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Valladolid is the first colonial city that you will get to if you escape from the busy touristic resorts of Riviera Maya and Cancun.
It’s a beautiful and colorful city brimming with history and traditions and it’s right in the heart of the Yucatan state right where the majority of the cenotes are located.
If you want to visit them, and you should, I suggest you read the post.
Otherwise, let’s move on to the Cenotes around Valladolid.
I have spent one week in Valladolid and every morning I was visiting a different one.
That’s the first main tip that you will receive in this guide.
Visit the cenotes in the morning, it’s cooler and you will find fewer people or zero. The best way to enjoy the cenotes
WHAT IS A CENOTE?
Heritage of the Mayan culture, the cenotes of Yucatan are deep underwater lakes that are filling with blessing the peninsula.
The entire flat and low region is made of limestone bedrocks which allow the rainwater to filtrate the soil creating huge deposits of water and underground rivers.
The importance of the cenotes goes back to the Mayan times, the pre-Hispanic population that inhabits this area.
They used the cenotes not only as precious and unique sources of water provision but also sacred places for their religious ceremonies.
More about the history and geology in this post.
CENOTES AROUND VALLADOLID
Let’s cut to the chase and talk about the cenotes in Valladolid.
Here below you will find a list of some of the cenotes in and around Valladolid that are easy to reach.
Please note that there must be more than 300 cenotes in the surroundings so I am not listing them all, for obvious reasons.
The ones I am mentioning here are those that I have explored during my stay in Valladolid.
The Cenote Zaci is a beautiful open sinkhole surrounded by vegetations and rock formations, located right in the historical center of Valladolid, at only two blocks from the main plaza.
It’s open from 9 to 5 and the entry fee is only 30 MXN (1.5 USD)
It’s a great way to cool off from the sometimes unbearable heat of Valladolid, especially in the summer.
It’s an open cenote with very easy access, which makes it suitable for families too.
The most adventurous can also enjoy a platform for epic jumps.
Cenotes X’ka’ken & Samula
The cenotes of X’ka’ken & Samula have been included in an adventure park with many other activities.
The best way to visit these cenotes is by bike.
It’s very easy and cheap to rent it in the city (around 100 MXN) and it’s only 30 minutes ride to the cenotes biking through picturesque colorful roads and then on a beautiful bicycle lane through blooming flamboyant trees.
These two spectacular cave cenotes are managed by a park which receives busses of tourists every day.
So if you wish to avoid the crowd you should visit them early morning.
They in fact open from 8 am to 5 pm.
It will be cooler to bike and it will be much nicer to be there on your own.
Entry Fees to the cenotes X’ka’ken & Samula
I am posting here the picture I have taken at the ticket counter where you can check out the single cost and the different packages.
You can also check out all the different activities.
There is so much to keep you entertained for the entire day.
Please note that they don’t accept payments by credit cards.
This is one of the most insta-famous cenotes of Yucatan and if you didn’t remember the name you would have recognized it from the picture, for sure.
It’s located at only 6 km from Valladolid and although it’s not the best road for bikes, you can do it, worries free. That’s how I got there.
For this cenote, it’s very important to leave early morning to avoid the heat because you would be completely exposed to the sun.
The cenote Suytun opens at 9, officially, but if you bike around the restaurant on the right and keep going to the cabañas entrance they would let you in from 8 am.
I got there by 8.30 and I was all by myself. It was just magic.
Entry fee 120 MXN per person.
There are some colorful cabañas if you wish to stay there for the night, but I believe they are very pricey for the basic accommodations that they offer (900 MXN).
They are very simple and the cenote closes in the night so I don’t really see the point in staying there.
The cenote Yokdzonot is a spectacular open sinkhole located at about 50 km from Valladolid on the way to Merida.
If you drive on the regular road (libre), not on the highway, you will see the signs to this spectacular place.
It’s managed by a local Mayan community of 17 people, who look after the place and keep it clean and eco-friendly. They also run the local restaurant where you can have a snack or lunch once you finish your shenanigans in the water.
The place offers, in fact, some adventurous activities such as a zipline. rappelling, or you can rent a bike to ride up to a next cenote, called Catalina.
