Mexico | North America | Valladolid

Cenote Saamal & Hacienda Selva Maya Valladolid Guide

Cenote Saamal is another excellent Valladolid cenote to visit as part of your Yucatan itinerary either from Valladolid Mexico, Cancun, Tulum, Merida or Playa del Carmen. What’s great about this cenote is that you can visit it in combination with the incredible Chichen Itza!

Saamal Cenote is an open cenote with plenty of natural light, and it’s a part of a beautiful estate called Hacienda Selva Maya that boasts a range of excellent facilities such as ziplining, and bicycle rental, a bar, various souvenir shops, a decent restaurant and even a marquesita stand!  

Cenote Saamal Hacienda Selva Maya Valladolid

In addition to superb facilities, Cenote Selva Maya is located close to other great cenotes, including Cenote Oxman, Cenote Dzitnup and Cenote Suytun, which makes it super easy to combine all the best cenotes into one or two-day itinerary. 

Keep reading for all the best tips for visiting Cenote Saamal Valladolid! 

Best Saamal Cenote tours

While it is super easy to independently visit Saamal Cenote if you’re staying in one of the hotels in Valladolid, taking a tour makes a lot of sense for those that are staying in Tulum, Cancun or Playa del Carmen. Here are the two epic tours to consider:

This tour with Viator combines a tour of Chichen Itza with some fun time at Cenote Saamal and a visit to the colonial gem – the city of Valladolid

Chichen Itza + Cenote Saamal & Valladolid Tour

The below tour is run by Get Your Guide, and it combines a visit to Chichen Itza and Coba with Cenote Saamal. This is the tour for those that are adventure hungry and want to do as much as possible in one day!

Chichen Itza, Coba + Cenote Saamal Tour

Where to stay near Hacienda Selva Maya Cenote?

Hotel Zentik Project & Saline CaveUnique Adults-Only Hotel with Cave Pool

Valladolid Hotels
Hotel Zentik via Booking.com
Valladolid Hotels
Hotel Zentik via Booking.com

Situated 1.8 km (22 minutes walk) from the main square in Valladolid, Hotel Zentik Project features a unique cave with hot and salty water and another outdoor pool surrounded my loungers and hammocks. Guests can also enjoy a complimentary American breakfast, free parking, a spa centre, an onsite restaurant, and a bar. 

Hotel FundadoresValue Hotel with kitchenette

Valladolid Hotels
Hotel Fundadores via Booking.com
Valladolid Hotels
Hotel Fundadores via Booking.com

 

Located a 5-minute walk from Valladolid’s main square, Hotel Fundadores is set in a picturesque hacienda featuring a courtyard with a pool and rooms with kitchenette and balcony. 

Where is Cenote Saamal? 

Saamal Cenote

Cenote Saamal is located 5 km southwest of the centre of Valladolid, just off the main road that connects the city of Valladolid with the Chichen Itza archaeological site. Cenote Saamal can be easily visited on a day trip from Valladolid, and there is even a cycle route for those swayed by the idea of working out on their vacation. 

The other three cenotes that are situated next door include Cenote San Lorenzo Oxman, Cenote Samula and Cenote Xkeken. 

From Valladolid | 5.2 km (10 minutes drive)

From Tulum | 112 km (1 hour 30 minutes drive)

From Playa del Carmen | 146 km (2 hours drive)

From Cancun | 161 km (over 2 hours drive)

From Merida | 163 km ( over 2 hours drive)

Cenote Map Yucatan 

Cenote Saamal Map Location

How to get to Cenote Saamal Valladolid?

hacienda selva maya
The entrance to the Hacienda Selva Maya.

Hacienda Selva Maya Cenote by Car

Whether your starting point is in Tulum, Cancun or Playa del Carmen, the best way to visit Cenote Saamal Mexico, is by renting a car. 

Having your own car will give you a lot of flexibility to create your own itinerary, spend as much time as you please at the cenotes and leave at the time that suits you most. Hiring a car is also highly recommended if you’re travelling with your family or friends and can spread the cost between a few people. 

If you’re travelling during the high season, I recommend pre-booking the car with an airport pick-up or directly to your hotel in Cancun, Tulum, Merida or Playa del Carmen. Use Discover Cars to browse for car rental deals. 

TIP | Please note that at the time of writing this blog, there was no car rental available in Valladolid, so make sure you pre-arrange the car rental before you get there.

Cenote Saamal from Valladolid

Valladolid Mexico

If you’re staying in Valladolid and haven’t got a car, you can also rent a scooter in downtown Valladolid. Ask your hotel for a recommendation or search for the nearest scooter rental shops near your accommodation. We used K’ox Balak and had an excellent experience. Expect to pay at least 500 pesos (just over $24) per day, and don’t forget to ask for a discount if you’re renting for more than one day. 

