Last Updated on July 28, 2023 by Nellie Huang
As an expat living in Mexico, I’ve visited many cenotes, and the most photogenic of them all is Cenote Suytun. Here’s why.
You’ve most likely seen the photo of Cenote Suytun on social media: a ray of sunlight pours through a hole in the cave, lighting up the stalactites that hang from the ceiling and the turqoise water that floods up the cave. Of all the cenotes I’ve been, Cenote Suytun is certainly the most photogenic.
Unlike the typical cenote, this is a closed cenote with just a small hole on the top that lets light in. It forms part of the larger Sistema Sac Actun, which is one of the world’s longest underwater cave systems. If you’re looking to get some good shots, I highly recommend including Cenote Suytun in your Yucatan itinerary.
Table of Contents
- Cenote Sutyun Essential Info
- Why Visit Cenote Sutyun Mexico?
- What is a Cenote?
- Cenote Suytun’s History
- What Type of Cenote is Cenote Sutyun?
- Entrance Fees for Cenote Sutyun
- Cenote Sutyun Opening Hours
- Location of Cenote Sutyun
- How to Get to Cenote Sutyun from Valladolid
- From Cancun to Cenote Suytun
- From Tulum to Cenote Suytun
- From Merida to Cenote Suytun
- Which Cenote Sutyun Tour to Take?
- Where to Stay near Cenote Sutyun
- How Much Time at Cenote Suytun?
- What to Do at Cenote Suytun
- Facilities at Cenote Suytun
- Is Cenote Sutyun Safe?
- Cenote Suytun with Kids
- Rules at Cenote Suytun
- What to Pack for Cenote Suytun
- Is it Worth Visiting Cenote Suytun?
Cenote Sutyun Essential Info
Why Visit Cenote Sutyun Mexico?
Suytun gets its name due to this famous pathway; Suytun means “stone center”. This cenote goes as deep as 5 meters at its deepest point. One of the most striking features of Cenote Suytun is the impressive stalactites hanging from the ceiling of the cave. These mineral formations give it an ethereal feel and an atmosphere unlike no other.
Cenote Suytun has a stone walkway that extends into the water towards the center of the cave. This platform also serves as an excellent spot for taking photos, as the light filtering through the cenote’s opening creates dramatic and Instagram-worthy shots.
At just 15 minutes from Valladolid, this cenote is easy to get to by car or colectivo (you don’t need to book a tour to visit). If you’re planning to visit Chichen Itza, Cenote Suytun is just a 40-minute drive from there! You can easily make it a full day excursion by visiting them both in one day. [Read my post on how to get to Chichen Itza.]
What is a Cenote?
Let’s back it up a bit and dive into what a cenote really is. A cenote (pronounced as “seh-no-tay”) is a natural freshwater sinkhole formed when limestone caves collapse. The natural sinkhole is fed by the filtration of rain and by the currents of underground rivers. That is why when swimming in a cenote you feel so much freshness. The water never gets above 75°F (23°C)!
The Yucatan Peninsula is scattered with over 7,000 cenotes and caves. This vast network of fractures drains the rainwater from the surface into many vast underground river systems. You can find cenotes all over the world, but only in the Yucatan Peninsula and especially the Riviera Maya can you find concentration of cenotes in one area.
Cenote Suytun’s History
The ancient Mayans believed that the cenotes were a portal through which they could communicate with the gods. They believed that these sinkholes were entrances to the underworld, known as Xibalba, a place of great importance in Mayan mythology.
The Mayans associated cenotes with the god of rain, Chaac, as they recognized the vital role these water-filled sinkholes played in sustaining their communities during the dry season. The Mayans believed that making offerings in the cenotes would bring about rain, fertility, and prosperity to their crops and communities.
These days, cenotes are popular attractions in the Yucatan Peninsula that appeal to outdoorsy travelers and adventurous families. If you’re looking to steer off the beaten path, a visit to the cenotes will definitely help you get acquainted with the raw, natural side of the Riviera Maya.
What Type of Cenote is Cenote Sutyun?
There are four different types of cenotes, described as open, semi-open, closed, and grouund. Cenote Suytun is a closed cenote, which means it’s a covered cave. Closed cenotes are the youngest cenotes, their shapes are circular and they are normally accessible through passages or tunnels found at the water level.
