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7 best cenotes near Valladolid, Mexico

WHAT IS A CENOTE

I was thinking how to describe what a cenote is in the best way possible but wikipedia did a great job instead of me so here it is:

“A cenote is a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater. The regional term is specifically associated with the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, where cenotes were commonly used for water supplies by the ancient Maya, and occasionally for sacrificial offerings.”

There are 3 types of cenotes and they are: open cenote, semi-open cenote and cave. There are more than 6 000 cenotes around Yucatán Peninsula and most of them are connected underground.

Most of the cenotes have fresh water however the ones that are close to an ocean contain salt water too as they are connected to the ocean underground.

WHAT TO BRING AND WHAT NOT TO

To protect the ecosystem of the cenotes you are not allowed to wear any mosquito repellent or sunscreen. In some cenotes you have to take shower before entering to preserve the water so keep that in mind. Bring a towel and some water shoes if you have (it’s not a big deal if you don’t, flip-flops will do). Always bring cash with you as most of them (if not all) don’t accept credit card payments.

Snorkelling is not very popular in these cenotes as the water is mainly super dark so you won’t see anything. Keep your snorkel gear for the cenotes near Tulum.

Another good thing about these 7 cenotes is that you can use your camera and go pro (that’s an issue in many cenotes near Tulum).

If you want to know more about which cenotes allow you to bring a camera and which not read the bullet point number 20 of this article: http://borntotraveldiaries.com/201-useful-tips-for-your-mexico-trip/ 

If you are gonna be based in Valladolid and want to go around with a taxi here is the phone number of a Taxi driver that we were going with, however he only speaks Spanish: +52 985 1475 138. Anyway the taxis are always parked next to the Central bus station.

1. CENOTE OXMAN

Cenote Oxmann was the first cenote we have ever visited and it set the bar very high! It was nothing like we have seen before and we were totally amazed. We arrived super early before any other people and had it to ourselves for about 2 hours. It was love at first sight. It was super quiet and felt kind of mysterious. It is a semi-open cenote with a very little light and very deep water which makes it look black. You don’t really see what is under you. We asked one worker which fishes do live inside and apparently only 2 types (catfish and leeches). The first thing I’ve seen was a rope swing which you can use to jump in the water…and we did…like a hundred times :D. We had so much fun!

WHERE IT IS AND HOW TO GET THERE

It is located around 12 min car drive away from Valladolid and you can either take a taxi (around 100 MXN – 4 EUR), rent a bike (150 MXN/day – 6 EUR), or rent a scooter (5 EUR/hour or 25 EUR/day). Unfortunately there is no bus or colectivo going there and we have no information about a car rental.

ENTRANCE FEE

The cenote is located inside of the Hacienda San Lorenzo Oxman. They offer two entrance packages to choose from. Either you pay the entrance fee of 150 MXN (6EUR) or you can pay 250 MXN (10EUR) and get 200 MXN (8EUR) voucher in their restaurant. We opted for the second option as we were planning on having lunch there anyway, so like this the real entrance fee was only 50 MXN. You can’t bring your own food or drinks inside so you either eat in their restaurant or you don’t eat while you are there.

As the hacienda is a private business they change prices very often. On each blog that we read before going there people said completely different prices so be prepared for that.

The lifejacket was not mandatory but they were offering them if you needed (not sure if it was for free or for an extra fee but if it was it would probably be around 1 EUR like in the most of the other cenotes).

The hacienda serves also as a hotel where you can get a room for around 60 EUR/night with the breakfast included. Then I believe the entrance to the cenote is included in the price of the room.

OPENING HOURS:

The cenote is open from 9 am to 5 pm (at the time of writing).

2. CENOTE IK KIL

Cenote Ik Kil (English translation from the Mayan language is “The place of the winds”) is one of the most famous cenotes in Mexico. It is another semi-open cenote and is also quite deep under the ground surface which makes it perfect for cliff diving. Normally cliff diving is prohibited, however they conducted the Red Bull cliff diving competition in 2010, 2011 and 2014. Even though you can’t cliff dive from the top, there is a jumping platform which you can try out yourself. The water is about 50 meters deep and the use of a lifejacket is mandatory at all times. The area also includes a restaurant, changing rooms, toilets and lockers.

WHERE IT IS AND HOW TO GET THERE

It is located around 40 min car drive away from Valladolid and it is the perfect combination for your Chichen Itza visit (only 5 min car drive away).

There are many tours going to Chichen Itza & Cenote Ik Kil from all the major touristy places like Cancun, Tulum, Playa Del Carmen etc. so you don’t necessarily have to stay in Valladolid to visit. However it’s the most convenient and closest base for it.

If you are staying in Valladolid, you can get there by taxi (which is quite overpriced in our opinion so we wouldn’t recommend – 350 MXN/14,40 EUR), by “Oriente” bus from the central station or with a colectivo bus. Both buses cost around 40 MXN (1,60 EUR). We went with a colectivo bus to Chichen Itza and after with another colectivo to the cenote.

For those who don’t know what colectivos are, they are mini vans for 10-15 people that don’t have a timetable but they leave once they are full. They run on some specific routes but you can tell them to stop wherever for you as long as it’s on the route. Also on the way back you just wave at them on the side of the road and they will stop for you (unless they are full).

Colectivos to Chichen Itza and cenote Ik Kil run from 7 am to 9:30 pm and here is the exact location for the colectivo station: https://goo.gl/maps/mWfTKdGDwe5pNU258

The first “Oriente” bus to Chichen Itza departs at 7:30 and you have to buy your ticket directly at the station. There is no website to do it online.

