About 15 minutes southwest by car from the center of the colonial town of Valladolid is a nice pair of cenotes on the same property. Often named for the town they are next to, the Dzitnup Cenotes, they each have their own name as well: X’Keken and Samula. One entrance fee of 59 pesos per person provides access to both. There is an open air market selling touristy items and snacks. The two cenotes are a few hundred yards apart – follow the signs to each. The order you visit each doesn’t matter much.
On the day we visited, it was early and there were only a dozen or so folks in each cenote, so it didn’t feel crowded. It can be busier at other times, especially if a tour bus or two arrives. The two cenotes are near mirror images of each other. With each, there is a steep set of stairs leading into the underground cavern where a super clear body of water awaits you. Stairs lead into the water and will need a little navigation if you have mobility issues. There is a nice platform with a few places to sit along the water of each.
These fairly shallow cenotes are more about swimming than snorkeling or diving. The water’s depth still requires treading water in most places, although it is shallow enough in spots to stand on the bottom. Bring a vest or flotation device for relaxed swimming. The lighting is dim in each cavern being lit by a single natural skylight. Each feels a lot like a cavernous dome with a well-place hole in the ceiling.
To see Dzitnup, there are some tours offered from Cancun or Playa del Carmen that combine the stop with Chichen Itza. Driving yourself is a nice option. It is about 2 hours from Cancun and should be combined with stops at ruins Chichen Itza or Ek Balam or with cenotes Ik Kil or the other ones in the area (Zaci, Palomitas, Agua Dulce or the one at Ek Balam). Stay in Valladolid, Peste or one of the resorts near Chichen Itza to make it a multi-day. There is plenty to see to the west by Merida as well.
to reach Dzitnup cenote from Cancun, take highway 180d. This limited access road is basically like an American interstate and makes the trip go quickly. There is a pretty expensive toll of about 300 pesos along the route each way. You can also drive via lesser roads that run parallel to 180d, including 180, but it will take a good bit longer as you won’t be driving as fast and you’ll have to deal with the topes (rough speed bumps) going through each town. Besides this, these roads are in pretty good shape.
You can find Dzitnup cenotes in Google Maps. Search for “Dzitnup Cenotes” or if that doesn’t work, try “Cenotes X’quequén y Samula”. There was pretty good signage for the last turn off of 180.
I write here about our experience at Dzitnup cenote.
A gallery of pictures from our trip is located here.