Cenote Aktun Ha, also commonly known as “Carwash”, is a stunning cenote perfect for cooling off, swimming, snorkeling and even scuba diving. The name literally translates to “Water Cave” in the Mayan language.
The strange nickname “carwash” has its origins in that it used to be the spot where taxi drivers from Tulum to Cobá would clean their vehicles. Aktun Ha is also one of the oldest cenotes to be discovered and explored in the area
Introduction to Cenotes
Before we dive into Cenote Aktun Ha, let’s take a quick look at cenotes in general. A cenote is a natural pit or sinkhole that is filled with groundwater. They are found in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala.
Cenotes were once considered sacred by the ancient Maya civilization, who believed they were portals to the underworld. They were used for religious ceremonies, offerings, and sacrifices.
There are three types of cenotes: open-air, semi-open, and cave. Open-air cenotes are the most common, and they are characterized by their crystal-clear water and natural vegetation. Semi-open cenotes have a small opening at the top, while cave cenotes are located underground and require special equipment for exploration.
Cenote Aktun Ha is considered an open-air cenote, but it also has a cave and is popular with diving. In this guide we’ll cover everything you need to know about this beautiful cenote.
About Cenote Aktun Ha
The cenote is about 10 meters deep (average 3m), 50 meters wide and is filled with stunning crystal-clear water. The water is a beautiful turquoise color, and you can see all the way to the bottom. The cenote is surrounded by lush vegetation, which makes it a peaceful and serene place to relax.
The cenote was once used by the ancient Maya for religious rituals, and it is believed that they used it as a source of water during times of drought. Now, it’s simply a popular tourist destination for those looking for a unique experience.
Quick Tips & Advice about Cenote Aktun Ha
Entrance Fee: $300 MXN per person, $20 MXN for a locker
Hours: 9:00 am to 4:00 pm daily
Remember to arrive early to beat the crowds (around 9:00am) and it’s best to come during the week rather than weekends. Don’t forget to bring sunscreen as it’s an open-air cenote.
Facilities on site:
- Parking lot.
- Access platform.
- Diving platform
- Lockers ($20 MXN)
How to get to Cenote Aktun Ha
Cenote Aktun Ha is located about 9 kilometers from the center of Tulum, or a 12-minute drive. Because it’s so close to Tulum, it’s quite easy to get there, and there are many ways to do that. Located on the road between Tulum and Coba, is not hard to find.
As we’ve mentioned before in many of our other posts, renting a car is simply the best option, bar none. It will allow you to go at your own pace, stop at other attractions on the way and nearby, and easily return to your accomodation. You can rent a car at the airport in Cancun or in the town of Tulm itself, there are many options.
The easiest way to get to Cenote Car Wash from downtown Tulum is to hire a taxi. The fare should cost around $100-150 MXN for each trip. However, keep in mind that there may not always be taxis available at the cenote.
If this is the case, you may need to walk along the road or wait for a while until you spot one returning from Coba further north
Our favourite way to get around Tulum and the surrounding area is by bicycle. Most of the hotels and hostels, and even Airbnb’s in Tulum will have bikes available for rent, either for free or for a fee (100-200 pesos). There are also many bike rental shops around Tulum, Ola Bikes is one of the best.
From Tulum town, you simply just bike north on the Coba-Tulum highway (highway 109) for around 30 minutes and you’ll reach Cenote Aktun Ha on your left side. Lock up your bike, enjoy your day at the cenote and easily return afterwards.
If you’re looking for a more economical way to get to Cenote Aktun Ha, taking a colectivo (minivan) is your best bet. You can take any colectivo from Tulum heading towards Coba, and instruct the driver to drop you off at the cenote.
What to do at Cenote Aktun Ha
Cenote Aktun Ha offers a range of activities for visitors. Snorkeling is a popular choice, and you can explore the underwater garden and see the fish that live in the cenote. You can also go for a refreshing swim in the cool water.
For those who want a more adventurous experience, Cenote Aktun Ha is also a popular spot for cliff jumping. The cenote has several platforms at different heights, and you can jump from as high as 10 meters into the water below.
Before jumping, however, make sure to check for any divers surfacing below to ensure everyone’s safety. The adrenaline rush is incredible, and it’s a thrilling experience that you won’t forget.
If you’re not comfortable jumping from the platforms, you can still enjoy the thrill of the cenote by taking a zip line over the water. The zip line is a great way to see the cenote from a different perspective and get your heart pumping.
Don’t forget to bring your snorkeling gear when visiting Cenote Aktun Ha, as you’re likely to spot turtles and fish swimming below the crystal-clear water’s surface. Additionally, the cenote is home to some freshwater baby crocodiles, which are small and known to be friendly.
Diving in Cenote Aktun Ha
Aktun Ha is one of the best cenotes for cave diving, and diving in general. No matter what your age or diving experience is, Cenote Aktun Ha is an absolute delight for diving.
Whether you’re a novice snorkeler or a seasoned cave diver, you’re bound to have a great time here. If you’re new to diving, you can start by taking a dip in the open portion of the cenote for some snorkeling.
For more experienced divers, the brilliant cavern portion of the sinkhole is full of columns, stalactites, and stalagmites to explore during cave diving with solid buoyancy and awareness skills.
There are many companies that offer diving excursions to Cenote Aktun Ha, but Koox Diving is one of the best, and recommended, starting at around $200 USD.
Cenote Aktun Ha is a must-visit spot for anyone traveling to Tulum. It offers a unique and unforgettable experience that combines natural beauty, adventure, and history. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a first-time visitor, Cenote Aktun Ha is a place you don’t want to miss.
In addition to the activities mentioned above, there are a few other things to keep in mind when visiting Cenote Aktun Ha. For example, there are no facilities on-site, so you’ll need to bring your own food, drinks, and towels. You should also be aware that the cenote is a natural environment, so be respectful and mindful of your impact on the ecosystem.
If you still have more time and are interested in exploring more cenotes in the area, there are several other options within driving distance of Tulum. Some popular choices include Gran Cenote, Dos Ojos, and Ik Kil. Each of these cenotes offers its own unique features and activities, so be sure to do your research and plan accordingly.
In conclusion, Cenote Aktun Ha is a beautiful and exciting destination that is perfect for travelers looking for adventure and natural beauty. With its crystal-clear water, lush vegetation, incredible aquatic life (with crocodiles), it’s no wonder that it has become a must-visit spot in Tulum.