On my Yucatan itinerary I saved some days for visiting Valladolid, Mexico and NOT for its nearby world wonder Chichen Itza. It are actually the cenotes around Valladolid that make this city one of the best places to visit in Yucatan Peninsula. After you read this travel blog about the Valladolid cenotes I am sure you get itchy feet visiting this city in the center of the Yucatan Peninsula.
After my adventures on a scooter around Cozumel and on the beaches in Isla Holbox I went to visit Rio Lagartos. Then I drove South towards Valladolid. In total I stayed 3 nights in this super laid-back city. I liked it so much that 6 weeks later I decided to travel to Valladolid again! After I collected all my Merida Mexico travel tips I passed through anyway.
This is why in total I went to more than 20 Yucatan cenotes on while backpacking Yucatan Peninsula for 2 months. Eventually I found the Valladolid cenotes the most exciting. In this article I will tell you which ones I like the most, entrance fees, opening hours, how to get there and some general tips for visiting cenotes around Valladolid. There are also 6 blogs with a more detailed blog about some cenotes including videos and vlogs. You will find the links throughout this article.
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My experiences visiting the Valladolid cenotes
In total it took me 6 days to visit 12 cenotes near Valladolid. If you have a car or scooter I bet you can visit up to 5 Valladolid cenotes in 1 day if you feel adventurous. At cenote Suytun most people just come for the Instagram picture and a visit can take as less as 15 minutes. Cenote Oxman on the contrary is perfect for a day trip from Valladolid as there is a normal swimming pool as well as a restaurant. I wish I had spent more time there as it turned out to be one of my favorite cenotes around Valladolid. I would not recommend you to visit all the Valladolid cenotes just like I did. In the end it got a little boring, but Im sure that from this list of 12 cenotes near Valladolid Mexico you find your favorites to visit.
These are my favorite Valladolid cenotes:
- Cenote Ik Kil - simply stunning and near Chichen Itza.
- Cenote Zaci - in Valladolid city center, best for cliff diving.
- Cenote Oxman - best overall Valladolid day trip.
- Cenote Suytun - amazing Instagram picture.
- Cenote Agua Dulce - best closed cenote (cave).
- Cenote Xcanche - most eco friendly cenote next to Ek Balam.
What actually are cenotes
In fact cenotes are sinkholes and natural wells were underground rivers come up to the earths surface. There are two different types of cenotes: open sky cenotes and closed cenotes. Closed cenotes are basically swimming pools inside a cave. Cenotes are connected with each other through underground rivers and it is even possible to go scuba diving in cenotes.
The Great Blue Hole in Belize is actually also a cenote and when traveling on my first trip around the world in 2008 I dove there. To me it still is one of the best scuba dive destinations in the world. The cenotes near Valladolid are not suitable for scuba diving but later more about the best cenotes in Yucatan Peninsula for scuba diving.
The water inside the Valladolid cenotes is fresh water from underground rivers and you are able to swim in them. Cenote Suytun requires that you wear a life vest at all times, other cenotes near Valladolid don’t require this. The water inside a cenote is around 23 degrees and very refreshing as inside a cenote it is mostly humid and hot. There is actually some marine life in the Valladolid cenotes but more than some small black catfish you won’t really see. At most cenotes around Valladolid you can rent snorkels for 20 Pesos ($1), but I would say it is not worth it! The depth of a cenote can range from 1 meter (3 feet) up to over 100 meter (300 feet) deep.
There is almost always a life guard on duty. Some cenotes can get very busy, especially in weekends when locals flock to the cenotes around Valladolid as well. So the best time to visit the Valladolid cenotes is during the week in the morning or at the end of the day around 4:00pm.
Access to cenotes is mostly through a long set of stairs and walkways and the way down is just as cool as floating in the water and looking up. Visiting cenotes is one of the coolest things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula and very iconic to this region of the world. There are many cenotes near Valladolid, Merida, Tulum, Playa del Carmen and Cancun.
Most cenotes near Valladolid are open to the public, but all are either privately owned or belong to a community and therefore you have to pay an entrance fee. Entrance fee for the Valladolid cenotes ranges from 30 to 120 pesos ($1,5 - $6). Cenotes also have opening times, most of them allow access until 4:30pm and close at 5:00pm. Around the cenotes there are mostly restaurants and small local handicraft and souvenir shops.
