Why the Oxman Cenote is Our Favorite Yucatán Cenote
Update 2020: The Cenote San Lorenzo Oxman remains open despite the ongoing pandemic. Mexico continues to struggle with the containment of the COVID-19 pandemic so we advise you still try to maintain proper social distance and mask-wearing while visiting the Yucatan and the Hacienda San Lorenzo Oxman cenote. It is vital that you respect the wishes of the local community for closures and safety. Travel to Mexico has very few restrictions compared to most countries around the world. For the latest information about the process of traveling to Mexico in the pandemic check out this page.
As we continue to blog about Mexico, you'll soon realize that we love cenotes. We love to visit them, we love to write about them, and we're maybe a bit obsessed with them. To be fair, cenotes are one of Mexico's most popular attractions. Why? Because you can experience Mayan culture, swim, snorkel, rope swing, dive, and backflip into their crystal clear waters. Basically they're little slices of paradise on a hot humid day. The Oxman Cenote & Hacienda San Lorenzo in Valladolid truly has it all and should be on everyone's Mexico travel itinerary.
So, what exactly is a cenote?
A cenote is a collapsed limestone cave that exposes a groundwater pool. The water is typically very clear because it comes from filtered rainwater that contains very little particles. At most cenotes, tree roots crawl down from the surface, often touching the water at the bottom. Rays of sunshine flood through the cave roof, creating a mystical, mysterious vibe.
Cenotes are most common on the Yucatan peninsula along coastlines and locations with little soil development. Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula alone has over 6,000 cenotes!
Our favorite cenote we've visited thus far is the Oxman Cenote in Valladolid, Mexico. The cenote is located on an old agave plantation called Hacienda San Lorenzo Oxman. The property now houses a restaurant and swimming pool, in addition to the cenote. This makes spending all day on the hacienda a slam dunk. Did I really just use the phrase 'slam dunk'?! One of our favorite parts about the cenote is that it's relatively hidden and takes some effort to get to. It's not off the side of the main highway with a gigantic sign like a lot of cenotes on the Yucatán peninsula.
How do I get there?
As mentioned above, the property has the cenote, a swimming pool, a bar and restaurant, bathrooms, and changing rooms. The food in the restaurant was decent, but nothing to write home about. We shared some nachos and a few beers before our bike ride back to Valladolid. The swimming pool looked nice, but we preferred to take the steps down to the cenote and cool off there instead.c
We rented bicycles from a shop right next to the main square in Valladolid Centro called MexiGo Tours. They supplied us with bikes, locks, helmets, and yellow safety vests. Each bike costs 25 pesos per hour or 150 pesos for the whole day. The guy at MexiGo Tours let us pay afterwards to ensure we'd get the better rate of the two. The ride to the cenote took about 15-25 minutes, mostly on a dusty dirt road. Note: there isn't any shade along this road, so make sure you bring plenty of water and sunscreen.
How much does a refreshing dip in the Oxman Cenote cost?
This cenote is the only we've visited thus far where the entry price serves as a credit for food and drink at the restaurant. We opted for the 150 pesos/person (~$8.00 USD) entry ticket, which then gave each of us 150 pesos to spend at the restaurant. Such a win! If you're not planning to eat/drink at the restaurant, then the entrance fee is 80 pesos (~$4.25 USD).
When should I visit?
After our short bike ride, we arrived at 9:30 am on a Sunday and were the only ones there! Being alone in a cenote is pretty much unheard of in Mexico, so I think we were just incredibly lucky with our timing. Around 11:00 am, Mexican families and tour groups started showing up and the hacienda was pretty busy by 1:00 pm. As always, we recommend getting to the cenote as early as possible to enjoy some quiet time before the crowds show up. The best part about getting there early was that we had the rope swing all to ourselves. Seriously, not even a staff member was down in the cenote monitoring. We could swing and swing and cliff jump to our heart's content -- and believe us, we did!
We've heard that the hacienda is often a stop after the popular tour to the Chichen Itza ruins, so we don't recommend arriving late afternoon.
What amenities does Hacienda San Lorenzo Oxman have?
As mentioned above, the property has the cenote, a swimming pool with lounge chairs, a bar and restaurant, bathrooms, and changing rooms. The food in the restaurant was decent, but nothing to write home about. We shared some nachos and a few beers before our bike ride back to Valladolid. The swimming pool looked nice, but we preferred to take the steps down to the biggest attraction, the cenote, and cool off there instead.
Should I stay in Valladolid?
While many opt to only do a day trip cenote-hopping from Cancun or Tulum, we absolutely recommend spending a few nights in Valladolid. It's a quaint city, away from the tourist destinations, full of bohemian shops and good food. We spent three nights there and felt like it was the perfect amount of time to explore the city.
Here is a video of our biking experience to the Oxman Cenote & Hacienda San Lorenzo:
For the love and adventure,
Daniel and Bre