The Complete Guide to Scuba Diving in Tulum, Mexico

by | Last updated Jan 12, 2021 | Mexico | 0 comments

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Scuba diving in Tulum is a must-do on everyone’s tropical adventure bucket list! Tulum is arguably one of the best places in the world to scuba dive because it has both incredible cenotes and the Mesoamerican Reef (the second largest after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef).

You have both options when scuba diving in Tulum and it’s nothing short of amazing. Not only can you scuba dive in any deep open-air cenote, but you can also experience cave diving in Tulum’s labyrinth of underground flooded caverns and tunnels.

When moving to this beachside pueblo in the Riviera Maya, I knew I had to jump at the opportunity to explore Tulum’s scuba diving scene. So far, I have been able to scuba dive in one of Tulum’s cenotes (Casa Cenote) and also in the Tulum reef. Soon, I’ll be getting my PADI Open Water Certification too!

With so many opportunities to explore Tulum’s aquatic wonderlands, I wanted to create this ultimate guide so you can find have the best scuba diving experience during your trip to Tulum.

Here is my ultimate guide to scuba diving in Tulum, Mexico. It includes Tulum’s dive shops, the best cenotes for diving, and diving on the Tulum reef.

P.S. If you’re a dive shop in Tulum or have dive experience here, please drop any additional recommendations in the comments below!

The Ultimate Guide to Scuba Diving in Tulum, Mexico

reef diving tulum

Best Dive Shops in Tulum

Private Instructor 

I just completed 2x discovery dives (1 cenote dive and 1 reef dive) and I will also be getting my Open Water with David, a freelance instructor. I realize this isn’t how the majority of people do scuba tours but if you want 1-on-1 instruction with a pro, then I HIGHLY recommend you seek out a private instructor. It was pretty awesome to have just us and our instructor instead of going with a large group. Let me know if you’d like David’s contact info while you’re in Tulum! (He doesn’t have a public social account or website for now).

His rates are fair and competitive ($390 for Open Water, $120 for 2x discovery dives, or $90 for 1) and you won’t be disappointed with the experience!

If you want to book with a dive shop instead, here are the below dive shops in Tulum that I’d recommend.

Agua Clara Diving

Agua Clara is a PADI 5-star center and comes highly recommended by fellow divers. They call themselves an eco-friendly diving center featuring zero waste, small-group tours. Not only can you book excursions for scuba diving in Tulum, but you can also book for reef dives in Cozumel. They also offer eco-tours for snorkeling, cenote Tankah, and Sian Ka’an.

Prices: Their prices are typical of most scuba dive shops in Tulum. The PADI Open Water course costs $490-525 (book/e-learning), $130 for Tulum reef dive ($230 for Cozumel), and their discovery dives for beginners are $115 x 1 dive or $160 for 2 dives. They also have cenote dives priced at $150 for 2x dives and $195 for 3x.

Check Agua Clara tours & reviews on TripAdvisor

Infinity2Diving

Infinity2Diving offers all types of tours like cenote diving, multi-day diving packages, PADI courses, technical diving, and more.

Though I haven’t been diving with these guys (yet), I could tell they were really laid-back, friendly, and passionate about diving when I went in to buy my Beuchat dive mask. Mario and Diego were both there to entertain and Mario specifically helped explain to me all about dive masks, showed me how to burn my first mask, and talked about his love for cenote diving.

Prices: Their prices are $120 x 1 discovery dive ($175 for 2), $450 x PADI Open Water ($350 with e-learning), and $450 for Advanced Open Water. The cenote dives range from $150-200 USD. They also offer a range of snorkeling and cultural tours like a day trip to float in the canals in Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve.

Check Infinty2Diving ratings on Tripadvisor

Koox Diving

The team over at Koox Diving knows a thing or two about scuba diving in Tulum, considering they’ve been doing it for over 16 years! They offer a range of diving tours and courses like technical and deep-sea diving, cave diving, and can arrange all diving excursions whether you’re based in Tulum, Playa del Carmen, or Cancun.

Of all the dive shops, it seems that Koox offers the most in terms of tours and excursions (not just for diving). They also offer freediving, fishing, swimming with whale sharks, Mayan ruins tours, visits to tourist attractions throughout Quintana Roo.

Prices: At $139 and $169 for 1x or 2x discovery dives and with the PADI Open Water at $539 (with e-learning), Koox Diving prices are a bit steeper.

