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Cenote Cristalino: All You Need To Know

Discover why you need to visit Cenote Cristalino near Playa del Carmen. This open-air sinkhole boasts crystal-clear water… name explained!

Cenotes are one of the most hyped destinations in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, and for good reason! These natural swimming holes are breathtakingly beautiful. Case in point: Cenote Cristalino near Tulum and Playa del Carmen.

If you want to swim and be in awe of the natural beauty of this stunning cenote, Cenote Cristalino between Tulum and Playa del Carmen makes a practical choice. While it is located close to two other cenotes – Cenote Azul and Cenote Jardin del Eden – this is a great choice for those who want some privacy as it is not as crowded as other more popular cenotes in Playa del Carmen. Of these three cenotes, Cristalino is also the best when it comes to swimming.

Find out why this cenote should be on your bucket list of cenotes to visit in Mexico!

But First, What Is a Cenote?

You might already know what is a cenote. After all, cenotes have become super popular these past few years. If that’s the case, feel free to skip this paragraph! However, many people don’t really know what exactly is a cenote, and in my opinion it’s really important to understand what is their significance to the Mayans.

A cenote is a natural sinkhole dating back several centuries. When limestone caves collapse they expose a natural pool. This pool then gets filled with rainwater and with the water flowing through underground rivers, to which these sinkholes are connected to. Voilà, you’ve got yourself a cenote!

The word cenote comes from the Mayan term dzonot, which means well. But not all cenotes look the same. there are essentially 4 types of cenotes:

 Open Cenotes – Open cenotes are like natural, open pools, and they can be more or less deep. Some of the open cenotes are also connected to an underground river passage (which makes them great for diving!). Examples of an open cenote are Cenote Nicte Ha & Cenotes Cristal and Escondido near Tulum, and so is Cenote Cristalino.

 Semi-open Cenotes – As the name implies, this type of cenote has some parts that are exposed and some portions that are partially hidden by a cave. An example is Cenote Calavera (one of my favorite cenotes!).

 Cave Cenotes – This type of cenote can be accessed via a land-level entrance. Once you make your way in, it opens up to an underground pool which can have both shallow and deep areas. Cenote Dos Ojos is an example of a cave cenote.

 Underground Cenotes – This type of cenote is the most difficult to reach as they are, in fact, underground. Only experienced divers can access underground cenotes. An example of underground cenote is the Pet Cemetery Cenote near Tulum.

Cenotes have great cultural and religious significance to the ancient Mayans, who believed that the cenotes were passages to the underworld. In fact, Mayans performed rituals in the cenotes and treated the sites as sacred.

This means that you should too. Please be responsible! Don’t litter the cenote, always take your trash back with you, and only apply biodegradable sunscreen before swimming in the cenote.

All You Need to Know About Cenote Cristalino, Mexico

Cenote Cristalino is one of many beautiful cenotes that you will find near Playa del Carmen. Aside from its natural beauty and crystal clear water, another main reason why tourists choose this cenote is because it is less crowded. It is relatively quiet (especially if you visit on weekdays) and quite cheap, too.

The cenote also boasts of adequate amount of facilities that you can use during your visit.

This is an open-type cenote that looks like a natural swimming pool. There are some portions of the cenote that are concealed beneath a rock that form like a mini cave. As such, there are cliffs that you can jump off to get into the water. And for those who like to dangle their feet on the water, do watch out for the fish that swim in the cenote – there are plenty of them!

The best part is that Cristalino in Spanish means crystal-clear… and the water of this cenote is usually indeed crystal-clear.

The water temperature in this cenote is cold. This makes it the perfect destination during the summer if you want to escape the Mexican heat. The depth of the water in this cenote is at an average of 4 meters and can go as deep as 6 meters.

READ ALSO: 11 Unmissable Cenotes Near Playa del Carmen

Facilities Available at Cenote Cristalino, Playa del Carmen

Cenote Cristalino is not as commercialized as other cenotes in the region. But that does not mean there are no facilities available. 

▶ From the entrance, the path leading to the cenote is clean and well-maintained.

▶ There are also plenty of clean toilets and showers that you can use to get changed, or to clean up after.

▶ You can find locker rentals if you want to store your personal items while you go swimming. Life jackets are also available for those who want to go for a swim (at no extra cost as they are part of your entrance fee).

▶ If you want to spend more time relaxing at this cenote, there are sun loungers that you can rent for around 70 MXN. There are plenty of shaded areas that you can relax in.

▶ For those who are driving their own car, parking is available right outside the cenote.

▶ And if you do get hungry or are in need of refreshment, there are snack and food stalls that you can go to.

Cenote Cristalino: Practical Info

How much does it cost?

The entrance fee for Cenote Cristalino is very reasonable at only 200 MXN (around 10 USD). It is, therefore, a practical choice for those looking for cheaper cenotes with some privacy.

Where is it located?

Cenote Cristalino is located in Carretera Cancun – Tulum Km 269, Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico. You can get to this cenote within 20 minutes of travel time if you are from Playa del Carmen.

Here below you can see it in the map:

Cristalino Opening Hours

Cenote Cristalino is open from 8 AM to 6 PM.

