Charming, vibrant and with easy access to incredible Mayan ruins, colorful pink lakes and crystal clear cenotes, Valladolid is a great base for exploring the Yucatan Peninsula. From Cenote Zaci, a cenote in Valladolid itself, to the incredible Cenote Ik Kil and Cenote Xcanche at the Chichen Itza and Ek Balam ruins, to the Instagram magnet Cenote Suytun, there are some amazing Valladolid cenotes to explore.
Having visited, and loved, so many amazing cenotes in Valladolid at the beginning of 2020, we wanted to share to our favorites – this is our guide to the 7 best Valladolid Cenotes!
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 some of the Valladolid 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 near Valladolid 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 in the open air, the water is a pleasant temperature and there are usually lots of areas to relax by the water. Our favorite open cenote in Valladolid is Cenote Oxman and we also love Cenote Azul in Playa Del Carmen.
- 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 cenotes near Valladolid were Cenote Suytun, Cenote Ik Kil and Cenote Samula.
- 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 (Multum-Ha, Tamchach-Ha and Cenote Choo-Ha) and Cenote Xkeken are amazing underground cenotes you can easily visit from Valladolid.
Where to Stay in Valladolid
- Hotel Posada San Juan: we stayed in Hotel Posada San Juan, a beautiful boutique hotel. The rooms are beautifully decorated and the common area has a small pool. It really was like a home away from home. After staying here is easy to see why its one of the highest-rated hotels in Valladolid – check prices now!
- Casa Marlene: is another great option and perfectly located in the center of Valladolid. This small historic hotel has modern rooms and a delicious breakfast included in the room rate – check prices now!
- El Meson del Marques: this casa is built in one of the oldest buildings in Valladolid and is very centrally located for exploring the town. Rooms are modern, there is a highly rated restaurant and beautiful swimming pool on site- check prices now!
7 Best Cenotes near Valladolid
These are our favorite cenotes near Valladolid – we think they are a great inclusion in any Valladolid or Yucatan itinerary!
1 | Cenote Suytun
Best for: experiencing the light beams cascading into the cenote cave, getting an Instagram worthy shot
Many visitors to Mexico will have seen images of this breathtaking cenote after it became Instagram famous a few years ago. Cenote Suytun is famous for the beautiful light beams that stream down through the roof of the cenote onto the circular platform below. This cenote definitely lives up to the hype – it really is as beautiful in person as it is in photos and it is one of our favorite cenotes near Valladolid.
Visitors are also allowed to swim in Cenote Suytun but many just stop by for the purpose of capturing some memorable photos. Swimmers are required to wear life jackets.
Best cenotes near Valladolid tip: For most of the Valladolid Cenotes we recommend an early or late visit as the best way to avoid the crowds. However, the light beams at Cenote Suytun mean that a late morning/afternoon visit is best – this is when the light beams are most likely to shine directly onto the circular platform, a magical experience. The afternoons at Cenote Suytun can be busy with tour buses but sometimes busy can be best!
How to get to Cenote Suytun: Cenote Suytun is easily accessed by rental car (check prices now!), a local Colectivo or a quick taxi ride. There are also a number of tours from Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum that include Cenote Suytun as part of a day trip to Chichen Itza – check prices now!
Cenote Suytun ticket prices: entry is $120 pesos per person.
2 | Cenote Zaci
Best for: swimming in an open air cenote, location (Cenote Zaci is the only cenote in Valladolid city center)
Cenote Zaci is a semi open cenote where half the cenote is covered by the cave roof and the other half is open to the sky. Swimming under the sky and lush green vegatation is a lovely experience and, on the enclosed side, there are stalactites hanging down from the roof.
Cenote Zaci is very popular, in part due to its central location, and can get crowded at peak times, especially around mid-day when visitors flock to cool off in the refreshing waters. General entry to cenote Zaci is $30 pesos, making it the cheapest cenote we visited in Mexico.
Best cenotes near Valladolid tip: we visited cenote Zaci just before it closed and it was super quiet with just a few locals there.
