Dzitnup Cenotes Xkeken and Samula: The Ultimate Guide

The “Dzitnup Cenotes” Xkeken and Samula lie just outside of Valladolid and are the perfect place to swim in an underground freshwater cave.

dzitnup cenote xkeken

The Dzitnup Cenotes, located just outside of Valladolid in the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico, are underground caves that captivate visitors with their beauty and mystery.

Consisting of two cenotes, Xkeken and Samula, the Dzitnup Cenotes offer an awesome underground adventure that feels like you’re going into a different world.

We explored the Dzitnup Cenotes in July 2023 and created this guide to help you plan your visit. Enjoy!

Dzitnup Cenotes (Xkeken and Samula) Details

  • 📍 Cenotes Dzitnup – Google Maps
  • Distance from Valladolid: 7 km
  • Entrance: $226 MXN for both cenotes (cash and credit cards accepted)
  • Hours: 8 am – 5 pm daily

Cenote Xkeken

Entering Cenote Xkeken is like stepping into a secret underground cave that you can explore by swimming.

Cenote Xkeken is deep. Deep enough that you can’t see or touch the bottom while swimming in it. This gives it a mysterious feeling – the kind that makes you wonder if anything lurks below.

Our favorite part about Cenote Xkeken is its countless stalactites that jut down from the ceiling above. This gives it an otherworldly feel. It’s like experiencing and swimming in a new place that’s truly unique.

When it rains, water cascades down into the cenote through a hole in its roof. The drops of water blend with sunshine to create a feeling that life is pouring into the underworld from the earth above. It’s straight out of a fantasy.

Cenote Samula

Cenote Samula is huge. When we first entered this cenote, we definitely had a “wow” moment when we first stepped into it.

At some point in the past, the ceiling of Cenote Samula caved in, leaving a large hole that lets in sunlight. You can actually see the boulders on the bottom of the cenote from where the roof caved in.

Over time, this hole has become a central feature of the cenote, and today tree roots hang down from the earth above, acting as a bridge between two worlds.

Inside the cenote’s waters, two ropes extend over the length of the cenote. These ropes act as a safety that you can grab onto or help maneuver yourself around.

The water in Cenote Samula is much shallower than in Xkeken. And since the hole in the roof lets in a substantial amount of light, you can actually see the bottom of the cenote through the water.

What You Need to Know Before Visiting Cenotes Xkeken and Samula

Do I need a guide to visit the cenotes?

When you get to the entrance of the X’keken and Samula cenotes, you might be greeted by a super friendly “guide” eager to show you around.

The guide will not mention anything about payment until a bit later – after they’ve already shown you around. They usually expect somewhere between 500 to 1000 pesos for their services.

In our opinion, the guide is not necessary. The paths to these cenotes are clear and well-marked.

Visiting the X’keken and Samula cenotes is straightforward, and not something that requires a guide.

What is the best time to visit the Xkeken and Samula Cenotes?

The best time to visit the Xkeken and Samula cenotes is right when they open at 8 AM. Getting to these cenotes right when they open is the best way to beat the crowds.

In our experience, we visited the Dzitnup cenotes in the mid-morning around 10 AM and did not encounter large crowds. There were other groups of people at the cenotes but it did not feel packed or overwhelming while we were there.

What should I bring to Xkeken and Samula cenotes?

Here’s a quick list of what to bring if you’re headed to the Xkeken and Samula cenotes:

  • Towel: For drying off after swimming in the cenotes.
  • Water Shoes: The cenote floors can be rocky (especially Cenote Samula), and water shoes will keep your feet protected.
  • Cash: While the entrance booth takes credit cards, the snack and souvenir vendors inside only take cash. If you think you might grab a snack or souvenir, bring some cash.
  • Waterproof Case or Bag: Even if you’re not planning to snap pics in the water, splashes or puddles can still pose a risk to your cell phone, so it’s best to keep it covered in a case or bag.
  • Change of Clothes: Nothing beats changing back into dry clothes after a swim.

And a quick note – skip the sunscreen for this trip. The cenotes are delicate ecosystems and the chemicals in sunscreen affect them. Plus, the Dzitnup Cenotes are underground, so you won’t need sunscreen under there anyway.

Do I need to wear a life jacket when swimming in the cenotes?

Wearing a life jacket is mandatory when swimming in the Xkeken and Samula cenotes.

We had no issue wearing life jackets since it’s a safety measure and using the life jackets made it much easier to just float in the cenote and enjoy ourselves.

Honestly, we probably would voluntarily wear the life jackets in these cenotes even if we didn’t need to, since there’s no point in diving down into the water since you can’t see much due to the darkness.

Visiting the Dzitnup Cenotes – Our Experience

We visited the Dzitnup Cenotes during our trip to Valladolid in July 2023. During our trip there we rented a car, so we drove to the Dzitnup Cenotes.

After parking in the parking lot, we started walking to the entrance to the cenotes and a man greeted us at the front and told us that he would be our guide for the cenotes. We assumed that the guide was part of the entrance fee to the cenote (our mistake – I’ll explain later), so we let him take us through the gate of the cenote where we bought our admission tickets.

After going through the admission gate, the first thing we did was pick up life jackets. The life jackets are mandatory for visiting these cenotes. One bonus of having the guide was that we could have him take pictures of us, which is honestly priceless since we rarely have photos of both Chloe & me together.

We visited Cenote Samula first.

Cenote Samula is underground in a massive cavern and after entering we stopped to take a few photos of the cenote.

Before we jumped in the water, our guide then explained that his service was not free and politely requested a “tip” of 1000 pesos. I negotiated with him down to 500 pesos to settle the tip.

We jumped in the cenote and had an awesome time swimming around. This was the first cenote that we visited during our time in Mexico and it did not disappoint. The water was slightly cold so I couldn’t stay in for more than 20 minutes, but it was hard getting Chloe out of there. She said she could have swam all day.

Next up: Cenote Xkeken.

After parting ways with our guide, we walked down into Cenote Xkeken and upon entering, it had a completely different vibe than Cenote Samula. While Xkeken is still pretty large, it doesn’t have that “massive” feel to it. Instead, it had more of a underground cave feel to it, with giant stalactites and roots protruding from the ceiling of the cenote.

As we swam in the cenote, it started thunderstorming outside, and water began to fall into the cenote from the hole in the ceiling of the cave. It was honestly magical being inside of the cave, away from the storm, but still being able to see the lightning flashing through the hole of the cenote and watch the water pour in from above.

We spent over an hour in Cenote Xkeken – mostly since it was pouring outside, but also because we had such an awesome time swimming around the cenote. Cenote Xkeken is much more interesting to swim around in with all the stalactites on the ceiling, so as you swim around there’s lots of cool geology to look at.

Trey Lewis is an outdoor enthusiast. Whether its hiking knife-edge ridges or just fishing by the river, Trey isn't afraid to get dirty in search of the next adventure.

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