Cenotes in Maya believes
According to Maya believes cenotes were the direct access to the underground and therefore sacred. Mayans would throw in offerings in the cenotes to communicate with the gods and their ancestors. Some archeologists believe that Mayans would even sacrifice humans as offering to the Gods as well as babies. But others believe it was propaganda made up by the Spaniards. Cenote Ik Kil is also called the Sacred cenote as they found human remains on the bottom and it is close to Chichen Itza one of the 7 world wonders and the most well known Maya city and pyramids in the world.
12 best Valladolid cenotes
1. Cenote Zaci
Let’s start with the most easy to visit Valladolid cenote. Literally just because Cenote Zaci is right in the heart of the city center of Valladolid Mexico You can find cenote Zaci only 2 blocks away from the main square. This semi-open sky cenote is pretty big and its circle shaped waterbody has a diameter of about 25 meter (75 feet), the cenote is an astonishing 100 meter (300 feet) deep.
Cenote Zaci is great for swimming. I went 4 times and loved it for being so easy to visit. There is space to put your stuff and actually hang out in the sun. You could basically see this as an epic public swimming pool for just $1,5. Cenote Zaci is also great for cliff jumping as there are many opportunities ranging from 2-15 meters (6-45 feet) for the crazy daredevils. To me it is the best Valladolid cenote for cliff jumping.
On top of the cenote there is a restaurant with a terrace that has views into the cenote. Restaurant Zaci is open daily from 9:00am till 5:00pm. In weekends it is busy and there is an artificial 40 meter high waterfall. Find everything about cenote Zaci in the link above including a 5 minutes vlog.
Cenote Zaci is open from 8:00am to 5:00pm, last entrance is at 5:00pm, closes at 05:30pm. Entrance fee: 30 Pesos.
2. Cenote Suytun
This is the magical Instagram cenote around Valladolid which I bet has crossed many times on your social media and no wonder. Cenote Suytun has a walking platform to a circle in the middle of the cenote and at certain times of the day there is a bundle of light shining through the small hole in the ceiling. Cenote Suytun is a closed cenote. Stairs will lead you down into a cave. You can swim here, but a life vest is compulsory and will cost an extra 30 Pesos. The water is only 1-5 meters (3-15 feet) deep and not that many people come here to swim as everyone comes to get that cool photo.
At least that is what I thought before I visited cenote Suytun for the second time. Honestly if you see big tour busses standing at the parking lot come back another time. Cenote Suytun is close the Valladolid anyway. For the best photos come around midday to get the bundle of light shining through the small hole in the roof. Unfortunately I was too late for the light bundle. The below photo was taken around 4:00pm.
When I took the above photo there were only 3 people waiting, when I left 15 minutes later there were about 20 people in line. On my second visit there were may be 300 people inside cenote Suytun and there was no way to even get a proper photo. So plan your Suytun trip carefully. Cenote Suytun is easy to reach as it is just 9 kilometers (6 miles) from the city center of Valladolid Mexico. Take the 180 road East towards Tulum and after 10 minutes it will be indicated on your right hand side.
Cenote Suytun is open from 9:00am till 5:00pm, last entrance at 4:30pm. Entrance fee: 125 Pesos. Cenote Suytun is one of the most expensive Valladolid cenotes.
3. Cenote Ik Kil (Chichen Itza cenote)
Rated as one of the most beautiful cenotes in Yucatan and I totally understand why! Cenote Ik Kil is only 5 kilometers (3 miles) from Chichen Itza and therefore also called the Chichen Itza cenote or sacred cenote. It lies about 40 minutes East of Valladolid. The vines that hang over the roof reach all the way down to the water level 30 meters (90 feet) below. The walls of cenote Ik Kil are covered in green leafs. Click on the link above to find 25 Ik Kil tips and many more photos of cenote Ik Kil, including a 8 minutes vlog.
When visiting Ik Kil cenote make sure you get here before 11.00am to avoid the crowds. You can either be here 20 other travelers or with 200 people on a tour. Plan your trip to Ik Kil right and you will get to experience cenote Ik Kil to the fullest.
Cenote Ik Kil is open from 09:00am till 05:00pm and entrance fee is 80 Pesos.
