Cenote Zaci is a great place to visit, and is easily accessible in the center of Valladolid. If you are looking for another cenote for scuba diving, then this isn’t the one for you, but for snorkelers wanting to hangout in an open-air cavern, Zaci is perfect. If you want to see more options, be sure to check our our guide to the 72 Best Cenotes in Mexico.
Zaci, named after the old Mayan city with the same name, offers a cool, shady escape from the Mexican heat, with stairs carved right out of the natural rock that leads down to the water’s surface.
Probably the most visited cenote in Valladolid, Cenote Zaci is one of the only cenotes that lies in the center of a city. This is what makes it so popular, as well as easy to get to. In fact, even if you don’t plan to visit, or didn’t even know it exists, the odds are that you will run into it during your trip to Valladolid, and want to check it out.
Cenote Zaci, not to be confused with Cenote Zacil Ha, is a non-scuba diving, open-air cavern, popular for cliff jumping and snorkeling. It is great for anyone, not just cave divers and explorers, so if you want to float around under the steep cliffs, and get away from the heat of the city, then this is a good option.
- Opening hours: Open daily from 08:30AM – 05:30PM.
- Entrance fee: The entrance is 30 pesos
- Good for Scuba diving: No
- Good for swimming: Yes, and cliff jumping
- Facilities: Yes
- Car parking: Yes
You can actually see the open cenote from the road, but it is actually bigger than it looks from there. Just pay the entry fee and go check it out for yourself!
For facilities, there is a small restaurant at the entrance, where you can get something to eat or drink, including alcohol. There is also a bathroom in the restaurant, which you have to pay 5 pesos to use, unless you are a customer.
If you need to change, you’ll have to do it in the bathroom, parking lot, or cenote-side, with friends holding up a towel to hide you!
There is really no bad time to visit Zaci, the waters are warm year round. But if you want to have fewer crowds, try to visit as early in the morning as possible.
If you are staying in Cancun or Playa Del Carmen, and just want to take a day trip or tour to Valladolid to check out Chichen Itza and Cenote Zaci, there are a few options. Some people want to do it themselves, while other appreciate an educated tour guide to show them more.
We recommend this 12 hour day trip, that takes you to see the amazing Chichen Itza Ruins, see some panoramas of the city, and then swim in either Zaci or nearby Cenote Ik Kil. CLICK HERE to check out that tour.
If you want to just get to the cenote on your own, it’s also easy to do. Check out the map and directions below.
HOW TO GET THERE
If you just want to get to Zaci on your own, you can do that as well. And once you are in Valladolid, everyone in town knows where Cenote Zaci is, incase you need to ask directions.
To get to Valladolid, which also has a lot of other cenotes in the area you can explore, just take the highway up from Cancun or Playa Del Carmen or Tulum, the shortest drive being from Tulum.
WHERE TO STAY
If you want to stay near Zaci, there are plenty of options nearby in Valladolid. But the Yukatan has a lot of cenotes and other attractions to see, so if you want to base yourself nearby in Tulum or Merida or Play Del Carmen, you can still do day trips to Cenote Zaci and the other cenotes in the area.
Just search below for the perfect accommodation in what ever area you want.
WHAT IS A CENOTE?
A cenote is formed, usually from limestone, when caves or channels are carved through the rock, forming underground rivers. As rain water seeps into the layers of sandstone, it slowely erodes channels toward the ocean. Eventually they grow bigger and bigger, and in some spots giant caves are formed, along with stalagmites.
In the Mexico, cenotes are only found in the Yukatan, and it is believed that is because a meteorite hit there millions of years ago, and created a thick layer of sandstone there. Since then water has been creating the underground rivers, caves, caverns and cenotes we see today.
After the ice age, these caves and channels that were mostly dry, filled with water, which is why we have vast cave systems through the Yukatan, and in spots deep underwater you can still find skeletons of long dead land animals. Such as the extinct North American camel and giant ground sloth.
Cenotes range from between 66 million years and 13 thousand years old. The actual cenote is formed when the roof of a cave or wide underground river caves in, exposing it to the sun, and letting us in. As you can see from the photo above, the whole system isn’t called a cenote, just the opening area from the collapsed ceiling.
So all “cenotes” you visit might be cenotes, but when you dive deep into them, you are diving into caverns and cave systems, not only the cenote itself. And for most, this is a memory of a lifetime.