If you are planning to visit Valladolid you cannot miss the spectacular Valladolid cenotes scattered around its surrounding. You even have one right in the city center. In this post, I am going to tell you all about it.
The touristy resort cities of Riviera Maya are pretty amazing, especially for the turquoise waters of the Caribbean sea, but when it comes to experiencing some traditional Mexican charm, the closest location for it from Cancun is Valladolid.
Besides the old-world attractions of the city, you also have the amazing Valladolid cenotes worth exploring. You will find a lot of these sacred sinkholes around town an easy reach, even if you don’t have a car (although if you do it would be much better)
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If you don’t know what cenotes exactly are, I will tell you a little bit about them before getting to the list of cenotes to explore in Valladolid Mexico.
They’re deep underwater lakes that were created centuries ago when rainwater filtered through the flat limestone bedrock of the Yucatan and accumulated underneath the surface.
Wherever the ceiling of this limestone collapsed, a cenote was formed.
With more than 6,000 of them found in the region, it’s no surprise that these cenotes were a huge part of the Mayan culture back in the day. They were not only used as a source of water but also as sacred places for rituals and religious ceremonies.
FUN FACT – this kind of geology that forms the Cenotes can be found in many other parts of the world. However, only in Mexico, they are called Cenotes because when the Spanish came to invade the region that is the Yucatan Peninsula created a Spanish word of the original world ts’ono’ot (dzonot) which means “well with water”.
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The best cenotes near Valladolid
Valladolid is considered the gateway to the Colonial Yucatan, but it also might be the gateway to some of the best cenotes in the region with its 300+ cenotes. These are similar to the cenotes found around the towns of Homun and Cuzuma, but unique in their charm.
Sadly, it’s not possible for me to list all the Valladolid cenotes here, so I will only tell you about the ones that I visited during my stay in the town, and of course, I will be adding more as I visit them.
The cenotes I’m going to tell you about are all in and around Valladolid, and you can easily reach them during your stay in this delightful city.
Entrance fee: 30 MXN ($1.5 USD)
Open hours: 9 AM — 5 PM
Let’s start with the cenote that’s right in the heart of the city. In fact, it’s just a couple of blocks away from the main plaza in the historical center of Valladolid.
Nevertheless, Cenote Zaci has all the allure of an open cenote nestled in a green jungle.
Despite the convenient location of Cenote Zaci, it’s surprisingly not at all expensive. Considering the small entrance fee, its picturesque looks, large size, jumping platforms, and excellent swimming are all some of the best you will find in Valladolid to beat the hot summer days.
Cenotes Xkeken (Dzitnup) and Samula
Entrance fee: 80 MXN ($4 USD) each and 125 MXN ($6.5 USD) for both. Cash only.
Open hours: 8 AM — 5 PM
If you’re looking for an adventurous day at the park along with your cenotes trip, you will find Cenotes Xkeken (Dzitnup) and Samula to your liking.
They’re part of an adventure park, which makes it very convenient to visit them both while also enjoying a host of other fun activities.
The park they’re located in isn’t very far from Valladolid, but it’s secluded enough to have its own charm to brighten your day!
I recommend renting a bicycle to visit these cenotes (unless you have a car rental) because it only takes half an hour to get there and costs less than 100 MXN.
Plus, you get to take colorful roads and a lovely bicycle track nestled between trees before finally arriving at the cenotes.
Since they’re in a theme park, you can expect lots of people visiting Cenotes Xkeken and Samula, so make sure you arrive here early to avoid all the crowds. Ideally, get here right at the opening time to make the most of your trip.
Entrance fee: 120 MXN ($6 USD)
Open hours: 9 AM — 5 PM
Located just a few kilometers from Valladolid, Suytun is a very famous cave cenote. You can cover the distance using a bike although you must keep in mind t’s a busy road so you will get a lot of dust and contamination from the cars and tracks. But it’s doable.
Cenote Suytun is one of the Valladolid cenotes that makes its appearance almost everywhere when it comes to the breathtaking beauty of cenotes.
It’s been a sensation on Instagram for years now because of its stupefying beauty and unique platform in the middle.
Chances are good that you will recognize it from the looks if the name didn’t ring any bells.
Suytun is a cave cenote but its central platform receives direct sunlight from a hole in the ceiling above, making it the perfect spot for some stunning photos.
Now that you’re all covered up on why Suytun is such a famous cenote, it’s time for some insider info. Visiting Cenote Suytun is pretty fun, but the heat on the way there gets intense during summer. Leave early in the morning to avoid that and huge crowds.
If you go around the restaurant to the right and make your way to the cabanas nearby, they’ll let you in before the official opening time and you can have the whole cenote to yourself!
