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Cenote Samula: A Magical Spot Near Valladolid

Cenote Samula: A Magical Spot Near Valladolid

Cenote Samula, a sinkhole located near Valladolid in the Yucatan Peninsula, is enchanting. Read why you shouldn’t miss it when traveling around the area!

This is a guest post by Kate Storm, writer at Our Escape Clause.

Visiting cenotes was one of our top things to do in Valladolid, Mexico – the town is conveniently located to almost a dozen of them–but there’s no doubt that Cenote Samula stuck out as one of the most striking cenotes in Valladolid!

But First, What Is a Cenote?

You might already know what is a cenote. After all, cenotes have become super popular these past few years. If that’s the case, feel free to skip this paragraph! However, many people don’t really know what exactly is a cenote, and in my opinion it’s really important to understand what is their significance to the Mayans.

A cenote is a natural sinkhole dating back several centuries. When limestone caves collapse they expose a natural pool. This pool then gets filled with rain water and with the water flowing through underground rivers, to which these sinkholes are connected to. Voilà, you’ve got yourself a cenote!

The word cenote comes from the Mayan term dzonot, which means well. But not all cenotes look the same. there are essentially 4 types of cenotes:

 Open Cenotes – Open cenotes are like natural, open pools, and they can be more or less deep. Some of the open cenotes are also connected to an underground river passage (which makes them great for diving!). An example of an open cenote is Cenote Carwash near Tulum.

 Semi-open Cenotes – As the name implies, this type of cenote has some parts that are exposed and some portions that are partially hidden by a cave. An example is Cenote Calavera (one of my favorite cenotes!).

 Cave Cenotes – This type of cenote can be accessed via a land-level entrance. Once you make your way in, it opens up to an underground pool which can have both shallow and deep areas. Cenote Samula, which I’ll tell you all about in this post, is a cave cenote.

 Underground Cenotes – This type of cenote is the most difficult to reach as they are, in fact, underground. Only experienced divers can access underground cenotes. An example of underground cenote is the Pet Cemetery Cenote near Tulum.

Cenotes have great cultural and religious significance to the ancient Mayans, who believed that the cenotes were passages to the underworld. In fact, Mayans performed rituals in the cenotes and treated the sites as sacred.

This means that you should too. Please be responsible! Don’t litter the cenote, always take your trash back with you, and only apply biodegradable sunscreen before swimming in the cenote.

What You Need to Know About Cenote Samula

Cenote Samula is set in a complex with nearby Cenote Xkeken (also known as Cenote Dzitnup), and while both are popular with tourists, they’re far enough away from the Riviera Maya that the crowds are not what you would expect at the cenotes near Tulum.

Cenote Samula is absolutely gorgeous, perfect for a long swim, and is set almost completely enclosed in a cave–the exception is a small, natural hole in the roof that forms a spotlight on the water.

The combination of the high ceilings of the cave, the cool water, and the dancing light make swimming at Cenote Samula a very magical experience!

The Facilities at Cenote Samula

The complex Cenote Samula is set in has more facilities than most cenotes we visited in the area: there are locker rooms and changing rooms, as well as some (overpriced) food and souvenir vendors. We didn’t take advantage of any of these, preferring to stick to the cenotes themselves while there!

Cenote Samula: Practical Information

How much does it cost?

The entrance fee of 125 pesos covers entrance to both Cenote Samula and Xkeken, which is on the same site, though you can choose to visit just one of the cenotes for 80 pesos instead.

READ ALSO: A Full Guide to Cenote Xkeken

Where is it located?

Cenote Samula is about a 15 minute drive outside of Valladolid, in in a town called Dzitnup (7km south of Valladolid on Highway 180). You can see it here in the map:

What are the opening hours?

The Samula Cenote is open 8am to 7pm.

 How to Get to Cenote Samula

Image by dronepicr via Flickr

From Valladolid, assuming you haven’t rented a car elsewhere in Mexico and are road tripping Yucatan (car rentals are hard to come by in Valladolid itself), you essentially have three options: taxi, bike, or collectivo.

Taxis are inexpensive and plentiful–I believe we paid just a few USD for ours each way–and are the easiest and fastest option.

Collectivos leave from the center of town, across from the church–ask around and someone will point you in the right direction. Taxis are so inexpensive, though, that we didn’t find the savings cost effective for such a short ride.

If you’d like to get a little sightseeing in along the way, you can also rent a bike in Valladolid and ride to the cenotes yourself–there are bike paths that connect the cenote complex to town, and the ride is said to be fairly easy and safe.

READ ALSO: How to get from Cancun to Valladolid

Best Tour to Cenote Samula from Valladolid

➤ Check out the beautiful cenotes that surround Valladolid by joining an affordable and super fun cenote tour by bike. You’ll get to swim at 3 of my favorite cenotes that are unique but not as crowded as some of the most famous one: Cenote Oxman, Cenote Xkeken, and Cenote Samula.

Your guide will also show you the market of Valladolid and bring you to a traditional Mayan village. Even better, the local tour operator donates 3% of your tour price to a local charity project. The tour also includes lunch. BOOK IT HERE

READ ALSO: 6 Best Cenote Tours from Valladolid [2021]

Pros and Cons of Cenote Samula

Pros of Cenote Samula

  • It’s one of the prettiest cenotes we’ve seen.
  • Its high ceilings and unique lighting make it magical and memorable.

Cons of Cenote Samula

  • The entrance fee is a bit higher than some other cenotes in the area due to the infrastructure that has developed around it.
  • Cenote Samula is popular, so it can get crowded at certain times of day (though we found Cenote Xkeken to be both more crowded and less beautiful, and it’s set in the same place!).

Swimming at Cenote Samula, along with the pink lakes of Las Coloradas, was one of our favorite experiences from our time spent in Valladolid!

Other Things to Do Near Cenote Samula

I’ve spent quite some time around this area, so here are a few ideas for things to do once you’ve visited Cenote Samula.

▶ Visit other less know cenotes near Valladolid – two of my favorite ones are Cenote Oxman and Cenote Zaci.

Visit the Chichen Itza Mayan pyramids, one of the 7 Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

▶ Visit Las Coloradas pink lakes, a unique pink lagoon.

▶ Visit the colorful and traditional town of Valladolid.

Read More About Valladolid

Top 7 Things To Do In Valladolid and Day Trips from Valladolid

11 Incredible Cenotes Near Valladolid You Can’t Miss

Why You Should Visit Cenote Oxman at Hacienda San Lorenzo Oxman

Swim at Cenote Zaci, right in the heart of Valladolid


Kate is busy traveling the world with her husband and documenting all the adventures (and how to pay for them) on her blog, Our Escape Clause. When she’s not writing, you can normally find her on a hike somewhere gorgeous, swimming in a beautiful sea, wandering around a city, or planning one of the next thousand trips she plans to take.

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