Cenote Suytun: Must-Know Info Post Hurricane Season
The year 2020 isn’t one that most people want to repeat and, unfortunately, Cenote Suytun underwent its own struggles. As a result of two hurricanes that tore through the Yucatan Peninsula in 2020, Cenote Suytun’s famous walkway is now underwater.
If “ugh” is your reaction, that was mine as well when I arrived at the Suytun ticket booth and learned about it (way to prepare, Laura!).
I’ll walk you through what a visit to Cenote Suytun looks like in the aftermath of these hurricanes and give you other tips for a successful trip.
Accessibility Note: Cenote Suytun is not wheelchair accessible, although there’s an accessible parking space, accessible restrooms, and an accessible outdoor waiting area, should you travel with able-bodied people who want to visit this sinkhole.
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Cenote Suytun & Hurricane Damage
The story goes something like this: In the fall of 2020, two hurricanes hit Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
The result was this: Water inundated not only Cenote Suytun but essentially the whole underground cenote system in the Yucatan, significantly raising the water levels.
I visited Suytun in May 2021, which was six months after the hurricanes hit.
Are you ready for this?
The famous pathway leading out to the circle where the light beam shines through was still inundated in around three feet of water. Can you imagine how deep it must have been after the hurricanes hit?
The good news is that the water levels in Suytun will eventually return to normal. In the meantime, you’ll get a unique opportunity to see Suytun in a state that so many people don’t get to experience.
Is Suytun Worth Visiting After the Hurricanes?
I’m not going to lie—I was disappointed to learn that the walkway in Suytun was flooded. In fact, had I known about it before embarking on a journey of trying to get there (more on this shortly), I probably wouldn’t have even bothered visiting.
Needless to say, I’m glad I didn’t know about it in advance because visiting Suytun in its flooded state is very much worth it.
In fact, I’d even say that it’s better now than when the walkway was above water.
Water up to your waist (or wherever it lands according to your height) creates a really neat camera effect. Furthermore, if you’re traveling with a partner, you can get some pretty awesome photos lifting each other up, helped along by being near weightless in the water.
Getting to Cenote Suytun from Valladolid
So, now that you know it’s worth it to visit Cenote Suytun even though the walkway is flooded, you might be wondering how to get there from Valladolid, the closest town to the cenote.
If you’re like me, buses are your go-to.
It seemed to me that some bus somewhere in Valladolid had to go to Suytun. After all, everyone I asked acted like the bus route was a thing (although they usually led with “taking a taxi is quicker”), and even blog posts I read described how to catch one.
I don’t know if it’s because of the pandemic or otherwise, but as of May 2021, I can confirm with near 100% certainty that there are no buses that run from Valladolid to Suytun.
I really did.
I went to the ADO bus station, to the Chichen Itza colectivo stop, and to Santa Ana Park—all places where well-intentioned street strangers told me I could catch a bus to Suytun.
Exasperated at Santa Ana Park, street vendors enthusiastically pointed me towards the “buses” to Suytun…which were taxis. Oy vey.
Taking a Taxi to Suytun
Valladolid is one of the safest places in Mexico, but it’s wired in me to not take a taxi off the street. So, I headed back to my hostel after my Santa Ana visit (which, by the way, has a beautiful little church and square I recommend that you visit during your time in Valladolid) to regroup and call a cab.
If you’d like to call a taxi while in Valladolid, I highly recommend the Taxi Valladolid company. They have two numbers:
Phone: +52 985-856-2090
WhatsApp: +52 985-856-2046
That’s right, you can message them via WhatsApp to “call” a cab. The longest I had to wait for them to respond to my Whatsapp message was 5 minutes. Usually, their response time was around 1 – 2 minutes.
As of May 2021, the one-way taxi trip from Valladolid to Suytun costs 120 pesos (about $6 USD).
There’s cell phone service at Suytun, so you can call a taxi from there once you’re ready to leave; since the cenote is set back from a not-so-busy road, flagging down a taxi can be challenging.
Once you arrive at the entrance of Suytun, you’ll be greeted by a little ticketing area on the right and a small, open-air coffee shop. You’ll need to purchase your ticket at the desk (the cost was 150 pesos for adults and 100 pesos for children during my May 2021 visit).
The ticketing agent will point you in the direction of the path to the cenote. There, another staff member will stop you and give you a wristband that you must wear. They’ll also give you a safety briefing (in English or Spanish, per your preference). The briefing includes instructions for picking up a life jacket (no extra charge) and wearing it at all times when swimming.
I read in the past that they weren’t strict about making people wear life jackets at Suytun. However, that’s not the case anymore (perhaps because of the higher water level); lifeguards will make you get out of the water if your life jacket-less self tries stepping a toe into the life jacket-required area.
Entering the Cenote
Only people who can manage steep, slippery steps should attempt a visit to Cenote Suytun.
