Playa del Carmen has many incredible freshwater cenotes that are worth visiting and are located just a short drive away from downtown. These hidden swimming holes are a fun excursion and a great way to really explore the natural beauty of the Yucatan region.
One of my favorite cenotes near Playa del Carmen is Cenote Cristalino, which is a beautiful cenote to spend the day snorkeling, swimming, or just hanging out in a natural setting. Here’s my guide to visiting Cenote Cristalino, including how to get there, what to expect, and what to bring.
Cenote Cristalino is located just 30 minutes south of Playa del Carmen, right off the main highway 307. It’s about half way between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. The location is on the right side of the highway just past Puerto Aventuras and across the street from the Barcelo resorts. One perk of staying at one of the all-inclusive Barcelo Resorts is the close proximity to some amazing cenotes.
How to Get to Cristalino Cenote
If you have a rental car, it’s very easy to get to Cenote Cristalino by driving south from Playa del Carmen on the main highway 307. The cenote is located on the right side just past Puerto Aventuras and there are highway signs to direct you. Free parking is available once you arrive at the cenote.
By Public Transportation
If you don’t have a car, the easiest way to get to Cenote Cristalino is to take a colectivo from the main bus depot in Playa del Carmen at 2nd Avenue and 20th street. Make sure you get on one that is headed towards Tulum. Cenote Cristalino is located just past Puerto Aventuras and you will have to tell the driver where you would like to get off. It takes about 30 minutes and the cost is $35 pesos (~$1.80 USD).
When to Visit Cenote Cristalino
The best time to visit Cristalino Cenote Playa del Carmen is during the week. I went on a Sunday and it was very crowded with local family gatherings. It’s definitely much busier on the weekends.
Entrance Fee for Cenote Cristalino
When I visited the entrance fee was $150 pesos (~$8 USD), which included a life jacket rental. In addition, you can rent lockers for $50 pesos (~$2.50 USD), as well as snorkeling gear and plastic lounge chairs.
What is there to do at Cenote Cristalino?
Go cliff jumping
Cenote Cristalino is a lush natural setting and offers many different bodies of water to explore, snorkel, or simply relax in the water. In the main cenote, there is a cliff ledge where you can jump into the water. The ledge is about 12 feet and doesn’t even look that high, but to be honest I had to work up the courage to take the plunge! I do have a slight fear of heights. Check out the video of my jump at the end of this post!
Snorkel through a cave
One of the coolest things about Cenote Cristalino is a tunnel-like cave that you can swim through. The ceiling of the cave is covered in stalactites and the water is the prettiest shade of turquoise blue. It’s a great spot to snorkel or float your way through to admire the unique rock formations. There are many rocks under the water here so I would recommend wearing water shoes to protect your feet.
Experience a fish spa
At Cenote Cristalino, there are several smaller ponds and bodies of water where you can sit on the ledge and dip your feet in the water. If you hold your feet still, the tiny fish will come and give you some free exfoliation. It’s kind of an odd tickly sensation but you will get used to it! Don’t pay for a fish spa on 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen when you can get one for free at a cenote!
Discover a hidden cenote
Towards the back of Cenote Cristalino, there are signs that will lead you to Cenote Escondido, which is a hidden cenote that is more secluded. This area is much less crowded and one of the most beautiful parts of Cenote Cristalino. It really feels like a hidden natural sanctuary.
Amenities at Cenote Cristalino
Cenote Cristalino has more amenities than most of the other cenotes I’ve been to. Lockers can be rented for $50 pesos (~$2.50 USD) in order to keep your valuables safe. There is also a small tent that offers a good selection of snacks and beverages. Make sure to bring some extra cash if you’re hungry.
What to bring to Cenote Cristalino
- One of the most important things to bring to Cenote Cristalino is biodegradable sunscreen as regular sunscreen is not permitted.
- You’ll also want to bring a towel to dry off after swimming in the cenote. These microfiber towels are great as they dry quickly and are compact enough to be easily thrown into your bag.
- I would definitely recommend wearing water shoes as the ground around the cenote is very rocky and super painful if you are barefoot.
- If you want to snorkel, I would also recommend bringing your own snorkeling set. You can rent one there but I always question the cleanliness of reused snorkeling equipment.
- It’s also nice to have a GoPro or waterproof camera so you can take some fun pictures in the water or jumping from the ledge.
Watch video below
Of the three cenotes Cristalino is probably the least well-known, which definitely makes it worth a visit if you’re looking for a cenote near Tulum or Playa del Carmen. I actually prefer Cenote Cristalino to the others because it offers so many different and unique places to explore outside of the main cenote.
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