I went there with my parents on our way back from Merida and it was a refreshing stop after the unbearable heat.
How to get there
If you don’t have a car you can grab a “colectivo” from Valladolid that goes to Merida. Please double-check on this information though with the tourist office located below the municipal building in the main plaza in Valladolid.
The cenote is 45mt deep, therefore suitable for divers. However, special permission is required.
Entry fee 70 MX
Opening hours 8 to 17
(Info source for this cenote elcaminomascorto.es)
A spectacular cenote and also one of the most photographed for a reason.
This is where the majority of the tours would take you in combination with the Chichen-Itza visit. It’s in fact located at 5 km from the famous archeological site.
If you want to go on your own, as I did.
You would take your bus to Chichen Itza from Valladolid and ask the driver to stop by the entrance.
From there to the actual cenote it’s 200 mt walks.
You can also go after visiting Chichen- Itza, either with a taxi for 50 pesos or you can wait for the colectivo to Valladolid and ask them to stop there.
That would be cheaper for sure.
Unless you go early morning or late in the afternoon, this work of nature will be always crowded.
The structure around the cenote is super modern and efficient.
You will find lockers and showers, being the shower a must if you want to jump in the water.
Although I don’t love crowded places I was happy to see it.
The cenote is a natural sinkhole but all the vegetation falling from the walls and creating this suggestive atmosphere is definitely a man creation. Still beautiful, though.
The cost is only 80 MX. It’s open from 8 to 5.
Cenote Hacienda Selva Maya
This place is a beautiful colonial building in the outskirt of Mexico which belongs to the same owner of the Hotel Meson del Marques in Valladolid. It’s a very popular restructured colonial hacienda in a spectacular garden where another cenote has been discovered and enabled for people’s enjoyment.
Most of all visitors love their buffet lunch which is served every day offering typical Yucatecan delicacies.
You can pay the access of the cenote separately if you don’t wish to have lunch there.
It’s located on the way to the cenotes X’ka’ken & Samula. So if you ride your bike up there you won’t miss the royal entrance.
This is certainly a great option of where to spend a relaxing day.
Cenote San Lorenzo Oxman
Ok, this was funny and I need to tell you. The cenote is for sure beautiful but despite my best intentions and all my excitement I never reached there.
I set off early morning on my bike and start moving towards my destination.
However I suddenly found myself in the middle of the countryside close to a dump, with nowhere around but hungry and angry strained dogs, besides the unbearable smell.
When I realized I had about 2 km ahead of me, I decided to turn back and not to take a chance.
It was getting too isolated.
I know I am such a chicken but hey, this is what I felt like doing.
I could have taken a taxi then, but I decided I would leave it for another time. 😉
This is the sign that you meet on the statal road (Libre – not highway – Quota) from Cancun about 30 minutes before arriving in Valladolid.
Catedral de las Maravillas is very accurate and means “Cathedral of wonders”.
This cenote is one of my favorites.
Open from 8 am to 5 pm
Cost: 100 MXN
INSIDER TIP: Best times to go Wednesday and Friday when there are no cruises and it’s not weekend. This way you might get the chance to get in alone and you will experience the real magic, just like I did. I felt so lucky.
Here is the picture, which doesn’t need any further explanations.
I just would like to reiterate that this is not a complete list of the cenotes in the area. It’s just what I have seen. 🙂 If you have explored others in the area I would love to hear from you.
Please let me know in the comments below.
WHAT TO BRING
Make sure you have your swimsuit, a towel and a repellent (better if ecological), sunscreen that you should wear only after swimming in the cenote. If you want to bring your mask in some cenotes it will turn out useful. Dress light but I would recommend comfortable closed shoes to protect you from insects. They are not dangerous but certainly annoying.
As in every natural place I always like to recommend to follow some commonsense rules in order to preserve the environment which I am sure you know already but a gentle reminder is never in excess.
- don’t wear any sunscreen or repellent before bathing in the cenotes
- don’t leave anything that doesn’t belong to the place
- don’t hang on to stalactites or stalagmites or trees roots
- don’t do anything that can damage the environment