Best Cenotes Near Valladolid Mexico

Our favorite Best Cenotes near Valladolid in Mexico were chosen while spending five weeks in the Yucatan peninsula. We spent most of our time in the Merida and Valladolid areas. There are thousands of cenotes in the Yucatan, but these are a few of our favorites.

Firstly, what is a cenote?

For those of you that do not know what a cenote is, it is a natural sinkhole formed after the collapse of limestone which exposes groundwater underneath. This creates a natural pool filled with freshwater from underground rivers which run throughout the Yucatan. The Yucatan has two of the largest underground water systems in the world.

Cenotes can either be in a large shaft or within caves. Cenotes are 66 thousand to 13 million years old. The semi-open cenotes are considered middle aged. The cenotes which are in a cave with no opening in the top are the oldest. Mayans considered cenotes sacred passages to the underworld, and some were used for sacrificial purposes by the Mayan people.

Cenote San Lorenzo Oxman

Where Is It Located?

We visited the San Lorenzo Oxman Cenote which is about a 10-minute drive south from the city of Valladolid. Google Maps has it correct in regards to mapping and getting there.

The last part of the drive is on a bumpy dirt road with large potholes, be careful if you have a low riding car. When you pull up to the parking lot, you will notice a big red building with yellow block walls, walk through the archway up to the red building, and you will see a lady there collecting money to see the cenote.

Hours: Open daily from 8 am to 5 pm
Cost: 80 pesos per person – that gets you into the cenote with none of that credited back for the restaurant by the pool.

100 pesos per person – that gets you 50 credited back to use at the restaurant.

150 pesos per person – and that gets you the full 150 credited back to use at the restaurant.

Additional Amenities:

The restaurant prices were moderate, and the drinks were good. We chose the 150 pesos per person option, and it worked out well. We were able to have one cocktail and a beer each, along with the cheese empanadas. They were VERY GOOD!!!

“When adventure presents, jump in and enjoy the ride.”

Cenote X'Keken & Cenote Samula

Cenote X’Keken & Cenote Samula

Where Is It Located?

Cenote X’Keken & Cenote Samula are two of the most well-known cenotes near Valladolid. They share the same parking lot, and you can visit both on the same day. The cenotes are located 4 1/2 miles southwest of Valladolid in a town called Dzitnup. It is an easy drive or an easy to moderate level bike ride from Valladolid.

Cenote X’Keken

Cenote X’Keken (also known as Cenote Dzitnup) is more of a cave located within a cavern with a small opening for natural light. There is a winding stone staircase which leads into the cave. X’Keken is the smaller of the two cenotes with impressive stalactites and stalagmites. Make sure you bring a mask and wear a swimsuit. There is artificial lighting, as there is little natural light. If you are someone who gets claustrophobic, you may have a claustrophobic feeling in this cenote. The water is crystal clear and cold but very swimmable.

Cenote Samula

Cenote Samula is a semi-open cenote with a steep stone staircase leading to the bottom. If you are there during mid-day, you will be able to see the beaming sunlight on the crystal waters below. Cenote Samula was absolutely breathtaking and something not to be missed. There are many shallow areas where you can watch the fish swimming through the crystal waters.

Hours: Daily 8:30 am to 7:00 pm
Cost: Entrance to one cenote is 80 pesos and entrance to both cenotes is 125 pesos.

We found Cenote Samula to be the more beautiful of the two; however, each offered its own unique experience. We recommend both.

Top Cenotes Near Valladolid

We have separate videos of our cenote visits but here is XCANCHE Cenote, one of our favorites!

More Cenotes…..

X’Canche Cenote

Where Is It Located?

X’Canche Cenote is located 30 minutes north of Valladolid. It is in the middle of the jungle within Ek Balam village. You can visit the cenote after seeing the archaeological site of Ek Balam, or you can just visit the cenote.

After paying for your ticket, its 2 km to the cenote; you can walk in, bike in yourself or there are guys (bike taxis) who will bike you in while you sit in a chair. There are showers and lockers available before swimming in the cenote. There are steep wooden stairs which descend to the semi-open cenote. There are many places to jump in; there is a rope to propel into the cenote and a zip line over the top. The blue, green water was gorgeous and so refreshing after a long day sightseeing! We had a great afternoon at this cenote.