4. Cenote Xkeken (Cenote Dzitnup)
Xkeken means pig in Maya language, but I couldn’t find out why this Valladolid cenote is called Xkeken. Dzitnup is the name of the small village near Valladolid Mexico where the cenote is located and the cenote goes by both names. Xkeken is a closed cenote basically an underground swimming pool. It was the darkest cenote of all the cenotes near Valladolid, but it had a mysterious vibe to it. There are small holes in the ceiling that bring in a tiny bit of natural light but when I was there around midday it was very minimum.
The water body of the cenote is around 30 x 20 meters. To access this cave there is a narrow staircase leading you down. There are 3 different stairs to enter the water to make it possible to swim in the 20 meter deep water. For many people it is a scary thought to swim in a dark cave. Right before you go down the stairs there are changing rooms and lockers.
From Valladolid center head Southwest on the 180 towards Cuncunul. Then big signs for Cenote Xkeken will lead you directly towards the parking lot. From Valladolid center to Cenote Xkeken is about 7 kilometers.
Cenote Xkeken is open from 8:00am to 7:00pm, entrance fee: 80 Pesos ($4) or 120 Pesos ($6) including Cenote Samula.
5. Cenote Samula
Cenote Xkeken and Cenote Samula are located right next to each other and it is possible to pay 120 Pesos ($6) to visit both cenotes. There is a big parking lot and the cenotes are pretty commercialised. There are many souvenir shops that line up the path to a steep narrow staircase into a cave. Cenote Samula is also a closed cenote but there is a fairly big hole in the roof. Walking in was pretty spectacular as the water is super blue because of the strong bundle of light peaking through the roof. I was there around around midday. Although Cenote Samula is not among my favorite cenotes near Valladolid Mexico it definitely looks spectacular and swimming here is a great thing to do.
Note: Cenote Semula used to have roots of the Ceiba Tree hanging down from the roof, but a lightning storm recently destroyed the tree and the roots fell down.
Cenote Samula is open from 8:00am to 7:00pm, entrance fee: 80 Pesos ($4) or 120 Pesos ($6) including Cenote Xkeken.
6. Cenote Oxman
To me this is one of the best Valladolid cenotes! It was a recommendation from my guesthouse owner and I totally loved it. This is more than just a cenote as this sacred underground swimming pool is located on a hacienda or estate. Hacienda Oxman also has a restaurant, and a big swimming pool that guests can use. This is a place where one will meet many other travelers visiting Yucatan Peninsula.
Cenote Oxman itself is absolutely amazing and actually one of the prettiest cenotes near Valladolid Mexico. It kind of looks like the smaller brother of cenote Ik Kil. The water level of this open sky cenote lies 39 meter below the edge and to the bottom it is 40 meters deep. Along the side there are many roots of the Ceiba tree going down into the water of cenote Oxman. Through a bunch of stairs you will get to the water. There are a couple cliff jumping spots but the best thing about Cenote Oxman is its rope swing!
Getting to Cenote Oxman is fairly easy. Although it is around Valladolid you will need to drive down an unpaved road for about 1,5 kilometers (1 mile). Cenote Oxman is located 5 kilometer southwest of the city center and you will need Google Maps to guide you there or ask guidance from passing locals.
Cenote Oxman is open from 8:00am to 5:00pm, entrance fee: 80 Pesos.
7. Cenote Xcanche (Ek Balam cenote)
On my third trip to Valladolid Mexico I finally found time to explore the cenotes northeast of the city. Cenote Xcanche is right next to the archeological site of Ek Balam and therefore also called the Ek Balam cenote. Ek Balam is a very popular place to visit in Yucatan Peninsula, but the cenote is a quiet spot. For sure this is the most eco friendly Yucatan cenote. The friendly staff makes everyone that wants to swim take a shower before entering the cenote.
Cenote Xcanche belongs to the Ek Balam community so eveyone profits from your visit. There is zip lining, rappelling, swings and more. Cenote Xcanche was one of my favorite cenotes around Valladolid after all. I was there on a Wednesday afternoon and it wasn’t busy at all. The cenote is located 2 kilometers from the parking lot and you can rent a bike to get there, walk or opt for a tricycle ride. There is a restaurant next cenote Xcanche with affordable prices and good food.
Cenote Xcanche is open from 09:00am till 3:30pm and the entrance fee is 70 Pesos. Bike rental is 80 Pesos ($4) a tricycle ride is 100 Pesos ($5).