Check reviews & tours with Koox Diving

La Calypso Dive Center

If you’re looking for a French-speaking dive center in Tulum, then La Calypso Dive Center is your place! They have notable mentions in French media including Le Monde and Le Routard (which is basically the French version of Lonely Planet). These guys have over 15 years of experience scuba diving in Tulum. Don’t worry, they also speak English and Spanish too (and also apparently a fourth language per their website!). 🙂

Like other dive shops, they will take care of everything so you can focus on having fun in a safe way. Instead of offering a bit of everything, the folks at La Calypso specialize in cenotes, caves, reefs, and PADI courses. Their cenote packages are pretty cool because the prices vary based on which cenote you dive in. For example, you can combine two dives with both shallow and deep cenotes.

Prices: Cenotes $100-160, Reef $100-110, PADI Open Water $500, Advanced OW $500

Check La Calypso ratings & prices on Tripadvisor

Best Cenotes in Tulum for Diving

casa cenote aerial viewCasa Cenote aerial view | PC: Canva

divers in casa cenote mexico

discovery diving in casa cenote

Casa Cenote: Casa Cenote is a beautiful open-air cenote that is used as a training site for new divers. It’s long, snake-like shape carves out the mangroves and creates an awesome aerial picture. On the other side of the sandy road lies the Caribbean sea. In this cenote, you can see both freshwater and saltwater wildlife, fish, algae gardens, and even Pancho the crocodile! Max depth: 20-25 ft (6-8 m)

Also Read: Diving in Casa Cenote with “Pancho” the Crocodile

Cenote Carwash: Cenote Carwash, on the surface, looks like a large lagoon or pond but below its water is also a gateway to easy caverns where new cave divers can try out their skills. There are lots of lily pads, aquatic life, rock formations, and fallen trees which together make for a stunning cenote dive. Max depth: 45 ft (15 m)

Cenote El Pit: Cenote Pit is a cenote that is exactly what it sounds like. It is one of the best cenotes for diving in Tulum as it is essentially a huge pit or underwater chamber perfect for exploring (for advanced divers). At around 400 ft (121 m), it is one of the deepest cenotes in Quintana Roo. The light rays shining through the water create insane visuals that will make you want to go diving immediately! Max diving depth: 130 ft (40 m)

Cenote Angelita: Cenote Angelita is a favorite cenote for advanced divers in Tulum because it features a spookish thick cloud of hydrogen sulfide gas created by decaying trees and vegetation that gathers in the layer of the cenote where fresh and saltwater meet (halocline). You can pass through this layer to a deeper, darker part of Angelita. Max diving depth: 130 ft (40 m)

Cenote Angelita with the halocline | Photo credit: Infinity2Diving

Cenotes Dos Ojos: Cenote Dos Ojos is one of the most popular cenotes in Tulum for snorkeling and diving alike. Dos Ojos, meaning Two Eyes, refers to the two neighboring cenotes that both flow with an enormous subterranean river – one of the longest cave systems (Sac Atun) in the world at ~193 miles (310 km). It is a great option for new divers since you stay relatively near the surface and don’t dive down more than 30 ft (10 m). If you dive at Dos Ojos, you’ll either follow the Barbie Line or the Bat Line circuit (both entrances and lines give way to wildly different diving experiences).

Gran Cenote: Gran Cenote is another hugely popular cenote in Tulum. You used to be able to dive here, but either due to the increase in popularity or tourism, you no longer can. You can still visit and arrange a snorkeling tour, though. Entry cost is one of the highest in Tulum – around ~350 pesos per person. There are equipment rentals, showers, bathrooms, and a rest area/garden on site.

Cenote Dream Gate: If you want to dive in crystal clear water rich with marine life and cave formations, then go diving in Cenote Dream Gate (often written as Dreamgate). This cenote is unique because you can take two diving routes – either upstream or downstream. Either or, you will have a blast in this cenote! It is often talked about as being one of the best cenotes for cave diving in Tulum. To dive here, you need to have excellent buoyancy skills and your Open Water certification. Depth: 30 ft (9 m)

woman cave diving in cenote dreamgate aguaclara diving tulum

Cenote Dream Gate | Photo credit: Agua Clara Diving

Cenote Calavera: Cenote Calavera is a fun, skull-shaped cenote with one big hole and two smaller holes (hence the name). At first, it looks just like a big swimming hole to jump in but in fact, you can enter the Sac Actun cave system here. This dive features cool cave formations and the cloudy halocline layer. It is recommended for advanced divers since there are some dark and narrow spots. Max depth: ~50 ft (16 m)

Cenote Escondido: Cenote Escondido is a large pool-like cenote hidden in the jungle just south of Tulum. It is great for swimming, snorkeling, and also diving! When we were there, we saw two divers resurface after an adventurous dive in the underground cavern. The entry fee is $120 pesos if you combine a visit with Cenote Cristal just across the street (great for jumping/swimming/snorkeling, but not diving). The price for divers for Escondido is around $200 pesos.

