There’s one definitive cenote to visit when heading to Mexico, and that’s Cenote Suytun, located just outside of Valladolid in the Yucatan Peninsula. Brilliant turquoise water shimmers within a vast cavernous expanse at this remarkable location. With an ancient-looking stone boardwalk leading to a circular platform in the centre of Cenote Suytun, you’ll find this is one of the most visually stunning cenotes in Mexico. Below, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to visit Cenote Suytun.
But first, what exactly are cenotes?
Read our ultimate guide to Mexico Cenotes here!
Table of Contents
What Are Cenotes?
Cenotes are natural sinkholes typically found throughout Mexico. Although, the name is also used to describe similar sinkholes in places like the USA and Australia. Cenotes usually form when limestone above the underground water chamber collapses, revealing the pool below. You’ll find the water in many of the underground cenotes to be crystal clear. This is because the cenotes are fed by rainwater that is naturally filtered through the above rocks before dripping into the pool below. Cenotes are connected via underground stream systems, keeping the water moving and super fresh.
There are a few different types of cenotes to be found.
- Closed Cenotes: this is the category that Cenote Suytun falls into. Concealed in a cave and is thought to be the youngest type of cenote.
- Semi-open Cenotes: generally, some of the limestone cave has collapsed, meaning the cenote is partly exposed and partly still covered by a rock roof.
- Open Cenotes: here, the vaulted roof has collapsed, but the cenote is still enveloped by rock walls, sometimes requiring a ladder to get into.
- Ancient Cenotes: these cenotes are the oldest and resemble lagoons and 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 Suytun
Cenote Suytun in the Yucatan Peninsula is a breathtaking natural water-filled cavern near Valladolid, Mexico. A set of stone steps lead you down into this enchanting underground world. Indeed, your first glimpse of Cenote Suytun offers extraordinary views of the entire chamber from the top entrance. It’s here, you’ll need your buddy to snap your quintessential Cenote Suytun picture. More on that below.
Following the steps down brings you to the beautiful pool’s edge. Here, gentle steps lead you down into the refreshing water. Swimming in Cenote Suytun is an unbelievable experience. You’ll scarcely believe such a place exists. As you lie back in the clear pool, you’ll marvel at the large stalactites that hang from the cave ceiling like jagged teeth, while playful catfish nibble at your toes.
Cenote Suytun History
But, Cenote Suytun in Mexico wasn’t always a place of leisurely swimming and photography. The ancient Maya used cenotes as natural wells and water supplies. In addition, cenotes were sacred places to the Maya civilisation, being used for both religious and sacrificial purposes. There have been artefacts discovered that prove such rituals took place here.
What Does Cenote Suytun Mean?
Cenotes were named by the ancient Mayans, dz’onot, meaning ‘cavern with water‘ or simply, ‘well‘. There are a few different meanings of Cenote Suytun, Mexico out there. But, generally, Cenote Suytun is thought to translate as ‘sacred well‘ or ‘stone centre‘.
Where Is Cenote Suytun?
Cenote Suytun is located 10km east of Valladolid, Mexico in the Yucatan Peninsula. It’s an easy 10–15 minute drive from the centre of Valladolid as well as an easy trip to make from Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum.
Cenote Suytun Map
Feel free to click on the interactive map below to see the location of Cenote Suytun in Valladolid, Mexico.
Visiting Cenote Suytun, Mexico
Visiting Cenote Suytun in Valladolid, Mexico, is truly a wonderful experience. Below, we’ll look at a few of the excellent things to do during your visit, including photography and swimming.
Cenote Suytun Photography
The main photograph to take at Cenote Suytun, Valladolid, is from the top of the main stairs as you enter the cavern, looking down over the water and stone platform. Here, you’ll be needing your travel buddy to assume position and wait for you to walk to the circular base in the centre.
And wait they’ll have to do. That’s because as you head down the stairs towards the pool, you’ll likely join a queue of people. This queue is of people waiting their turn to head out across the stone boardwalk and have their picture taken. Now, this might seem a little unnecessary. But, in actual fact, this unwritten etiquette of visiting Cenote Suytun works incredibly well. It gives everyone the chance to have a solo picture taken, which certainly beats trying to Where’s Wally yourself from a packed bunch of people crammed onto a small circular disk. People tend to spend a few minutes max out there, before returning and letting the next person have their go.
