Cenote Saamal: The Best Way to Cool Off After Chichén Itzá

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Beware: You should never explore wild caves alone or without proper gear. Consider getting in touch with a Grotto of the National Speleological Society at www.caves.org or a qualified cave club. These groups are skilled and will train you. Without sufficient knowledge, preparation, and equipment, cave exploring can lead to serious injury or death.

Cenote Saamal is located less than 4 miles (5.8 km) from the center of Valladolid, and is often associated with various tours of Chichén Itzá.

Because Chichén Itzá is so far from the beach, your options are more limited. Cenote Saamal is still a great one, though, providing both a relaxing and refreshing dip in natural waters. The amenities and establishments nearby, that don’t come with other cenotes, are simply icing on the cake

In this article, you’ll learn all about Cenote Saamal, and how to plan your tour of Chichén Itzá so that you can hit both of these sites (and maybe one more) in the same day.

As with some cenotes, however, there are definitely some wrong ways to visit. At Cenote Saamal, as you’ll see, you do need to have your wits about you, so you don’t fall victim to some of the common traps set for tourists in Mexico. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered as always! Let’s start with what the staff at Cenote Saamal does right.

A look at Cenote Saamal and its massive opening above.

Everything to Know about Cenote Saamal

An image showing the flight of wooden steps that leads down into the water at Cenote Saamal.

Cenote Saamal is a great cenote to visit on a hot day while touring Valladolid, Yucatán. It’s located close to the heart of the municipality, and is visited by locals and tourists year-round. Being a great spot for couples and families alike, if you find it empty when you go, consider yourself lucky.

Tour buses and crowds form often, especially during the warmer seasons.

When you get there, you must shower, like with all cenotes that are properly managed. So expect a bit of a walk, changing into your swimsuit, showering, getting your belongings stored properly in a locker, retrieving your life jacket, and then finally making your way slowly down to the main walkway.

A long path of wooden stairs leads you down to the cenote, but be prepared to walk at least 80 steps both ways. If you instead are there to simply view the scenery and perhaps take photos, there is a separate viewing deck. You can reach this by traveling down some stone steps – but watch your step, they are uneven and may be a bit slippery.

There’s a zip line for the adventurous to fly across the cenote if they have the courage, and a platform to jump off into the water.

Life jackets are mandatory, even if you are not planning to go in the water, but they are included with the entrance fee.

Bring towels, your swimsuit, and water shoes if possible. The steps are quite slippery sometimes, especially when there’s dozens of people walking up and down and dripping water everywhere.

If you plan on swimming, there are lockers and changing rooms available, so you don’t have to watch your belongings the whole time.

Hacienda Selva Maya

Hacienda Selva Maya is a holiday complex, combining local and regional history, comfortable accommodation, and Cenote Saamal in a carefully preserved natural environment. Thanks to this organization, visitors can find just about anything they need while seeing the cenote they came for.

You may have seen some of our cenotes articles, but not all cenotes are created equally. For example, at Casa Cenote, once you’re in the water and swimming to the other end, you don’t have any places to stop and get out of the water until you return to the ladder at the beginning. At Casa Cenote, you won’t find a comfortable area to just lounge around and enjoy the sun and scenery.

At Cenote Saamal, there is a viewing deck and plenty of room for people to enjoy themselves without having to get into the water. You can also find a restaurant, some stores, bathrooms, and more. There is also a former colonial cattle ranch, which may be interesting to your group to visit sometime while you’re in the area. Children or older relatives that come with you can easily enjoy themselves while staying dry.

Avoid the tequila store, however, unless you’re going for the free samples. More on that later, in our Tips & Tricks section.

An image of the building of Hacienda Selva Maya and the pool outside it.
Hacienda Selva Maya


Entrance to Cenote Saamal is only 150 MXN ($7), and includes a life jacket and a locker. This makes the cenote quite inexpensive compared to several others.