Cenote Nicte-Ha: Cenote Nicte Ha can be found within the Dos Ojos cenotes park. This cenote both an open-water underwater garden dive and a cavern line. As a diving cenote, it’s definitely on the less popular side but it still offers cave divers a short and sweet thrill. Max depth: ~25 ft (8 m)

As you can see, there are TONS of opportunities to go diving in a world-famous Tulum cenote. Just ask your diving instructor or dive shop about their various packages and what they’d recommend based on your diving experience.

If you also want to dive in the sea for a whole new experience, then you could also scuba dive the Mesoamerican reef just offshore of Tulum!

Tulum Reef Diving

woman scuba diving in tulum reef

school of fish tulum reef dive

women scuba diving in tulum reef

Scuba diving in Tulum is so incredible because the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef lies just off the warm coastal waters of Tulum and is the second largest after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

There are several reef diving sites in Tulum that will give you the chance to see lots of rich, colorful marine life including reef fish, crabs, lobsters, and maybe even the passing turtle, stingray, or bull shark! Here are just a few!

Cuevitas: Cuevitas, meaning “Little Caves”, is where we got to do our first reef dive with our private instructor David. It is appropriately named Little Caves because there are several small arches that you can swim through. On this dive, we saw lobsters, a blowfish, and many blue, yellow, and neon-speckled reef fish swimming around the corals. The dive site is 10-minutes north of Tulum in the sea just across from Casa Cenote. We dove around 25-30 ft (8-10 m).

Stingray: The Stringray dive in front of Tulum ruins is a great option for new divers (on calm sea days) because it is a fairly shallow dive ~ 8-24 ft (2.5-10 m). It is often called the Stingray dive because of the possibility to see stingrays exploring around the sandy floor.

Coquitos: Coquitos is another Tulum reef dive worth doing. It is nicknamed Little Coconuts because of the coconut-filled palm trees lining the beach. You can see lots of colorful sea life on this dive. Max depth is ~ 40 ft (12 m) at the bottom of the corals.

scuba diving in tulum in cuevitas reef site

Last Tips for Scuba Diving in Tulum

  • Don’t fly for 12-18 hours: You shouldn’t board/fly in a plane for a minimum of 12-18 hours after your last dive. As David told us, little nitrogen bubbles can build up in our bodies and blood system when we dive and it needs to be released. If we fly just after a dive, we are at risk of decompression sickness aka “the bends” and this can cause injury or even be fatal.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate: The more water you drink, the better. When we hydrate, we clear our sinuses and boost blood pressure. Without good hydration, you may feel too weak or poor to dive and you’ll have a hard time equalizing underwater.
  • Wear comfortable bikinis: Diving wetsuits are extremely tight. Ladies, make sure to wear a comfortable bikini or one-piece swimsuit and avoid anything that you need to tie with knots as this will stick out and be uncomfortable. Men should wear comfortable boxers/briefs rather than loose-fitting swimming trunks.
  • Have fun! Scuba diving is one of the best adventure activities and the more you relax and just “go with the flow” the more you’ll enjoy the experience!

Tulum has so many incredible diving opportunities. If you are ever on the coast of the Riviera Maya you must come to Tulum to dive. Between the cenotes and the Mesoamerican Reef, Tulum has got to be one of the best places in the world to scuba dive. If you don’t have your Open Water, you can still do a cenote or reef dive on a discovery tour. But you should definitely consider staying 4-5 days to get your PADI certification and go on a thrilling cenote cave dive or deeper ocean dive.

Enjoy scuba diving in Tulum! If you have any questions about my experience scuba diving in Tulum feel free to reach out in the comments or shoot me an email.

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Hi, I’m Bri! I’ve been slow traveling around the world in search of new adventures since 2013. I have lived in 8 countries on 4 continents including Nepal, Mexico, Colombia, and parts of Europe! I created this blog to inspire others to live a life of adventure, seek out meaningful experiences, and to travel slowly and mindfully. Join me on this journey and let’s tick off our bucket lists! Read my story here.