What’s the best time to visit Cenote Cristalino?

The best time to visit is right after the cenote opens, or late in the afternoon. The tourists often arrive late in the morning and most stay after lunch.

Cenote Cristalino Snorkeling

The crystal clear water in Cenote Cristalino (as the name implies) makes it suitable for snorkeling. But even for those who simply opt to go for a swim, the water is clear enough that you can see the fish swimming around in the water.

Cenote Cristalino Diving

It is not a very deep cenote, so it is not suited for diving.

How to Get to Cenote Cristalino

Image by jessicafm via Flickr

Cenote Cristalino is located next to Cenote Azul, Cenote Kantun Chi, and Cenote Jardin del Eden.

Cenote Azul: Visitor Info & Prices (2019)
Cenote Jardin del Eden: Why You Need to Visit

There are several transportation options available to get to this cenote.

Take a Colectivo to Cenote Cristalino, Quintana Roo

Taking a colectivo from Playa del Carmen is one of the cheapest ways to get to this cenote. It is a public and shared van that you can take from Playa del Carmen for only 40 MXN.

Go to the 2nd Street in Playa del Carmen and a colectivo will pass by every 8 to 10 minutes. The cenote is located just off the highway, so it is a short walk to get to the entrance when you alight from your colectivo.

Drive your own car to Cenote Cristalino

If you have a rental car, you can drive your way to Cenotes Cristalino. There are car parking facilities at this cenote for your convenience.

To get to this cenote from Playa del Carmen, you must drive south via Highway 307 towards Puerto Aventuras. When you reach this landmark, the cenote is only about 4 minutes away. Turn left towards the Barcelo Hotel entrance and you will find the entrance to Cenote Cristalino.

Pros and Cons of Cenote Cristalino

Pros of Cenote Cristalino

  • It’s quieter than other cenotes in the area with far less crowd.
  • It’s near Cenote Azul and Jardin del Eden, so you can easily visit those other cenotes.
  • It’s one of the cheaper cenotes you can visit.
  • It’s an open cenote but there are areas wherein you can swim under the rocks.
  • It’s not very deep so it is perfect for the whole family to swim in.
  • It’ s very easy to get to or find.

Cons of Cenote Cristalino

  • It is not the ideal cenote for those who want to go diving.
  • It is not overly big, especially when compared to other cenotes such as Cenote Dos Ojos or Gran Cenote.

What to Pack for Cenote Cristalino

This is a list of the essential items you should bring with you when you visit Cenote Cristalino.

Swimwear: Of course. This is an essential item to pack with you when you visit a cenote! I’m currently in love with bikinis from ZAFUL – I kinda want to buy them all!

Biodegradable Sunscreen: Please make sure not to apply regular sunscreen before entering a cenote. Not only it’s expressly forbidden in many of them, it’s just really bad for the water and its creatures.

If you need to use sunscreen, only go for 100% biodegradable sunscreen. Help maintain the cenotes as beautiful as they are!

Snorkel Mask or Goggles: The crystal clear waters of the cenotes will make you want to take a closer look at what lurks beneath the surface of the water. Snorkeling gear is what you need to make this possible.

Water Shoes: Not necessary for this cenote in particular since it’s an open one, but in general I always recommend investing in a pair of water shoes if you’re planning to spend some time in Mexico visiting cenotes, which can be rocky, or snorkeling in the coral reef.

Water Bottle: Mexico has tropical weather so you can expect it to be hot and humid. Try and bring a refillable water bottle around with you to reduce the consumption of plastic.

However, the tap water in Mexico isn’t generally safe to drink, so make sure to refill your bottle with safe water, or buy a LifeStraw water bottle that comes with a water filter so you can drink the tap water.

Camera: Because these cenotes feature one-of-a-kind natural beauty, it is hard to pass up the opportunity to capture them in photos.

Even better if you have an underwater camera or GoPro, so you can take it in the water with you.

Other Things to Do Near Cenote Cristalino

I’ve spent quite some time around this area, so here are a few ideas for things to do once you’ve visited Cenote Cristalino.

▶ Visit other less known cenotes near Playa del Carmen or Tulum – two that I really like that are rarely crowded are Cenote Zacil Ha and Cenote Carwash.

▶ Visit the beautiful Tulum ruins that are perched on the Caribbean Sea and offer some spectacular views.

▶ Spend a day enjoying the beach in Tulum, and check out some of Tulum’s trendy cafes and restaurants.

▶ Go on a day trip to Cancun or to the beautiful Cozumel island.

Are you going to visit Cenote Cristalino soon? Do let me know in the comments!

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you book something through one of my links I might get a commission, at absolutely no extra cost to you

  • Stefania Guglielmi

    Stefania Guglielmi is the founder of Every Steph. Originally from Bologna, Italy, she's been traveling full-time since 2016 and has visited over 50 countries across 6 continents. She believes sustainable travel and luxury travel can go hand in hand and has been advocating for responsible tourism since 2014. Stefania's advice and travel experiences have been featured in important publications such as Business Insider, Refinery29, and Yahoo Money.

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