Cenote Suytun is one of the most photogenic and Instagrammable cenotes we came across during our Mexico travels. Famous for the dazzling light beams which descend directly onto its circular viewing platform, Cenote Suytun is a unique and beautiful cenote and a popular stop for those exploring Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
Having visited Cenote Suytun, this is our guide to visiting Cenote Suytun – we’ve included our tips on the best time to visit and how to capture some awesome photos at the cenote!
Cenote Suytun, Valladolid
Located close to Valladolid, Cenote Suytun is a semi-open cenote: its swimming hole is located underground and there is a small opening in the roof which allows light and air to flow in.
It is the viewing platform that makes Cenote Suytun totally unique. A narrow stone walkway leads to a circular platform that sits directly under the opening in its roof – standing on the platform when the light beams are directly overhead is almost an otherworldly experience and the photos are mesmerizing.
Swimming is also possible at Cenote Suytun and there are some interesting rock formations to check out on the cave walls.
Cenote Suytun is best for: admiring its unique beauty, capturing stunning photos, saying hi to the resident peacock and taking a swim to check out the rock formations.
What are Cenotes?
A cenote, pronounced seh-NO-tay, are water-filled sinkholes that naturally occur in limestone rock when an underground cave collapses in on itself and exposes the groundwater underneath.
There are thousands of cenotes dotted around the Yucatan Peninsula and some of the more scenic ones are extremely popular with locals and tourists alike. The water in the cenotes tends to be cool as the water comes from underground so they are great for a quick swim to cool off from the hot Mexican sunshine.
In Mayan times a number of the cenotes were used for sacrificial purposes and objects such as gold, pottery and even human and animal remains have been found at the bottom of some cenotes.
The cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula are a mix of open, semi-open or underground:
- Open cenotes: These are caves which have completely collapsed in on themselves and are exposed to the sky. These are our favourite as you can swim in the open air, the water is a pleasant temperature and there are usually lots of areas to relax by the water. Some of our favourite open cenotes near Tulum are Cenote Azul, the Ek Balam Cenote Xcanche and Cenote Carwash near Tulum.
- Semi-open cenotes: these cenotes are mostly underground but have small openings in the ceiling where light and fresh air come in. These cenotes can be particularly beautiful as the light beams illuminate the crystal clear water below. Our favour semi-open cenotes were Cenote Ik Kil near Chichen Itza, Cenote Hubiku and Gran Cenote, a mix of open air and cavern cenotes.
- Underground cenotes: these cenotes are completely underground in a cave system and have no natural light to illuminate the cenote water. These cenotes tend to be more difficult to visit as they are deep in the limestone rock. The three cenotes near the Coba ruins (Cenote Multum-Ha, Cenote Tamchach-Ha and Cenote Choo-Ha) and Cenote Xkeken near Valladolid are amazing underground cenotes you can easily visit.
Visiting Cenote Suytun
The Cenote Suytun ticket office is located directly in front of its car park. Once you have your ticket (cash only), it is a 5-minute walk to the Cenote entrance where your ticket will be checked by the attendant.
There are bathrooms, lockers and showers located between the car park and the cenote entrance. Food and drinks are available from a small kiosk beside the ticket office. Lockers and towels are also available to rent.
Life jackets are complimentary and are issued at the top of the stairs marking the entrance of the cenote. Life jackets must be worn if you are planning on taking a swim in Cenote Suytun.
Cenote Suytun tip: there are often stunning peacocks in the grounds of Cenote Suytun and they are beautiful to see.
After picking up a life jacket, the first set of stairs leads down into the cave. Once you enter the cave itself, a stone staircase leads down to the cenote. As with most underground cenotes, there are a lot of stairs so, if you struggle with climbing or descending stairs, it’s best to check out the views from the cave entrance to save extra exertion.
Cenote Suytun tip: there are beautiful views of the circular platform from the top of the staircase and as you descend halfway. These are great for capturing photos as well as checking out the view.
