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Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is truly some kind of outdoor adventure playground. The landscape is so incredibly beautiful, and one of the most well-known features of the Yucatan is the many cenotes, or sinkholes. We visited a couple, and my favourite was Cenote Zaci which is located right in the centre of the town of Vallodolid.
Vallodolid itself is super pretty, with beautiful pastel buildings, a gorgeous church and spacious parks. Plus, it’s only a short (45 minute) drive from Chichen Itza, so it’s a great base.
Plus… it has an awesome cenote, right in the middle of town! Yes, I’m talking about Cenote Zaci.
Even though I can’t swim and Tom gets kind of claustrophobic with anything to do with a cave (what sounds more up our alley than swimming in a sinkhole?!), we actually had an amazing time.
Here’s how you too can enjoy swimming in Cenote Zaci.
What is a Cenote?
FYI – if you don’t give a damn about the history and geography of cenotes (fair), click here to go straight to the information about visiting Cenote Zaci.
If you scroll through hashtags like #wanderlust, #sheisnotlost, #instapassport, etc, etc, you’ll probably come across pictures of gorgeous people floating all zen-like in natural pools. If said natural pools have fresh water, are quite overgrown, and are pretty massive – there’s a good chance it’s a cenote in Mexico, especially in the Yucatan.
** Fun fact: there are also two cenotes in my home state of South Australia! Perhaps one day I can blog about how they compare to the Yucatan (I fear it won’t be well).
But back to Cenote Zaci. So, why does the Yucatan have so many cenotes?
Simples. Because the Yucatan’s soil is very rich in limestone, which tends to collapse in on itself fairly regularly, therefore creating sinkholes which are filled with fresh water.
Hundreds and thousands of years ago, the Mayans thought these were pretty good places to throw human sacrifices. Nowadays, we just like to swim in them and take vain photos for instagram: #blessed (says I, who definitely posted some vain photos on Instagram).
Some of the cenotes in the Yucatan have been closed up, so are no good for swimming in (even if it wasn’t for the sacrificial history, there’s no way I’d swim in the algae-infested cenote near Chichen Itza). However, there are still dozens that are open to the public – like Cenote Zaci!
Cenote Zaci Basics
Okay, so now that I’ve
Cenote Zaci is open from 8:30am – 5:00pm every day.
How to get to Cenote Zaci
Cenote Zaci is located literally in the middle of
If you are staying in a guesthouse or hotel in Vallodolid, you can almost certainly walk. If you’d prefer, you could get a taxi (note that Uber is not currently working in the Yucatan).
If you are driving, there is parking at the cenote which is free. I’d advise you to keep an eye out for signage as you approach, as Google Maps took us a bit of a strange way and there are a lot of one-way streets in the area. It’s pretty well sign-posted, though.
How much does it cost to visit Cenote Zaci?
What facilities are there at Cenote Zaci?
For your thirty pesos, you really only get entry into the cenote. There aren’t any fancy changing rooms or lockers, but honestly I feel like it’s nicer that it’s left pretty untouched. It’s such an odd (but cool) experience to go from being on the fairly busy streets of Vallodolid, to being in a subterranean garden with just a few steps.
What should you bring to Cenote Zaci?
Definitely a towel and your bathers (swimwear). As mentioned, there aren’t many close-by facilities, so if you are a bit shy about changing I’d recommend wearing your swimwear under your clothes, and bringing a big towel for extra privacy!
Cenote Zaci is a pretty well-known tourist attraction, and when I was there it seemed like there were more tourists than locals. This is especially the case in the later afternoon, as it is a pretty common stop off after trips to Chichen Itza. So, you don’t need to worry too much about what you wear – although I’d have preferred if I’d had a t-shirt to throw on over my swimwear as I just felt a little self-conscious.
My Experience at Cenote Zaci
I visited a few cenotes in Mexico, and Cenote Zaci was definitely one of my favourites. As mentioned, it’s super cool how you go from being in the middle of Vallodolid town, to in the huge sinkhole.
As I am not a strong swimmer, I mostly just paddled by the sides which was still really nice. Although the water was not the clearest of all the cenotes I visited, it was lovely and fresh, and you could see right down to the bottom as well as some rock formations below the surface. There’s also a rope in the middle of the cenote which you can grab onto if you get stuck.
We didn’t need to worry about Tom’s claustrophobia, as its actually pretty open-aired. A lot of the other cenotes we saw were more closed-in, so if that makes you nervous (especially after the Thailand cave debacle), you might really like Cenote Zaci as an option.
One of my favourite things about the cenote was that it is filled with little black catfish who nibble at your toes! I know that might freak some people out, but I loved it and found it such a funny and cool experience.
All in all, Cenote Zaci was a great experience. I don’t think there are many better ways to cool off from the Yucatan heat than enjoying a dip in a gorgeous sinkhole like Cenote Zaci.