While traveling in Yucatan Peninsula for almost two months in the beginning of 2019 I stranded in Valladolid twice. On my first trip to this city I fell in love with the laid-back vibe and it made me come back a couple weeks later. This city is not only about the Valladolid cenotes! Also the many new coffee places, boutique shops, the slow paced life, the friendly people and the beautiful haciendas are reasons to travel to Valladolid.
Visitng cenote Zaci is without a doubt one of the best things to do in Valladolid. Especially during the week days when you have a scorching hot afternoon to kill Im sure you want to take a dip in the refreshing water of an underground river. When I was there in March and April 2019 temperatures rose above 35 degrees (95 Fahrenheit). In total I got to visit cenote Zaci 4 times and wrote all my tips down in this travel blog. Also I created a video showing you the beauty of this cenote.
Zaci is a great cenote to visit, but without a doubt cenote Ik Kil is much more beautiful. Click on the link to read all about it and it is only 30 minutes outside Valladolid center. In the article you will also find my cenote Ik Kil vlog.
This is my vlog about cenote Zaci introducing this jewel in the city center of Valladolid to you.
1. About Cenote Zaci
This centrally located cenote is a semi open sky cenote, which means that part of the cenote is covered by a roof. Basically cenote Zaci was a massive cave that collapsed only partially. The roof covers most of the cenote but a huge gap of 40 by 50 meters (120 by 150 feet) lets in loads of natural light. The open sky side of cenote Zaci is covered in beautiful green leafs. There are also multiple stalactites hanging from the roof.
There is a path carved out that makes it possible to walk around this circle shaped cenote. Be careful the path is often very slippery as it is used by the people cliff jumping.
2. Location cenote Zaci
Without a doubt this is one of the most easy accessible cenotes in Yucatan. Cenote Zaci is located just 2 blocks away from the main city square. As you have seen in my vlog there is no need to find transportation to cenote Zaci as within a 5 minute walk from the city center you can reach the cenote Zaci entrance already.
May you really want to catch a ride then a taxi to anywhere in Valladolid costs just 30 Pesos ($1,5).
3. There are two entrances
The main entrance is at Calle 39 and there are many souvenir shops around before you walk in. At Calle 36 there is another entrance, this is also where you will find the entrance to the Zaci restaurant.
4. Parking at cenote Zaci
Are you coming with your own car then you can park for free at the cenote Zaci parking lot. At both entrances there is free parking available.
5. What does Zaci mean?
Zaci in Mayan language means sparrowhawk. Don’t ask me why this cenote is named after a bird, because I tried to find out and asked the staff, but no one could actually tell me, or may be I didn’t understand them properly! :)
6. What are the opening hours for cenote Zaci?
Cenote Zaci is open every day from 09:00am to 5:00pm. Last entrance is at 5:00pm but they will get everyone out of the water around 5:30pm.
7. Cenote Zaci entrance fee
There is a entrance fee of 30 Pesos ($1,5) as of April 2019. When you pay you will get a green wristband. This is one of the cheapest cenote around Valladolid, most other cenotes ask between 80 and 120 Pesos ($4-6). At the entrance you can also rent a lifejacket for 30 Pesos ($1,5).
8. Best time to visit cenote Zaci
Basically you could see cenote Zaci as a public swimming pool and this is why you will also see loads of locals here. Therefore the best time to visit cenote Zaci is in the morning on a week day. I was there once on Tuesday morning and there were only 5 other people around, but I have also been there in the weekend with probably more than 100 other people as you could see in my vlog.
In the afternoon there are many busses stopping by cenote Zaci as part of the a tour. Tour busses only tend to come in the afternoon or during the weekends. Those tours from Cancun or Playa del Carmen are often people that first visit Ek Balam or Chichen Itza.
This is me visiting cenote Zaci on a Tuesday morning. Almost empty!
9. Waterfall at Cenote Zaci
If you see cenote Zaci pictures with a waterfall that means they were taking during a busy weekend. The waterfall at cenote Zaci is artificial and is only operational on busy weekend days as the staff told me. In my vlog you can see I mostly recorded my videos of Zaci in the weekends when there was a waterfall.
10. Changing rooms and toilets
At cenote Zaci there are no lockers so leave your valuables at your Valladolid hotel. Inside the cenote there is plenty of space though to put your bag somewhere on the side. At the main entrance there are changing rooms for both ladies and men. They charge 5 Pesos ($0,25) to use them.
11. Swimming in cenote Zaci
Cooling of in cenote Zaci is a popular thing to do in Valladolid and no wonder with the sweltering heat in the city sometimes. Swimming might be a little intimidating knowing that the depth of cenote Zaci is 100 meters (300 feet). Trust me I held on to my GoPro better than normal. There are 3 ropes spanned across the cenote for you to hang on plus there are a couple (very small) shallow areas on the sides of cenote Zaci to have a rest.
12. Snorkeling in Cenote Zaci
Sometimes I saw people snorkeling in cenote Zaci, but I would totally recommend you to leave your snorkel at home. I mean there is not much to see! The walls of the cenote go straight down and there is apart from some black catfish not much life in the cenote.
13. No lifeguard on duty
Like in all cenotes around Valladolid swimming is at own risk, but mostly there is a lifeguard on duty, not at cenote Zaci though. Not sure why, but at least it makes cliff jumping a lot easier. There is a security guard walking around though.
14. Cliff jumping cenote Zaci
In my article about the best cenotes around Valladolid I named cenote Zaci as the best cenote for cliff jumping. There are multiple platforms to jump from ranging from 2 meters (6 feet) to at least 15 meters (45 feet). There basically is no limit! Although there is a sign on top of the cenote saying that jumping from the top is not allowed. This makes sense though as it probably is more than 30 meters (90 feet).
15. Cenote Zaci Depth
One does not have to be afraid to hit the bottom at Cenote Zaci when cliff jumping as the bottom of the cenote lies at 100 meter (300 feet) at some points. There are also shallower areas of 20 meter (60 feet) and 30 meters (90 feet).
16. Water is often a bit murky
In contrast to other popular cenotes around Valladolid, cenote Zaci does not do a very well preservation job. At for example cenote Ik Kil there are signs everywhere to not use any make up, skin products, insect repellent or sunscreen when swimming in the cenote. Taking a shower before entering a cenote is a normal thing to do, but not at cenote Zaci. There is no sign or anything like this, nor facilities. Therefore the water is murky unfortunately.
17. Restaurant Zaci
Next to Cenote Zaci there is a restaurant with the same name. You can enter the restaurant Zaci without paying cenote Zaci entrance fee. The restaurant has the same opening hours as the cenote and at 5:00pm you will get the bill. The food is good and prices are affordable. A local meal will cost not more than 80 Pesos ($4), a ceviche 120 Pesos ($6). Coronas are 45 Pesos a little over $2. The restaurant has good views into the cenote and there are toilets.
18. Free entrance from restaurant
If your bill at restaurant Zaci exceeds 100 Pesos per person you will get free entrance into the cenote. So basically you get $1,5 discount when eating at the restaurant. :)
I hope all these Cenote Zaci tips were helpful for you upcoming trip Valladolid Mexico.
In total I traveled more than 2 months in Yucatan, Mexcio. By connecting all the cool place to visit I created the ultimate Yucatan Peninsula itinerary. You will also find links to a Merida travel guide, tips for Rio Lagartos Pink Lake and more cenotes around Valladolid.
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