To access Cenote Suytun, you need to walk down a ramp and then a flight of stairs that descends to the bottom of the cave. Once inside Cenote Suytun, you can see stalagmites hanging from the ceiling of the cave. The humidity is impalpable and you can feel the water in the air. The cave itself is huge and there’s actually a lot of space inside.
Water fills the bottom of the cave but it’s shallow and the water level changes with the time of the day. The visibility of the water is the best I’ve seen in all cenotes, you can see right through the bottom, and there are plenty of skin-chewing garra rufa fish to give you a free fish spa.
Entrance Fees for Cenote Sutyun
You can book your tickets online or directly at the entrance of the property. There’s a small toll office where you pay the entrance fees and take your bracelets. They take cash and internatioal debit/credit cards. Adults pay 200 MXN (US$10), and kids pay 150 MXN (US$7.5).
Parking is free and you can rent lockers if you want for 35 MXN ($1.750US) each. When you rent lockers, you’ll have to leave an ID as a deposit. If you do not have anything on you, then you’ll need to pay a refundable fee of 400 MXN (US$20).
Here is the combo price list:
- Adults — 200 MXN (US$10)
- Kids under 12 — 150 MXN (US$7.5)
- Entrance + 2 drinks — 250 MXN (US$12.5)
- Entrance + set lunch — 300 MXN (US$15)
- Entrance + buffet lunch — 350 MXN (US$17.5)
Cenote Sutyun Opening Hours
Cenote Suytun is open from 9 AM to 5 PM everyday. The last entry is at 4pm.
To avoid the crowd, I suggest visiting the cenote in the morning or late in the afternoon (3+pm). It tends to get busy around noon. Another tip to avoid the crowds is to visit on a weekday instead of a weekend.
If you want to get a Cenote Suytun sunbeam photo, it’s the strongest between 12 to 2pm. I’ve visited both first thing in the morning and late in the afternoon and hardly had to wait to take a picture on the stone platform.
Location of Cenote Sutyun
Valladolid, Mexico is the closest city to Suytun Cenote, at just 8.6km or a 13-minute drive from downtown Valladolid. This humble, provincial town has a historic center sprinkled with churches, cobblestoned streets, great restaurants and beautiful hotels housed in colonial buildings.
Valladolid is also the nearest town to Chichen Itza, so if you’re planning to visit Mexico’s most famous archaeological site, you definitely need to spend a few days in Valladolid and hop over to Cenote Suytun too. Check out my list of things to do in Valladolid.
Here are the driving distances from other parts of the Yucatan Peninsula to Valladolid:
- From Tulum – 58 miles (94.5 km); 1h 15min drive
- From Playa del Carmen – 92 miles (148 km); 1h 45min drive
- From Cancun – 103 miles (165 km); 2h 15min drive
- From Merida – 103 miles (165 km); 2h 15min drive
How to Get to Cenote Sutyun from Valladolid
By Car Rental
It’s cheap and easy to rent a car in Valladolid. An economy rental car in Mexico averages just $200 for a whole week, which is less than $25 a day. The current price for gas is 16.50 pesos per liter (about $2.50 per gallon). We always use DiscoverCars.com as they’ve consistently given us the best prices and customer service.
The drive to Valladolid is particularly easy as you’ll be traversing the quiet tolled highway 180D, whether you’re coming from Cancun, Playa del Carmen or Merida. There’s very little traffic and the road is extremely well-maintained and smooth. The toll fees add up to around 370 MXN (US$22) each way. If you’re coming from Tulum, you’ll be taking the Coba road which is just as quiet, but narrower and slower.
There is Uber in Valladolid; an Uber from the center costs no more than 100 MXN (US$5). Taxis are readily available in the historic center. That said, it can be difficult to find a cab driver that’ll give you a reasonable price. Try to arrange with the driver to wait for you, otherwise you can ask the cenote staff to call a taxi for the way back.
You can catch one of the colectivos (shared taxis) from Valladolid that drop off at Cenote Suytun. It’s the cheapest option to get from Valladolid to Cenote Suytun. Just tell the driver you’re looking for Cenote Suytun and they’ll stop right at the gate for you. Colectivos usually leave only when they’re full and they make plenty of stops along the way. A single ride is just 30 MXN (US$1.50).
From Cancun to Cenote Suytun
As mentioned, the easiest way is by renting a car from Cancun Airport. The drive from Cancun to Valladolid is an easy one as the quiet tolled highway 180D has very little traffic and the road is extremely well-maintained and smooth. The toll fees add up to around 370 MXN (US$22) each way.