Getting to Cenote Saamal

Having your own car is the most flexible option, especially because you’ll be in the city for much of the trip. Depending on where else you plan to visit in Valladolid, you may want to create your own itinerary, rather than rely on a guided tour for the whole trip. In addition, renting a car here is not available, as of now.

Another option, if cars aren’t your favorite choice, is renting a scooter. You will pay about 500 MXN ($25) for the entire day, and this is viable for solo travelers without much on their person.

My personal favorite is a cycling trip, assuming again that you are traveling solo. However, cycling with a group is still a nice exercise, and you can easily find bicycles at the hotels nearby or rent one in the city. These cost only about 250 MXN ($12) for the day.

When you’re on Valladolid, you’ll only have to travle about 4 km to the cenote, and can enjoy a scenic trip at your own leisurely pace.

An image shows the wooden steps and the viewing deck that allows tourists to look down into Cenote Saamal.
The viewing deck is visible here.

Tips & Tricks when Visiting Cenote Saamal

We promised some useful tips and tricks earlier, especially about the Tequila Gift Store, so we’ll start with that.

Avoid the Tequila Gift Store!

There is a Tequila Gift Shop here, where you can get free samples to try the flavors. But some have reported that what they purchased did not taste anything like what they tried in the store. To put it bluntly, do not buy their bottles.

The salespeople even insisted on wrapping the bottles under the guise of making things easier to transport. It’s possible the whole system is simply just a scam to prey on tourists that would never return to the same place anyway.
Be careful!

Okay, skip the Tequila Gift Store (except to leech some free samples). What else should you know?

Besides the scam, you need to follow some of the same steps that you would at other cenotes. Lock your belongings up in case of theft, because the crowds here can get quite large. However, we haven’t heard any serious issues with theft like we had at a few of the other cenotes, so you may have less to worry about here.

Note that tips are pushed for aggressively here. In addition, they report that towels are included in the entrance price, but they actually are not. Bring your own towel, and see if you can avoid wasting money on anything unnecessary in the process. Thankfully, the mandatory life jackets are included in the admission cost now.

Credit cards are accepted, which is a rarity in our experience. However, having pesos for purchases never hurts.

The buffet restaurant nearby is worth the price, and highly recommended if you plan to go around lunch time. Having a great meal right after a swim is always appreciated, and the service at the restaurant is great.

Try to avoid going in the late afternoon, because it gets quite crowded here. In the middle of the Yucatán Peninsula, there are simply too many people around who can easily make the trip here.

During the Chichén Itzá tour, you may get the chance to meet a Mayan Warrior, and learn more about the extensive history associated with cenotes in Mexico. If you do, it’s a nice opportunity to get more from your experience here. Definitely recommended.

Guided Tours and Diving in Cenote Saamal

Cenote Saamal is quite deep, and so some do elect to go diving here. However, the tour options are quite limited. While there are several separate tours, they are all offering mostly the same package: a full day trip with a visit to the cenote and some guided tours around Chichén Itza. Thus, we have included one below, which is at a reasonable price, but you may not find much variety when it comes to tours.

Chichen Itza, Swim in Saamal Cenote, Mexican Buffet and Valladolid Magical Town

Price: $69.00

Location: Request a meeting point

Start Time: 7:00 AM, for about 12 hours

Description: This full day tour includes a swim in Cenote Saamal, as well as a guided tour and plenty of time at Chichén Itza. There is a buffet lunch, but much of the time is going to be spent exploring the area around Valladolid.

Bring an extra change of clothes, especially since you will likely want to go swimming.

Hotels Near Cenote Saamal

Hacienda San Miguel Yucatán

Distance: 5.77 miles (9.3 km)

Rating: 8.4/10 (150+ reviews)

TecnoHotel Valladolid

Distance: 11.2 miles (18.1 km)

Rating: 8.6/10 (400+ reviews)

Hotel San Clemente

Distance: 3.6 miles (5.8 km)

Rating: 7.7/10 (2100+ reviews)

Hotel Waye

Distance: 3.6 miles (5.8 km)

Rating: 8.4/10 (850+ reviews)

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