If you’re looking for a unique cenote hotel stay in Valladolid, then this is the blog you WANT to read – the Hotel at Cenote Secreto Maya might just have it all!
We first visited Cenote Secreto Maya based on a recommendation… and it was love at first sight. Something in the energy about this secret paradise, told me, we’d be back. And we were! Just one month later we returned to Cenote Secreto Maya to stay the night in one of the boutique bungalows. Below we review our experience and one night stay at Cenote Secreto Maya.
Three times we’ve visited Valladolid, I think it’s safe to say we know it extremely well by now. From the best cenotes in Valladolid, to the best Mayan ruins, or things to see and do… we can now add best place for a unique luxury stay to the list!
Here we sum up, how this family run cenote, supports community, sustainable tourism and their plans for the future. We’ll tell you all about the onsite restaurant, pool, spa and of course the night swimming in the cenote! So read on, for all you need to know about the beautiful cenote that stole our hearts and became our favourite in Valladolid.
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Cenote Secreto Maya at a Glance
📍 Location – 33 km northeast of Valladolid, 9 km north of Yalcoba.
💵 Approximate Rates – approx 2250 MXN or 125 USD per night
🛖 3 Bungalows Available – double rooms, additional mattress available for families
💦 Amenities – cenote, pool & bar, Wifi, outdoor fire place
🧗♂️ Extras – Restaurant with breakfast, spa & Temazcal, rappelling, Jaguar cave
The boutique bungalows at Cenote Secreto Maya, are owned by Tereza and managed by her three daughters. Cenote Secreto Maya has a unique story that sets it apart from other cenote stays in Valladolid. Read on for our full review below.
The Story & Family of Cenote Secreto Maya
Before our visit to Cenote Secreto Maya, we heard of a story of how Cenote Secreto Maya came to be. How a woman from Mexico City, got somewhat lost and ended up buying a cenote instead. Naturally, my curiosity was piqued, I love a good tale, and I wanted to know more about this one!
Subsequently, this was the first question I asked on our arrival. And while we walked the path towards our bungalow, Alexa proceeded to tell me all about how her mother became a cenote owner. Just imagine!
Several years earlier, Tereza on her way to Holbox for a beach holiday, stopped in Valladolid. She decided to explore the cenotes instead and after meeting a local taxi driver, they launched into a conversation about the prospect of buying a cenote. Six months later when Tereza was back in Mexico City, the taxi driver sent her a list of cenotes available for purchase. And on that list was the beautiful Cenote Secreto Maya.
Fast forward to 2023… together with the help of her three daughters and family they have created a paradise. As they slowly add to and curate their cenote dream, Secreto Maya has become a slice of jungle luxury. A haven far from the tourist trail, and a deeply unique experience for those lucky people who find it.
There are a total of three bungalows at Cenote Secreto Maya. Peer through the trees and you’ll see the bold orange walls and palapa style roof. Their hidden presence is one of the beautiful qualities of these bungalows… an exclusive stay.
Inside, the bungalows are open plan. And it’s clear that Secreto Maya have wasted no expense on the huge, SUPER comfortable bed. It was one of the most luxurious sleeps we’ve had in a while!
The settings are bold and vibrant, in balance with the organic, earthy tones of the natural woven roof and bathroom fixtures of stone and concrete. Everything works together harmoniously and there is a real sense of comfort, despite being in the middle of the jungle.
Getting to Hotel Cenote Secreto Maya near Valladolid
There are several ways to get to the Cenote and Hotel – these include rental car, taxi or scooter. The second time we visited we opted for the rental car, given we were staying overnight. But the first time we went by scooter.
🛵 Read about how to get to Cenote Secreto Maya on scooter and our day trip adventure.
Taking a taxi from Valladolid to the Hotel Cenote Secreto Maya is approximately 300 MXN pesos one way, while a return taxi will cost you 400 MXN pesos one way. In which case renting a car, certainly seems the better option in terms of price.
What’s more, driving in and around Valladolid is very easy and gives you the flexibility to visit some of the incredible and more hidden cenotes around Valladolid. And there are some great car rental options in Valladolid. One of the more popular rental locations in Valladolid is Ko’ox Balak, with consistent 5 star Google Reviews.
The Amenities at Cenote Secreto Maya
Swimming Pool & Coco Bar
There is a fab little bar and bartender, ready to whip up an alcoholic beverage of your preference. Relax in one of the hammocks, or catch some sun beside the pool, this is the perfect chill zone. Then when you’re hungry head over for one of the traditional Mexican dishes at the restaurant.
The restaurant, is run by a local lady in the small outdoor kitchen. Choose from a selection of local meals such as chilaquiles or enfrijoladas. The kitchen is open from 10.00 am until 5.30 pm which makes it the perfect spot to grab a lunch.
Note: You can have also ask for breakfast, where you’ll be served a simple local breakfast for 150 pesos.
Mayan Welcome Ceremony
One of our favourite things about arriving at Cenote Secreto Maya is the welcome ceremony with the Mayan shaman. It’s optional of course, but we really enjoyed the individual blessings, which seems perfectly fitting for such a sacred place.
Spa & Temazcal
Not far from the entrance is the Secreto Maya Spa. We didn’t personally have a spa as we were travelling with our children. However, we heard it on good account from two other guests, that their massage was well worth their time.
