The incredible Cenote Dzitnup (AKA the Dzitnup Cenotes) is a sinkhole complex consisting of two of Mexico’s finest swimming holes – Cenote Xkeken and Cenote Samula. These two grand cave chambers contain spectacular stalactites and stalagmites, shimmering turquoise waters and small skylights that allow the sunlight to playfully sweep across the cenote surface. Indeed, a trip to Cenote Dzitnup is an absolute must when visiting Valladolid in Mexico, and below, we’ll tell you everything you need to know.
But first, what are cenotes?
Read our ultimate guide to Mexico Cenotes here!
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What Are Cenotes?
Cenotes are natural sinkholes that are typically found throughout Mexico, originating from the Mayan word tsʼonoʼot, which literally refers to any place with accessible groundwater. Certainly, cenotes were of great importance to the ancient Maya civilisation, providing a source of fresh water as well as being a place of sacrifice and religious importance.
Cenotes are formed when limestone above an underground water chamber erodes and collapses, exposing the pool below. Over time, and with further erosion, the cenotes can become exposed to the outdoors. To that end, there are a few different types of cenotes to be found.
- Closed Cenotes: these beautiful underground cenotes are concealed in a cave and are thought to be the youngest type of cenote. Both Dzitnup Cenotes (Xkeken and Samula) are good examples of closed cenotes.
- Semi-open Cenotes: part of the limestone cave roof has collapsed with semi-open cenotes, meaning the pool is partially exposed to the open. Tulum’s Gran Cenote is a great example of this.
- Open Cenotes: the vaulted roof has completely collapsed with open cenotes, but the water is still surrounded by rock walls on all, or some, of its sides. Cenote Cristalino, close to Playa del Carmen is a good example of this.
- Ancient Cenotes: these cenotes are the oldest type, where the most erosion has taken place. Ancient cenotes better resemble small lagoons or open swimming pools. They have no cave to conceal them. Some of the best examples on the Yucatan Peninsula can be found in Bacalar, Quintana Roo.
About Cenote Dzitnup, Mexico
Cenote Dzitnup is a complex of two cenotes just outside of Valladolid, Mexico. These are Cenote Xkeken and Cenote Samula. Often, Cenote Dzitnup and Cenote Xkeken are referred to as one and the same thing. But this is incorrect. Simply put, there are two cenotes – Xkeken and Samula, and they are both part of Cenote Dzitnup.
The most well-known of the Dzitnup Cenotes is Cenote Xkeken. Though, I’ve no idea why, as Cenote Samula is equally as spectacular. Cenote Xkeken is a closed cenote, featuring long jagged stalactites protruding sharply from the cavern ceiling. Some are so large, they almost reach the crystal-clear pool below. Overhead, in the cave ceiling, is a small opening. Through this narrow hole, a single beam of sunlight is able to penetrate into the dark cenote within, looking utterly magical.
A stone staircase leads you down into the Cenote Xkeken chamber. There are benches at the pool’s edge to leave your belongings before entering the splendid water via a wide set of stone steps. The bottom of Cenote Xkeken is rocky, so take care as you wade out to swim.
The second of the Dzitnup Cenotes is Cenote Samula. This too is a cave (or closed) cenote. But, unlike Cenote Xkeken, there are no stalactites growing down from the lofty cavern ceiling here. Well, none as big, anyway. Instead, Cenote Samula features a vast cave chamber that’s much larger and more imposing. But, similarly to Cenote Xkeken, there’s a small opening in the cave ceiling where the sunlight shines through, dancing across the cenote as the day goes on.
A wooden staircase leads you down to the edge of the pool from the entrance of Cenote Samula. There are benches to leave your belongings before jumping in. With your life jacket on, you can simply lie back as you inspect this incredible underground world.
Where Is Cenote Dzitnup?
The Dzitnup Cenotes are located just 7km southwest of Valladolid, Mexico. It’s a 10–15 minute drive from Valladolid, making the Dzitnup Cenotes some of the easiest to visit in the area.
Cenote Dzitnup Map
Feel free to click on the interactive map below to see the location of the Cenote Dzitnup complex in Valladolid, Mexico.
Things to Know Before Visiting Cenote Dzitnup
So, now you know where Cenote Dzitnup is located, let’s take a look at some useful things to know before you visit.
Cenote Dzitnup Opening Hours
Cenote Dzitnup is open from 8am to 5pm, every day. We arrived bang on 8am and had both Cenote Xkeken and Cenote Samula to ourselves.
Cenote Dzitnup Price
The entrance fee for the Dzitnup Cenotes is $125MXN ($7.50USD) per person. This of course gives you access to both Cenote Xkeken and Cenote Samula. We highly recommend this option, as it’s definitely worth seeing both. But, if you only want to visit one of the cenotes at Dzitnup, then the price is $80MXN ($4.50USD) per person.
The price of a children’s ticket is $50MXN ($3USD) for one cenote, or $80MXN ($4.50USD) for both of them.