How to get Cenote Zaci: Cenote Zaci is probably the easiest cenote to get to in Valladolid as it’s located right in the center of the city. It’s easy to get to to by car (there is a parking lot) and taxi. Cenote Zaci is less than 10 minutes walk from Valladolid’s main square and is a short bike ride from most hotels in the city.
Cenote Zaci ticket prices: Tickets are $30 pesos. If you spend $100 pesos at the Restaurant Zaci at the entrance you receive free entry into the cenote.
3 | Cenote Xkeken and Cenote Samula
Cenote Xkeken and Cenote Samula are part of a complex known as Cenote Dzitnup which is run by the local community.
Best for: groups, swimming, ease of experience two different cenotes
Cenote Samula is a stunning semi-open cenote which is mostly enclosed with a small opening in the roof near the back of the cenote. Like Cenote Suytun, natural light shines directly into the cenote at certain times of the day making for a spectacular sight.
After descending down from the steep narrow entrance the vast cenote cave is a beautiful sight. The waters are relatively chilly compared with other cenotes (probably as it’s mostly underground with no sunlight) but swimming under its high ceilings with a glimpse of natural light is worth it!
The smaller of the two cenotes, Cenote Xkeken is famous for the sprwaling stalactites that hang from its roof. Xkeken is more cave like than Samula as there is only a very small opening in the roof of the cave. Most of the lighting inside the cenote is actually artificial and as a result it can get pretty hot and humid inside.
How to get to Cenote Samula and Xkeken: the cenotes are easily accessed by rental car (check prices now!), a local Colectivo or a quick taxi or bike ride.
Cenote Samula and Xkeken ticket prices: entry to one of the cenotes is $80 pesos per person and entrance to both is $125 pesos.
4 | Cenote Oxman, Hacienda San Lorenzo Oxman
Best for: relaxing for the day, independent travelers, families and couples or small groups
Located on the grounds of the picturesque Hacienda San Lorenzo Oxman, this former guava plantation is home to one of the most beautiful cenotes in Mexico. Cenote Oxman is an underground cave style cenote set in a collapsed cave with an open roof which allows natural light to illuminate the clear waters below. Hanging tree roots cascade down into Cenote Oxman creating a magical effect.
Cenote Oxman’s rope swing, perfect for making a fun and dramatic entrance into the cenote, is a highlight!
There are great facilities at Cenote Oxman, with a swimming pool and restaurant, making it easy to spend a morning or afternoon relaxing there.
How to get to Cenote Oxman: Cenote Oxman is easily accessed by rental car (check prices now!), or a quick taxi or bike ride.
Cenote Oxman ticket prices: there are 3 ticket types available at Cenote Oxman
- Option 1: Entrance to the cenote is $80 pesos
- Option 2: For $100 pesos, this ticket includes entrance to the cenote and $50 pesos credit for the restaurant.
- Option 3: For $150 pesos, this ticket includes $150 pesos credit for the restaurant.
Best Cenotes in Valladolid tip: the food is really good at Cenote Oxman so definitely get the food and drinks credit if your planning to spend some time there.
5 | Cenote Hubiku
Best for: groups and families
Located between Valladolid and the Ek Balam ruins, Cenote Hubiku is an underground cenote with an opening in its roof where both natural light and tree roots descend towards its waters. At times, a small waterfall cascades down into the cenote. Cenote Hubiku has a large swimming area and the complex has a large restaurant, gift shop and a tequila museum. The cenote itself was one of our favourites for swimming in due to the large hole in the roof and small waterfall that falls directly into the middle of the cenote pool.
How to get to Cenote Hubiku: Cenote Oxman is easily accessed by rental car (check prices now!), colectivo or taxi. Probably the easiest way (aside from a rental car) to visit Cenote Hubiku is as part of a tour to Chichen Itza and Ek Balam. There are a number of tours from Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum that include Cenote Hubiku as part of a day trip itinerary – check prices now!
Cenote Hubiku ticket prices: entry to Cenote Hubiku is $100 pesos per person or $350 if you wish to dine at the restaurant buffet.