Hours: Daily 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Cost: 50 pesos

Additional Amenities:

There is a palapa restaurant on site. If you are staying at the campground next to Ek Balam you can go into the cenote after hours. We didn’t find this out until after making our arrangements to stay in Valladolid. It might be fun to camp one night to have the experience of a cenote to yourself. From what we understand, you will most likely have the cenote to yourself after hours, as the campground is generally not busy.

Cenote Zaci

Where Is It Located?

Cenote Zaci is located right in the center of town. It’s a great location if you are staying in Valladolid and it’s one of the less expensive cenotes. It’s 30 pesos or free if you spend 100 pesos in their restaurant. It is a semi-open cenote where you can jump off the cliff to the beautiful blue waters below. There’s an artisan market near the restaurant if you want to do some shopping afterward or beforehand.

Hours: Daily 8:30 am to 5:30 pm
Cost: 30 pesos or free if you spend 100 pesos in the restaurant

Click here for a google map of the cenotes in this post, along with a few others.

We considered these cenotes to be our 5 Best Cenotes near Valladolid Mexico especially for couples.  None of them felt like tourist traps or were they crowded when we visited. Please remember NOT to wear sunscreen or lotions to the cenotes. If you do wear sunscreen make sure its biodegradable sunscreen. The reason for this is the oils and chemicals destroy the cenote environment.

General Tips

There are lifejackets for rent at each of these cenotes. Most locations have gear (masks, flashlights, towels, etc.) you can rent, bathrooms are available, and in many areas, there is food available for purchase. We like to bring our cooler backpack so we can bring our lunch, snacks, and drinks.

Being totally upfront, Joel and I preferred the open air cenotes. After being in the caves for 30 minutes, Joel was over it but still thought they were beautiful. We enjoyed the open air cenotes and being able to see the sun for a few reasons. One of the reasons Joel preferred the open air cenotes is because he uses a GoPro to film, and it was hard to shoot good video with the low lighting in the caves.  

Second, the water was warmer in the open air cenotes, and we liked how the water changed colors depending on which angle the sun would hit the water. Finally, and this is something we both agree on, the open air cenotes gave us a better feeling, we could spend a couple of hours just swimming around and relaxing while admiring the natural beauty of the cenotes.

Read our blog post “Top Things to do in Valladolid” for more experiences when traveling through or staying in Valladolid.

More 2 Traveling Lovers Article & Video links from the Yucatan peninsula:

We spent a month traveling throughout the Yucatan Peninsula.  If you’re interested in visiting the area, we hope you will find our articles and videos helpful.  All of our posts have a video included, and we have new videos on our YouTube channel. Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel too so you won’t miss a video.

Below are a few articles and videos from our stay in the Yucatan:

15 Things You Should Know Before You Visit The Yucatan

Best Things To See & Eat In Valladolid

Should You Visit The Mayan Ruins In Tulum?

Why You Should See The Flamingos In Celestun 

Best Ruins & Cenote Near Merida

The Ultimate 4-Day Itinerary In Merida

2 Traveling Lovers Videos only on YouTube

The Ultimate Day In Valladolid – Restaurants, Food & Fun

Xcanche Cenote 

A Weekend On Isla Mujeres

Playa Del Carmen


Closing Words

I hope you found our best cenotes near Valladolid to be useful and you are excited to visit the cenotes in the Yucatan.

Travel Resources

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The drone we use is the DJ Spark with Remote Control Combo.  We like this drone because it’s compact, it’s effortless to take on trips, it’s easy to fly, and it shoots 1080p.  All of our drone footage on our blog posts and youtube videos are taken with this drone. We highly recommend it. If you are interested in checking it out here is the Amazon link:  Click here.                   

Another item we use daily is our Northern Coyote cooler backpack.  We use this as Christie’s carryon bag on the plane and as our cooler at our final destination.  We wish we would have thought of this item a long time ago. If you are interested in checking it out here is the Amazon link: Click Here.  

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