8. Cenote SAC AUA
After Cenote Xcanche I drove about 10 minutes towards Sac Aua cenote. This stunning sinkhole is 30 kilometers northeast of Valladolid Mexico and totally worth visiting. Sac Aua is particularly stunning because the collapsed roof of this open sky cenote created an island right in middle of this open sky cenote. When you descend the staircase you get to the island and you can swim or rent a kayak to peddle around the perfectly shape circle around the island. The depth of the cenote ranges from 1 meter (3 feet) to 14 meter (42 feet).
There is no cliff jumping here, but there are a couple caves around you can visit on a guided tour. Cave tours are 160 Pesos and last for 25 minutes. There is also rappelling.
Cenote Sac Aua is open from 09:00am till 6:00pm, entrance fee: 90 Pesos, rappelling and kayaks are extra charge.
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9. Cenote Agua Dulce
The last two Valladolid cenotes I visited are kind of similar. Cenote Agua Dulce and cenote Palomitas are only about 200 meters (600 feet) apart, but belong to the same owner and are private property. Cenote Agua Dulce has 5 holes in the roof that let in some natural light. I was there pretty late in the day, just before closing time so there wasn’t that much natural light. There is a winding staircase going down into the cenote which actually is an amazing adventure in itself, but there also is a normal staircase going down on the other side for those who are not that adventurous. There are uncountable stalagmites hanging from the roof and the water is extremely clear.
To me cenote Agua Dulce is the most stunning closed cenote around Valladolid Mexico.
Cenote Agua Dulce is open from 09:00am till 5:00pm, entrance fee: 100 Pesos.
10. Cenote Palomitas
Just a stone throw away from cenote Agua Dulce there is another great Valladolid cenote: Palomitas. Very much like cenote Agua Dulce, also a closed cenote with multiple stalactites hanging from the roof, but with only one small hole in the roof for natural light. Unlike at Agua Dulce you can cliff jump at cenote Palomitas, but there is no kayak option and the cave is pretty dark.
I found Cenote Palomitas and cenote Agua Dulce very much alike and therefore I would not recommend you to pay for both cenotes. I prefered cenote Agua Dulce over Palomitas.
Cenote Palomitas is open from 09:00am till 5:00pm, entrance fee: 100 Pesos.
11. Cenote Hubiku
This cenote is a little north of Valladolid Mexico, but frequently visited by tours to Ek Balam and locals. Therefore Cenote Hubiku can become pretty busy in the afternoon and weekends. The water body of this Valladolid cenote is big and therefore people like it for swimming. May be the timing was off but when I was there it was busy and I even entered just 30 minutes before closing time. Good thing was that I got 50% discount and only paid 50 Pesos.
Cenote Hubiku is a closed cenote with a hole in the roof for some natural light and you go down a big staircase into the cave. You will then reach a platform from where you have a good overview into the cenote. The cave is huge and the sinkhole is perfectly round shaped. Inside the cave they used a lot of concrete to reshape the structure, it does look a big artificial. There is free parking, a restaurant, lockers and changing rooms. Cenote Hubiku is big and great for swimming, there is no cliff diving possible.
To get to Cenote Hubiko drive North from Valladolid towards Rio Lagartos and it will be on your right hand side after
Cenote Hubiko is open from 09:00am till 5:00pm, entrance fee: 100 Pesos.
12. Cenote Kikil
Unfortunately I forgot my camera in the car and I was too lazy to walk back. I visited Cenote Kikil on my way to Rio Lagartos Pink Lake. It is located 100 meters away from the main road just North of Tizimin city center. From Valladolid it is about 60 kilometer. There is an elevated pathway down to this open sky cenote. I would only recommend this cenote around Valladolid Mexico when visiting Rio Lagartos or Tizimin. I wasn’t too impressed to be honest. The onside restaurant is very overpriced as well.
Cenote Kikil is open from 8:00am till 6:00pm, entrance fee 100 Pesos.
Cenotes for scuba diving
If you are a certified scuba diver and looking to for an amazing adventure then I can recommend you to go scuba diving in a cenote. The cenotes around Valladolid are not suitable for scuba diving, but the ones in Tulum are. A secret Yucatan travel tip: Cenote Angelita!, the dream of many scuba divers. This cenote has fresh water floating on top of salt water which creates an unbelievable effect.
What to bring when visiting cenotes
Don’t bring too much stuff when you are visiting the cenotes around Valladolid. Although it also kind of depends what is your intension. Cenote Zaci and cenote Oxman are great for day trips and you can easily find a spot to relax around the cenote or the onside swimming pool. At these places you might want to bring a book to read or something to get you through the day. Other Valladolid cenotes are made for just a quick visit and inside there is limited space.