There is some tiered stone on the bottom section of the stairs, facing the water, which is great for sitting or leaving some small items while you swim. If you step up here you can also get a nice angle for photos of the walkway.
At the bottom of the stairs, it is just a few steps to enter the water. The narrow stone walkway which leads to the circular platform is accessible from here also.
Cenote Suytun tip: a lot of people visit Cenote Suytun to take memorable photos so try to avoid hanging around on the walkway or the circular platform for long periods. We always appreciate it when we’re given the chance to capture our photos.
How to capture some awesome photos at Cenote Suytun
We have a few tips for capturing photos at Suytun, after all it’s the main reason most people visit this beautiful cenote!
- Sunbeams – Check when the sunbeams are likely to be directly above the cave opening and plan your visit around this. It’s usually around midday. When we visited the beams were coming through from 12-3 pm.
- Bring a good low light camera – It is really dark in the cave, especially when the light beams aren’t shining in, and this is the easiest way to get a good photo. Even with our Sony A7rii and a Sony 24mm f1.4 lens we just about managed to get some shots. If you don’t have a camera that’s good in low light make sure to take your tripod!
- Take photos from different vantage points: there are lots of different angles for great shots – at the top of the stairs, half way down and from the beginning of the platform all make for a unique image.
- Be patient: There may be a queue so be patient and try not to stand in the way of others photos on the stone walkway or circular platform.
- Swimmers: As people can swim you’ll find it very hard to get a photo without lots of lovely orange vests in your frame. It was very quie when we visited so we could time our shots, however you might have to edit some people our of your photos.
Swimming in Cenote Suytun
The management of Cenote Suytun require that a life jacket, available upon entry, is worm to swim in Cenote Suytun. Make sure to swim over to the cave walls as there are some interesting rock formations in the cave and on its walls.
While there are lots of swimmers in Cenote Suytun, it is not the most popular swimming cenote near Valladolid. Depending on the time of the year, the combination of the limestone rocks and the small light opening sometimes give its waters a murky appearance.
Swimming in Suytun is a surreal experience and its waters are cool and refreshing. It’s also fun to watch all the photos being captured in the cave – we saw some amazing dresses and costumes!
Like most cenotes, there are lots of small fish that often nibble on your legs and feet while you swim. It takes a little getting used to but we soon forgot they were there!
What to bring with you when visiting Cenote Suytun
Visiting a cenote is a little different to visiting a traditional swimming pool. Cenotes are one of the most fun things you can do in the Yucatan Peninsula and there some things which we highly recommend taking with you when visiting Cenote Suytun.
Tripod / Low Light Camera
You will be shooting in very low light so you’ll either need a tripod or a very good low light camera. We used our Sony A7rii and a Sony 24mm f1.4 lens which worked great but a tripod would work well too
If you need to rent a life jacket (it’s included in the entrance ticket at cenote Suytun) or buy any snacks/drinks you’re likely going to need cash. Generally speaking, in Mexico cash is king and for the best value try to have Mexico pesos with you. Most venues also accept US dollars but the exchange rate is less favorable. Some of the larger cenotes may take credit card for entry, however once inside the cenote area cash is usually the only option.
Some of the larger cenotes offer towel rental however it’s much easier and cheaper to simply take your own with you. We saw lots of people taking hotel towels with them but we found it easier using our large microfibre towels. Microfibre towels are fantastic as they pack small and dry super quick, making them great for the cenotes where you will be hopping back in a car after your swim. No one likes carrying a wet, heavy towel! – check prices on Amazon!
swim shoes are great as they give you more grip on the walk-ways around the cenotes and prevent the fish from nibbling your feet! They also help a lot for the shallower entrances at some cenotes where you have to walk on submerged rocks. They’re super cheap and light so make sure to throw them in your bag before you visit the Yucatan!- check prices now!
