Once you complete your first dive in the Cenotes, it’ll quickly become your number one dive of all time. The water is so clear (sometimes 200 metres visibility, if you could see that far), and the landscape so spectacular that you have to pinch yourself to see if you’re actually awake and not dreaming!
You can book a Cenote dive from any dive centre in Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, Puerto Aventuras, Akumal, Tulum and Xcalak but they all take you to the same area around Tulum so I would suggest staying there to minimise travel time and fit in as many sites as you can.
You will dive with a qualified cave diving guide with only four people maximum in a group. There are sites for beginners and advanced and if you’re not a diver then snorkelling is also fabulous as well.
There’s not an abundance of sea life but the things you will see are very different to the usual as they have adapted to the dark, cave environment. The other things you’ll discover are stalagmites and stalactites, fossils, haloclines, the most amazing display of lights imaginable and something new around every corner. Words cannot describe, you’ll have to see for yourself.
Here are some of the best dives:
Cenote Dos Ojos (Cenote Two Eyes) – Cavern dive, 26ft, Min AOW level recommended, good buoyancy needed. Things to see: fossils, gigantic formations, stalagmites and stalactites, huge columns. This is the most famous dive site in the area.
Cenote Angelita (Cenote Little Angel) – Not Cavern, 193ft, Min AOW level. Things to see: Hydrogen Sulfate layer (mystical), swim through, fossils, underwater tree (? Yep you gotta see it!). This is my favourite dive site ever, a sacred site and truly magical.
Casa Cenote (House Cenote) – Not Cavern, 23ft, OW or Trial Dive (beginner), Things to see: sea turtle, light displays, halocline, schooling fish, mangrove root system. On the surface you can see many types of birds and racoons. This is a lovely site for beginners.
Gran Cenote – 36ft, Cavern dive, Min OW, Things to see: amazing stalagmites and stalactites, very clear water, you don’t even think you’re in water! This site is beautiful for lighting.
That’ll keep you busy for a couple of days, if you have more time then check out Carwash, Dream Gate, The Pit, Tajma Ha, The Garden of Eden and Chac Mool. If you find the ‘Hidden Worlds’ do a snorkelling tour there, the caves are simply stunning, you can dive there too but you have to be very experienced.
(By Kelly Luckman)
The Cenotes are a whole new world!
The Cenotes (Mayan word meaning ‘well of water’) would have to be the most spectacular thing to see in Mexico. There are an estimated 6000 of them and less than half have been explored. The limestone cave systems of Quintana Roo are the longest underwater caves in the world; the area has the top four cave systems with a combined total of 365 miles, the largest being almost 145 miles!
The great thing about the Cenotes is that they’re all different and you can spend days, even weeks exploring the many treasures dotting the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. Whether you like diving, snorkelling, swimming, caves, bird watching, all this and more can be found on your journey into this amazing world.
The Mayan history surrounding these caves is incredible. Since they were the Mayan’s only source of fresh water, they saw the Cenotes as sacred, the most sacred being the site at the temple Chichen Itza (funnily enough called ‘Sacred Cenote’) where many artefacts and human remains have been found. Stories of sacrifice, worship of the gods and art are wonderful to discover on your trip in the past, an unforgettable experience that will give you an insight into this ancient world.
The easiest way to see the Cenotes is to book a tour with your dive center, anywhere from Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, Puerto Aventuras, Akumal, Tulum and Xcalak you can find one in your hotel, hostel or the cheapest way I found was the local travel agent on the side of the road who will pick you up from wherever you’re staying. If you stay in Tulum you can hire a bicycle and ride around for a couple of days, there’s a good few in reachable distance from the centre of town but if you want to know the history it’s best to take a guided tour or research it before you go.
I hope you enjoy the Cenotes as much as I did!
(By Kelly Luckman)