But those who don’t drive can easily take the ADO bus from Cancun to Valladolid, then take the colectivo explained above to get to the cenote. The ADO bus is comfortable, reliable and punctual. Book your tickets online to ensure availability.
Alternatively, you can also book a day trip from Cancun to combine a visit to Cenote Suytun with Chichen Itza. They’ll take care of all transportation, entry tickets and meals. We booked this small-group tour for our family who came to visit and they were very happy with the tour!
From Tulum to Cenote Suytun
It’s even easier to get to Cenote Suytun from Tulum. It’s a straightforward 1 hour 15 minute drive along the quiet, jungle road to Coba so you won’t be seeing a lot of traffic. It is a one-lane road though, so don’t expect to go too fast. It is free to drive it though, so you won’t have to pay any toll fees.
ADO bus also serves the Tulum-to-Valladolid route. Check the schedule online and book tickets here to make sure you have a spot on the bus before you travel!
Most day tours from Tulum to Chichen Itza also bring you to Cenote Suytun. Check out this day tour that has raving reviews!
From Merida to Cenote Suytun
Merida is further north but it’s also an easy drive to Valladolid on the quiet tolled highway 180D. The road is extremely well-maintained and smooth. Otherwise you can easily take the ADO bus from Merida to Valladolid. The ADO bus is comfortable, reliable and punctual. Book your tickets online to ensure availability.
There are also day tours from Merida that combine a visit to Cenote Suytun with Tulum ruins and Ahau Park. They’ll take care of all transportation, entry tickets and meals. Check out this small-group day tour.
Which Cenote Sutyun Tour to Take?
If you prefer someone to take care of all the logistics, there are plenty of day tours to choose from. We recommend taking a day tour that combines a visit to Cenote Suytun with Chichen Itza, Cenote Ik-Kil and Valladolid. That will maximize your day and allow you to see most of the interesting sights in this area. Here are some tours that we’ve sent our visitors on:
- Chichen Itza + Cenote Suytun + Valladolid day tour
- 4 cenotes + Valladolid day trip
- Cenote Suytun + Rio Lagartos + Las Coloradas day trip
- Cenote Suytun + Tulum ruins + Ahau park day trip (from Merida)
Where to Stay near Cenote Sutyun
Cenote Suytun is just a 13-minute drive from Valladolid, so we suggest staying in Valladolid’s historic center. The cenote itself is surrounded by jungle and while there are cabañas you can rent, there isn’t much to do in the area itself.
Here are our Valladolid hotel recommendations:
Budget: Casa Hipil
A lovely homely budget option, this place feels more like a guesthouse than a hotel and even has a lounge and communal kitchen. It’s warm and welcoming with clean and comfortable en suite rooms. Check rates here.
Mid Range: Colonte Hotel Origen
With a boho chic interior, this boutique hotel has Tulum vibes and stylish furnishings that exude rustic luxury. We stayed at this mid range hotel on my birthday and enjoyed the small, intimate setting and delicious breakfast! Check rates here.
Luxury: Le Muuch Valladolid
A gorgeous boutique hotel oozing lots of colonial charm, this is the most luxurious option in Valladolid. The elegant hotel features lush gardens, swinging hammocks, and romantic four-poster beds. Check rates here.
Couples: Hotel Zentik Project & Saline Cave
Wish we could have stayed here, but it’s an adults-only hotel! This unique hotel has treehouse-style rooms and two 24-hour pools, including a magical saline cave pool. Check rates here.
How Much Time at Cenote Suytun?
Most people come to Cenote Suytun to capture the stunning cenote in photos and do a quick swim. The water is pretty cold, but even if you don’t swim, you can sit around on the edge and get a free fish spa.
There is in fact another cenote here called Cenote Kaapeh. It doesn’t have quite as much of a wow factor as Cenote Suytun, but it’s still worth checking out. The water in Cenote Kaapeh isn’t super clear, but you can still swim in it and it hardly gets crowded here. All in all, you won’t need more than 1-2 hours here.
What to Do at Cenote Suytun
Even though the water at Cenote Suytun is very shallow (its depth ranges from 3.5 feet to 16.5 feet or 1-5m), you can snorkel to see all the little fish swimming around and the rocks beneath you. The water is very clean and clear, so you can see all the way to the bottom in many places. Though it’s not deep at all, life jackets are still mandatory to swim in Cenote Suytun.
