Everyone hears about Tulum or Playa del Carmen, but the cenotes near Valladolid are truly incredible and way less crowded. If you’ve ever dreamt of swimming undisturbed in a freshwater pool, check these out!
When most people think of Mexico they think of sandy beaches, sunburns and margaritas! However, if you take some time to get to know Mexico you’ll be amazed by what seems like a bottomless number of surprises and things to discover.
One of its unique treasures are the amazing cenotes, a magical opening in the earth where fresh water from underground rivers is brought through the earths crust in clear-blue water for all to enjoy.
Previously I’ve showed you the best cenotes in Tulum and some other incredible cenotes in Playa del Carmen. What you might not know is that these magical offerings from the depths of the world can also be enjoyed in abundance around Valladolid, a great part of southern Mexico that has many must-do attractions and many cultural experiences to enjoy. Let’s take a look at the best cenotes near Valladolid!
BEST CENOTE TOURS FROM VALLADOLID
Although there are so many incredible cenotes near Valladolid, there aren’t many Mexico cenote tours available that actually depart from Valladolid. And of the Valladolid cenote tours that do exist, many don’t have great reviews! Here is the cenote tour from Valladolid that I recommend the most:
➤ 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
➤ For more options, check out the post I wrote about the 6 best cenote tours in Valladolid.
BEST CENOTES IN VALLADOLID
A great place to cool off after a hot day, this cenote is icy-cold and well-appreciated on a sunny, southern Mexico afternoon. You can visit Cenote Suytun as part of a tour to a visit at Chichen Itza or independently if you wish.
The coolest part of this cenote, in my opinion, is the man-made peninsula in the water that allows people to walk out and peer into the luring depths before actually taking the refreshing plunge.
There are plenty of change rooms, places to buy food and drink, and staff to help accommodate with any questions.
Suytun is located at Carretera Libre Valladolid-Cancun kilometer 6 Valladolid, Mexico.
Cenote Ik Kil
Cenote Ik Kil has been seen on the world-stage a number of time. Red Bull has used this location as part of its Cliff Diving World Series, in 2010, 2011, and 2014. With its vast opening up to the sky, there is a drop from the surface to the water of 85-feet. No need to worry, the divers will have 130-feet of depth to work with once they hit the water.
You can enjoy this cenote by walking down the carved staircase to the waters edge and enjoying a dip, or you can jump from way closer to the water.
Cenote Ik Kil is only 3 kilometers from Chichen Itza. Because it’s so close to the pyramids, tours to Chichen Itza often combine the visit with a swim to Ik Kil.
If you prefer going with a tour and not having to worry about driving yourself, these are a few options:
– Classic Chichen Itza Day Tour from Cancun with Lunch, which includes a guided visit to Chichen Itza + a swim at Cenote Ik Kil. Pickup from Cancun.
– Chichen Itza, Ik Kil Cenote and Valladolid with Lunch, that also include a visit to the charming town of Valladolid. Pickup from Cancun, Isla Mujeres and other locations.
– Chichen Itza, Coba and Ik Kil Cenote: Private Tour: private tour with pickup from any Riviera Maya destination.
Cenote Ik Kil is located on Carretera Costera del Golfo, 3 kilometers from Chichen Itza.
Cenote Kikil is best combined with a day trip to the pink lakes of Las Coloradas.
The site is managed by a group of thirteen families in the Kikil community, and your visit will help to support the local community.
When I visited, the cenote wasn’t super clean, but we were literally the only people around and had the cenote all for ourselves.
You can rent life-jackets on-site, and there is also a dinosaur park if you are traveling with kids (but I haven’t personally visited it, so I can’t tell you if it’s worth it or not!).
You can reach cenote Kilkil at Km 4.5 Carretera Tizimín, Rio Lagartos Kikil, Yucatan, Comisaria de Kikil. Or just set your map to find Kikil, then ask anyone in (the very small) town.
