🌀 Saamal Cenote at Selva Maya near Valladolid is one of the best open swimming cenotes – it’s close to town, easy to get to and it’s super pretty too!
We explored many cenotes in, near and around Valladolid during our multiple visits to this beautiful town in Yucatan, Mexico. Getting tips from the locals, on which were their favourites gave us clues to some of the best cenotes that we knew we HAD to visit during our stay in Valladolid. With the locations flagged in our maps, we set off in search of the most beautiful, adventurous AND tranquil cenotes in the area.
Saamal Cenote is a stunning cenote at the Hacienda Selva Maya. This deep sink hole is superb for swimming, with a small cascade falling metres from above. The steep walls, with vibrant green trees and shrubs growing all around make for a picturesque swim.
In our review below, we cover the best options for getting to Cenote Saamal, how to get there with a map and also which guided tour to book if you’re making a day trip from Cancun. I also explain how much it costs to enter Cenote Saamal, along with up-to-date package options and costs for the buffet and onsite activities such as zip-lining and bicycle rental.
Be prepared for your visit to Cenote Saamal, know what to expect, what to bring and what other cenotes to visit in the area! Also, read our full guide to the best cenotes to visit near Valladolid!
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Table of Contents
Key Things to Know
🌀 Type of Cenote – open air
💰 Price – 150 pesos
🚿 Amenities – changing facilities, showers, lockers, life jacket compulsory
🍋 Restaurant, bar and gift shops on premises
🪢 Extra activities – massage, bicycle rental, zip-lining with 3 towers
🚲 Best way to get there – scooter, bicycle or taxi
⏰ Timings – 9am to 5pm, 7 days a week
🎒 What to Bring – towel & swimmers, Go-Pro, reusable water bottle
About Cenote Saamal
Cenote Saamal is an impressive deep open air sink hole cenote, on the privately owned complex of Hacienda Selva Maya. From the top of the cenote a man-made waterfall trickles in creating a thin but pretty cascade.
We had read blog reviews of it being empty and quiet – visitors claiming to have the cenote all to themselves. But in all honestly this is no longer the case. While it may have been once upon a time, it’s now apparently busy with tour buses.
That said, don’t let this put you off visiting. Cenote Saamal is a great starter cenote. Especially if you’re staying in Valladolid for a couple of days and you want to visit a few. We loved the fact that it was super close to town, easy to cycle to and navigate as a family, but also that there were other cenotes nearby to visit on the same day.
There is actually a lot to do at Cenote Saamal, which you’ll discover as you read further down. So if you’re a family and want to combine a few things into your day such as a zip-line or you want to book in a massage. Then certainly consider planning a visit to this one.
Then further up the road you can walk or cycle to two other cenotes Samula and X’Keken, both situated on the same site at Dzitnup.
Getting to Cenote Saamal & Map
Cenote Saamal is one of the closest cenotes from Valladolid. It’s only a 10-14 minute drive from town or 25-30 minute bicycle ride. Depending on how many cenotes you want to visit in Valladolid will dictate how you plan on getting to the local cenotes. Possibly the best way is by scooter, that way you are free to get from one to another quickly and efficiently.
If you are wondering how to get from Cancun, then read below where we recommend a guided tour that includes Saamal Cenote with a visit to Chichen Itza.
🌀 Read our guide on the best cenotes in, near and around Valladolid for a better idea of which cenotes you want to see. But also the best mode of transport for your cenote visits.
Renting a Bicycle
If you’re a traveller visiting Valladolid without kids, then we thoroughly recommend that you rent a bike. The cycle track via the main road, from just outside Valladolid to Cenote Saamal is excellent.
You’ll have no trouble finding a bike rental place in town – as you’ll come to find, they are on just about every corner. And some of the better hotels and hostels also have bike rental facilities available, like the one we stayed in.
Families travelling with young kids, listen up! Renting a bike is a challenge – maybe even impossible. We asked everywhere and had no luck. The bikes typically used for rental purposes are not permitted for two people. We thought we might be able to double the kids on the back, but it was a firm no everywhere we went. In which case, it’s best to take a taxi.
The price of bike rental costs around 100-150 pesos for the day. And the best route from the centre of town is through Calzeta de los Frailes past the Convent of San Bernadino. Then follow Calle 49 to the end where you can hook onto the bike track on Highway 180.
Taking a Taxi to Cenote Saamal
A taxi to either Cenote Saamal or Dzitnup costs between 100-120 MXN pesos one way. You can wave them down all over town.
So here’s what we recommend. Take a taxi to one or the other and when you’ve finished exploring that cenote walk to the next. The walk takes no longer than 20 minutes and the cycle track also substitutes as a walking track. It kind of doubled as a pleasant forest walk.
Taxis are available at both destinations, and if they aren’t on standby it won’t take long for another to arrive.
Cenote Saamal – What to Expect & Our Review
Tickets and Cenote Etiquette
From the car park you’ll be ushered by security through the gates and into the ticket office. This is certainly the grandest entrance into a cenote we’ve experienced. It’s obvious that a great deal of money has been put into the facilities and restoration of the property.
