The Dzitnup Cenote is one of the best cenotes to visit in Valladolid. It’s also one of the most beautiful, with limestone formations that project over the water.
It’s a fun and refreshing place to visit, where you can see a small and beautiful natural underground oasis.
They are located inside a limestone cave with only one opening in the ceiling, providing the perfect opportunity for sunbeams to showcase the natural beauty of the water.
The cave is damp and steamy, but the water is cool -most fresh waters under Yucatan remain constant at 25 degrees Celsius (76 degrees Fahrenheit) throughout the year- and amazingly clear.
With small bats nesting on the ceiling, small black fish in the water, and limestone formations jutting out of the water, it’s a unique and mysterious spot for a refreshing dip to escape the Yucatan heat.
Cenote Dzitnup is an incredible place. It includes two different cenotes: the Xkeken cenote and the Samula cenote.
A Beautiful Underground Oasis in Cenote Dzitnup
Sunbeams shine through a small opening; they illuminate the water below, igniting a magnificent bluish color everywhere.
The swallows flutter on the roof, chirping in a symphony of sounds. Roots and stalactites extend from the ceiling to the surface of the water.
If you’ve ever driven inland on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, you’ve undoubtedly noticed how straight and flat the roads are. There are few hills, and the few that exist aren’t very high.
That’s one of the things that encouraged the Maya to build pyramids in their cities, the tops of which rose above anything nearby. And they would have also noticed that there are no significant rivers. At least not ones that are easily visible.
These two things are because most of the peninsula is made up of a massive plain of porous limestone.
Plenty of fresh water is nearby, including rivers up to 150 km long, but you won’t see them on the surface. They are underground, channeling through the twists and underground caves of the porous limestone.
Yucatan is full of thousands of freshwater sinkholes. The Maya called them dzonot. The Spaniards translated it as “cenote”.
And of the approximately 3,000 estimated cenotes on the Yucatan Peninsula, only half have been documented.
But it was this abundance of easily accessible groundwater that supported the many great Maya cities that were scattered throughout Yucatan in pre-Columbian times.
Some of them, like those in Chichen Itza, appeared to be small open-air quarry pits filled with water and used for freshwater and apparently religious sacrifices.
But some of them are much more visually striking, including Cenote Dzitnup, just a few minutes from the colonial city of Valladolid in the center of the Yucatan Peninsula.
How to get to Dzitnup Cenote Valladolid
These two cenotes are located near the town of Dzitnup, just a few kilometers south of Valladolid.
f you are coming from Cancun or Merida by car, you can enjoy these cenotes for a full day, as well as the ruins and the charming city of Valladolid. The archaeological ruins of Chichen Itza and Ek Balam are just a few kilometers away.
You can easily find them on your GPS by searching for Cenote Dzitnup.
If you are already in Valladolid, you can take a bus, a taxi, or our favorite method: bicycle riding.
How to get to Cenote Dzitnup by Bike
Bicycle rentals are abundant for around 100 pesos per day.
- The ride goes past the Valladolid convent and along a beautiful bike path next to Highway 180.
- After heading southwest on Highway 180 for 2.5 km, turn left (south) onto Dzitnup Road.
- You’ll pass by Hacienda Selva Maya (which has its small cenote) and see signs for the X’Keken Ecopark (which is another name for Cenote Dzitnup).
- Continue on the bike path for 1.5 km until you reach the cenotes on the right side of the road.
- The whole trip will take you about 25 minutes.
If you prefer, the Dzitnup Cenote has a large parking lot for you to drive yourself.
Or collective taxis will take you here for less than 30 pesos each. A full taxi (4 people) should cost around 100 pesos.
What to do when arriving at Dzitnup Cenote
This place is designed to handle a lot of tourists, and the entrance area shows it.
- After the ticket booth, they’ll ask you to take a photo you can buy later – like a roller coaster at an amusement park (superimposed on a background of cenotes). They even have a couple of brightly colored macaws you can pose with.
- Then you’ll enter one of three shopping areas with a large fountain in the middle. (Did I mention that this place can accommodate many tourists?) On the right is Cenote Samula, and on the left is Cenote XKeken.
- You can buy the entrance to one cenote for 80 pesos or $125. We recommend doing both, but they’re similar. So if only one fits your budget, we suggest you look at Cenote Samula. Keep reading, and you’ll know why!