There is one ticket office that serves both Dzitnup Cenotes and is next to the main car park. Additionally, make sure to bring pesos to pay for the entrance fee.
Facilities at Cenote Dzitnup
There are a range of basic facilities at Cenote Dzitnup. There are toilets, changing rooms and lockers for your convenience, all before you head into the cenotes. You MUST shower before entering the Dzitnup Cenotes. This is to ensure any sunscreen and deodorant you’re wearing are washed off before entering the water, helping to prevent any harmful chemicals from upsetting the fragile ecosystems.
Life jackets are compulsory for swimming in Cenote Dzitnup and cost $30MXN ($1.75USD) per person. Unfortunately, you can’t rent one life jacket for both Cenote Xkeken and Cenote Samula. You have to rent a life jacket separately at each cenote. So, if you’re visiting both Dzitnup Cenotes, expect to pay twice.
As you walk through the entrance to the Dzitnup Cenotes, you’ll pass a number of market stalls selling souvenirs and clothing. There’s also the odd stall selling food, but menus are limited, so we recommend taking any food and drink with you.
Cenote Dzitnup Photography
Both Dzitnup Cenotes are dimly lit and fairly dark, so you’ll be needing a tripod to get the clearest pictures. Additionally, if you want perfect mirror reflections in Cenote Xkeken with clear views of the rocks below the surface, you’ll have to time your visit with the opening. Dan and I were incredibly lucky to be first in the pool and so could enjoy setting the tripod up to snap the perfectly still emerald waters of Cenote Xkeken.
As you enter Cenote Samula, you’ll arrive at a wooden platform that overlooks the incredible cavern. This is the best place to snap away, in order to capture as much of the cenote as possible. Having someone swimming in the water below is also a great way to demonstrate the size of Cenote Samula. You’ll see the sunbeam shining down, which looks great any time of day. But, if you want it shining directly down onto the cenote, then time your visit with midday.
Cenote Dzitnup Swimming
Swimming is permitted in both Dzitnup Cenotes. You’ll also notice ropes stretching across the pools. These are to hold onto as you head further away from the edge, enjoying your surroundings. The Cenote Dzitnup pools are cool and feel very refreshing. You’ll likely notice catfish in the water, which will probably swim over for a little investigation.
Snorkelling is okay in Cenote Xkeken, as there are interesting stalagmites to check out, as well as fish. Cenote Samula is fairly flat at the bottom of the water, so snorkelling isn’t necessarily recommended here as there’s not much to see down there.
Jumping is not permitted at Cenote Xkeken as there are hidden rocks below the surface. But, it’s certainly allowed at Cenote Samula, so cannonball away.
How Long to Spend at Cenote Dzitnup?
A couple of hours max will be enough time to enjoy both Dzitnup Cenotes.
Best Time to Visit Cenote Dzitnup
If you want to beat the crowds at Cenote Dzitnup, then aim to arrive as soon as the complex opens at 8am. Dan and I did this and were first in. Weekends are also more likely to be busier with locals visiting, so try to go on a weekday. And remember, if you want the sunbeam pointing directly down into Cenote Samula, time your visit around midday. But, expect there to be more people.
How to Get to Cenote Dzitnup, Yucatan
So, now you know what to expect at Cenote Dzitnup, let’s take a look at how to get there.
A taxi from Valladolid to Cenote Dzitnup is the easiest way to arrive. Dan and I took a taxi for the short 10–15 minute journey and paid $100MXN ($6USD) to get there and $120MXN ($7USD) to return. Taxis are constantly dropping new visitors off throughout the day, so you should have no trouble getting a taxi to take you back to Valladolid.
You’ll also find your hotel in Valladolid will happily book a taxi for you. Alternatively, you’ll find plenty of taxis on the main streets and around the central plaza.
Taking a Colectivo from Valladolid to Cenote Dzitnup is also very easy, not to mention cheap. You can pick up a Colective here, opposite the ADO bus station. The price is around $20MXN ($1.50USD) per person. Please note, Colectivos do not tend to leave until the van is full, so you may have a little bit of a wait either side of going to and from Dzitnup Cenotes.
Renting a bicycle and cycling to Cenote Dzitnup from Valladolid is an increasingly popular option. Given the cycle takes little more than 30 minutes, with a very straightforward route, it’s certainly a very cost-effective way to travel to the Dzitnup Cenotes. Once you arrive at the Cenote Dzitnup complex, you’ll find a designated parking area for bicycles, which is very handy.
Bicycles are available to rent from many stores in the centre of Valladolid. Remember to ask for a bike lock too. Prices generally range from $100–150MXN ($6–9USD) per day.
Of course, renting a car and driving yourself to Cenote Dzitnup in Valladolid, Mexico, is one of the easiest ways to visit. If you want to hire something, we recommend hiring a car using Rentalcars.com. You’ll find a variety of cars on Rental Cars, which are very easy to book online. Personally, Dan and I have used Rental Cars plenty of times and never had any problems. Drive times and distances are as follows.
