staring at piles of rubble. You’ll have a tour guide who can give you cultural and historical information for each site you visit.
This particular tour also includes visits to the local cenotes – including Cenote Caracol.
So it’s a great way of folding in a lot of mind-boggling natural wonder with some extremely cool history in the one tour.
This private tour gives you an unprecedented chance to explore Mayan ruins and sacred sites. Lasting 12 hours, the tour is guided, so you really get the cultural context of the place in which you’re standing.
Feel connected to the Mayan civilization in a whole new way, then stop off at the cenotes to cool off, swim, and dive in the sacred sinkholes.
A buffet lunch is provided on this long tour.