North America Mexico Day Trip to the Tulum Ruins & Gran Cenote

Day Trip to the Tulum Ruins & Gran Cenote


While in Cancun, we decided to take a day trip to Tulum, to see one of the best Mayan ruins in Mexico and a few of the cenotes. Both the Tulum Ruins and Gran Cenote are popular among tourists and are a must-see for many travelers. To help make your visit even better we put together a detailed Tulum guide with more information, hotel recommendations, and tips you won’t find in your usual travel guide.

Tulum Ruins

Though the Tulum ruins are not as big as the ruins of Chichen Itza or Uxmal, it is still one on the most visited ruins in Mexico. There are 60 ruins on this site. The most popular one being El Castillo (the Castle), as it is the tallest building there and is usually the one featured in travel magazines and guides. Within the Tulum ruins, there is also a gorgeous beach. This beach is said to be one of the most beautiful beaches along the Mayan Riviera, so don’t forget to bring your bathing suit and take a swim after visiting the ruins.

Admission Fee: $59 pesos
Parking Fee: $70 Pesos
Hours of Operation: 8am – 5pm

Insider Tips for the Tulum Ruins

  •  There are almost no shaded areas, so we strongly recommend you bring lots of water, and a hat to prevent fainting, and dehydration.
  • No food or alcohol is allowed nor are there any stores within the archeological site. Though bags are not checked before entering, we recommend you eat before you go in, to help keep the ruins preserved.
  • Unlike other ruins in Mexico you cannot climb or touch any of the ruins there.
  • Though you can wear flip-flops to the ruins, we suggest you wear sneakers or supportive shoes so if you miss a step or trip on a rock you don’t hurt yourself.
  • Bring swimming clothes as there is a Playa (beach) on site.
  • After passing the information booths near the highway, where the colectivo will drop you off, you will have to walk about 1km to the entrance of the Ruins. Do not buy any tickets along the way, as people will try to sell you expired or fake tickets.
  • The ruins take about 45mins to an hour to complete.
  • Get to the ruins early as it get crowded and very hot in the evenings.
Ruins of Tulum, Mexico and a palm tree overlooking the Caribbean Sea in the Riviera Maya, Mexico
Jess Kraft /

After visiting the Tulum ruins, we headed to the Gran Cenote, which is just 6 km from the ruins and 3.5 km from downtown Tulum. There are many cenotes in Mexico but the Gran Cenote is supposed to be one of the best ones.

Gran Cenote

The Gran Cenote is a big beautiful garden cenote that lives up to its name. It is a must see in Mexico. The cenote is open to swimmers, scuba divers and snorkelers. The fresh blue water cenote is crystal clear and very refreshing. Don’t expect the water to be as warm as the ocean, because it’s not. While swimming you will see plenty of stalactites and stalagmites, they are kind of cool. Ever wanted to swim with fishes, turtles and bats (yes, I just said bats), while you can do it all here. The cenote has a rope that you can hold onto as you explore, and there are also a few shallow spots for non-swimmers.

Admission Fee: $120 pesos; and $150 pesos for divers
Snorkel Gear Rental: $80 pesos (you can also rent scuba diving gear)
Hours of Operation: 8am – 6pm

Insider Tips for the Gran Cenote

  • The only way to get to the Gran Cenote is by driving or a taking a taxi. Biking and hitchhiking is always an option as well.
  • A taxi from the ruins to the cenote will cost you around $110 pesos one way. If you are on a budget like us, we recommend you leave the ruins and walk a little bit alongside the highway, a taxi will see you and ask to pick you up. It should charge you $80 pesos, no more.
  • Another option to get to the Gran Cenote from the ruins is to catch a colectivo alongside the highway to downtown Tulum for $20 pesos and then grab a cab from there for $80 pesos
  • Try hitching a ride back to Tulum as paying for another taxi can be pricey.
  • We recommend you bring along swimming goggles or rent snorkeling gears because the sight underwater in the cenote is amazing and not one to be missed.
The Gran Cenote in Mexico
Byelikova Oksana /

Final Thoughts

Overall we really enjoyed our day trip to the Tulum Ruins and the Gran Cenote. The Tulum Ruins are not as impressive as some of the other ruins in Mexico, but you are also only paying one fourth of the price. If you have been to some of the other ruins in Mexico, Tulum might be disappointing to you. The Gran Cenote, however, is a must see. The cenote is huge and you can easily spend some time there exploring the cave system and admiring its beauty. We would go back in a heart beat. So if you have time for a day trip while in Cancun or Playa, definitely consider visiting both places.



  • Astrid Rios

    I know your post is old but I hope you still see this. Would you recommend the tour or just go by ourselves to both Tulum ruins and Cenote? I want my boys to enjoy the animals under water and all:

    • A

      The ruins will definitely be more interesting with a guide but I don’t think there are any tours that combine the ruins with the Gran Cenote. However, if you want to do a tour, we can highly recommend this day tour from Cancun or Playa del Carmen. It takes you to the ruins and then to another cenote in the area which is just as beautiful as the Gran Cenote.

  • Vicky Chow

    Do they limit the minimum amount of people to go for snorkeling trip in Gran Cenote? I checked on their website and they required 4 people minimum. It’s only gonna be me and my boyfriend and we do not want to join tours because we would like to have our flexible time. Or is there an option where we can pay for the entrance fees and just swim inside?

    • Hey Vicky, Thanks for stopping by. There is no required minimum to enter the Gran Cenote, we were just two and was allowed to go in. You can enter the Gran Cenote without any tour. If you wanna snorkel and don’t have your own equipment you can just rent some gear there as well. Hope that helps.

  • Thanks for sharing some valuable information. We’re headed to Tulum in November and can’t wait to explore. We have made a mental note of Gran Cenote too :)

    • Hey Guys,

      Glad you found the information to be useful! Hope you enjoy Tulum as much as we did! Safe travels and have fun!

      P.s. let us know how you guys liked it after November :)

  • Crystal

    Did you take a bus to tulum or rent a car? What would you suggest?

    • We always take the bus or in this case a collectivo. You didn’t mention from where you are coming from but collectivos run from Cancun, Tulum Town and Playa del Carmen.

  • Heading to Cancun next week. Your blog has really been a great help in figuring out some of our travel plans – Tulum road trip & Isla Mujeres posts are great.

    • Glad we can help, Geoff. Enjoy and safe travels!

      • Sharon Smith

        Hi This was a great article. My only question is if I have no ATM card or pesos can you pay with credit card for both ruins and denote?

        • I am not a 100% sure but I don’t think so. In this part of the world, credit cards are not really used that much.

  • I visited both Gran Cenote and the Tulum Ruins this past spring and enjoyed both of them! They are both pretty touristy, but I found that the crowds could be avoided if you visited earlier in the morning when they open or later in the day right before they close.

    • Yeah, they can be quite touristy especially during the high season. Going early is definitely a better option as you avoid the heat and the crowd.

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