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Bucket list experience:

Last updated: 29 May, 2023
Expert travel writer: Alex Robinson

Not all cenotes are sink holes in the jungle. Manati (aka Casa Cenote) – tucked behind the long white sands of Tulum beach is the entrance to an underground river, which flows into a winding creek lined.

The cenote is named after the manatees which used to live here until tourism became overwhelming. There are plenty of fish though, including schools of large tarpon and a small Morelet’s crocodile called Panchito. And the water is glassy-clear – running from the creek into caverns fringed with a labyrinthine tangle of mangrove roots. Superb for snorkelling and novice divers.

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 6+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

It lies about five miles north of Tulum village on the beach road, immediately behind the Casa Cenote hotel.

This small, rustic hotel can arrange snorkelling, diving and kayaking tours, or just rent a snorkel and go yourself. Manati Divers next to the cenote can organise dives.

The hotel has a decent beachside restaurant open to non-residents, serving decent Mexican food and icy margaritas. This northern stretch of Tulum beach is one of the nicest on the Riviera Mayan Riviera.

When to do it

The cenote is open all year round, seven days a week.

Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay near this experience, closest first

Hotel Jashita

Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico[2.7 miles]

Luxurious couples-focused beach pavilions overlooking one of the Yucatan’s few bays, twenty-minutes north of Tulum

Official star rating:

Villa Pescadores

Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico[8 miles]

Tulum ruins perched on a cliff and turquoise sea lapping talc-white sand: it’s all about location in this rustic beach-cabin retreat.

Official star rating:

Kai Hotel Tulum

Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico[8 miles]

A good value hotel on the choicest stretch of sand and in the shadow of Tulum ruins. Its cabanas come with ocean views.

Official star rating:

Coco Tulum

Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico[13.2 miles]

Beachside party hotel with great value rooms in traditional barefoot-chic Tulum beach cabanas, with comfort. Adults only.

Official star rating:

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Mayan Riviera


Talc-white beaches, reefs teeming with life, ruined temples in misty rainforests – the Riviera Maya offers a family or romantic beach holiday with a dash of Indian Jones adventure.

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Overview >

Our writer’s recommendations of other bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination, closest first

Gran Cenote

Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico[7.9 miles]

Lily-covered, glassy-clear and filled with terrapins and tropical fish, this cenote near Tulum is easy to reach and fabulous to swim in. Big caverns make for spectacular cave diving.

Best for ages: 6+ | £7

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Overview >

Mayan ruins of Coba

Quintana Roo, Mexico[43.5 miles]

An authentic, atmospheric and less-visited Mayan site, set in lush, wildlife-rich forest. Climb to the summit of the 126ft-high Nohoc Mul pyramid – the tallest on the Mayan Riviera.

Best for ages: 13+ | £5

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Overview >

Other worthwhile experiences near this experience if you have time or interest..


Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico[6.8 miles]

A snorkellers’ theme park, comprising a series of broken, crystal-clear bays and glassy streams, teeming with brightly coloured marine life and fringed with low tropical forest. Safe, supervised snorkelling plus swimming with (captive) dolphins and manatees.

Best for ages: 4+ | £80

Mayan ruins of Tulum

Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico[7 miles]

Iconic, though modest, Maya ruins perched on a cliff overlooking a beautiful beach and a turquoise ocean.

Best for ages: 10+ | £2

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Overview >


Akumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico[11.6 miles]

A simple nature-based theme park with a safari-park zoo, a cenote for swimming, a spectacular cave and a rainforest canopy zip-line adventure.

Best for ages: 4+ | £30

Website >
Overview >

Xcaret Park

Playa del Carmen, Mexico[44.9 miles]

With glassy pools and shallow lagoons offering dolphin, nurse-shark and manatee swimming, tame jungles, and spectacular Mayan dance shows, this huge eco-theme park is a Maya World, and a snorkel-friendly Disneyland.

Best for ages: 4+ | £80