While you cannot wear sunscreen or mosquito spray in the cenotes while swimming, you’ll likely spend some time chilling in the sun after your swim.
An action camera such as a GoPro or an Osmo Action are great for snapping photos and video. We loved having our Osmo Action Waterproof camera with us when visiting the cenotes. It allowed us to take some really fun video and photos while swimming in the cenotes. The wide-angle lens was great for capturing the entire view of Cenote Suytun – check prices now!
FAQ and Tips for Visiting Cenote Suytun
1 | How to get to Cenote Suytun
This is the easiest way to get to all of the cenotes in Mexico. There is a large car park at Cenote Suytun and it is generally easy to find parking. We rented a car in Cancun and highly recommend it to our readers. Renting a car in Cancun, Mexico was very straightforward and driving was easy. The roads are of good quality, the drivers are nice and the traffic is relatively light – check prices now!
Colectivo (local taxi-buses)
You can catch one of the colectivo’s from Valladolid that drop off at Cenote Suytun. There are lots of buses each day and 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.
It’s also possible to get a taxi to Cenote Suytun from Valladolid. It’s a quick trip so shouldn’t cost a lot. You can call a return taxi from the ticket office when you’re finished.
Probably the easiest way (aside from a rental car) to visit Cenote Suytun is part of a tour to Chichen Itza. There are a number of tours from Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum that include Cenote Suytun as part of a day trip itinerary – check prices now!
2 | How much does Cenote Suytun Cost
Cenote Suytun entry is $120 pesos per person. This ticket price includes entrance to the two cenotes and life jack rental. Parking is free.
We recommend having cash (preferably Mexican pesos) with you when visiting all the cenotes in Mexico and Suytun is no exception. Credit cards were not accepted at the ticket booth at Cenote Suytun.
3 | Cenote Suytun Opening Hours
Opening hours: Cenote Suytun is open from 9 am to 5 pm with last entry around 4:30 pm.
4 | How long to spend at Cenote Suytun
We spent around an hour at Cenote Suytun and we felt that was enough time to take some memorable photos of the unique cenote and take a swim. If the cenote is busy you might need to take more time to get your photos due to queues,
5 | Best time to visit Cenote Suytun
For most cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula we recommend a morning visit at opening as the best way to avoid the crowds. However, the light beams at Cenote Suytun mean that a late morning/afternoon visit is best. It’s incredible to see the light beams illuminating the circular platform and the cenote takes on an otherworldly feel.
This is also the busiest time at the cenote and, although we always suggest trying to avoid the crowds, this is one instance when the most popular time is also the best!
Cenote Suytun tip: when we were there in January 2020, the light beams shone into the cenote between 12pm and 2pm.
6 | What’s not allowed in Cenote Suytun!
As we mentioned above, visiting the cenotes is a little different from a traditional swimming pool so there are some different rules to follow when visiting. Cenote Suytun rules were as follows:
- Showers – You are required to take a shower before you swim
- Alcohol – it’s forbidden to swim if you’ve been drinking alcohol.
- Sunscreen / Mosquito repellent: You are not allowed to wear sunscreen or mosquito repellent before you enter the water at the cenote. This is to preserve the quality of the water for everyone. There are showers available which you have to use before you enter the water.
7 | Diving platforms
There are no diving or jumping platforms in Cenote Suytun and diving is not allowed due to the shallow depth of the water.
Facilities at Cenote Suytun
Cenote Suytun is one of the more popular cenotes in the Yucatan peninsula and has everything you need for a chilled few hours.
8 | Changing rooms and lockers
There are changing rooms available at the beside the showers and lockers to stash your stuff while you’re down at the swimming area.
9 | Life jackets
Life jackets are available before you go down the steps of Cenote Suytun and are included in your entrance ticket.
10 | Parking
There is a large car park located at the entrance to Cenote Suytun so parking should not be a problem, even at busy times.
11 | Food and drinks
There is a small stall selling food and drinks at the entrance and some picnic tables to eat at.