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Cenote Dzitnup: Best Guide To Visiting Cenotes Xkeken & Samula

Cenote Dzitnup: Best Guide To Visiting Cenotes Xkeken & Samula

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!

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.
Bacalar Lagoon
Cenote Cocalitos in Bacalar

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.

Cenote Xkeken

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.

Cenote Samula

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 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.

Cenote Xkeken, Valladolid, Mexico
Cenote Xkeken

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.

By Taxi

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.

By Colectivo

Taking a Colectivo from Valladolid to Cenote Dzitnup is also very easy, not to mention cheap. You can pick up a Colectivo 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.

By Bicycle

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.

Rental Car

Of course, renting a car and driving yourself to Cenote Dzitnup in Valladolid, Mexico, is one of the easiest ways to visit.

Car Hire

If you don’t have your own car, you should hire one using Discover Cars. Personally, we use Discover Cars and highly recommend them for finding your ideal car hire at an affordable price. Booking online is super easy and the free cancellation policy is great.

To find out more about renting a car with Discover Cars, read our Discover Cars review and Discover Cars Insurance review.

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 Samula at Dzitnup Valladoid
Cenote Samula

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.
  • 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.

Cenote Suytun in Valladolid, Mexico
Cenote Suytun

Travel Essentials For Cenote Dzitnup

These are our travel essentials for a visit to Cenote Dzitnup in Valladolid, Mexico.

Anker Portable Power Bank
Anker Portable Power Bank

Keep your phone, laptop and other accessories charged while you’re on the go with the Anker Portable Power Bank. We wouldn’t travel without this high-quality portable charger.

Sea to Summit DryLite Towel
Sea to Summit DryLite Towel

The Sea to Summit DryLite Towel is the best quick-dry microfibre towel. This compact, lightweight and super-absorbent towel is perfect for travel.

EPICKA Universal Travel Adapter
EPICKA Universal Travel Adapter

Having an EPICKA Universal Travel Adapter is one of the best accessories to travel with, especially if you’re travelling to multiple continents during your trip.

Noise Cancelling Headphones
Noise Cancelling Headphones

If you’re looking for the most budget-friendly yet high-quality noise-cancelling headphones for travel, then look no further than the Anker Soundcore Space Q45.

Wise Multi-Currency Card
Wise Multi-Currency Card

We use the Wise Multi-Currency Card to pay online and when we travel abroad. It’s really easy to use and a lot cheaper than using bank cards. To order a free card, click the button below.

To find out more about all of the gear that we use and recommend, read our guides about our favourite travel gear, camera gear and hiking gear. Otherwise, read our comprehensive travel packing checklist.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is a real necessity, especially when travelling through Central America and getting a little off the beaten track.

Heymondo is one of the best budget travel insurance providers on the market. They provide comprehensive travel and medical insurance that won’t break the bank. Whether it’s single trip insurance, annual multi-trip insurance or long stay insurance, Heymondo offers affordable travel and medical insurance to suit all of your needs. Personally, we use Heymondo travel insurance and highly recommend it. To find out more about Heymondo travel and medical insurance, read our Heymondo travel insurance review.

Travel Insurance

Heymondo Travel Insurance

Don’t leave for your trip without booking travel insurance. We all know accidents can happen and having Heymondo travel insurance could save you thousands of dollars if something goes wrong. Click the button below to receive a 5% discount!

Bonus Tips

  • 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.

For more incredible swimming places in Mexico, check out our guides on Bacalar, Hierve el Agua and Coba Cenotes.

Beck Piggott

With an art and design based background, Beck uses photography and writing to help inspire readers to climb mountains, hike coastal trails and chase waterfalls around the globe.

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