You can also grab a taxi from Valladolid city centre to get to Cenote Saamal. Expect to pay around 100 pesos for a one-way trip. 

Cenote Saamal is also an excellent destination for a cycling trip from Valladolid. Many hotels in Valladolid have bicycles for their guests, but if your chosen hotel doesn’t offer bicycle rental, you can easily find one in the city. 

The bicycle rental shops are called “rentadoras de bicicletas” in Mexico. Expect to pay around 250 MXN (just over $12) per day. Follow the Google cycling route from Valladolid’s centre to the cenote, which is around 4 km long and takes you through some quiet roads. 

Saamal Cenote from Cancun

saamal cenote

Apart from hiring a car and making your way independently to Cenote Saamal, you can also visit the cenote tour on an organised tour that combines cenote swimming with a visit to Chichen Itza and Valladolid. This option is particularly recommended for those on a tight itinerary. 

If you’re travelling to Cenote Saamal Hacienda Selva Maya from Cancun, you can also use the ADO bus to get to Valladolid. Check the ADO bus website for the schedule. The trip from Cancun to Valladolid takes just over two hours. 

You can also book a private transfer from Cancun Airport to Valladolid with Viator, which will save you a big hassle at the airport. If your flight arrives during the day, you can take an ADO bus to downtown Cancun and then another bus to Valladolid. 

TIP | If you’re arriving late at Cancun Airport, make sure you booked your transfer in advance! Cancun Airport is notorious for ripping off tourists and I, unfortunately, experienced it first handed!

Cenote Selva Maya from Tulum

You can also take a cenote excursion from Tulum. It is the same tour as I recommended in the Cancun section but from Tulum. 

Another way of getting to Cenote Selva Maya from Tulum is taking the ADO bus to Valladolid. You can catch this bus from the Tulum bus station. The Tulum Valladolid ticket costs around 150 pesos ($8), and the trip will take around 2 hours. Once in Valladolid, you can either rent a scooter or hail a taxi to get to the cenote.  

What to expect at Cenote Saamal?

Saamal Cenote
Me, taking the leap 😉
hacienda selva maya cenote
The intense blue colour of the cenote water.

The first thing you notice when you arrive at the cenote is the beautiful hacienda with a picturesque courtyard! To get to the cenote, follow the signs. You will be required to take a shower and use the lifevest provided to go down to the cenote cave. You can also leave your belongings in the provided lockers because when you go down, there is not much space to leave your backpack anywhere. 

To access the cenote, you need to climb down a steep staircase, but before you go down, make sure you snap a photo or just admire the view of the cenote from the top balcony. 

When you are at the bottom, you can jump into the water from a platform, which is an exhilarating experience! But, there are also two sets of stairs to access the pool. 

What’s unique about this cenote is that it features a small waterfall and gets a lot of light because it’s entirely open. Swimming in this Valladolid cenote is super enjoyable!  

Swimming at Hacienda Selva Maya Cenote

hacienda selva maya cenote

Saamal Cenote Valladolid is one of the best cenotes for swimming because it’s an open cenote with a large cenote pool that lets in plenty of sunshine. Swimming in cavern cenotes with almost no daylight often feels a little claustrophobic so make sure you visit at least one fully open cenote. 

Cenote Saamal depth

The water at Cenote Saamal is 150 ft deep, which is equivalent to almost 46 meters. 

Cenote snorkeling 

The water at Saamal Cenote Mexico has an intense blue colour, and it’s not very clear. Because of that, the cenote may not be the best place for snorkelling, but with a little luck, you may be able to spot some fish.  

hacienda selva maya cenote
Robin jumping into the cenote. 🙂
Saamal Cenote

Cenote jumping

The best feature of Cenote Saamal is its jumping platform! Jumping from the platform was an exhilarating experience, and we had so much fun doing it over and over again!  There is also a lifeguard on site to make sure everyone stays safe while having fun. The platform is around 2-3 meters high.   

Facilities at Cenote Selva Maya Valladolid

Parking at Cenote Saamal

Cenote Saamal boasts a large, complimentary parking lot. There is plenty of space, no matter what time of the day you arrive, and a separate area for bicycles and motorbikes.

Ticket counters at Hacienda Selva Maya Valladolid

hacienda selva maya cenote
Ticket office at Cenote Saamal.
hacienda selva maya

The ticket office is located on the right side of the entrance to the hacienda. This is the place where you can ask any question you may have about the cenote and find out about different cenote packages.  

Bathrooms 

Bathrooms are located on the right side, passed the hacienda bar. 

Changing Rooms, Lockers & Showers 

hacienda selva maya showers

Changing rooms and lockers are located under one roof, right in front of the entrance to the cenote cave. It is compulsory to take a shower before taking a cenote swim. The showers are located behind the changing rooms. A member of staff will also provide you with a key to your locker, where you can leave all your belongings. The use of lockers and changing rooms are free of charge. 