There’s a rope railing that runs down the steps that you can use for balance. I’m not about to tell you to wear sneakers—it’ll likely be a 100+ degree day, and your plan is probably to swim. However, if you happen to choose sneakers, they’ll offer better footing on the way down.
As a bonus when you’re descending towards the underground sinkhole, bat-like birds may come rushing at you. They especially love swooping through the low-lying narrow tunnel once you arrive at the entrance to the cenote.
It’s fun to watch people’s reactions, assuming you’re not among those who are scared of them!
The Cenote Setup
There are three platforms at Cenote Suytun:
- The top entrance when you emerge from the first flight of stairs. This is a small area.
- A landing area in the middle of the steps that lead down to the cenote once you’re underground. This is also a small area and is where you can access Suytun’s famous platform by stairs.
- The bottom area, which is level with the centoe.
While you’re swimming, you can set your belongings either at the bottom area or on a ledge that follows the far side of the staircase.
Cenote Suytun Rules
There’s no shortage of rules at Cenote Suytun to keep everyone safe, but the main one is wearing your life jacket.
When I visited, there were two lifeguards manning the landing area. They were strict about their life jacket policy but very friendly—they even managed the line for people visiting the platform and snapped photos for single travelers.
Speaking of life jackets, even though the Suytun platform is inundated with water, that’s the one place where you’re allowed to take your life jacket off. Can I get a “phew”?!
I was very impressed by how respectful everyone was of the rules and of those taking photos on the platform. People stuck to the far left side to do their swimming, making the photos look like those standing on the platform had the entire place to themselves.
Unfortunately, due to an infected foot fiasco I had, I couldn’t wade onto the platform. I guess I’ll just have to visit another time (and perhaps by then I can update you if the platform is back to being above water).
Another important rule at Suytun is that you can’t have sunscreen on if you go into the water, for it’ll damage the fragile ecosystem. There are lots of spacious, clean showers and restrooms where you can wash off any sunscreen you may have on once you pass through the Suytun ticketing area.
Other Things to do at Suytun
Suytun is stunning but small, so you likely won’t spend more than an hour at the sinkhole, and less if you decide not to swim. However, there are two other wonderful activities you can do to take advantage of the cost of your taxi ride.
1. Take a Nature Walk
When you exit the cenote, you’ll be pretty far into a somewhat forested area. There are benches where you can sit and take in the wildlife (iguanas and birds with long, feathery tails are everywhere). Alternatively, you can take a little nature walk.
There are cabanas on the Cenote Suytun property. To get to them, you have to walk about 10 minutes through a well-marked path through the forest. Not many people roam around there (especially since the cabanas weren’t operating when I visited), and literally with every step I took I felt nature moving around me, watching my every move.
It was a great chance to see some of those long-tail birds up close(r) and I even hung out with a three-legged iguana feasting on grass.
2. Visit Cenote Kaapeh
It doesn’t pack quite the punch as Cenote Suytun, but Cenote Kaapeh is still a beautiful visit. Plus, it’s included with your entrance ticket.
When you’re standing at the first ticket booth where you made your Suytun purchase, the path to Cenote Kaapah is to the right and behind the ticket booth (this is also the area where you can connect to the nature path).
There was only one couple at this cenote when I visited, and then I had it to myself for a while, with the exception of the lifeguard. Yes, you need to wear a lifejacket while swimming at Cenote Kaapah too.
It’s fun watching the fish and seeing the birds fly around since the centoe is fully open to the sky.
Like Cenote Sutyun, you’ll need to arrive there by using a slippery staircase.
Traveling to Multiple Destinations in Mexico?
Whether you want to take a bus from Valladolid to Merida or hop on a cross-country flight, it’s a good idea to book your tickets in advance.
Between poor or no Spanish-to-English translations and slow websites, booking buses, ferries, flights, and private transfers online with Mexican companies can be frustrating (speaking from experience, here).
That’s why I use Bookaway for many of my transportation bookings. They offer competitive pricing (even discounts sometimes when you arrive at the payment page) and excellent customer service.
Don’t take my word for it, though—check it out for yourself here.
Ready to Visit Suytun?
Don’t let the high water levels deter you—Cenote Suytun is 100% worth the visit even after the hurricanes.
Because situations are always changing, I’d love to hear from you if you visit Suytun and have a different experience. Let me know in the comments section what the water levels are like when you visited, whether you found a way to take a bus from Valladolid, and any other regulations you may have encountered during your time there.
Above all, have a wonderful visit!
P.S.- Looking for healthy meals during your time in Valladolid? If so, check out my guide on six Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurants in Valladolid.
Laura’s love for traveling started with a trip to Jamaica. Since then, she’s spent over five years living in Latin America and four years wandering the globe. She’s an early bird and backpacker at heart and can often be spotted with a dog or ten that she’s befriended along the way. Much of the content Laura writes on A Piece of Travel includes details on wheelchair accessibility, with the support of her brother-in-law and sister. You can learn about their accessibility endeavors here.