Cenote Calavera: A Spectacular Swimming Spot in Tulum, Mexico
A middle aged Mexican man greeted us at the front gate of Cenote Calavera (also known as the Temple of Doom) and proceeded to lead us through what looked like his backyard. We walked through the dry, desolate surroundings until we came to something that we really weren’t expecting – an exotic little swimming pool which looked like a portal into another dimension. We knew we were going to a cenote, but the unassuming entrance and the lack of other tourists meant our expectations were low.
Cenote Calavera blew those expectations away, and after a hot day of cycling between the beaches and ruins of Tulum, a swim in the refreshing water was the best thing imaginable. We were actually looking for another cenote but this one was a lot closer to town and once we saw how awesome it was we had no intention of leaving.
You can jump into the refreshing water below or there is a slippery wooden ladder you can climb down. I’m still not all that confident in the water so I chose the ladder, but jumping did look fun. There is a rope in the middle of the cenote where you can chill out without having to tread water, or there’s a small inflatable boat that you can take for a spin – the cenote isn’t very big but you can see some nice cave formations and the occasional bat. It’s the ideal place to bring few friends and have a couple of relaxing drinks by the “pool”.
Diving in Cenote Calavera
We heard a strange bubbling sound during our relaxing swim in Cenote Calavera. We thought for a minute it was some kind of monster intent on eating us, but then 2 divers emerged from the depths. It turns out this is actually quite a famous dive site – there are some old Mayan relics down there and according to one of the divers the water is almost as clear as air. If you’re a diver and you’re looking for something a bit different it might be worth checking out.
What is a cenote?
Cenotes are flooded sinkholes and you can find them all over the Yucatan Peninsula, apparently there might be as many as 7000 of them. We visited 5 of them during our time in the Yucatan Peninsular and Cenote Calavera was probably my favourite. Some of the cenotes get pretty busy, especially the ones close to Chichen Itza, so if you’re looking for a more laid-back cenote experience I’d definitely recommend Cenote Calevera.
Getting to Cenote Calavera
Bicycles seem to be the best way to get around Tulum, so hire a bike and head out on the main road towards Valladolid (read Gia’s post about cycling around Tulum here). Look for a sign with a skull on it (calavera means skull in Spanish – its shape when viewed from above gives it its name), pay the small entrance fee (around $80 pesos) and enjoy one of the most scenic swimming holes the world has to offer.
Have you been to a cenote in Mexico? How was it? Let me know!