These colorful cabanas also make for decent lodgings, so if you decide to spend a night or two here, you can take a moment to check them out as well.
But do keep in mind that they’re a bit expensive for cabanas, and there’s not much you can explore during the night while staying here.
Entrance fee: 150 MXN ($7USD) (100 for locals and permanent residents)
Open hours: 9 AM — 5 PM
Yokdzonot is a bit farther, but it can still be considered among the cenotes near Valladolid. It’s so wonderful I couldn’t leave it off the list.
This cenote is charming not only because of its size and mystic atmosphere but also because of how well its natural vibe is preserved. It’s locally managed by the members of the Mayan community indigenous to this region, and they go out of their way to keep the cenote in excellent condition.
Cenote Yokdzonot is 40 meters deep, so it’s quite popular for the diving experience it offers. But, like any other cenotes, you need to go with a divemaster or instructor if you want to dive.
Apart from enjoying the stunning open cenote, you can also try out many other fun activities offered here. They include ziplining, rappelling, and taking bike rentals around the area to explore more of its attractions.
The restaurant here is also run by the locals, so you can enjoy simple local dishes if you want to spend the day there or arrive around lunchtime.
Cenote Yokdzonot is located around 50 kilometers away from Valladolid and it comes on the way to Merida. You can drive to the location if you have a car rental.
The usual road from Valladolid to Merida has plenty of signs to guide you to the place, but use a map if you’re going from the highway.
You can also get here by a colectivo if you don’t have a car rental. To avoid any mishaps, make sure to figure out the ride. There is a tourist office in the municipal building of Valladolid’s main plaza, you can go there and enquire about the colectivos offering a ride to Cenote Yokdzonot.
Cenote Tzukan (Santuario de vida)
Entrance fee: 230 MXN ($13USD)
Open hours: 9 AM — 5 PM
Located about 10 km before Yokdzonot, coming from Chichen-Itza, cenote Tzukan has recently opened and it offers a great alternative to the more popular ( and more crowded) Ik Kil.
I went to visit cenote Tzukan after visiting Chichen Itza and although I found it a bit expensive, I thought the experience was worth the money.
First of all, once you park the car you walk a beautiful path among lush vegetation and lots of birds and butterflies showing your way to the cenote.
You can also find comfortable facilities such as bathrooms and showers, a shop and an ice-cream place to get some refreshments.
Some man-made stairs will lead you to the cenote which comes as a beautiful surprise.
In fact, although it’s a cave cenote, deep down into mother earth’s belly, you have very easy man-made stairs that make your way to the cenote very easy.
The entrance is quite scenic and doesn’t feel natural but when you get to the cenote you will just be in awe.
The turquoise water and the surrounding caves are all mother nature works, but you have some wooden stairs to facilitate your entrance into the water.
In fact, it’s suitable for families with kids as well.
The use of the life jacket is mandatory for safety reasons because the cenote is quite deep.
Look out for the beautiful mot mot birds, the colorful birds with the tails shaped like a pendulum, a sacred bird for the Mayans.
Among the cenotes facilities, you can also find a nice restaurant offering local dishes.
Browse through international and local car rentals and find the best deal.
Entrance fee: 180 MXN ($9 USD)
Open hours: 8 AM — 5 PM
You must have heard of Chichen Itza. Cenote Ik-Kil is the go-to cenote for everyone visiting this famous archeological site because it’s so close to it and also a very remarkable sinkhole to freshen your day in the heat.
The open cenote is so impressive in its looks, you will absolutely love it. This is also one of the cenotes that makes rounds on the internet because of its breathtaking beauty.
All the greenery around the cenote is cultivated in a way that hangs down into the open cenote, making for a spectacular view.
Just like the Chichen Itza, Cenote Ik-kil is almost always crowded with lots of tourists visiting here. Luckily, the facilities are amazing and very modern, so you can find lockers to put your stuff in, and use the showers before (required) and after swimming in the cenote.
Also, if you go early in the morning, or near the closing time, you will likely find fewer crowds.
There are many tours to Chichen Itza that include a trip to Cenote Ik-Kil as well, so you can simply choose one of those and explore both these awe-inspiring places.
Or, you can just take a simple detour from your Chichen Itza visit and see Cenote Ik-Kil by yourself.
If you’re going there on your own using a colectivo, get off near the entrance to Chichen Itza and you can simply walk to Cenote Ik-Kil from there.
There are also cabs at Chichen Itza that will take you to the cenote for a small fare.
Entrance fee: 80 MXN ($4 USD)
Open hours: 9 AM — 5 PM
Haciendas are one of the most popular remnants of the Colonial times. They can be fascinating on their own, but the cenote at Hacienda Selva Maya is definitely a cherry on top for travelers looking to explore the old-world charm of the Yucatan.
