Cool, fresh water, otherworldly caves, and the warm Mexican sun? It doesn’t really get more perfect than that. And it’s all at the Valladolid cenotes.
When I first started planning my visit to Valladolid during my 2-week jaunt around Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, I knew that I wanted to take a day trip to visit some Valladolid cenotes. At first, I thought I might take a guided tour. But then after a bit more research, it looked like it was pretty easy to do on your own so that’s what I decided to do!
Of course, there’s not actually too much information online about visiting the cenotes on your own. So in this guide, I’m sharing absolutely everything you need to know about taking a day trip to visit Valladolid cenotes!
What is a cenote?
So first off, what the heck even is a cenote? Well, if you’re just starting your research into the Yucatan Peninsula be prepared to start hearing this word a lot.
Cenotes are essentially deep, water-filled holes created when the roof of an underground cavern collapses. And they are ALL OVER the Yucatan.
Not only are the super cool to look at, but you can swim in many of them! So visiting cenotes is pretty much a no-brainer when you’re in the Yucatan.
How to Visit Valladolid Cenotes
While the cenotes of Tulum and the surrounding area get a lot of attention (especially on Instagram), Valladolid is also surrounded by some pretty amazing cenotes. AND they’re incredibly easy to visit on a day trip!
For some of the further out cenotes, you’ll need to drive. But for this itinerary, you can visit them all by bike!
Biking is a super fun way to visit the cenotes as it makes dipping into the freezing cold water all that much more amazing. So I highly recommend renting a bike to do this day trip if you’re physically able.
Where to Rent a Bike in Valladolid
Bike rentals are available all over Valladolid, but quality obviously varies. You’ll definitely want to make sure that your bike is working before riding too far! Also, be sure that your rental includes a lock!
I personally rented my bike from my hostel, Hostel Candelaria, and was really pleased. The bikes were very well cared for, high-quality road bikes. They were also super cheap at only 20 pesos/hour or 100 pesos (~$5.20) for the day!
Another bike rental spot in Valladolid to check out is MexiGo Tours. They have good reviews online and charge 25 pesos/hour or 150 pesos (~$7.80) for the day.
Wherever you’re staying will also probably have bikes to rent or a recommendation of where to rent them, so be sure to check with the front desk!
Valladolid Cenotes: The Route
Along with renting my bike, I got an awesome map from my hostel detailing all of the cenotes in the surrounding area that you can bike to. The map even suggests a “challenge route”!
I didn’t think I had the time or energy to complete the challenge route, so instead followed the recommendation of the guy at the front desk for a much more tame route. This route took me to three of the closest Valladolid cenotes: Cenote San Lorenzo Oxman, Cenote X’kekén, and Cenote Samula.
With my route planned, I set off down the street and out of Valladolid to the highway!
There is a very nice bike path along the edge of the highway, so there’s no need to worry about riding next to superfast moving cars.
In about 15 minutes, you’ll arrive at the first Valladolid cenote of the day!
Cenote San Lorenzo Oxman
Cenote San Lorenzo Oxman is located on a really beautiful hacienda by the same name. Once you get there, you’ll be greeted at the entrance with several different entrance options:
- 80 pesos (~$4) will get you entrance to the cenote
- 100 pesos (~$5.20) will get you entrance to the cenote + 50 pesos food credit at the poolside restaurant
- 150 pesos (~$7.80) will get you entrance to the cenote + 150 pesos food credit at the poolside restaurant (so basically you get entrance to the cenote for free)
If you get started early enough in the day, I’d suggest just going for the 80 peso entrance fee, but if it’s getting close to mealtime I’d go for the food credit so that you can have some fuel in you. The dining options at the other cenotes aren’t as good!
The actual cenote is just past the pool. There are showers to rinse off with if you’re not wearing biodegradable sunscreen, and you’ll get a peek of the cenote from above as you walk by.
Head down the steps to a beautiful cenote filled with fresh, clear water. There’s a rope to stand on in the middle as well as life jackets if you want/need one. There’s also a Tarzan-style rope to swing from if you’re feeling up for it!
When I got there are 11 am, there were a few other groups of travelers there who were all super friendly.
Cenote Samula and X’keken (aka Cenote Dzitnup)
After you’ve had your fill at Cenote San Lorenzo Oxman, hop on your bike and head to your next destination (and don’t forget to reapply your sunscreen!). The next two cenotes are actually right across the road from each other, which makes visiting both of them super convenient.
When you get to the entrance for Cenotes X’kekén and Samula, I’d suggest being on your guard. I have truly never felt more pushed to buy things than at these cenotes.
First off: when I arrived with my bike, I was immediately approached by a man demanding a tip for watching over my bike while I visited the cenotes. As a solo female traveler, I really didn’t feel comfortable saying no and got the feeling that if I didn’t give him a tip, he’d be the one to do something to my bike. If you’re more confident than me or with more than one person, you can probably just say no, though.
Second: After buying entrance to the cenotes, I was basically forced to take a photo with a parrot (big yikes on the forced animal attraction). When leaving the complex, they tried to sell the photo to me. For this, it just takes a very firm no.
Despite all of this, though, I do think that the cenotes are worth visiting as they’re both stunningly beautiful.
You can buy entrance to a single cenote or pay 125 pesos (~$6.50) for entrance to both.
Cenote Samula is the smaller of the two cenotes on site. It has gorgeous blue water and an opening in the top of the cave letting in an otherworldly beam of light which I was totally stunned by.
Be sure to be careful on your way down to the cenote, as I found the stairs to be really slippery. There also really wasn’t anywhere dry to leave your belongings, so keep that in mind as well!
Cenote X’kekén was my favorite out of all of the Valladolid cenotes that I visited. It’s completely covered by the cave roof, which makes you feel like you’ve landed on another planet when you get there. There’s beautiful blue water in this cenote as well, obviously.
Perhaps the best part of this cenote, though? You know those fish that eat the dead skin off your feet? Yeah, they’re in this cenote. So if you sit still on the rocks by the entrance for long enough, you’ll get a free pedicure!
After you’ve enjoyed your time in both Cenote Samula and Cenote K’kekén, you can head back to Valladolid!
Top Tips For Visiting Valladolid Cenotes
While visiting the Valladolid cenotes is relatively straightforward, here are a few tips I learned from experience that can help make your cenote day trip even better.
- Bring biodegradable (reef safe) sunscreen along, as you can’t wear regular sunscreen in the cenotes. Of course, you don’t actually need to wear sunscreen in caves, but it just makes your life a lot easier!
- If you have a snorkel bring it along as well to check out some of the fish and see what’s going on underneath your feet.
- Definitely wear clothes you don’t mind getting wet, as well as shoes that have a little bit of traction for walking on the wet rocks. No flip-flops!
- Bring along a snack if you don’t want to pay for food at the cenotes.
- The earlier you leave for the cenotes the better. Not only will you beat the mid-day sun but also the crowds!
- Finally, don’t bring along anything too valuable, especially if you’re traveling on your own. You’ll need to leave your things on the side of the cenote.
And that’s it! I hope you have so much fun visiting the Valladolid cenotes!