5 x Cenotes to visit near Valladolid

Mexico is famous for its stunning beaches, delicious food (guac!), Latin vibes & music, colorful architecture and rich history of the Mayans. However, not many of you know that Mexico is also known for its unique cenotes and you can’t visit Mexico without seeing at least one of them. Some cenotes look like lakes and are on located on the surface, but the most spectacular ones are underground. Swimming in cenotes is a unique experience and very refreshing on a hot day. Near one of Mexico’s most magical towns Valladolid you’ll find a few of the best in the region and this blog will show you 5 cenotes you shouldn’t skip when you’re in the area.

What are cenotes?

A cenote is a natural freshwater sinkhole and in Yucatan there are thousands of them. Although it’s believed that there are more than 6000 cenotes in Yucatan, only half of them have been discovered so far. The cenotes have a rich history as the Mayans considered a cenote as an entrance to the underworld and were often used for (human) sacrifices.

1. Cenote Samula

Cenote Samula was the first cenote we visited and we were absolutely blown away by this cenote. The best thing about our visit was that we had it to ourselves. The blue water, beautiful sunlight coming from the top and the sound of silence (and bats) made us just stop and stare before heading downstairs. You can get into the water easily and there’s a rope to hang on to if you want to swim to the middle of the cenote. We stayed in this one for almost an hour before heading to the cenote on the same grounds, cenote Xkeken.

Tip! If you want to have the cenote to yourself, make sure to be there when it opens at 8AM. The entrance is the same for both Xkeken (left) and Samula (right). Most people go left first, so be smart and go right first instead.

Entrance fee: 1 cenote is 80 pesos, 2 cenotes is 125 pesos.
Where? 6,5 km southwest from Valladolid.

Cenote Samula Valladolid Mexico
Cenote Samula

2. Cenote Xkeken

Cenote Xkeken (also Dzitnup) is next to cenote Samula and can be entered from the same entrance. Although this cenote is smaller and less beautiful, it’s still worthwhile to visit. Beware that getting into the water is bit more difficult with many slippery steps and uneven rocks. Impressive about this cenote is the stalactites ceiling.

Entrance fee: 1 cenote is 80 pesos, 2 cenotes is 125 pesos.
Where? 6,5 km southwest from Valladolid.

3. Cenote San Lorenzo Oxman

Cenote Oxman is one of the prettiest cenotes we’ve seen! This cenote is very deep and can be reached through a small underground stairway. From the surface it’s a giant sinkhole from where you can see the cenote from above. Besides being deep underground, the water is also very deep (nearly 70 meters), hence you can barely see anything beneath you when swimming here. The walls of the cenote are covered in plants and roots from the trees that rely on the water of the cenote, making it feel as if you’re in a fairytale.

If you want to feel like a real Tarzan or Jane, you can swing on a rope and jump into the water. Such a cool experience! We’ve had the best time here and enjoyed the pool and a cold beer afterwards upstairs at the Hacienda.
Cenote Oxman is located near Xkeken and Samula and can therefore be combined perfectly. We took a taxi from the parking area at Xkeken and from there it will take about 5 minutes to get to Oxman.

Entrance fee: you’ll arrive at a hacienda where you can buy different types of tickets:

  • Cenote entrance only: 70 pesos
  • Entrance cenote + hacienda facilities (pool restaurant, wifi, one drink p.p.): 100 pesos
  • Entrance cenote + hacienda facilities (pool restaurant, wifi, drinks and lunch included): 150 pesos

Where? 4,5 km southwest from Valladolid.

Cenote San Lorenzo Oxman
Cenote San Lorenzo Oxman

4. Cenote Suytun

One of the most famous cenotes in Valladolid area is cenote Suytun. Unfortunately we didn’t make it to this one and chose to visit other cenotes. If you want to visit this cenote, make sure to do it early in the morning before 9AM or in the late afternoon after 16PM. This cenote is visited by tourist buses on the way to Chichen Itza, hence can be very crowded. You can recognize this cenote from the photos by the stone platform leading to the middle of the water.

Entrance fee: 70 pesos.
Where? 8km east from Valladolid.

Photo by @nynke_kng

5. Cenote Zaci

Cenote Zaci is the only cenote located in the city centre of Valladolid. It’s a big open-air swimming hole and the perfect place to cool down from the heat in Valladolid. However, the fact that it’s located this conveniently makes it a rather crowded cenote to visit so don’t expect to have it to yourself very easily. There’s room to enjoy the sun from the water and there are also areas to relax in the shade. For the dare devils there’s an area where you can jump of the rocks into the deep water. Impressive: the depth of this cenotes ranges from 20 meters to nearly 100 meters!

Entrance fee: 30 pesos.
Where? Northeast from the town square in Valladolid.

Cenote San Lorenzo Oxman
Cenote San Lorenzo Oxman

Where to stay in Valladolid?

We stayed at a small boutique hotel near the main square of Valladolid, Casa Tia Micha. They only have five rooms, each decorated in a unique way. Moreover, they have a beautiful and cosy garden where you’ll have breakfast every morning. Also, breakfast is included and is by far the best and authentic we’ve had. Make sure to try the Mexican breakfast which varies daily and is amazing! Lastly, they have a jacuzzi in the back of the garden right where you can relax at the end of a day exploring the area. If you want to experience authentic Mexico in a colonial boutique hotel, this is the place for you!

Other options in Valladolid are La Aurora Hotel Colonial or Quinta Marciala, which are both great options and very affordable. If you’re looking for a bit more luxury, then The Zentik Project is the best option in Valladolid.

Book: hotels in Valladolid


How to get to Valladolid?

It will take around 2,5 hours by bus or car. The bus to Valladolid is leaving from Chiquila in the late afternoon and you’ll arrive in Valladolid at around 7pm. From Tulum, Playa del Carmen or Cancun the bus will take you to Valldolid within 1-1,5 hours.

Are you looking for more travel inspiration for your trip to Mexico? Check out The Ultimate Yucatan Travel Guide or other posts related to Mexico.

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