The fact that the hacienda has been restored into a wonderful buffet restaurant by the owner of Hotel Meson del Marques makes the discovery of this cenote in its garden even more delightful.
You can expect lots of facilities and delicious local cuisines on your trip to Cenote Hacienda Selva Maya.
You will find this Colonial building on the way to Cenotes Xkeken and Dzitnup. If you’re visiting those two cenotes on a bike and aren’t in a hurry, it’d be a good idea to stop by here and spend some time.
Alternatively, you can spare an entire day to enjoy this cenote alone. It will be worth it.
Entrance fee: 80 MXN ($5 USD) for cenote only and 150 MXN ($7.50 USD) for cenote and private pool area access.
Open hours: 8 AM — 6 PM
Cenote Oxman is another beautiful cave cenote with natural light and greenery around it. The cenote is kept clean and tidy, and there are all the facilities you will need available on the property.
Since Cenote Oxman is not very famous, you can visit here whenever you’re not in the mood to deal with lots of crowds.
The cenote is one of those you can visit on a bike from Valladolid. I was on my way to it on a bike, but after a while, I had to give up because I ran into a deserted area a couple of kilometers before the cenote and turned back.
But don’t let that put you off, you can also take a cab to Cenote Oxman. They will wait for you if you arrange the trip beforehand.
Entrance fee: 100 MXN ($5 USD)
Open hours: 8 AM — 5 PM
Choo-Ja is one of my favorite Mexican cenotes in Yucatan. The reason I like it so much is the incredible beauty of its rock formations.
In fact, the cenote is known as Catedral de las Maravillas (“ The Cathedral of Marvels”) by the locals because of how charming it is.
Just looking at a picture of Cenote Choo-Ja will convince you to put it on your list of cenotes to visit. You can find it on the state road going from Cancun to Valladolid just half an hour before arriving there.
Many people visit Choo-Ja, so there will be crowds most of the days.
I have a tip for you if you want to visit Choo-Ja and avoid crowds. Plan your trip on a Wednesday or Friday. That way, you will avoid both the weekday cruise crowds and weekend crowds, and possibly have the cenote all to yourself.
Valladolid is in Yucatan—the state that is known to be one of the safest in Mexico. Given the fact, Valladolid is definitely a safe place to visit, and the cenotes around it are also safe.
As I always tell my readers, just because a city is considered safe doesn’t mean you can be careless there, no matter where you are in the world. So practice some common-sense precautions in Valladolid as well and your trip will go smoothly.
If you want to know more about the safety guidelines and read tips for traveling in Mexico, you can read my dedicated post on the subject.
It’ll come especially handy for those of you with lots of Mexican destinations on your itinerary.
My preferred choice for it would be a car rental, but you must know that there are no car rentals in Valladolid.
So if you are up for a road trip, make sure you rent one either in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, or Merida.
Even better if you are on the Riviera Maya first because you can include the Riviera Maya cenotes that fall on the way to your list and double the fun of the trip.
Don’t worry about driving to the cenotes around Valladolid, it’s pretty simple and straightforward. Just read some tips to avoid car rental scams and have some handy info like finding the best deals on rentals and tips for driving in Mexico.
Alternatively, you can opt for a stay in Valladolid and conveniently explore the cenotes around it using colectivos, taxis, and in some cases even bike rentals.
How to visit a cenote – basic rules
There are some written and unwritten rules when it comes to visiting any cenotes and not only Valladolid cenotes of course. Here is a quick list:
- Do not wear any body lotion or repellent before entering a cenote
- In fact, you MUST shower before touching the water
- Do not hold on to the stalactites or stalagmites or any roots
- Keep quiet and respect the other fellow travelers and nature
- Don’t litter
What to wear in a cenote
- Dress light and comfortable
- Wear a comfortable swim suite
- Take a gopro for smashing pictures
- Bring a camera but make sure you ask if it’s permitted because in some cenotes they don’t allow you to use professional cameras and drones or they ask you to pay a fee.
- Bring an ecological repellent that you can wear after you come out of the water
- A rash guard if you are at risk of sunburns
- Water shoes to avoid slipping (not essential but can be helpful)
Valladolid Cenotes: final thoughts
As you can see there are so many cenotes to explore around Valladolid. That’s why if you are wondering how many days you need to visit Valladolid, it’s really hard to say because it really depends on your availability and what you are interested in.
I can tell you there are so many cenotes and many other things to do in Valladolid that it can keep you busy for a week.
But if you have limited time, make sure you spend at least two or three nights in the beautiful colonial city so that it gives you time to see the most important sites.