When I started planning my first-ever trip to Tulum, there’s something I knew I had to do: visit a cenote. If you’re not familiar with cenotes, they’re natural pools that reveal themselves when a cave collapses. The Yucatan Peninsula is full of them, with thousands of cenotes; some of which are developed and welcome visitors. I searched for the right cenote to visit on our trip, but I saw a lot of the same locations on repeat. I’m sure those places were beautiful — there’s a reason I’d seen them on Instagram a million times — but I was looking for something less discovered. I didn’t want to be surrounded with tourists, and certainly didn’t want a line of people waiting for that perfect influencer photo.
We decided on a spot called Cenote Abierto, as it seemed to be lesser-known and still looked fun and gorgeous. Unfortunately (or fortunately!), Cenote Abierto was closed for renovations. But as we were searching for its entrance, we were told that there was another great cenote just behind the gate and down the dirt road. It was Cenote Minotauro. There was almost no signage, and we didn’t know what we were in for, but we decided to just go for it. When adventure calls, you answer, right?
So after a quick 5-minute drive, we were excited to see a colorful landing area with bathrooms, showers, tables, benches, and even a grill or two for cooking your own food. Note to future travelers: bring something to grill!
The cenote itself was perfection. The waters were crystal clear and had a combination of both shallow and deep areas for everyone to enjoy. There was a swing, rock landings for jumping into the deeper sections of the pools, and gorgeous cave formations. When we were ready to head out to another location, another guest asked us if we had taken the tour. “The tour? Is that separate?” we asked. He told us that it was included in the price of admission, to tell Sebastian we were ready, and to put on a life jacket.
We followed his advice, and were soon back in the pools of the cenote, but this time with our gregarious and informative guide. Little did we know, there was an entire cave system just behind the pools that Sebastian would bring us through. This man wasn’t just a regular tour guide; he was the son of the man who discovered this cenote, and he knew his stuff. As a bonus, he was incredibly charismatic, and had us cracking up throughout the whole 25-minute tour. We swam and floated our way through an underground river, narrowly avoiding stalactites in places, and swimming freely where the waterways opened up to large cavernous spaces. The whole thing was totally unexpected and honestly, almost dream-like.
While this cenote was discovered around the year 2000, the access to the cave system has only been opened since 2019. Making this tiny little spot of the world feel like a secret cenote adventure that few have experienced. Sebastian brough this place to life for us, and the chance to enjoy the off-the-beaten-path, Cenote Minotauro, completed our trip to Tulum!
Tips on Finding this cenote:
Here’s the link on Google Maps. Cenote Minotauro
Go JUST south of the Pemex gas station to find the entrance to this cenote. Just look for the small banner under a red-tiled structure on the side of the road.