All you need to know about visiting Cenote Xkeken, Valladolid, one of the most beautiful in the area. Here you’ll find all the info you need (updated in 2021).
Cenote Xkeken is hands down one of the best cenotes in Valladolid, Mexico. Located next to another popular cenote, Cenote Samula, Cenote Xkeken (also referred to as Cenote Dzitnup or Cenote Xquequen) is run by a local community and offers essential facilities. This closed cenote has quite a mysterious vibe with its dim light and all the stalactites formations.
Although the term Xkeken literally means “pig”, don’t expect to find one in this cenote… but, you’ll find black fish that will nibble on your toes. Let’s see how to visit this cenote and why you need to add it to your Yucatan itinerary.
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 Xkeken, 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.
Cenote Xkeken, Mexico: All You Need to Know About it
Cenote Xkeken is a sinkhole located next to Cenote Samula; the two cenotes are connected by an underground Mayan river system. Natural light gets into this cenote through its opening at the top of the ceiling. The access to this cenote consists of a spiral stone staircase, so please be extra careful when making your way down the stairs as they can get veeery slippery!
There are a few spots where you can get into the water. But like the stairs, you need to be extra careful since the paths are rocky and uneven. Also keep in mind that jumping into the cenote water is not permitted and there are no diving platforms.
Cenote Xkeken is a pretty small cenote, with the entire cavern only measuring only 30 x 20 meters (98 x 65 feet)in size. The water level itself is only 20 meters (65 feet) deep at its deepest point, and the walls that surround this cave are filled with some beautiful stalactite and stalagmite formations.
The water is pretty cold like most cenotes, but no unbearably so so swimming at Cenote Xkeken is perfectly doable. If you’re not the strongest swimmer, you’ll be happy to know that there are some ropes you can hang on when you’re tired.
You’ll also find plenty of tree roots that hang from above the ceiling that add a more… I don’t know how to say it… otherwordly vibe to this cenote. At certain times of the day, the sunlight gets through that hole in the ceiling and creates a mystical beam which also illuminates the inside of the cave.
Facilities Available at Cenote Xkeken (Valladolid)
The facilities available at Cenote Xkeken are pretty basic but absolutely decent. Don’t expect the fancy facilities that you would find in some super touristy cenotes like Gran Cenote and Ik Kil cenote.
▶ You will find life jackets for rent at this cenote, and they are actually mandatory for anyone who isn’t a strong swimmer, especially children. there are also lifeguards on duty.
▶ There are lockers available for rent at Cenote Xkeken so you can safely store your belongings while you go out swimming.
▶ You’ll also find bathrooms and showers so you can wash up before and after you go swimming in the cenote, as well as changing rooms.
▶ If you are hungry or thirsty after swimming in the cenote, you’ll find some food stalls that’ll do the job, but you won’t find any real restaurant here. There are palapas available for you to use if you want to have a picnic with either the food from the food stands or your own food.
Xkeken Cenote Practical Info & FAQ
Cenote Xkeken Price
Cenote Xkeken entrance fee is 80 Pesos for adults and 50 Pesos for children.
⚠️ Note: If you want to combine entrance with Cenote Samula, the cost is 125 Pesos for adults or 80 Pesos for children.)
Xkeken Cenote Location
Cenote Xkeken is located in Dzitnup, Yucatán, Mexico. Another cenote, Cenote Samula, is located right next to it. Here you can see it in the map:
Cenote Xkeken Opening Hours
Cenote Xkeken is open from 8 AM to 6 PM.
What’s the best time to visit Cenote Xkeken?
The best time to visit Cenote Dzitnup is first thing in the morning, right after it opens. This is a way to ensure that you can avoid the influx of tourists that arrive via tour buses in the middle of the day. Another option is to visit the cenote right before it closes.
TIP TIME! Cenote Xkeken is only a 40-minute drive from Chichen Itza, so you can combine the ruins and the cenote very easily!
Cenote Xkeken Snorkeling
Snorkeling is possible, although it’s quite dark and you won’t find too much fish.
Cenote Xkeken Diving
Not recommended for Cenote Xkeken.
How to Get to Cenote Xkeken, Yucatan
Xkeken Cenote is located just outside of Valladolid. Here are a few options to get there.