Always bring the following:
- Swim wear
There is always a changing room or something alike and most Valladolid cenotes have lockers, but not all. I always brought my big camera bag and when I went swimming I just kept an eye on it. Most cenotes are not too crowded if you plan your visit the right way.
What NOT to bring when visiting cenotes
Please don’t use sunscreen or mosquito repellent! After all this is a fresh water body connected to an underground river! Cenote Xcanche is very eco friendly and you will be asked to shower before entering the cenote. Unfortunately they are the only Valladolid cenote that enforce this.
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How to get to the cenotes around Valladolid
Because I was on a Yucatan road trip I often had my own car and that definitely is the most convenient way to visit all the cenotes around Valladolid. Most of the cenotes are within a 10 kilometer radius, Cenote Zaci is even right in the heart of the city. For cenote Xcanche, Palomitas, Au Sac and Agua Dulce you will either need a car/taxi or a scooter as they are pretty off the beaten path.
Rent a car
There is no car rental company based in Valladolid Mexico so once you are in the city you can not rent a car anymore. Renting a car in Yucatan can be very cheap and already starts from $10 onwards without insurance and $20 including insurance.
By local bus or colectivo
The majority of the Valladolid cenotes are located close to main roads and therefore you are able to hop on local busses going in the direction of the cenotes. Cenote Suytun is for example along the main road from Valladolid towards Coba and Tulum and the Ik Kil cenote is along the highway to Chichen Itza. Bus drivers know and will tell you were to get out and it will cost you less than $2 or so.
Traveltomtom always recommends to stay connected when traveling to Mexico. Get yourself an e-sim card or a prepaid sim card for Mexico so that Google Maps can guide you. It makes your trip to Yucatan Peninsula much easier trust me! What is the best way to stay connected? Check out my complete guide for buying a sim card for Mexico in 2023.
Rent a bicycle
Cycling in and around Valladolid Mexico is common practice by most travelers backpacking Yucatan. You can rent bikes for 100 pesos ($5) per day. Cenote Suytun is for example less than 9 kilometers (6 miles) away from the main square in Valladolid. Bikes Zaci rent out bicycles and are located just one block from the main square. Most Valladolid Mexico hostels also have bike rentals. Cenote Oxman, Xkeken and Samula are a popular Valladolid cenotes to go to by bike.
Rent a scooter
For those enjoying riding scooters there is Scooter Valladolid. They rent scooters for 500 Pesos ($25) per day or $5 per hour. Great if you are with two people and don’t want to cycle in the hot sun this is a great option. Renting a scooter in Valladolid Mexico is also great for visiting the northeast cenotes: Palomitas, Agua Dulce and Sac Aua. I also rented a scooter in Cozumel and explored the island, read about my adventures in the link.
Other things to do in Valladolid Mexico besides cenotes
Valladolid is a charming small city and besides its marvellous cenotes there are many more things to do. Stroll around the city center and peak into one of the many boutique shops. Find hidden courtyards and restaurants in the colonial buildings, snack on delicious ice cream and have a drink in the central park at night. Also my favorite street in whole Yucatan Peninsula is in Valladolid, make sure you don’t miss Calz. De los Frailes! Click here to read my complete Valladolid Mexico travel guide with 22 travel tips.
Without a doubt is Valladolid also the best base for a trip to Chichen Itza, one of the 7 World Wonders or its small brother Ek Balam. In Ek Balam you are still able to climb some of the temples. Chichen Itza is obviously extremely touristy, though still worth it in my opinion. Entrance fee for both archealogical sites are raised by 100% since February 2019 and now are around $25.
If you are looking for a cool place to eat in Valladolid Mexico I can recommend you Yerbabuena, a hip coffee cafe. They have delicious smoothies and healthy breakfast. They are open till late and after a long day visiting the cenotes around Valladolid this is the best place to have a healthy meal. For the best coffee in Valladolid head to Conkafecito. Pitagoras Cafe del Profesor is another lovely place to have smoothies and good food.
I hope this travel blog about the Valladolid cenotes was helpful planning your trip to Yucatan Peninsula. Let me know if you have any more questions, leave me a comment and Im happy to help.
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Enjoy your trip to Valladolid!