For the best photos, a tripod will be very handy. Although the cavern is lit, the light is very dim and so setting your camera on a tripod will be a godsend.
Cenote Suytun Sunbeam Photos
Although ANY photo at Cenote Suytun is epic, there’s one shot that seems to be most sought after. If you want the famous shot of Cenote Suytun with the light beam directly over the stone platform, then you’ll have to visit at midday.
At midday, when the sun is directly overhead, the sun shines directly down through the small hole in the cave roof. The shot is completely stunning. But, it also makes Cenote Suytun an incredibly busy time to visit, as everyone wants that same shot. But, it’s a sacrifice you’ll have to be willing to take I’m afraid. Still, it’s a much easier sacrifice than the Mayans would undertake, if that helps.
Swimming at Cenote Suytun
Once you’ve taken photos on the stone platform, it’s time for a dip. The large emerald-coloured swimming pool is refreshing and cool. With the mandatory life jacket on, you’re free to swim or simply lie back and float around the cenote. Staring up at the ceiling, the stalactites will leave you awestruck. Some are huge and protrude at length in the vacuous space of the cavern chamber.
As you swim, you’ll spot little black catfish swimming around and becoming animated at any splash or quick movement. They’re harmless enough. In fact, snorkelling is a great way to view the fish and any underwater rock formations. Either bring your own or buy/rent some gear from the market stalls at the entrance.
Your belongings (towel, camera, flip flops) can be left on the rocky edges of the pool, on what are naturally made benches.
Check Out Cenote Kaapeh (the Second Cenote)
Once you’ve enjoyed your visit to Cenote Suytun, there’s actually one more cenote to check out here. This is Cenote Kaapeh. Located next door to Cenote Suytun is a smaller, semi-open shallow cenote pool. Sadly for Dan and I, Cenote Kaapeh was unexpectedly closed during our visit. But, if it’s open when you visit Cenote Suytun, Mexico, it’s easy to see on the same visit.
How to Get to Cenote Suytun, Mexico
So, how do you get to the glorious Cenote Suytun in Valladolid, Mexico? Below, we’ll take a look at some of the most common locations to travel from.
Transport From Valladolid
Travelling from Valladolid to Cenote Suytun is the most straightforward place to visit from. In fact, Valladolid is a beautiful, colourful town that is well worth a visit in its own right. And, as Cenote Suytun is located just 10km from the city of Valladolid, it’s the place most visitors will come from.
Dan and I travelled from Valladolid to Cenote Suytun via taxi. Our hotel arranged a pick-up for us. We assume most hotels in Valladolid will offer this service since Cenote Suytun is one of the most popular places to visit in the town. A taxi costs around $65MXN ($4USD) and is a 10–15 minute drive.
Although there is no bus from Valladolid, Mexico to Cenote Suytun, you can take a Colectivo. The Colectivo from Valladolid to Cenote Suytun leaves from here and takes slightly longer than a taxi. But, at around $20MXN ($1.50USD) per person, it’s a fraction of the price.
Transport From Cancun
From Cancun, you can take the ADO bus to Valladolid and then follow the instructions above. ADO is a very reliable bus company in Mexico, and we used them plenty of times during our month-long trip. The ADO bus station in Cancun is located here. You can book tickets online which is very straightforward, or purchase them from the bus station.
Transport From Playa del Carmen
From Playa del Carmen, you can take the ADO bus to Valladolid and then follow the same instructions as above from Valladolid to Cenote Suytun. The ADO bus station in Playa del Carmen is located here. Again, you can book tickets online which is very straightforward, or purchase them from the bus station.
Transport From Tulum
Tulum is the closest of the other major tourist towns in the Yucatan Peninsula. From Tulum, you can again take the ADO bus to Valladolid and then follow the same instructions as above from Valladolid to Cenote Suytun. The ADO bus station in central Tulum is located here. Again, you can book tickets online which is very straightforward, or purchase them from the bus station.
Public Transport From Merida
From Merida, you can again take the ADO bus to Valladolid and then follow the same instructions as above from Valladolid to Cenote Suytun. The ADO bus station in Merida is located here. Again, you can book tickets online which is very straightforward, or purchase them from the bus station.
Of course, renting a car and driving yourself to Cenote Suytun in Valladolid, Mexico is one of the easiest ways to visit. Below, we’ve listed some of the most popular routes and their respective distance and drive times.