The Cenote Zaci is one of the easiest to reach, located right in the heart of Valladolid. Literally in the middle of the town! It is one of the biggest cenotes and best cenotes in Valladolid with room for everyone.
Maybe spend a couple of nights in Valladolid and then head down for a dip when it’s a bit quieter. Most tours come around midday, so if you come in the morning or right before closing time, you might have the cenote all for yourself.
Cenote Zaci is also a great stop before or after a tour to Ek’ Balam ruins so you can cool off and relax. Or if you are still full of energy, there is a series of platforms from which you can jump off and splash into the welcoming waters below.
Cenote Zaci is located right on Calles 36 and 37 in Valladolid.
FULL BLOG POST: The Complete Guide To Visiting Cenote Zaci, Valladolid
A two-for-one look into the world of cenotes, the complex that hosts Cenote Samula and Cenote Xkeken (see below) has two inviting pools in one location.
With its sky-lit opening that lets way to tree vines dangling from the sky right down to the waters surface, it all feels dramatically beautiful.
On site there is a gift-shop to get some souvenirs, a place for drinks, and you can rent snorkel gear for exploring some of the under-water world.
To reach it, take the Valladolid Cancun highway. At kilometer 156. 3 before reaching the city of Valladolid, take the diversion to the town of Dzitnup. It’s located at the Cultural and Tourist Services center.
FULL BLOG POST: Cenote Samula: A Magical Spot Near Valladolid
The other half of the above mentioned two-part cenote, Cenote Xkeken (also known as Cenote Dzitnup) feels even more enchanting than Samula with its dim sunlight from the smaller surface opening.
The name Xkeken means “pig”, however, its looks are certainly more attractive than its animal reference. The cavern is lit-up with colored lighting and it makes for an ideal place to swim as the waters depths are a bit shallower than most cenotes in Yucatan.
With it size being roughly 90-feeet long and 60-feet wide and the shallow waters, it’s also excellent for viewing the small fish swimming below the surface.
It’s part of the same complex that hosts Cenote Samula (see above).
FULL BLOG POST: A Complete Guide to Cenote Xkeken (Dzitnup)
Cenote Oxman, also known as Hacienda San Lorenzo
Cenote Oxman might be one of the more unknown cenotes in Valladolid, but it might be my favorite of all.
If you are looking to make your cenote day out more of an adventure, then cenote Oxman is just the thing you need. From Valladolid you can rent bicycles and make the twenty-minute ride enjoying the surrounding countryside, or if you’re more of the walking type you can make the trek in a little closer to an hour.
Another great idea is to rent a car for one day and explore a few of the Valadolid cenotes on this list, or combine this cenote with one of the most popular day trips from Valladolid.
Once you arrive there is a beautiful hacienda onsite that has been partially restored along with photos from days gone by so you can get a glimpse into what things used to look like.. The cenote is accessed by walking down several flights of stairs and once you’re inside you can give the Tarzan style rope-swing a try.
I made a little video about Cenote Oxman, check it out!Cenote Oxman is located 5 kilometers south, by turning west on Calle 45 from the Covent in the main town, then south Calle 54.
Located near the ruins of Ek’ Balam, Cenote X’Canche is still a hidden gem, and it’s easy to have it all for yourself. It’s literally in the middle of the jungle, and the trees growing all around its walls make it beautiful. You can walk all around it thanks to the wooden path.
The Cenote X Canche has camping onsite or cabin rentals so you can even spend a few days adventuring around or relaxing under some of the shady palapas. There are also some activities at the site such as zip-lining. Or if you’re looking to see the area, rent some of their bikes and venture around to see a bit more of nature.
From Valladolid, take the highway to Tizimin, 6km after Temozón turn right, then drive 4 kilometers more until you see a sign for the archaeological site, then go straight 1 kilometer to reach the touristic center of Ek Balam; from here you will be directed to the 1.5 kilometer road that reaches the site.