- If you arrive early and there are few people, start at Samula and do XKeken afterward. Cenote Samula is the most spectacular of the two, especially if the morning sun is still at an angle.
- You’ll turn right and pass through the large circular commercial area. Here you’ll find many stalls selling all kinds of textiles and trinkets.
✔ Visiting Cenote Samula
Before arriving at the entrance, a quick stop at the two tiny rock walls just before the entrance.
The small rectangular, square area surrounds a large hole that overlooks Cenote Samula. You can peek over and see the stairs and water below.
You are standing on top of the cenote roof!
Next to you is a small well-like structure. It is also a small hole that looks down into the water.
▸ The Staircase
Head towards the staircase and descend. Upon entering the central part of the cave, you will be near the roof of Cenote Samula.
The view is incredible, so take a moment to enjoy it.
The light pours in through the large roof hole. It shines in the thick air. The rays of light extend far down to the blue water and hit it like a spotlight on the main stage.
A small group of swallows flies around the roof, entering and exiting through the light hole. It’s lovely!
Descend the rest of the stairs, put on your suit, and dive into the cenote. The water is incredible – not cold – and covers almost the entire floor.
The entrance area is shallow, but the ropes lead to deeper sections.
If you want to bring some snorkeling gear, bring it. (We love our Oceanic masks; Cressi is a trendy brand too.)
A small island is just below the opening, but climbing on it is prohibited.
Relax in the water; you will be living a unique moment.
✔ Visiting Cenote XKeken
- After climbing the stairs, turn your back to the main entrance.
- Then, go through the walkway to your left, pass through a small path, and through “another” commercial area until you reach the entrance of Cenote XKeken.
- To the right of the entrance, there is a small cave. It is partly open to the air, and a quick visit is all you need.
- Turn around, descend the stairs to your left, and enter Cenote Xkeken.
- The stairs are smaller than those in Cenote Samula, but a short descent takes you to a wide landing area.
- The blue water pond covers half of the great floor. The absolute pleasure here is the stalactites and roots hanging from the ceiling.
- The right side has a massive formation of stalactites that falls like a willow tree. It’s fascinating.
- Other roots extend throughout the pool. They look like ropes dying to be climbed, but you cannot do that. However, you can swim in the dark blue water.
- Hang out on the ropes that extend along, and if you’re lucky enough to arrive when there are few people, it can be an excellent opportunity to take photos. Our Sony mirrorless camera goes everywhere with us, and we couldn’t recommend it more.
If you arrive before 10 in the morning, you’ll likely find few people visiting these cenotes, making it an ideal time to take beautiful photos of this remarkable place.
ᐈ Helpful information for visiting Cenote Dzitnup
The cenotes are open to the public from 8:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Cenote Dzitnup Prices
The entrance fee for each cenote is 80 Mexican pesos and $125 for both cenotes. These fees do not include the cost of a life jacket.
Renting a bicycle costs 100 Mexican pesos per day. It is a great option to reach the cenotes via the bike path on Highway 180.
You can choose to arrive by bus, which departs from Valladolid and drops you off at the entrance to the cenotes. The fare is around 7 Mexican pesos, and you can take the bus half a block from the ADO bus station.
The cost is approximately 50 Mexican pesos.
What to bring
- Bring comfortable clothing for visiting the Dzitnup cenote.
- If you plan to use insect repellent, do it after bathing in the cenote waters.
- Towel and a change of clothes if desired.
- The entrance fee does not include a life jacket, so if you don’t want to rent one, remember to bring your own.
- While you can buy food and drinks on-site, you are also welcome to bring your food. Just remember that eating is not allowed inside the cenotes.
- Bring trash bags.
- Bring relaxed and comfortable footwear, preferably sandals, if they get wet.
- If you plan to use sunscreen, use mineral-based ones that are less toxic to the delicate cenote ecosystem.
How to take care of Cenotes
Other important information to keep in mind
As this is a cenote near Valladolid, a trendy tourist area, we recommend coming here early in the day.
We arrived at the gates around 9 in the morning, and there were less than five people in the Samula cenote and the XKeken cenote. Everyone was quiet, and the atmosphere was amazing.
The bike ride is excellent. We don’t recommend biking because the streets can be narrow, but there is a great bike path almost the whole way in this area, and it was delightful.
The place has public bathrooms that you can also use to change if you wish.
There are also craft and food and drink stalls.
Check out more Cenotes in Valladolid.