Cenote Caleta Tankah
Quintana Roo, Mexico
A very small cenote on the beach of Caleta Tankah. Given the size, it is good for a dip but nothing else. However, it is cute and very private.
To visit, you have to go to the beach Caleta Tankah and pay the joint fee for both (150 pesos). The beach itself is simply great, with a sea cove that has yet another cenote's fresh water pouring in. That creates some currents and it makes fun for all ages. Needless to say the cove water is absolutely clean and feels very fresh. The beach is not known to tourists; mostly only locals come here, keeping the beach tranquil.
Cenote Caleta Tankah is a round cenote surrounded by jungle foliage. It is a three-minute walk from the beach, along a pleasant jungle path, lined with parlour and guano palms and the usual suspects of the Riviera Maya jungle: sapodilla tree, copal, dogwood tree, strangler fig, peccary wood, black poisonwood (also known as hog gum, metopium toxiferum – only the sap is poisonous, not the bark) and its counterpart red gumbo-limbo (bursera simaruba, which heals the blisters if you were to touch the sap of its 'brother'). The path has some tree roots poking out, so you may have to watch your step. The jungle foliage is liked by mosquitoes but you should not apply any repellent (nor sun block), in order to keep the cenote water clean. The cenote is actually part of the Tankah National Park, which has a separate entry on the other side of the highway (it offers a few cenotes with zip lines and a visit to a replica of a traditional Maya village).
This beach cenote is not to be confused with Casa Cenote, also known as cenote Manatí, which is in the next bay (Tankah Bay). I am only pointing this out as I noticed online that many people confuse the two.
I came here first time with my husband Rhod and our friend Jim in the spring 2018 and we loved it. Since then we have been coming back. The cenote is to be seen as part of your beach day; it is a great combo (two for the price of one).
As for wildlife, we spotted a young egret here, just sitting on the cenote rock, while grackles keep to the beach (hoping to find some snack from the beach club tables). We also spotted a few iguanas and the cenote pool has a variety of fish, which is rather unusual (in most cenotes it is catfish only). The fish will not bother you; they swim between the pool rocks.
The cenote is shallow on the rim and you can rest your feet on the rocks (although they are a little bit slippery). In the middle the water is deeper and you have to be able to swim or float here. There are a couple of wooden benches where you can put your towel and a wooden bridge from which you can easily access the pool. There are no bathrooms by the cenote; you will have to use those at the beach club.
This place is home of the 'original' Tulum city. Well, then it was Zamá Xamanzamá. For more details see my post Caleta Tankah beach. For sure, the cenote was used as a source of water but it was also a sacred place for the Maya, where they placed offering to the god of rain, Chac.
The beach itself offers a good beach club, nice walks, a dip in the cove, and a swim or snorkelling on the rest of the beach. The fresh water cenote that flows into the cove makes this part of the beach always clean, even at times of high seaweed influx, because of the spring that pushes out anything in its way. Kayaks are on rent here too. The beach has coconut palms (my favourite kind of a beach) and plants for the protection of the sand dunes, such as turtle grass, baybeans, mangrove vine, octopus bush, beach cabbage and sea grape. You can try and collect the shells; with a bit of luck you can find some large ones. This is not something you can do at other beaches in Riviera Maya.
How to get there:
Caleta Tankah is not to be confused with Tankah Bay beach (the next bay). It is situated 5km north of Tulum (and 68km from Playa del Carmen). Drive from Tulum towards Playa along highway 307 and you will see a sign on the road (just before Dreams Tulum resort).
You can also take a colectivo (minibus), from Playa del Carmen (2nd street between 15th and 20th avenue) and Tulum (main street). You will have to get off at the main road and walk 1km to the beach, on a shady jungle path.