Cenote Xkeken (Cenote Dzitnup)
Managed by the local community and equipped with all essential facilities, this magnificent destination is nothing short of a dream. Its mysterious atmosphere creates an enchanting experience with its dim lighting and captivating stalactite formations. To double your pleasure, nearby lies Cenote Samula (also known as Dzitnup or Xquequeno).
While “Xkeken” means pig, you won’t find one out there but rather fish that love nibbling your toes! So come and explore this delightful cenote; it’s a must-do in your Yucatan Peninsula itinerary.
Here’s what you need to know about visiting Xkeken Cenote for an unforgettable experience.
Cenote Xkeken is also known as Cenote Dzitnup and sometimes spelled as “Cenote X’keken”. No matter what name you call it by, visiting this beautiful cenote alongside its twin attraction—Cenote Samula—is an absolute must! Just off the beaten path, you’ll find Cenotes Xkeken and Samula only a few miles away from the beautiful Cenote Saamal.
Even though cenotes have been quite famous and trendy lately, you might not be aware of what they are. For this reason, I strongly suggest that you don’t skip this paragraph!
Journey back in time with a cenote, a naturally formed sinkhole created by centuries-old limestone caves. Filled with rainfall water and connected to underground rivers, these lush pools of serene beauty offer an enchanting escape like none other. Whether you’re seeking relaxation or adventure, there is nothing quite as special as plunging into the depths of history at your very own cenote!
The term “cenote” derives from the Mayan word seh-no-teh, which literally translates to well. Although cenotes may look similar, there are four distinct types that can be found in Mexico:
With great significance to the Mayans who saw them as a gateway to the underworld, please consider these sites sacred and ensure you treat them with respect. Don’t forget to take your trash back with you when leaving and only use biodegradable sunscreen before swimming in any of the cenotes so we can keep this beautiful Mexican tradition alive for generations!
Cenote Xkeken is an unique cenote, as it has only a single source of light from the sky piercing through its sliver of an opening. What makes this particular cave so stunning, however, are its dazzling stalactites that form a magnificent dome-like structure hovering above you. Comparable to no other cavern cenote in size and grandeur, Cenote Xkeken’s rock formations remain unparalleled.
You might be startled to find that these caves are not cold but rather balmy and inviting. The water is refreshingly cool as opposed to an icy chill, which creates the perfect environment for swimming – even if you’re not the strongest of swimmers! If needed, there is normally a lifeguard on duty or specialty ropes strung overhead so you can pull yourself along, allowing everyone to enjoy this unique experience.
This particular cenote may not be the best for diving since its waters are relatively shallow.
Cenote Xkeken is situated alongside Cenote Samula and connected by a subterranean Mayan river. Sunlight glints off the water’s surface through an opening in its ceiling, where you can access it via a winding staircase of stone. However, be mindful and step lightly when descending these stairs — they are known to get rather slippery!
Carefully traverse the rocky and uneven pathways to get into one of the few cenote swimming spots. However, please note that diving is not allowed at any point for safety reasons; jumping into the water is strictly prohibited. It’s best practice to enjoy swimming or wading in this special area with caution!
Cenote Xkeken is a diminutive oasis with its subterranean cavern measuring an intimate 30 x 20 meters (98 x 65 feet). The crystalline water depths reach up to an impressive 20 meters (65 feet), and the walls are adorned with alluring stalactite and stalagmite formations.
If you’re looking for a unique swimming experience, dip into the captivating and crystal-clear waters of Cenote Xkeken. Although slightly chilly, it is perfectly tolerable – plus there are ropes to hold onto when your strength starts waning. When sunlight passes through the hole in the ceiling, beams will dance around inside this cave, adding an ethereal atmosphere that cannot be found elsewhere!
Going to the Xkeken cenote from your hotel in Cancun will take approximately two hours. The majestic Chichen Itza it’s just 30 minutes away. So if you are planning to visit Chichen Itza you can add an extra 15 minutes onto that trip and make a detour to visit Cenote Dzitnup/X’keken before heading back to the city!
If you’re visiting Valladolid, nearby cenotes such as Cenote Samula, Cenote Saamal, and Cenote Zaci are just a stone’s throw away. With the availability of taxis and cheap bicycle rentals in town, it is hassle-free to get there!
