If the expensive pre-packaged tours aren’t for you consider taking a DIY cenote day trip from Tulum instead.
Daniel and I tackled this day trip on our own and had an awesome time. Now, I have all of the info you need to do it as well.
The three cenotes you’ll visit are Choo-Ha, Tamcach-ha, and Multum-ha. The best part about visiting these three cenotes is that they’re cheap and super easy to combine with your visit to the Coba Ruins.
Ready to go? Here’s everything you need to know to create your own DIY cenote day trip from Tulum!
Transport for the DIY Cenote Day Trip
Start your morning with the 7:20 am bus from Tulum (50 pesos / 2.60 usd pp) from the ADO bus station. This will take you to the Coba Ruins, which I recommend doing first and combining with your cenote day trip. (Read more about the Coba Ruins here)
These ruins have one of the last Mayan pyramids tourists can still climb and I enjoyed taking in the jungle views and stepping back in time for a few hours as I walked through them. Then, once you’re done exploring Coba it’s cenote time!
Walk back out the entrance of the parking lot for the Coba Ruins. Here you can eat lunch at the delicious El Faisan restaurant (I recommend the puc-choc, a traditional Mayan pork dish) and afterwards you’ll see a bicycle rental shop. You can rent one for only 50 pesos each and ride to the cenotes on your own.
You can also take a taxi to these cenotes, but the cost will be 420 pesos / 22 usd round trip with the driver waiting for you for 20 mins at each one. In my opinion, bikes are cheaper, more fun, and all around a much better option.
Costs for the DIY Cenote Day Trip
Bus to the Coba Ruins from Tulum: 50 pesos
Entrance to Coba Ruins: 70 pesos
Lunch at El Faisan: 100 pesos
Bike Rental: 50 pesos
Entrance to Three Cenotes: 55 pesos each, 115 pesos total
Bus Back to Tulum: 86 pesos at 3 pm or 50 pesos at 5 pm or 7 pm
Total Cost for a DIY Cenote Day Trip (with ruins!): 471 pesos per person, or 25 usd each.
Our Experience on the DIY Cenote Day Trip
You can read all about our trip to the Coba ruins here and get more details on the first half of the day. However, this article is all about the cenotes.
After we rented the bikes we rode down the road for about 25 minutes to the cenotes. Don’t get freaked out by this, theres not much traffic and the signs for the cenotes are clear and super easy to follow.
First, we arrived at the two cenotes which are next to each other, Choo-Ha and Tamcach-Ha. There’s a little stand at the entrance road where you will buy your tickets.
I recommend paying only the entrance fee for the first two here. Why? You may be like us and spend so much time at them you don’t have time to visit the third Multum-Ha cenote. If you do decide to visit it, you’ll have to pass by the stand again anyway, so it’ll be easy to pick up the third entrance ticket then.
PS Even if it’s not sunny when you go, two of the three cenotes on this list are completely underground so it’s still fun to visit them on cloudy or rainy days.
This cenote is so cool!
It’s honestly everything I had hoped for in my first cenote experience. First, we showered off before we headed into the cave (this is super important to get rid of sunscreen, bug repellant, and other things that don’t belong in the fragile ecosystem).
Then, we descended the slippery staircase down into the underground cavern. I was immediately struck by the huge stalactites dripping from the walls and ceiling, and the stunning super clear blue pool of water.
Once we got to the bottom, there was only one other man there (and this is on a Saturday in high season) and we jumped right in. I was expecting the water to be cold, but it was a surprisingly refreshing and comfortable temperature.
Some people brought snorkels but if you don’t have them don’t worry. The water is crystal clear and I could easily see everything (not that there’s too much to see, it was mostly rocks and a few fish). It was a super strange and surreal experience, and definitely a uniquely Mexican experience. We swam around enjoying the Choo-Ha cenote for about 45 minutes before heading to the next one.
The Tamcach-Ha cenote is about a three minute bike ride from Choo-Ha. Here, we again descended a super slippery spiral staircase.
The Tamcach-Ha cenote is much bigger, deeper, and more crowded then the Choo-Ha cenote. It’s also my favorite because of the awesome diving platforms.
On the stairs coming down, theres a diving platform at 10 meters (30 ft) and 5 meters (16 ft) for people to jump off of. These are olympic heights people! I’d estimate there were about 30 tourists at the cenote with us when we were there and plenty were brave enough to jump off the platforms. I loved the 5 meter one, and though it took me awhile, I even worked up the courage to jump from 10m as well (just once).
Everyone was laughing, talking with each other, and cheering on the ones brave enough to jump (and sometimes shouting encouragement when they got too scared and tried to turn back.) If you really truly only have the time to visit one cenote during your DIY cenote day trip from Tulum, this is the one.
Unfortunately, we wanted to catch the 3 pm bus back to Tulum so we had to leave without visiting the third cenote on my list.
This cenote is a bit separate from the other two. To get to it, you’ll have to ride back out to the main road, turn left, and continue until you see the signs for the Multum-Ha cenote on the right side of the road.
I didn’t go to the Multum-Ha cenote, but you should definitely check it out if you have the time. First, it’s the deepest of the three so it’s the best for snorkeling. It also has a “hole” in the cave roof which lets in natural light, making it a bit different from the other two which are fully underground.
For only 55 pesos / 3 usd more, it’s definitely worth adding to your DIY cenote day trip. Just keep in mind that if you decide not to take the 3 pm bus back to Tulum, the next one won’t leave until 5.
DIY Cenote Day Trip From Tulum
So, there you have it!
If you would like to see the unique Mexican cenotes without paying some of the outrageous entrance and tour prices you’re seeing online, taking a DIY cenote day trip is your best bet. Combine these three cenotes with the Coba Ruins and you have an amazing experience that’s easy to fit into a single day outing from Tulum or Playa del Carmen.
If you’ve been to any of these cenotes, I would love to hear your thoughts and comments below. If you’re planning to visit soon, enjoy 🙂 This is one of the best experiences I’ve had in Mexico so far!
PS looking for more adventures in the Riviera Maya? Don’t miss the stunning Laguna Bacalar, also known as the Lake of 7 Colors. You can also go swimming with the turtles on Akumal Beach or take a boat cruise with Catamaya Sailing. Then, finish your night with my lists of the best cheap restaurants and cheap bars in Playa del Carmen!