- Valladolid: Distance: 10km // Drive time: 10 minutes
- Cancun: Distance: 160km // Drive time: 2.5 hours
- Playa del Carmen: Distance: 147km // Drive time: 2 hours
- Tulum: Distance: 95km // Drive time: 1.5 hours
- Merida: Distance: 165km // Drive time: 2.5 hours
Also, having a car opens up the possibility of seeing Cenote Suytun and Chichen Itza on the same day. The drive distance between the two sites is around 60km and takes about 45 minutes.
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 Suytun
If you’re driving, there’s a large car park as you enter Cenote Suytun, next to the ticket office. Parking is free.
Cenote Suytun Tours
If you’re staying in Valladolid, Mexico, then we highly recommend visiting independently. Given how close the cenote is and how cheap a private taxi is, there’s really no need to take a tour. But, if you’re wanting to see a few things in one day, or are travelling from another part of the Yucatan Peninsula, then a day tour might work best for you.
GetYourGuide offers some fantastic tours to Cenote Suytun in Valladolid, Mexico.
Cenote Suytun & Chichen Itza Tour
From Cancun and Playa del Carmen, it’s possible to take a tour of both Cenote Suytun and Chichen Itza. Tours generally last a full day, including lunch and entrance fees. GetYourGuide’s Chichen Itzá, Cenote and Valladolid Tour from Playa del Carmen is a highly-rated and popular tour option.
Useful Things to Know Before You Go
So, now you know how to get to Cenote Suytun in Valladolid, Mexico, let’s take a look at some useful things to know about the visit.
Cenote Suytun Opening Hours
Cenote Suytun’s opening hours are 9am to 5pm, seven days a week. The last entry permitted is at 4:30pm.
We arrived just before the 9am opening and found many people had already entered. In fact, some were even on their way back out having finished their visit. So, not sure what to tell you on this one. Maybe arrive super early, just on the off chance you’re let in before the official opening time.
Having said that, Dan and I didn’t find Cenote Suytun too busy at 9am. I probably had no more than a 5–10 minute wait to walk onto the stone platform, which went by very quickly. Of course, the wait might have felt a little longer for my photographer (sorry Dan!)
Cenote Suytun Entrance Fees
Entrance to Cenote Suytun is $150MXN ($8.50USD) per person. The price also includes access to Cenote Kaapeh, so you might as well visit there too if you feel like it. Cenote Suytun is cash only, so come prepared. Of course, if you notice any changes in the pricing, please drop them in the comments below for other travellers.
Facilities at Cenote Suytun
At Cenote Suytun you’ll find a toilet and changing rooms after paying the entrance fee. Immediately after the changing block are a set of outdoor showers. You MUST shower before entering Cenote Suytun. This is to ensure any sunscreen and deodorant is washed off before entering the water, preventing pollution of the cenote with harmful chemicals that might upset the ecosystems.
Life jackets are compulsory for swimming in Cenote Suytun. The only exception is that you can remove your life jacket to have your photograph taken on the stone circle. Life jackets cost $30MXN ($1.75USD) per person.
If you want somewhere to leave your valuables, you can rent a locker for around $35MXN ($2USD). Lockers can be found before you enter into the cenote. Dan and I didn’t bother and just took our things down with us, which is also possible.
Around the entrance of Cenote Suytun, Valladolid, is an array of market stalls selling souvenirs galore. There’s also a Cenote Suytun Restaurant on site, called Restaurante Mercedes.
Best Time to Visit Cenote Suytun
As Cenote Suytun is in a cave, the time of year you visit, weatherwise, doesn’t really matter. However, if you’re looking to beat the crowds, there are a few things to consider. Firstly, head there first thing in the morning and avoid weekends. This will eliminate the possibility of visiting at the same time as tour groups, which usually turn up mid-morning, as well as locals at the weekend.
Secondly, as we previously mentioned, given the special moment of the midday sun shining directly down onto the stone circle, lunchtime is extremely busy. If you’re not bothered about this photograph, then don’t visit at this time if possible.
Below, we’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions in regard to visiting Cenote Suytun in Valladolid, Mexico.
Can You Swim at Cenote Suytun, Mexico?
Yes. But life jackets are mandatory, so you may find a lazy float in the pool more accurately depicts the activity.