Read Next our favorite cenotes in Mexico:
And don’t forget to stay up to date with the latest safety updates on Mexico.
If you’re looking for a memorable outdoor adventure, Xkeken Cenote is the place to go! Located just outside of Valladolid, here are some fantastic ways to get there.
Renting a car is the ideal approach to reaching Cenote Xkeken. When mapping out directions, be sure to look into all of this cenote’s additional aliases, like Cenote Dzitnup and X’quequen.
Start your journey in Valladolid and follow Highway 180 southwestward. Once you spot the indicator for Hacienda Selva Maya, make a left turn onto the following road, which is slim but quite passable – don’t worry if it only takes two minutes! And when you arrive at Cuncunul, there’s on-site parking available just outside of this cenote.
Traveling to Cenote Xkeken from Valladolid by taxi is an effortless way of getting there. The cost for a one-way ticket is, on average, 90 Pesos; however, you can also team up with other travelers who are looking to save money and ask around at your hostel/hotel or resort if someone else wants to join the ride. If you want a cab back into town after visiting the cenote, simply request it at their reception desk! Just get a taxi driver recommendation from your hotel and make sure you agree on the price before you head out.
Unfortunately, no. Even though the app is functional, there has been a lot of push-back from the local taxi-mafia and some violence so for your safety, we would suggest against using it.
Exploring Cenote Xkeken by bicycle is an excellent option. From the center of Valladolid, this journey should take approximately 45 minutes. There are many bike rental shops in town that offer daily rates between 100-150 Pesos and hourly ones at 20-25 Pesos. Follow Calle 54 Southbound until the cenote sign and turn right; there will be designated bike trails along the way for your safety. However, keep in mind that you’ll face hilly terrain with gravel roads during most of your ride – making it slightly more bumpy than usual – but trust us when we say it’s worth every second!
Colectivos are essentially shared vans that serve as a form of public transportation. According to what I gathered, you can hop on one outside the bus station in Valladolid and it will bring you close to Cenote Xkeken! Just remember to let your driver know right away where you’re going once they start their route.
A visit to either of the incredible Cenote Xkeken or Cenote Samula in Yucatan costs just 80 pesos ($4 USD) each, or you can explore and experience both for only 125 pesos ($6 USD). Despite their similarities as limestone-formed cenotes from underground caves near Cancun, each offers a one-of-a-kind journey!
While tour guides are available near the park entrance, I would strongly advise against hiring one. We had a guide to accompany us during our visit, but all of his facts were identical to what we read on the internet before entering. Thus, it was an unnecessary expense! Additionally, he was a very nice person who didn’t provide any additional value.
The cenote is open from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm! Be sure to double-check the opening and closing times, though, as they may change periodically.
If your goal is to take a picture of Xkeken Cenote without the distraction of crowds, consider arriving early in the morning or shortly before closing. Additionally, if you want an even more peaceful experience, try visiting on a weekday when locals are typically less likely to be at cenotes. What do you think about Xkeken? Are cave cenotes one of your favorites like they are mine?
Although the facilities available at Cenote Xkeken are minimal compared to Gran Cenote and Ik Kil cenote, they offer a more than satisfactory experience. You won’t find many bells and whistles here, but you can be sure of experiencing one of nature’s wonders without compromising on quality.
Snorkeling can still be an exciting activity, despite the how dark the cenote is Although you may not find a vast number of fish, it is still possible to explore and enjoy the underwater world without scuba gear!
Cenote Xkeken is not a good spot for diving.
Located near the vibrant city of Valladolid, Xkeken Cenote is easily accesible. It’s also close to another cenote – Cenote Samula – allowing you to visit two sites in one day! With its breathtaking underground cave-like beauty, Xkeken is a must-see for all travelers. Plus, lifeguards are on duty at all times which makes it even safer if you’re vacationing with kids.
Exploring the cenote can be difficult as it is quite dark, making snorkeling a challenge since you won’t spot much. For those that prefer diving in cenotes, this one may not be suitable due to its shallow depth of 20 meters.
After exploring the stunning Cenote Xkeken, you may be wondering what else to do around this area. Having spent a good deal of time here myself, I humbly offer a few suggestions for activities that are sure to make your trip even more memorable.