Cenote Xkeken, Valladolid: Ultimate Guide (2020)
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Cenote Xkeken, part of Cenote Dznitup, is a cave cenote close to the city of Valladolid. Located deep underground, Cenote Xkeken has some incredible rock formations and swimming under its sprawling stalactites is a magical experience.
Having visited Cenote Xkeken at the beginning of 2020, these are our tips and guide to visiting Cenote Xkeken to help your plan your own visit.
Cenote Xkeken is an underground cave style cenote set in a closed limestone cave. Huge stalactites hang down into Cenote Xkeken creating a magical effect.
Located in the town of Dzntiup, Cenote Xkeken is often referred to as Cenote Dznitup and is part of a complex of two cenotes. Its neighbor, Cenote Samula, is famous for the light beams which shine into the cave through the opening in its roof.
Cenote Xkenen tip: you can visit Cenote Xkeken and Cenote Samula together or just visit one of the two. There are single and double cenote ticket options available at the entrance.
What are Cenotes?
A cenote, pronounced seh-NO-tay, are water-filled sinkholes that naturally occur in limestone rock when an underground cave collapses in on itself and exposes the groundwater underneath. There are thousands of cenotes dotted around the Yucatan Peninsula and many of the cenotes are extremely popular with locals and tourists alike.
The water in the cenotes tends to be cool as the water comes from underground so they are great for a refreshing swim to cool off from the hot Mexican sunshine.
In Mayan times a number of the cenotes were used for sacrificial purposes and objects such as gold, pottery and even human and animal remains have been found at the bottom of some cenotes.
The cenotes on the Yucatan Peninsula are a mix of open, semi-open or underground:
- Open cenotes: these are caves which have completely collapsed in on themselves and are exposed to the sky. These are our favourite as you can swim under the blue skies, the water is a pleasant temperature and there are usually lots of areas to relax by the water. The Ek Balam Cenote Xcanche is open air. Our other favorite open cenotes are Cenote Azul, one of the best Playa Del Carmen cenotes, Gran Cenote and Cenote Carwash in nearby Tulum and Cenote Oxman near Valladolid.
- Semi-open cenotes: these cenotes are mostly underground but have small openings in the ceiling where light and fresh air come in. These cenotes can be particularly beautiful as the light beams illuminate the crystal clear water below. Our favorite semi-open cenote is Cenote Ik Kil which can be visited as part of a day trip to Chichen Itza and Cenote Samula, a cenote near Valladolid.
- Underground cenotes: these cenotes are completely underground in a cave system and have no natural light to illuminate the cenote water. The three cenotes near the Coba ruins (Cenote Choo-Ha, Multum-Ha and Tamchach-Ha) are amazing underground cenotes you can easily visit from Playa Del Carmen on a longer stay.
Visiting Cenote Xkeken
Cenote Xkeken and Cenote Samula share a ticket office which is located adjacent to the car park for both cenotes. After paying the entry fee ($80 pesos for one cenote, $125 pesos for both), Cenote Xkeken is a short walk across a quiet road to the far side of the cenote complex.
The path starts from the fountain area beside the main entrance and is signposted for Cenote Xkeken.
The path to the cenote passes a shopping area with stalls selling everything from souvenirs to food.
There are bathrooms, showers and changing rooms on the way to the cenote. Make sure to shower before you enter the cenote : a shower is required at all cenotes to protect the water and the fragile ecosystem from harmful chemicals.
At the back you’ll see the bathrooms and the entrance to the cenote is out this way and to the left.
Cenote Xkeken: it took us a few minutes to find the path to the cenote. Keep an eye out for the small ‘cenote’ sign on the toilet building!
You will soon reach the steps which lead down into Cenote Xkeken.
The stone stairway to Cenote Xkeken is quite steep and uneven and can be slippery so be careful when descending down into the cenote.
The steps lead directly down to the cenote waters.
Swimming in Cenote Xkeken
The turquoise waters and sprawling stalactites make swimming in Cenote Xkeken a unique experience. Its waters are refreshingly cool in the hot and humid cave and, if you take a pause to admire the rock formations, expect the resident fish to have a nibble on your toes!
Cenote Xkeken: there are no jumping platforms at Cenote Xkeken. There is a guide rope crossing the cenote which you can hang onto during a break from swimming. Life guards are on duty during opening hours.
What to bring when visiting Cenote Xkeken
Visiting a cenote is a little different from visiting a regular swimming pool and these are some things which we highly recommend taking with you when visiting Cenote Xkeken.
Many cenotes, especially the smaller cenotes, don’t accept credit cards. If you need to rent a life jacket or buy any snacks or drinks you’re likely going to need cash. Generally speaking, we found it easier to have pesos with us.