What’s the Closest City to Cenote Suytun?
Valladolid is the closest city to Cenote Suytun, just 10km away.
How Much Time Do I Need at Cenote Suytun?
Depending on the length of the queue for ‘the photo’, I wouldn’t say you need to spend longer than 1–2 hours. You can then add on a visit to Ek Balam Mayan Ruins afterwards. See here for more information.
How Deep is Cenote Suytun, Valladolid?
Cenote Suytun isn’t all that deep. The average depth is around five metres, but there are very shallow sections that are only a metre deep.
Can You Snorkel at Cenote Suytun?
Yes, check out the fish life and the incredible rock formations.
Is Cenote Suytun Worth Visiting?
YES! Suytun is one of the most extraordinary cenotes we visited in Mexico. Yes, it’s Instagram famous. But, that’s for good reason. It photographs extremely well, the pool feels large enough to have a little space to yourself and Cenote Suytun is also extremely accessible, given its proximity to Valladolid. The price is certainly on the more expensive end of cenotes in Mexico, but it’s still very affordable and well worth the visit.
Where to Stay Near Cenote Suytun, Mexico
As the closest city to Cenote Suytun, 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: those on a strict backpacker’s budget might consider Hostel Candelaria. The hostel features dorms, a clean kitchen, and communal space and is within easy reach of the bus station.
- Mid-range – Hotel Zazil-Naj: Dan and I stayed at Hotel Zazil-Naj. The rooms are spacious and feature a nice en suite bathroom. The location is good, being just a stone’s throw from Cenote Zaci.
- Luxury – Hotel Meson del Marques: for authentic colonial-style decor and rooftop views across Valladolid, then stay at Hotel Meson del Marques. This five-star hotel features pretty gardens, a fabulous restaurant, and not to mention a fantastic location in the heart of the city.
For those of you wanting something a little different and special for a night, you might consider staying at the Cenote Suytun Cabins. Suytun Cabañas pricing includes access to the cenotes, as well as the use of a huge outdoor pool. You might even gain early access to the cenote, or at least beat the crowds.
Other Cenotes Near Valladolid
Some of the best cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico are found around the city of Valladolid. Below, we’ll take a look at some excellent options for Valladolid cenotes after you’ve visited Cenote Suytun (guides coming soon).
- Cenote Ditznup (Cenote Xkeken): a wondrous cavern cenote just outside of Valladolid.
- Cenote Samula: another cenote with a small hole allowing natural light to funnel through the ceiling. Cenote Samula is also much quieter than Suytun.
- Cenote Xcanche: you can visit this cenote on a visit to Ek Balam Mayan Ruins.
- Cenote Saamal: heading west out of Valladolid is a large open cenote with a small cascade at the Hacienda Selva Maya.
- Cenote Zaci: in the heart of Valladolid is a semi-open cenote with a lovely outdoor restaurant attached.
- Cenote Ik Kil: a beautiful cenote complete with dripping vines and tall rock walls. Can easily be visited on a trip to Chichen Itza.
- Cenote Oxman: a rope swing at this cenote at Hacienda San Lorenzo Oxman is the only fun way to plunge in.
Travel Essentials For Cenote Suytun
These are our travel essentials for a visit to Cenote Suytun 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 Suytun’s water.
- 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.
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.
Tips For Visiting Cenote Suytun
- Remember, no sunscreen: chemicals from sunscreen, deodorants and the like can negatively impact the ecosystems of cenotes, so be sure to shower before you enter Suytun.
- Make a day of it: after Cenote Suytun, we recommend spending the rest of the day visiting Ek Balam Mayan Ruins. Dan and I took a taxi from Cenote Suytun straight to Ek Balam for $400MXN ($23USD). Although we’re sure this was an over-inflated price due to the less popular route and I assume the taxi had to drive out from Valladolid to Cenote Suytun, to then take us to Ek Balam, around 40 minutes away. Still, it was worth it.
- No Wi-Fi: there’s very little phone signal and no Wi-Fi at Cenote Suytun. Dan and I asked the staff at reception to book us a taxi to Ek Balam, which they were more than willing to do.
- Make the most of Valladolid: if travelling from Valladolid, as we did, you’ll find plenty of other awesome things to do in the area. GetYourGuide offers some pretty cool tours which might be worth checking out.