Once you’ve purchased your tickets, you’ll be given a paper wrist band and sent on your way towards the changing rooms. Beyond the entrance, you’ll pass the restaurant and bar, continue on straight. Soon you’ll see the cenote ahead with the changing room, showers and locker facilities towards the left.
With your ticket, you can use the showers, lockers and life-jackets for free. The outdoor showers are set in a pretty garden to the rear of the changing rooms. You’ll be given a key for the locker which can be hung around your neck.
Note: It’s important that you use the showers before you collect your life jacket. This is because visitors are required to wash the lotions and oils from their skin to ensure these substances don’t pollute the fresh water of the cenote.
Swimming in Cenote Saamal
With life jacket in hand – which is compulsory by the way – make your way to the small entrance and staircase. You can’t miss it! Everyone enters and exits through the same opening down into the cenote. It’s best to leave towels, bags and cameras behind as from this point onwards things could get wet!
I decided not to swim at this cenote, and I had my camera with me ready to take photos of my family. But security wouldn’t let me go down further than the first landing, which makes sense given the number of people visiting. So keep this in mind – it’s better to bring a water proof camera if you have one.
The swimming was cool and refreshing… that’s code for – really chilly! I would imagine 30 minutes to an hour would be enough for most visitors. Admire the view from below looking up towards the sky, swim to the small waterfall and try the small jump into the cenote.
This is where Hacienda Selva Maya delivers! More than just a cenote, here you’ll find zip-lining, bicycle rentals, restaurants and more. Read below for package costs.
Note: There is also a massage centre at Hacienda Selva Maya, enquire at the ticket office for more information.
There is a three tower zip-line course onsite. This is great news if you’re travelling with older kids and looking for some extra adventure. The distances of the three zip-lines range from 260 to 390 metres. The views over the jungle farmland, from the 30 metre high towers are definitely a unique way to experience Valladolid, Mexico!
You can reserve the Selva Maya zip-line in advance or book on arrival. To get to the zip-line course, turn right after the gift shops and follow the path until you see the shed on your left with all the ropes and safety gear.
Bicycle Rental & Walking Tracks
Hacienda Selva Maya, along with the Saamal Cenote covers a large area of land. As such they have created beautiful gardens and trails to explore either on foot or by bicycle.
We chose to walk along the paths, past raised garden beds of chilli, cilantro and other local vegetable plants. The walk was peaceful and we had it completely to ourselves. It was great to see banana plants up close and to spot iguanas in the shrub.
The bike rental area can be found at the same place as the zip-line location.
Bar & Restaurant & Gift Shops
The buffet food at the Hacienda Selva Maya restaurant is delicious. The basic package or the premium package listed below are two options that include the buffet meal.
Try typical Yucatan and regional dishes such as lime soup. Also the chicken mole comes highly recommended.
We advise that you swim in the cenote first and then enjoy the buffet! And while you’re in the vicinity don’t miss the opportunity to sample the goods at the tequila tasting outlet.
How Much Does Entrance to Saamal Cenote Cost
Entrance to Saamal Cenote currently costs 150 MXN pesos per person, this is for children also and the price includes free lifejacket and locker. From our experience, this was the average price for most cenotes in the Valladolid region.
But there are add-on packages you might want to consider, as well as optional activities that you could include in your visit to Selva Maya.
🥗 The Basic Package: adults 350 / kids 250 MXN – buffet meal
🤐 🚲 The Adventure Package: adults 650 / kids 455 MXN – zip-line, bike rental
🥗🤐🚲 The Premium Package: adults 790 / kids 555 MXN – buffet meal, zip-line & bike rental
Note: you can also pay by credit or debit card at Selva Maya.
Cenote Saamal Tour
If you’re looking to visit Selva Maya and Cenote Saamal from Cancun then this day trip is a great option. Only two hours from Cancun, means you won’t spend hours in the car!
Starting at the hotel zone in Cancun, the tour heads for Chichen Itza, followed by a swim in Saamal Cenote, then a walking tour of Valladolid. We like that this tour has the eco-certified badge and you can’t go wrong with the solid reviews from previous visitors.
Final Thoughts & Review of Cenote Saamal
In summary, we loved Cenote Saamal probably because it was the first cenote we visited in Valladolid. There were other cenotes in Valladolid that we enjoyed more… the off the beaten track kind. But in saying that, Cenote Saamal was still a winner in our books.
I definitely recommend getting there earlier in the morning in order to avoid the tour buses. The only negative about that is the water temperature… but hey, no pain no gain!
Cenote Saamal at Selva Maya is a great option for families, and in terms of price it was average for other cenotes in Valladolid. So go check it out and then add some other cenotes to your must visit list from our list below!
- Best cenotes near Valladolid
- Things to do in Valladolid (post coming soon)
- Hidden cenotes near Valladolid – Sac Aua Cenote & Secreto Maya Cenote
- Best place to stay in Valladolid – The Oryx Hostel Review and Guide
- Visiting Dzitnup Cenotes – Cenote Samula and Cenote Xkeken
- Complete guides to getting to Chichén Itzá & a self-guided tour
- Complete guides to getting to Ek’ Balam Ruins & a self-guided tour (coming soon)
Don’t forget to save or pin this post on how to visit the Saamal Cenote for your visit to Valladolid in Mexico!
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