ENTRANCE FEE

The entrance cost 80 MXN (at the time of writing) which is about 3,30 EUR.

OPENING HOURS

The cenote is open from 9 am to 5 pm (at the time of writing) and we recommend to come here as early as you can. This cenote is very popular and can get very crowded. Usually everybody (including big tours) are gonna come to swim here after visiting the pyramids of Chichen Itza.

3. CENOTE ZACI

WHERE IT IS AND HOW TO GET THERE

Cenote Zaci might not be the most beautiful one but it sure is the most convenient one if you are staying in Valladolid. It is located directly in the centre of the city. Around 5-10 min walk from the main square.

ENTRANCE FEE

It also has the cheapest entrance fee of only 30 MXN (1,20 EUR). There is a restaurant and if you are a guest of the restaurant the entrance is for free if you spend there more than 100 MXN (4EUR).

There are lifejackets available if you need one for an extra charge of 30 MXN ( 1,20 EUR).

Every day there are some guys who are “dressed” and painted as Mayans and you can take pictures of/or with them for a tip.

OPENING HOURS

The cenote is opened from 8 am to 5.30 pm. As it’s in the middle of the city, it is accessible to everyone and it gets crowded even by locals who come here to swim after work or school so get there early for a better experience.

4. CENOTE XKEKEN (DZITNUP) and 5. CENOTE SAMULA

ENTRANCE FEE

Cenote Xkeken and cenote Samula are located in the same complex. You can visit both of them for 125 MXN (5EUR) or choose only one and pay 80 MXN (3,30 EUR). We think it’s worth to visit both when you are in the area anyway and the difference is not much. We got a guide who showed us around and explained many things about the history of the Maya people. Not sure if everyone gets a guide or he went with us just because we were the only one there at that time.

If you want to swim in the cenotes, the lifejacket is mandatory and you have to rent it for an extra charge of 20 MXN (0,80 MXN). If you want to swim in both cenotes you have to pay for the lifejacket twice.

Both cenotes are cave cenotes with only a very little hole that lets the light in.

The water level of the Cenote Xkeken raised at the time of our visit and sank the walking path that was going around. However our guide took us through the secret path of the cave which was super cool and we are so thankful we got to do that.

WHERE IT IS AND HOW TO GET THERE

These cenotes are located around 10 min car drive from Valladolid and can be reached by taxi, bike, scooter or a rental car. There is no bus or colectivo passing by.

There are toilets, changing rooms and lockers available for rent. Inside the areal there is a mini market of souvenirs and handcrafted stuff.

OPENING HOURS

They are open from 9 am to 6 pm (at the time of writing)

6. CENOTE SUYTUN

Cenote Suytun is the one cenote we really wanted to visit but unfortunately we didn’t. At the time when we were in Valladolid, the water in the cenote raised and covered the famous path that leads into the middle of the cenote where the light comes in. You might have seen some pictures from this place. As the path was under the water we decided to skip it.

If you are looking for a cenote to spend the entire day at, swim and cliff dive, Cenote Suytun is not your best option. The cenote is very small and the water is shallow. It is a part of many tours which brings lots of tourists during the day and I am still not counting the people that go there to take that perfect instagram shot.

The lifejacket is mandatory and there are changing rooms, toilets and lockers for an extra charge.

WHERE IT IS AND HOW TO GET THERE

It is located around 14 min car drive away from Valladolid and you can either take a taxi (around 100 MXN- 4 EUR), rent a bike (150 MXN/day – 6 EUR), rent a scooter (5 EUR/hour or 25 EUR/day) or from what we heard you can take a colectivo with the direction to Chemax (however we don’t have any extra informations about that as we haven’t done it ourselves).

ENTRANCE FEE

The entrance fee is 130 MXN (5,30 EUR).

OPENING HOURS

The cenote is open from 9 am to 5 pm. We heard that due to the pandemic you can’t just show up there but you have to make an appointment online for the specific day and hour and they let you in only for 1 hour.

Here is the website to reserve your entrance: https://cenotessuytun.com/ola/services/reservaciones-al-cenote-suytun

7. CENOTE X’CANCHE

WHERE IT IS AND HOW TO GET THERE

Cenote X’Canche is another beautiful semi-open cenote which is around 30 min car drive away from Valladolid. It is in the area of Ek Balam Maya ruins so it makes a perfect combination just like Chichen Itza and Ik Kil. This cenote is quite similar to Oxman so if you don’t have enough time just choose 1 of them. If you plan on visiting Ek Balam ruins I would recommend to visit X’Canche and if not, then rather go for Oxman as it’s closer to Valladolid.

Cenote X’Canche is also a part of many tours that go to Ek Balam ruins from Cancun, Tulum and other major holiday places so you don’t have to necessary go to Valladolid to visit them however it’s most convenient.

ENTRANCE FEE

The entrance fee is 80 MXN (3,30 EUR). They offer lockers (for an extra charge), changing rooms, toilets and there is also a restaurant.

OPENING HOURS

The cenote is open from 9 am to 5 pm.

Check out also our Isla Mujeres and Isla Contoy travel guide:

http://borntotraveldiaries.com/isla-mujeres-and-isla-contoy-travel-guide/

and our 20+1 useful tips for your Mexico trip:

http://borntotraveldiaries.com/201-useful-tips-for-your-mexico-trip/

We hope this cenote guide was helpful to you and you are gonna have a great time while visiting them. For all the pictures and videos from Mexico check out our Instagram and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to comment bellow or contact us via email or even better via Instagram @borntotraveldiaries. Thank you for your time and stay tuned for our next diary page 🙂.

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