I recommend leaving anything you don’t need in the provided locker because, at the cenote, there is not much space. If you want to take some pictures, get one of the waterproof sleeves for your phone and then you can take your phone to the pool.

Lifejackets

saamal cenote

The use of lifevests at Cenote Hacienda Selva Maya Valladolid Yuc is compulsory. Access to lifejackets is already included in the standard ticket price, and you will receive one from the staff at the entrance to the cenote cave, right by the changing rooms and lockers.  

Shops at Hacienda Selva Maya

hacienda selva maya
One of the souvenir shops at Hacienda Selva Maya.
hacienda selva maya

If you’re interested in doing some souvenir shopping, the hacienda features a couple of shops, mostly selling local mezcal, tequila and other spirits, as well as some traditional Mexican souvenirs. You can find them inside the hacienda’s main building.  

Bar & Restaurant

Fresh coconut anyone?

The cenote restaurant is located outside of the main hacienda building, on the right side. If you’re planning on staying for lunch, make sure you buy the cenote ticket that includes their buffet lunch, which is the most cost-effective package. The buffet includes Mexican dishes as well as some western cuisine specialities, so there is something for everyone. Outside of the restaurant, to the right, there is also a large bar area, excellent for having a margarita or cold “carveza”.    

Saamal Cenote Zipline

If you’re up for more adventure, you can purchase a cenote ticket that includes the use of 3 zip lines and bike rental. 

Cenote Saamal History

Saamal Cenote is an open cenote with the cave roof completely collapsed, which indicates that it is one of the oldest cenotes in Yucatan. Even older are the ancient cenotes that look like lagoons with roofs and cenote walls fully eroded.  

More tips for visiting Cenote Saamal

saamal cenote

What’s the best time to visit Saamal Cenote?

As with any cenote near Valladolid, the best time to visit is early in the morning, just after the opening time, when you can enjoy the cenote without the crowds. 

However, Cenote Saamal is nowhere near as crowded as Cenote Ik Kil, which is located right by Chichen Itza and visited by most organised tours. We visited at around midday and saw a tour bus just leaving. When we got to the cenote, there was only a handful of people.

All in all, the cenote pool is relatively large with plenty of space to enjoy a cenote swim even if there are more people, so you don’t need to worry too much about getting there at a certain time.    

Saamal Cenote

Cenote Saamal Price

Cenote entrance fee is 150 pesos ($7.4), and if you wish to stay at Hacienda Selva Maya for lunch, I recommend purchasing the 250 pesos ($12.3) ticket that includes a buffet-style lunch. 

Cenote Opening Hours

Cenote Saamal opening hours are from 9 am to 5.30 pm. 

How much time do I need for Saamal Cenote in Yucatan?

The minimum time you’ll need to enjoy the cenote is about 1-2 hours. This time will be enough to change clothes, shower, take some photos, jump a few times into the refreshing pool, swim and then relax a little before the next destination on your itinerary. 

If you want to use their bike rental and zipline as well as have lunch at the cenote restaurant, then add a little extra time. 

What to take with you to

Cash | Bring some cash with you to cover the ticket cost and lunch. Cenote Saamal is one of the cenotes that takes card payments, but wifi is not always guaranteed. If that happens, make sure you have enough cash as the nearest ATM is located in Valladolid. 

Action camera | Swimming in the cenotes is one of the best things to do in Mexico, and you may want to record some memories while you’re having fun! And, for that, there is no better camera than a Go Pro!

Well-fitted swimsuit | Visiting and swimming in Valladolid cenotes is definitely an adventure! As you’re likely to be jumping off the platforms, swinging into the water on a Tarzan robe or going on a zip line, I recommend wearing a well-fitted swimsuit that will stay in place while you’re having fun.

Fast-drying towel | You will also need a towel, and the best towels are the fast-drying ones made of microfibre like the Fit-Flip Beach Towel

Flip-flops | Since you’ll be swimming and getting wet at the cenote, the easiest shoes to wear are flip-flops! And, there are no better flip-flops than a pair of Havaianas

Thermal water bottle | Stay hydrated and bring with you a thermal water bottle to keep your water cool and help reduce the use of plastic. My favourite is Chilly’s Bottle. It’s a little more expensive, but the price comes with superb quality. Our water literally stays icy cold the whole day! 

Other nearby Valladolid Cenotes 

Cenote Suytun Valladolid
Cenote Suytun.
Cenote Oxman
Cenote Oxman.

Cenote Suytun | One of the most famous cenotes in Mexico, and even the world, Cenote Suytun is a must-see place when visiting Valladolid Mexico! I bet you’ve seen a photo of it on Instagram! It’s the one with a circular platform in the middle of the cenote pool and impressive stalactites hanging from the cenote roof. Directly above the platform, there is a small opening in the cave roof, and at around midday on a sunny day, a beautiful sunbeam shines through the roof over the platform.