6 | Cenote Xcanche, Ek Balam Cenote
Best for: a refreshing swim after exploring the ruins, having fun with jumping into the cenote and the zip line
One of the Yucatan Peninsula’s most interesting and still less visited ruins, Ek Balam is a popular excursion from Valladolid. Many visitors are unaware that the village is also home to a beautiful cenote, the Ek Balam Cenote Xcanche.
Cenote Xcanche is a stunning open cenote with swimming, zip-lining and swing jumps. Did we mention there is also a waterfall cascading into the cenote as you swim! The best part is that it is also relatively quiet – in fact, you may be the only swimmer in the cenote like us!
Xcanche is the perfect place to relax and cool off after a busy morning exploring Ek Balam ruins and we highly recommend taking the time to visit this cenote.
Cenote Xcanche is accessed close to the entrance of the Ek Balam archeological zone.
Best cenotes near Valladolid tip: the cenote entrance is located before the ticket checks for Ek Balam so you can visit the sites independently.
How to get to Cenote Xcanche: Cenote Xcanche is located around 2 km from the entrance to Ek Balam ruins. You can walk, cycle or take a bike taxi. We took a bike taxi over after exploring the Ek Balam ruins. From Valladolid, Ek Balamis easily accessed by rental car (check prices now!) or colectivo.
Cenote Xcanche ticket cost: a ticket to Cenote Xcanche is $70 pesos. The return taxi bike, including the entrance ticket, cost us $150 pesos in total.
7 | Cenote Ik Kil
Best for: open air swimming, cliff jumping and, during crowded times, stronger swimmers.
With its crystal clear waters and cascading vines, swimming in Cenote Ik Kil is an awe inspiring experience. The cenote is probably one of the best known and most popular cenotes in Mexico. It’s popularity is largely due to how beautiful it is together with its close proximity to the world renowned Chichen Itza site.
Best Cenotes near Valladolid tip: Many tours and individuals visit Centoe Ik Kil as part of a trip to Chichen Itza, hence it can get crazy busy at times. We recommend arriving at Cenote Ek Kil early – it is best to arrive at 9am for the cenote opening. One of the easiest ways to do this is to stay nearby. We stayed at the Mayaland Hotel and Bungalows in order to visit Chichen Itza at sunrise followed by a visit to Cenote Ik Kil which is a 5-minute drive from the hotel – book your stay now!
How to get to Cenote Ik Kil: Cenote Ik Kil is easily accessed by rental car (check prices now!) or colectivo from Valladolid. Probably the easiest way (aside from a rental car) to visit Cenote Ik Kil is part of a tour to Chichen Itza. There are a number of tours from Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum that include Cenote Ik Kil as part of a day trip itinerary – check prices now!
Cenote Ik Kil ticket cost: Cenote Ik Kil entry is $80 pesos per person.
Sacred Cenote at Chichen Itza
We often get asked if its possible to swim in the cenote at Chichen Itza: it is not possible to swim in the Sacred Cenote at Chichen Itza. The Cenote was used for the sacrifice of both humans and objects to the God of Rain and holds huge historical significance. When the cenote was excavated in the early 1900s human remains were found alongside pottery, weapons and gold.
What to bring when visiting the Valladolid cenotes
Visiting a cenote is a little different to visiting a traditional swimming pool and we highly recommend taking the following when visiting the cenotes in Valladolid:
Many of the cenotes are cash only and do not accept credit cards. Some of the cenotes accept cash at the entrance but not for incidentals such as food, drinks and life jackets.
Some of the larger cenotes offer towel rental however it’s much easier and cheaper to simply take your own with you. Microfibre 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 – check prices on Amazon!
Swim shoes are great as they give you more grip on the walk-ways around the cenotes and prevent the fish from nibbling your feet! They also help a lot for the shallower entrances at some cenotes where you have to walk on submerged rocks. They’re super cheap and light so 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 are 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. The wide-angle lens was great for capturing the entire view of the cenotes – check prices now!