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Sunday, November 27, 2022

Cenote Suytun beckons lovers of nature and social media alike

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Suytun is just six miles from Valladolid and is one of the most easily accessible cenotes in the region. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

During a recent trip to Valladolid on a particularly hot and humid weekend, I was struck with the desire to cool off in one of the region’s many cenotes.

Suytun’s cenote is full of interesting geological formations including stalactites and stalagmites which have formed over hundreds of thousands of years. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

The area immediately surrounding Valladolid is chock-full of cenotes. But as I had a wedding to attend in the evening and did not want to venture too far afield, I opted for Suytun, just six miles away from my hotel. 

I felt that the name rang a bell, but did not realize that I had actually visited the cenote about 20 years ago right until I descended into its depths.

In the Yucatec Maya language, Suytun roughly translates as “center stone.” Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Much has changed at Suytun since I had last been there, but the cenote itself was virtually unchanged — except for one major difference.

The folks administering the cenote built a sort of platform for visitors to line up and take photos directly beneath the mouth of the cenote, where light enters the underground chamber. 

In a sense, this was a truly genius idea, as it has made the cenote a great destination for those looking for the perfect shot for their Instagram.

Tourists line up for their chance to get a truly “Insata worthy” pic or selfie. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

“I had never heard of Yucatán before but I saw photos of cenotes one day on Reddit. I was blown away and knew I must visit,” said a Japanese tourist, Ren Yoshida

On the other hand, this approach creates a feeling of a staged attraction, which kind of robs it of some of its charm.

Nonetheless, the cenotes are spectacular, and swimming in its waters was extremely pleasant, despite the long line of tourists lining up to get their photos taken.  

Like several underground cenotes, the effect of the light hitting the water can be quite spectacular and a real pleasure to swim through.

Suytun is especially ideal for those with limited mobility as the staircases carved out of stone are extremely easy to descend and there are guardrails just about everywhere. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Once in the water, you will find yourself in the company of whiskered black fish called bagres, which are actually a species of catfish. 

These little fish are completely inoffensive and will not swarm around you. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Aside from Suytun, the entrance fee to access the grounds also gains you access to another cenote called Káapeh.

Like Cenote Suytun, Káapeh has extremely good accessibility, which means just about everyone can enjoy it. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Unlike the crowded Suytun, Káapeh was completely empty of people, other than one lone lifeguard.

But what Káapeh lacks in tourists it makes up for in birds that glide above the large mouth of the cenote and occasionally swoop down for a bite to eat or a drink of water. 

Mot mots, known locally as pájaros th’o, exploit the relative lack of human activity in their cenote to feed, drink, and build nests. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

If you go

The easiest way to get to Suytun from Valladolid is by taxi, which should run you between 50 and 100 pesos.

Location of Cenote Suytun relative to downtown Valladolid. Photo: Google Maps

When at the center, I realized that several of the tourists that had not arrived by bus had actually made their way via bicycle. On my way back to Valladolid I noticed that there was a bicycle path the entire way, which now that I think about it may have been an even better option (if it had not been so hot). 

The cenote grounds are extremely well kept and full of several exotic-looking plants. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Entrance to Suytun is 150 pesos per person, which admittedly is a bit steep for a cenote, but still well worth it.

Visitors to the cenote are obliged to shower before entering and refrain from wearing any sunblock or insect repellent, as well as to wear a lifevest. 

Showers and life vest stations are located near the entrance, past the ticket booth. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine
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