Valladolid in Mexico was our favorite town on our Yucatan trip. This is how we imagined a small Mexican town. Colorful houses, colonial buildings, relaxed atmosphere and a green main square in the center of town. After our negative experience on the supposedly quiet Isla Mujeres the days before, we could really relax in Valladolid and enjoy strolling through the beautiful city.
However, most people will come to the city not only because of the beautiful atmosphere, but on the one hand because of the Mayan site Chichen Itza* and on the other hand because of the many beautiful cenotes that exist in and around Valladolid. Since we skipped Chichen Itza (it was too expensive and too crowded for us), in this travelogue we will only discuss Valladolid itself and the, in our opinion, most beautiful cenotes in the area.
We are Sabrina and Andreas, two adventurous travelers who never miss an opportunity to discover the world. Whether by plane to distant countries or with our campervan Bruno, we just love to travel. We hope to give you helpful tips for your next trip on our blog.
Sabrina & Andreas Globetrotters, Travelers, Adventurers
Things to do in Valladolid Mexico
We imagined Valladolid in Mexico as a typical Mexican small town and found it exactly the same. The atmosphere of the city reminded us a bit of Bacalar, in the south of Mexico. No comparison to the chaos, traffic and tourists we found in Cancun or Isla Mujeres.
Valladolid is about 150 km away from Cancun and yet it is a completely different world. Sure, it is touristy and there are many souvenir stores in the city center, but this is a very bearable extent and so that it is fun to explore the city.
The central main square (Zocalo) of Valladolid in Mexico was the meeting place of young and old and also of all the hungry. In the park itself there are a lot of stalls offering marquesitas (a freshly baked ice cream cone filled with all kinds of delicious things), typical corn dishes and other delicacies. Around the square there are of course the obligatory restaurants.
In the evenings, performances by Mayan fighters in disguise are often held there, and it is easy to stroll past souvenir stands and get to know the country and its people.
Convent de San Bernardino de Siena
The Convent de San Bernardino de Siena is an old monastery just outside of downtown Valladolid, but it’s within walking distance. It is one of the landmarks of the city and, since it is not centrally located, not at all crowded. It costs 30 MXN entrance fee (about 1.40 Euro) and you can explore a small garden with its own small cenote, visit a museum with many church exhibits and marvel at the building itself.
Really all very nice to look at. There is also a small courtyard and the whole monastery has been super restored, so you can well imagine how the life of the monks was here a few hundred years ago.
On some days (Wednesday – Sundays) there is a light show here in the evening at 9:20 pm in English (9 pm in Spanish), which shows the history of the monastery in bright colors on the facades of the monastery.
Our Accommodation in Valladolid Mexico
We decided to stay a little bit outside of the city center. We like to stay a little away from the hustle and bustle, so that we have it quiet, but still quickly walk in the middle of the action.
Our hotel was built in a beautiful colonial style and had air-conditioned rooms, a small pool and a Hollywood swing in the courtyard. The staff was also very nice and you felt very well taken care of there.
Day Trip to the most Beautiful Cenotes near Valladolid
There are many beautiful cenotes very close to Valladolid and it is probably not even possible to visit all of them during a stay of several days in Valladolid. But we think you don’t have to.
We have researched most of the cenotes nearby and many look quite similar. Again, some are not that spectacular, so the entrance fee, which is usually around 100 MXN (5€) per person, is not worth it in our opinion.
We chose 3 of the most beautiful cenotes around Valladolid for our day trip. In addition, we went to a cenote that is located in the middle of the city. Optionally, we will introduce you to 2 more cenotes nearby that you can visit on an additional day. Or of course on the same day, if you leave very early in the morning and don’t leave so much time per cenote.
How to get to the cenotes?
You can of course book a guided tour* and then be driven comfortably from cenote to cenote by coach. But those who know us know that this is not our way. We prefer to do it on our own. We don’t like to follow a tour guide and prefer to take the chance to have a place all to ourselves in the morning instead of sharing it with a whole group. Our recommendation to you is to rent a car or a scooter to explore the surroundings of Valladolid for 1-2 days.
Rent a Scooter in Valladolid
We decided to rent a scooter from Scooter Valladolid, because they have good reviews and quite new scooters. You can find their store not far from the main square or here on Google Maps. For 24 hours, the friendly owner charges 500 MXN (just under 25 Euro). But the scooters are really nice to look at and stand out from the rest of the scooters in Valladolid. In addition, you get from the landlord also a link to Google Maps, with which you can display all cenotes, gas stations and restaurants in the vicinity.