Sacred Cenote (or Cenote Sagrado)
The Sacred Cenote is located right at the highly visited archeological site of Chichen Itza.
With an opening in the earth of around 200-feet, this cenote is flanked by dramatic cliff drops that descend close to 90-feet into the water below.
Cenote Sagrado (also known locally as Chen Ku) was thought to have been used as an area of sacrifice in pre-Columbian Mayan times. During archeological excavation in the past, anything from human bones to precious jewels were recovered, it was like swimming through history.
It’s not possible to swim in it since it’s sacred, but make sure to check it out when you visit Chichen Itza.
If you’re looking to explore Chichen Itza and the Sacred Cenote with a tour, I can recommend you these ones:
– Chichen Itza, Ik Kil Cenote, and Valladolid Full Day Tour: a very popular tour that includes Chichen Itza, a swim at the cenote, and Valladolid. Pickup from Cancun and Riviera Maya.
– Chichen Itza Sunrise Tour: escape the crowds by touring the Mayan Ruins with a certified archeologist at sunrise time. Pickup from Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
– Chichen Itza, Ik Kil and Coba Small Group Tour, perfect if you also want to visit the ruins of Coba. Pickup from Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
Cenote Agua Dulce
A photo-worthy stop on any tour of the Yucatan, the Agua Dulce cenotes (meaning “sweet water”) are inviting in every way. The entrance alone will get you heart pumping, as the hanging spiral staircase allows just enough movement to make the descent from the surface, down into the depths below feel slightly daring.
There are two holes to the sky allowing in just enough sunlight to light up the turquoise waters and reflect the mirrored surface beauty and its surrounding. The stalagmites hanging effortlessly from the roof allow small drops of water to drip into the cenote below, like they have for centuries.
If you’re more into exploring the water by floating rather than swimming, you can rent a kayak and float around.
You can reach cenote Agua Dulce near the town of Yalcoba, between Dzalbay and Yalcoba on Carretera Yalcoba Kilometer 3.
Cenote Hubiku, near Ek’ Balam, is one of the most beautiful cenotes in the area. It’s a cavernous cenote in a limestone cave, and the light ills it thanks to the opening on its natural roof.
This almost perfectly circular cenote near Valladolid is about 50 meters-wide, and can be reached by descending 115 steps. A little workout before that refreshing dip in its emerald waters.
Cenote Hubiku can get very crowded when bus tours arrive, so try and visit around opening or closing time if you want to avoid the crowds. Otherwise, if you prefer to visit Cenote Hubiku as part of a tour, check out these two great tours:
– Chichen Itza, Hubiku and Ek’ Balam Tour: discover both the beautiful Mayan sites of Chichen Itza and Ek’ Balam, then cool down with a swim at Ek’ Balam.
– Chichen Itza All-Inclusive with Hubiku Cenote and Valladolid: this full-day tour from Playa del Carmen or Cancun include Chichen Itza, a swim at Hubiku Cenote, a tour of Valladolid, and a guided buffet lunch and a tequila tasting.
Cenote Hubiku is located in Temozon, close to Ek’ Balam. If you are coming from Valladolid, exit the town of Temozon. You’ll see right after on your right a dirt road. Follow it for 2 kilometers until the cenote.
Each cenote in Valladolid has its own special and unique features that make them interesting. If you have enough time you might want to explore them all, if not then even just one is enough to leave a lasting impression of some of Mexico’s best natural wonders. But please make sure to visit at least one! Visiting cenotes is one of my favorite things to do in Yucatan.
Picture what it must have been like thousands of years ago to stumble across such a majestic and odd creation with a small glimpse into the heart of the world. Cenotes have evolved over time from worship or sacrifice locations, to a simple way to enjoy the the outdoors.
The area of Valladolid is one of the best places to explore cenotes. It’s an area just teaming with these enchanting wonders and you’re sure to find one that will make you fall in love with Mexico even more.
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