The water isn’t deep enough to scuba dive; but if you’d like to try cave diving in a cenote, check out Cenote Jardin del Eden near Playa del Carmen.
Facilities at Cenote Suytun
Cenote Suytun’s facilities recently got a facelift. There is now a souvenir shop right at the entrance, a tiki bar, a nice restaurant, changing rooms, and proper showers and toilets.
There is an on-site restaurant, with food served buffet style. They serve mainly traditional Yucatan food like cochinita pibil (slow roasted pork), poc chuc (grilled pork), sopa de lima (lime soup). You can get a combo of entrance ticket and buffet lunch for 350 MXN (US$17.5).
Life jackets are mandatory at Cenote Suytun if you want to swim. They are very strict about this. Pick up your life jacket at the same place where you can rent a locker and remember to take a shower before getting into the cenote.
Is Cenote Sutyun Safe?
I can see how those who aren’t confident swimmers might be nervous getting into a cenote. But put on a life vest, calm your nerves, and you’ll see what a gorgeous, mystical world this is. There are usually 1-2 lifeguards on duty at Cenote Suytun.
For me, the natural setting of a cenote is what appeals to me. Here is where you can get away from the resorts and get to know the wild and natural side to the Yucatan Peninsula.
Cenote Suytun with Kids
The first time I visited Cenote Suytun was with my then 7-year-old daughter. She liked dipping her feet into the water and seeing the garra funa fish, but she did complain that the water was too cold to swim in.
There are definitely other cenotes that are more kid-friendly, such as Cenote Azul, with shallow patches of water and jungly trails around to hike on.
Rules at Cenote Suytun
To protect the environment, Cenote Sutyun has introduced several rules:
- It is NOT allowed to use sunscreen here. Sunscreen, even reef-friendly ones, can be toxic to the fish and underwater plants here.
- It’s mandatory to take a quick shower before entering the cenote. The showers are by the entrance.
- It’s also mandatory to wear a life vest if you’re swimming. They are very strict about it.
- It’s not permitted to bring your own food. There is a restaurant and snack shop by the entrance.
- Don’t litter at the cenote and be sure to take your trash with you.
- No pets are allowed at the cenote.
- Drones are not allowed here.
What to Pack for Cenote Suytun
Pack all your essentials for a day at the pool such as towel, bathing suit, sunscreen, sunglasses, and dry clothes to change into.
For those who burn easily, I recommend bringing sun-proof rashguards that can protect their skin. Wearing waterproof sandals or water shoes will also be useful, especially in the water (the stairways can be slippery). Don’t forget your GoPro for waterproof photos/videos!
PACKING LIST FOR CENOTE Suytun
- Bathing suit
- Microfiber quick-dry towel
- Water shoes
- Waterproof sun hat
- Breathable, quick dry t-shirts
- Waterproof dry bag
- Waterproof phone holder
- GoPro & charger
- Power bank
- Book or Kindle
Is it Worth Visiting Cenote Suytun?
I personally think that Cenote Suytun is the most photogenic cenote in the Yucatan Peninsula. There is something ethereal about its setting. Definitely time your visit to come around 12-2pm and you’ll see a clear ray of sunlight pouring through the hole on top of the cave and onto the stone platform.
To summarize, here’s what I like and dislike about Cenote Suytun. Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions.
What I Like about Cenote Sutyun:
- It’s the most photogenic cenote in the Yucatan Peninsula.
- Fantastic visibility in the water though the cave is quite dark.
- It’s very near Valladolid, making it easy to visit.
- It doesn’t usually get that crowded.
- Great facilities including clean showers and changing rooms.
What I Don’t Like about Cenote Sutyun:
- It’s mostly for photo-taking and dipping your feet in.
- You can’t do cliff-jumping or scuba diving here unlike at other cenotes.
- You need to wait in line to take a photo at the platform, which kinda takes away that magical feeling in the cenote.
For those who are planning to travel more of the Riviera Maya, check out other articles:
- 10-Day Yucatan Road Trip Itinerary
- 35 Fun Things to Do in the Yucatan Peninsula
- 20 Things to Do in Valladolid
- How to Get from Cancun to Chichen Itza
- Cenote Azul: My 2023 Guide
- Where to Stay in Tulum
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links i.e. if you book a stay through one of my links, I get a small commission at NO EXTRA COST to you. Thank you for your support!
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