We found driving a scooter in Valladolid pretty easy, even if on the big interurban roads the buses and trucks race past you pretty fast. But there is almost always a wide shoulder on which you can keep a safe distance from the speeders with the scooter. Some roads off the main roads were quite adventurous to drive, but we have mastered all without punctures. If you dare to explorer the area with a scooter, then we can only recommend it to you. You are very flexible and have a lot of fun driving around on the Mexican streets.
Which are the most Beautiful Cenotes in Valladolid Mexico?
Before we introduce you to the most beautiful cenotes in our opinion, we would like to take a short excursion and tell you what these strange cenotes are and how they were formed.
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What are cenotes anyway?
There are over 6000 cenotes in the world and more than 2500 of them on the Yucatan Peninsula alone. The name comes from the Mayan word “Dzonot”, which means hole with water. Cenotes are unique cave formations that were formed many thousands of years ago. Formed by rainwater that seeped through the porous earth, underwater rivers were created. In some places, the ceilings have collapsed, creating access to these underground cave systems.
The ancient Maya, lacking rivers on the Yucatan Peninsula, used the cenotes as wells to obtain drinking water or to hold ceremonies for Chaac, the rain god. All major Mayan cities were strategically built near a cenote. Nowadays, the numerous cenotes on the Yucatan Peninsula are one of the tourist attractions in Mexico.
Our Route for the most Beautiful Cenotes around Valladolid
In this trip report we will limit ourselves to the cenotes that you can reach perfectly in one day by scooter without rushing. Optionally we will add two more if you are faster than us or have more than one day. On the route you will pass about 10-12 cenotes in total. Some of these cenotes are not listed on Google Maps and therefore not really known.
There is simply a sign at the roadside that points to this or that cenote. If you have more time than us, then you can make spontaneous discoveries along the way. But finally, here is our selection of the most beautiful cenotes around Valladolid, which can be reached in one day.
The cenotes are listed in the order we did them. Of course you can do them the other way around, but in our opinion this makes the most sense, because especially the Cenote Hubiki is very empty in the morning and gets crowded at noon. So you should go there first thing in the morning.
#1 Hubiku | The Super Touristy Cenote
Cenote Hubiku can rightly be called one of the most touristy cenotes around Valladolid. And we don’t necessarily mean that in a positive way. At the huge parking lot you think: Oh, they have built generously. But at the latest when you enter the building, where you can also buy the entrance tickets, you realize that this place was planned for a large number of tourists. And that the commercial idea is in the foreground here.
After you have purchased the ticket, you can by no means go directly through to the entrance of the cenote. No, you first have to zigzag through the small building and meander past liquor tastings and souvenir shelves. It’s almost like an amusement park where, after visiting the roller coaster, you have to walk past all the merchandising and the photo booth to get to the exit. We didn’t think that was so cool and were glad that there was still so little going on so we could just walk through quickly.
There are open air showers and restrooms behind the souvenir building. The entrance to the cenote is then a very nondescript staircase down into the darkness. The sight that awaited us down there surprised us greatly. It looked beautiful! Roughly speaking, we saw a very large cave with a small hole in the ceiling through which a small but bright light shone into the interior of the cave.
There was a small footbridge leading into the water and ropes stretched across the entire width of the cave at water level for you to hold on to. Perfect for less good swimmers or if you just want to relax in the water without having to paddle constantly. There are also many fish swimming in the water, some of them large, that seem to have little shyness about humans.
Try to be at Cenote Hubiku as early as possible
We were there around 9:30 and were the first in the water. From 10:30 on, the first tourist buses started arriving and it started to get crowded. When we started our way back around 11am, we had to squeeze through busloads of people and barely made it back to the parking lot. So try to be at this cenote as early as possible so that you can still experience a little peace.
By the way, Hubiku means in the Mayan language as much as the great god or nest of the iguana. The cenote has a diameter of about 50 meters and the water reaches almost 27 meters deep.
- Entrance fee: 100 MXN (approx. 5 Euro)
- Opening hours: 09:00-17:00
- Try to be here early in the morning!
#2 Agua Dulce | The Adventurer Cenote
Cenote Agua Dulce was for us the most beautiful, and definitely the least touristic cenote. It is located on an area which is quite large and contains a total of 4 cenotes. The cenotes cost 100 Mexican pesos (about 5 Euro) entrance fee each. The possibility of a combined entrance, where you could visit all cenotes for a reduced entrance fee, does not exist.