And if you’ve come all the way to experience Mexico, then we recommend trying the traditional ceremony of temazcal at Secreto Maya. This is a ceremony that is centred around the idea that it supports health and well-being through a ritual of water, steam and heat.
The temazcal ceremony takes places within a small adobe shaped hut, in which water is added to very hot rocks creating a steam filled space. A process said to cleanse negative energy and to evoke a mindfulness. If the thought interests you, this blog explains in more detail, the ritual of temazcal.
Rappel Experience & Jaguar Cave
For the adrenaline junkies and guests looking for that little extra experience, then read here! In addition to the epic cenote jumps, you can rappel into the cenote. Get geared up, and from the high platform rappel around the open ceiling and steep cenote walls of Secreto Maya. It’s an extremely unique way to explore a cenote and one you won’t commonly find available at other destinations.
There is also a tour through the Jaguar Cave, as well as an introduction to the local Melipona bee. These tours are run by the Uncle of the sisters, and takes visitors on a small journey of the property.
The Night Time Cenote Swimming
One of the best things about staying at Cenote Secreto Maya is how private it feels in the evening. I truly consider myself one of the lucky ones, given that we had this jungle location to our self ourselves.
When I first read about the private night swimming at Cenote Secreto Maya, I knew it would be something special. But special just doesn’t begin to explain it.
The caretaker switches on the lights when you’re ready to swim and down the cenote staircase you go. There is a peace and an energy about the night swimming experience that never leaves you. And the moon and stars… so many stars!
After our private night time swim in the cenote, we had the pleasure of chilling beside the camp fire – fogata in Spanish.
The evening caretaker sets everything up for you, so all you need to do is bring the bottle of wine or mezcal. Let me just say, sitting under the stars, while listening to the sounds of the jungle in the evening and the crackle of the fire is an experience I will long remember.
Swimming in the Cenote at Secreto Maya
Cenote Secreto Maya was one of our favourites in Valladolid… we’ve explored most in the area and this one just had that something else about it. It’s further from Valladolid which means it’s somewhat removed from the tourist trail.
Then, when everyone has left and gone home, Cenote Secreto Maya is ALL yours! The morning swimming, the evening swimming… this is what makes a stay here even more worth while.
We absolutely loved the swing rope, the rentable inflatables and giant 22 metre drop into the cenote. The packages for entry are listed below, but read our dedicated post for more information about visiting Secreto Maya.
🌀 Entrance Price: adults 250 MXN pesos – cenote + life jacket & pool access
🌀👙 The Mayan Adventure: adults 400 MXN pesos – cenote + life jacket, pool access, rappelling, Jaguar cave tour, melipona experience & drink
One of my favourite subjects! So how does Cenote Secreto Maya take steps towards supporting sustainable tourism? My investigation left me satisfied that their efforts towards sustainability was a also a commitment to country and community. I explain further below.
Firstly, solar energy is used throughout the day, which is great given the amount of sun they get. All of this goes to providing the electricity that is needed during sunlight hours. In the evening they switch over to generator.
Secondly, there was a jug of water with glasses in the room, no bottled water in sight. Yippee! I love a good water jug in a hotel room, there is just no need for the dreaded single use water bottles and it seems they recognise the same.
Custodians & Community
Thirdly, after speaking with Salma and Pollo, I learnt that Secreto Maya is situated on a considerably large sized piece of land – around 23 hectares. Tereza as the owner of the land, is a sort of custodian – or ejidatorio in Spanish. This means she makes a commitment to following local regulations around how the land is protected and can be developed.
As a family, they are committed to not over developing the land, but rather holding onto its integrity and working with it slowly. This is evident in the way they have gently introduced new elements, such as the three bungalows, over the last several years.
Instead of rapidly developing the 23 hectares, they have gradually grown into the 2 hectares they are currently occupying. As such, they have left most of it as jungle, free for the monkeys, jaguars and coatis to roam without interuption.
Beyond keeping it in the family, there is a strong commitment to the nearby community of Yalcoba. Tereza runs an education and support program for the rural community members. This project encourages the locals in areas of business and trade. For example empowering members of the community to charge external third party buyers, a fairer price for crafts. Thus giving a greater sense of value to handicrafts and ultimately increasing community wealth.
What’s Next for Cenote Secreto Maya
Well very soon, you’ll be able to book a camping stay at Cenote Secreto Maya. A small communal kitchen was under construction during our visit. So if you’re travelling through Valladolid with your camping gear, then you definitely want to plan a stay at Cenote Secreto Maya!
Booking Your Bungalow Stay at Cenote Secreto Maya
This stay is a no-brainer! For years I will be recommending the hotel bungalows at Cenote Secreto Maya, to everyone I meet who is planning a visit to Valladolid.
The price is incredibly good value for money, considering you basically have a private cenote on hand to enjoy at your beckoning call.
But over and above, Tereza and her family are gently creating a place of tranquility, in the very heart of the Yucatan jungle. It’s the perfect location for a romantic getaway, a family adventure, a reunion with friends… it’s an unmissable experience for your visit to Valladolid!
I’m grateful to Tereza, Perla, Salma, Alexa, Alex & Pollo… for offering a night hosted stay and allowing me to write this honest review. Please note I always research a guest house before choosing to take a hosted stay to ensure their values align with My Free Range Family travel values around sustainability and slow travel. All photos and views shared here are my own.
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