Rent a car
Renting a car is one of the best ways to get to Cenote Xkeken. When checking the directions to this cenote, make sure to check the other names that this cenote goes by (such as Cenote Dzitnup and X’quequen).
I usually compare prices for rental cars on Rentalcars.com and book online to avoid any scam. Renting a car in this case is great if you are planning to visit multiple attractions in the area such as Chichen Itza, the pink lakes or other cenotes. You can compare prices down here without leaving this page.
▶ From the center of Valladolid, head southwest via Highway 180 towards Cuncunul. When you see the sign for Hacienda Selva Maya, turn left after that and you will drive through a narrow road for 2 minutes.
▶ There is on-site parking available at this cenote.
Take a taxi
Taking a taxi to Cenote Xkeken from the town of Valladolid is a convenient way to reach the cenote.
▶ The cost of the taxi is approximately 90 Pesos one way. You can also share the ride with others if you want to save some money (it’s easier to find people interested on the way back, or ask around at your hostel/hotel).
To make your way back to the center of Valladolid, you can ask the staff at the cenote to call a taxi for you.
Rent a bicycle
Riding a bicycle to Cenote Xkeken is a good option. The bike ride should take around 45 minutes from the center of Valladolid.
▶ There are plenty of bike rental shops in Valladolid for 100-150 Pesos per day or 20-25 Pesos per hour.
▶ You must ride your bike towards the South via Calle 54 and then turn right when you see the sign for the cenote. There are bike trails along the route so it is fairly safe to ride the bike. It’s worth mentioning though that you will be cycling through an uphill gravel road, so the ride is going to be a bit bumpy and rough.
Take a colectivo
Colectivos are shared vans. I’ve read that there are colectivos that you can take from in front of the bus station in Valladolid that will bring you near Cenote Xkeken. Always tell the driver as soon as you hop on where you need to go.
Best Cenote Xkeken Tour from Valladolid
READ ALSO: 6 Best Cenote Tours from Valladolid 
Check out the beautiful cenotes that surround Valladolid by this 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.
This tour also includes: lunch. ▶ CHECK IT OUT HERE
Pros and Cons of Cenote Xkeken
Pros of Cenote Xkeken
- It’s very accessible from the center of Valladolid.
- It is close to another cenote – Cenote Samula – so you can visit two cenotes in half a day.
- Its one of the most beautiful underground cave type of cenotes.
- There are lifeguards on duty, so it’s safer if you are traveling with children.
Cons of Cenote Xkeken
- The cenote is very dark so it’s pretty difficult to snorkel (you won’t be able to see much)
- If you like cenote diving, this one is only 20 meters deep so it’s not well suited for that.
What to Pack for Cenote Xkeken
This is a list of the essential items you should bring with you when you visit Cenote Xkeken.
Swimwear: Of course. This is an essential item to pack with you when you visit a cenote! I’m currently in love with bikinis from ZAFUL – I kinda want to buy them all!
Biodegradable Sunscreen: Please make sure not to apply regular sunscreen before entering a cenote. Not only it’s expressly forbidden in many of them, it’s just really bad for the water and its creatures.
If you need to use sunscreen, only go for 100% biodegradable sunscreen. Help maintain the cenotes as beautiful as they are!
Snorkel Mask or Goggles: The crystal clear waters of the cenotes will make you want to take a closer look at what lurks beneath the surface of the water. Snorkeling gear is what you need to make this possible.
Water Shoes: It can be uncomfortable to walk barefoot on the jagged rocks that surround the cenotes.
I recommend investing in a pair of water shoes, nothing too fancy, so you can protect your feet from the rocks.
Water Bottle: Mexico has tropical weather so you can expect it to be hot and humid. Try and bring a refillable water bottle around with you to reduce the consumption of plastic.
However, the tap water in Mexico isn’t generally safe to drink, so make sure to refill your bottle with safe water, or buy a LifeStraw water bottle that comes with a water filter so you can drink the tap water.
Camera: Because these cenotes feature one-of-a-kind natural beauty, it is hard to pass up the opportunity to capture them in photos.
Even better if you have an underwater camera or GoPro, so you can take it in the water with you.
Other Things to Do Near Cenote Dzitnup
I’ve spent quite some time around this area, so here are a few ideas for things to do once you’ve visited Cenote Xkeken.
▶ 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.