After our research beforehand and also looking at the info board (including photos) of the different cenotes, we decided on the Agua Dulce Cenote. First, this one looked the coolest and second, we didn’t want to spend money four times for four cenotes. One was enough for us.
After we bought our tickets at the ticket booth, which is located at the very back of the area, we drove with our scooter to the entrance of Agua Dulce. The cenote has 2 entrances of which one can be described as “normal”(a normal wide staircase) and the other as really spectacular (a free floating spiral staircase attached to the corner of the cave). Of course, it is clear which entrance we have chosen.
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We descended into the cenote via the narrow spiral staircase. The spiral staircase ends on a platform attached to ropes, from which you can jump directly into the water. The space to put your things there or to sit is very small. The other platform, where the normal entrance ends, can only be reached by swimming. So many people do not fit on this platform.
On the ceiling of the cenote there are also two climbing ropes where you can climb up and plop down into the water. A lot of fun, if you make it up there. In addition, there are also two kayaks, several floating hoops and the obligatory ropes on the water surface. We had a lot of fun in this cenote and could also shoot very great photos before we fought our way back up via the wobbly spiral staircase.
- Entrance fee: 100 MXN (about 5 Euro)
- Opening hours: 09:00-17:00
#3 Suytun | The Instagram Cenote
The Suytun cenote is not really the most beautiful or spectacular on this list. It’s not even particularly deep or has particularly clear water. But it is pretty damn picturesque. Cenote Suytun is rather small and also quite dark, as there is only a small light inlet. The water is also only a maximum of 5 meters deep and not very clear. So you can’t come here to swim.
But what can be called the highlight of this cenote not far from Valladolid is the platform that leads into the middle of the cenote and the beam of light that shines through the hole in the cave ceiling directly to the end of this small platform. This looks mega cool. And so the tourists also literally queue up in front of this platform to take the perfect Instagram photo here.
If you also want to have such a photo, then you should visit the Cenote Suytun. But if you don’t care about such photos and prefer to swim in a deep, spectacular cenote, then you should skip Suytun and rather include one of the two optional cenotes described below in your itinerary.
- Price: 120 MXN (about 6 Euro)
- Opening hours: 09:00-17:00
- you don’t come here to swim, but to take pictures
#4 Zaci | The City Cenote
This cenote is definitely the easiest to reach in the Valladolid area. In fact, it is located right in the city and is within walking distance from the main square of the small Mexican town. Zaci is not a closed cave, but an open/collapsed cenote, which makes for a great view from above. It has a diameter of almost 45 meters and a water depth of 30 up to 100 meters.
The water is wonderfully clear and from above a small, artificially fed, waterfall pours into the cenote. You can walk around the cenote on a small path and in the back area, if you dare, jump into the water from a height of about 10 meters.
A visit to the Cenote Zaci is an essential part of a walk through Valladolid. Be it to cool down from the heat or to end the day trip to the cenotes in and around Valladolid.
- Price: 30 MXN (approx. 1,40 Euro)
- Opening hours: 09:00-17:00
- within walking distance from the city center
Here are 2 additional cenotes that you can optionally add to your route. We unfortunately didn’t visit these cenotes in Valladolid ourselves due to time constraints, but have researched them enough beforehand to recommend them. So if you have more than one day or are just done with the other cenotes earlier, we can still recommend the following two cenotes.
#5 + #6 Cenote Xkeken & Cenote Samula
These two cenotes are quite similar and generally less visited than e.g. Cenote Hubiku. They are enclosed cave cenotes that both have a light entrance through a hole in the ceiling. Both are right next to each other and the owners have taken heart and created a combined entrance where you save some money if you want to visit both cenotes.
There is also a funny legend about Cenote Xkeken: It is said to have been discovered long ago by a pig that always came back to its owner covered in mud. At some point the farmer followed his animal when it went off again and found the cenote with the crystal clear water in which the pig always bathed. If you still have time on your day trip around Valladolid, you should include these two cenotes in your itinerary.
- Entrance fee: 125 MXN (about 6 Euro) for both cenotes / 80 MXN (about 3,50 Euro) for one cenote
- Opening hours: 08:00-19:00
Do you think another cenote belongs in this list? Then write us a comment below our Valladolid Mexico travelogue!