Filled with crystal clear water and lined with limestone stalactites, Cenotes Sac Actun is the world’s largest known underwater cave system. The freshwater cave is home to colorful fish, bats, and animal fossils. Sac Actun is simultaneously one of the most impressive and least crowded cenotes on the Yucatan Peninsula.
After entering the cenote by way of a hole in the rock and a wooden ladder, visitors can explore Sac Actun on a guided snorkeling or scuba-diving excursion. Visitors must have a guide to explore, but you can join a guided tour when you arrive at the entrance.
Most visitors choose to snorkel through the caves (a scuba-diving tour requires diving certifications). You can also book an adventure tour that includes round-trip transportation from your hotel and stops at other cenotes or area highlights along the way.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The price of admission includes a guide, lifejacket, mask, and snorkel.
- If you tend to get claustrophobic, steer clear of this attraction.
- The water temperature stays at around 68°F (20°C), so if you get cold easily, rent a wetsuit at the entrance.
- Bring an underwater camera and consider renting a flashlight; guides light the way, but you may want to be able to look around on your own.
- Avoid using sunscreen; you don’t need it in the cave, and sunscreens that are not biodegradable are harmful to the caves’ ecosystem.
- Exploring the caves requires a moderate level of fitness and includes climbing down a ladder and swimming through narrow passageways.
How to Get There
You can reach Sac Actun on a private tour, by car, or by taxi: From Tulum, take Chetumal-Cancun/Mexican Federal Highway 307 (the main highway) north to the exit for the Dos Ojos cenote. Continue straight, past Dos Ojos, turn left, and follow the road to Sac Actun. The road can be rough and riddled with potholes, so it’s best to use an all-wheel-drive vehicle to reach the site.
When to Get There
The consistent water temperature in the cave makes it a great place to escape the Yucatan’s summer heat. On a rainy day, the cave can also be a good place to escape the weather. Sac Actun is less crowded than many of the area’s other cenotes, but if you want the most peaceful visit possible, arrive in the morning.
Top Cenotes on the Riviera Maya
The freshwater sinkholes scattered across the Yucatan Peninsula range from popular pools that are frequented by busloads of tourists to secluded caves. To explore more of these unique spots, start at Sac Actun, then head next door to the cave system of Dos Ojos. Afterward, snorkel through the open waters of Casa Cenote. Alternatively, you can pair a swim in the majestic Cenote Ik Kil with a trip to the famous ruins at Chichen Itza.