Parking at Cenote Dzitnup
If you’re driving, there’s a large car park as you enter the Cenote Dzitnup complex, next to the ticket office.
Cenote Tours from Valladolid
As Cenote Dzitnup is so easy to reach independently from Valladolid, we don’t recommend taking a tour. If you want a more private experience, then simply take a taxi.
But, if you’re coming from further afield in the Yucatan Peninsula, like Cancun or Playa del Carmen, or simply enjoy the ease of taking a tour, then GetYourGuide offers some fantastic tours to many of Valladolid’s most popular cenotes such Cenote Ik Kil, Cenote Yokdzonot and Cenote Hubiku.
Where to Stay Near Cenote Dzitnup, Mexico
Being the closest city to Cenote Dzitnup, we recommend staying in Valladolid for your visit. Below, we’ll take a look at some of the best budget, mid-range and luxury options.
- Budget – Hostel Candelaria: this highly rated hostel in the heart of town features comfortable dorm rooms, a communal kitchen and a relaxing common space. The Hostel Candelaria is an excellent option for those on a budget.
- Mid-range – Hotel Zazil-Naj: Dan and I stayed at Hotel Zazil-Naj. We loved the location. Plus, the room was huge, whilst the en suite bathroom was clean and modern. The hotel staff are also very attentive and helpful.
- Luxury – Hotel Meson del Marques: you can look forward to authentic colonial-style decor and a truly luxurious stay at Hotel Meson del Marques. This five-star hotel features pretty gardens, a rooftop terrace with city views and a wonderful restaurant.
Other Things to Do Near Cenote Dzitnup
- Explore Valladolid: this colourful and friendly town is much more than simply cenotes and deserves some exploration in its own right. Read our guide to Valladolid here.
- Chichen Itza: well, you can’t miss out on one of the Seven Wonders of the New World, can you?
- Ek Balam: the fascinating Ek Balam Ruins, are just a short ride out of Valladolid and contain some truly unique Mayan artefacts.
Other Cenotes Near Valladolid
Some of the best cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula are found around the city of Valladolid. Below, we’ll take a look at some more of the best Valladolid cenotes to visit after Cenote Dzitnup.
- Cenote Suytun: easily one of the most visually stunning (and Instagrammed) cenotes in Mexico.
- Cenote Xcanche: also known as the Ek Balam Cenote, you can visit this sinkhole on a visit to Ek Balam Mayan Ruins.
- Cenote Saamal: a large open cenote with a small cascade that you’ll pass on the way to Cenote Samula.
- Cenote Zaci: in the heart of Valladolid is this semi-open cenote complete with a lovely outdoor restaurant.
- Cenote Ik Kil: a stunning open cenote complete with dripping vines close to Chichen Itza.
- Cenote Oxman: enjoy the rope swing into San Lorenzo Oxman Cenote.
Additionally, some of our favourite cenotes throughout the Riviera Maya include the Coba Cenotes, Cenote Calavera and Cenote Toh, which are all close to Tulum.
Travel Essentials For Cenote Dzitnup
These are our travel essentials for a visit to Cenote Dzitnup in Valladolid, Mexico.
- Swimming gear: for obvious reasons.
- Quick-dry towel: we travel lightly, so a small, quick-dry towel is much more convenient for a trip to Cenote Suytun than sneaking the hostel/hotel’s bath towel out.
- Biodegradable sunscreen: be sun safe and environmentally friendly all at the same time. Just remember, only apply once you’ve left Cenote Dzitnup.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack for day tripping, which has plenty of space to store your gear.
- Camera: you’ll definitely want to document your visit. Bring the tripod too to help capture clear pictures in the dimly lit cavern. A GoPro is also a great kit addition whilst in the water.
Travel insurance is a real necessity, especially when travelling through Central America and getting a little off the beaten track.
SafetyWing is an excellent budget-friendly travel insurance provider. Personally, Dan and I have used SafetyWing’s Nomad Insurance many times to insure our trips. The Nomad Insurance is fantastic value for money with a smaller additional cost to add a partner. Unlike most other insurance companies, there’s an option to pay on a monthly basis, similar to having a prepaid phone plan. Better yet, there’s no lock-in contract. In addition, you can cancel at any time, which will take effect the month after.
For shorter trips, it’s also possible to use Nomad Insurance for trips lasting just days or just 2–3 weeks. Indeed, SafetyWing is cheaper than almost all other travel insurance policies and covers just as much and sometimes more.
SafetyWing is a modern travel insurance company that is certainly leading the way in terms of how travel insurance should work in the future.
- Remember, no sunscreen: chemicals from sunscreen, deodorants and makeup can negatively impact the ecosystems of cenotes, so be sure to shower before you enter the Dzitnup Cenotes.
- Arrive early: remember, arrive early to beat the crowds. It’s not uncommon for people to be queuing down the steps of each of the Dzitnup Cenotes.
- Make the most of Valladolid: there are plenty of other awesome things to do in the Valladolid area. GetYourGuide offers some pretty cool tours which might be worth checking out.