Some of the larger cenotes may take credit card for entry, however once inside the cenote area cash is usually the only option.
Some of the larger cenotes offer towel rental however we found it easier to bring our own large microfiber towels. Microfiber towels are fantastic as they pack small and dry super quick, making them great for the cenotes where you will be hopping back in a car after your swim. We take ours one every trip and we always end up using them – check prices on Amazon!
You can snorkel in most of the cenotes in the Yucatan peninsula and, while you can rent them in some cenotes, having your own is invaluable. It’s also a much cheaper option if you visiting a few cenotes. The crystal clear waters of the cenotes make for incredible snorkeling although Cenote Xkeken wasn’t one of of favorite for snorkeling – check prices now!
Swim shoes are great as they give you more grip on the wooden walk-ways around the cenotes. They also help a lot for the shallower entrances at some cenotes where you have to walk on submerged rocks. Make sure to throw them in your bag before you visit the Yucatan! – check prices now!
While you cannot wear sunscreen or mosquito spray in the cenotes while swimming, you’ll likely spend some time chilling in the sun after your swim.
An action camera such as a GoPro or an Osmo Action is great for snapping photos and video. We loved having our Osmo Action Waterproof camera with us when visiting the cenotes. It allowed us to take some really fun video and photos while swimming in the cenotes – check prices now!
Tips for Visiting Cenote Xkeken
Below are our tips to help you make the most of your time at Cenote Xkeken.
1 | How to get to Cenote Xkeken
Located 10 kilometers south of Valladolid, Cenote Xkeken is easily accessible from the city.
1 | How to get to Cenote Xkeken
This is the easiest way to get to all of the cenotes in Mexico. There is a large car park at Cenote Xkeken. We rented a car for our time in the Yucatan and highly recommend it to our readers.
Visit Cenote Xkeken tip: It’s around a 15 minute drive from Valladolid to Cenote Xkeken so it’s very easy to drive
A bicycle ride is a popular way to visit the closest cenotes to Valladolid. The trip out takes about 40 minutes by bike.
Taxi is also an option given how close Cenote Xkeken is to Valladolid. The journey out should cost around $100 pesos. Expect to pay double on the way back as you will have to call a taxi to come from Valladolid – you will have to pay the fare for both ways of the trip making it double the outward trip.
Shared colectivos depart from opposite the bus station in Valladolid and cost around $35 pesos.
2 | Cenote Xkeken Price
There are a variety of ticket options available at the entrance to Cenote Xkeken which included food, bikes, ATVs and even horse rides! The most popular tickets are:
- Single Cenote ticket for Cenote Xkeken: $80 pesos
- Double Cenote ticket for Cenote Xkeken and Cenote Samula: $125 pesos
We recommend having cash (preferably Mexican pesos) with you when visiting all the cenotes in Mexico and Cenote Xkeken is no exception.
3 | Cenote Xkeken Opening Hours
Opening hours: Cenote Xkeken and Cenote Samula are open from 9am to 5pm.
4 | How long to spend at Cenote Xkeken
We spent around 2 hours between Cenote Xkeken and Cenote Samula.
Cenote Xkeken tip: it’s a short walk between Cenote Xkeken and Cenote Samula and they share a car park. It is easy to visit both cenotes.
5 | Best time to visit Cenote Xkenen
Like most cenotes in Mexico, it’s best to visit Cenote Xkeken in the morning on a weekday. This way you avoid the tours and the weekend crowds when locals and tourists descend on the cenote.
Cenote Xkeken tip: we visited on a weekday afternoon and the crowds were high.
6 | What’s not allowed in the Cenote Xkeken
As we mentioned above, visiting the cenotes is a little different from a traditional swimming pool so there are some different rules to follow when visiting. Cenote Xkeken rules were as follows:
- Showers – You are required to take a shower before you swim
- Sunscreen / Mosquito repellent: You are not allowed to wear sunscreen or mosquito repellent before you enter the water at the cenote. This is to preserve the quality of the water for everyone.
7 | Jumping
There ere are no opportunities to jump or dive into Cenote Xkeken.
Facilities at Cenote Xkeken
Cenote Xkeken has pretty good facilities
8 | Changing rooms and lockers
There are bathrooms, showers and changing rooms available. Lockers are available to rent at an additional charge. At less busy times you can bring some things down to the cenote.
9 | Life Jackets
Life jackets are available to rent before descending the steps down into the cenote.
Cenote Xkeken tip: if you rent life jackets be aware that they can only be used at the cenote where you rent them. They can’t be taken between Cenote Xkeken and Cenote Samula.
10 | Parking
There was a large parking lot shared between Cenote Xkeken and Cenote Samula.
11 | Food and Drinks
There is a stall selling snacks and drinks at Cenote Xkeken.
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