Cenote Oxman | Cenote Oxman is a semi-open cenote with lush lianas hanging from the top. Two sets of wooden stairs provide access to the cenote pool, and there is also a jumping platform with a Tarzan robe, which is the best part of Oxman Cenote. Oxman is also a lovely cenote to spend your whole day, there is a lovely pool and sunloungers area, which access is included in the standard ticket price. Cenote Oxman is located only a few kilometres away from the centre of Valladolid. 

Samula Cenote Valladolid
Cenote Samula.
Valladolid Cenote Hubiku
Cenote Hubiku.

Cenote Dzitnup | Another great cenote to visit near (4 km) Saamal & Oxman Cenotes is Cenote Dzitnup. Dzitnup actually consists of two cenotes – Cenote Xkeken, which is a cavern cenote and a semi-open Cenote Samula, with crystal clear water and a large roof opening which brings a beautiful light beam inside the cenote cave.    

Cenote Hubiku | Cenote Hubiku is a cavern cenote, located 17 km north of Valladolid, on the way to the ruins of Ek Balam. The cenote is 27 meters deep and has 20 meters high cave. The water in the cenote is super refreshing and has around 20 degrees Celsius (68 F). The water is super clear and chilly!  

For more incredible cenotes, check this post – A Guide to 15 Epic Valladolid Cenotes

More About Mexico Cenotes

Bacalar Cenotes
Cenote Bacalar

What are Cenotes in Mexico? | Cenote Meaning

Cenote definition / cenote translation – sinkhole 

So, what are cenotes? The term is mainly associated with the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, but cenotes can be found all over the world. Cenotes are sinkholes formed by collapsed limestone rocks that expose groundwater. Swimming in cenotes is super delightful and very refreshing. The cenote water is typically cool and very clear, thanks to the water being filtered through the ground. The colour of the water varies from deep blue to bright emerald and depends on the rock type and fauna. Cenote depth also varies, ranging anything from a few metres up to hundreds of metres in depth!

Mexican Cenotes in Mayan Culture

The name cenote is derived from the Mayan word Dz’onot, which means “cave with water”. During the Mayan civilisation, cenotes were an important source of water. Apart from having a practical meaning, Mayan cenotes also had a spiritual significance. They were considered to be the gateway to the underworld (Xibalba), a place where gods met and a sacred place of worship where Mayans had their spiritual ceremonies and left offerings.

Types of Cenotes

Gran Cenote
Grand Cenote in Tulum.

There are hundreds and hundreds of cenotes on the Yucatan Peninsula, and you’ll be pleased to know that some of the top Yucatan cenotes are located near Valladolid. If you want to explore some of the best cenotes near Valladolid, I highly recommend staying at least 3-4 days in the city. There are at least four types of cenotes Mexico is renowned for. 

Underground cenotes in Mexico (cavern cenotes) | Underground cenotes are the youngest water wells that are entirely covered by rock mass, with only a small opening in the cave roof that lets in minimal sunlight. They are super interesting to visit, so make sure you include at least one cavern cenote during your visit. Cavern cenotes in Valladolid include Cenote Xkeken and Cenote Palomitas.  

Semi-open cenotes | Semi-open cenotes are much older than cavern cenotes. For millions of years, part of the limestone that covered the well has been eroded and collapsed inside, exposing the underground water. These cenotes let in more light and have more vegetation. If you visit them at the right time, usually around midday, you can witness an amazing spectacle of light, when a light beam comes through an opening in the roof, illuminating the water inside the cenote, creating an extraterrestrial-like effect. Best semi-open Valladolid Mexico cenotes include Cenote Suytun and Cenote Samula.

Open cenotes | Open cenotes are the ones where the cave roof entirely collapsed, exposing the whole water well to the outside environment. These cenotes have the lushest vegetation and are great for a day out. Xcache and Oxman cenotes Valladolid Yucatan are open. 

Ancient Cenotes | Ancient cenotes are the oldest Riviera Maya cenotes that can even be 66 million years old! The roof, as well as the walls of the ancient cenote, are completely eroded, making ancient cenotes look more like lagoons. Most Bacalar cenotes are ancient cenotes. 

Is Cenote Samaal worth visiting?

Absolutely! Cenote Samaal is an excellent cenote for swimming and jumping into its refreshing waters. It is also a great cenote to visit after the Chichen Itza tour, and instead of the more popular cenote Ik Kil, which is very similar but it’s always super crowded. Cenote Saamal is also part of a picturesque hacienda with excellent facilities such as a bar or a zipline and a very decent restaurant perfect for lunch. 

Mal xxx

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