The Riviera Maya boasts the largest interconnected cenote system in the Americas with more than 300 miles of passageways. These underground taverns or sink holes house deep wells of fresh water and are covered with stalactites and stalagmite, and there are over 3000 of them in the Yucatan Peninsula, though only a few that are accessible by visitors.
Knowing that the ancient Maya believed the openings of the cenotes served as portals to Xibalba – the Mayan underworld – adds a further sense of mystery and excitement to these dives. Cenote dives in the Riviera Maya are suitable for recreational divers as they include “cavern-designated” areas within the caves systems, with divers never more than 200 linear feet from the surface.
All cenote dives are conducted by one of Pro Dive Mexico's cave certified guides, who follow strictly all cavern-diving procedures. All divers interested in a cenote dive must first go on a reef dive with Pro Dive, in order for the staff to access your buoyancy skills. You will also receive lessons in cavern-diving procedures (included in the cost of the cenote dive) prior to your excursion.
Casa Cenote: Casa Cenote connects one of the longest underwater Cave Systems in the world Nohoch-Na-Chich with the ocean. It is one of the few surface rivers on the Yucatan Peninsula. Located 6 miles/10 kms north of Tulum> and 43 miles/70 km south of Playa del Carmen. Casa Cenote gives the diver the feeling of diving underneath the jungle. The dive follows the course of the river at a depth of no more than 26ft/8m. Due to the connection with the ocean, both fresh and saltwater fish live there. The dive follows alongside the jungle and at times through algae covered Mangrove roots reaching into the water. Huge rocks overgrown with mosses and green algae decorate the bottom. Surfacing quietly at the end of the river, you might spot different bird species. Along the sides of the Cenote there are small caves running into the jungle frequently used by Manatees inhabiting coastal rivers and lagoons.
Cenote Aktun-Ha: Better known as “Car Wash”, it is no longer used for washing taxis! Aktun-Ha is situated 5 miles/8 kms outside from Tulum on the road to Coba. With the water level just a few inches below ground level, divers find an easy entrance into the water. For Cavern divers there are upstream and and downstream dives possible. The upstream section with its large chestnut colored columns is the most popular route. You will enter the water through the roots and fallen trees which like any good fairy tail take you into a strange and different world. Looking back towards the entrance, it seems like we are underneath the clouds thanks to a small algae that lives near the surface. The light falling through the roots create an amazing light show and the large room behind these roots is beautifully decorated.
Cenote Angelita: Angelita, “little angel” in English, is not only an atypical Cenote dive, but a once in a lifetime dive in all aspects. Situated 11 mikes/17kms south of Tulum, it is the furthest visited site from Playa del Carmen. Walking about 5 minutes through the jungle, you reach this picturesque circular shaped Cenote which does nothing more than go straight down to 200ft/60 m. Descending through clear fresh water you will sink right into a mystical hydrogen sulfate layer at 100ft/30m that looks like a huge cloud with trunks and branches reaching through it. Underneath the cloud the salt water begins. It is dark here, giving the diver the feeling of being in a forest at night. Depending on the air-consumption, the ascent can be done slowly winding up alongside the walls. Some huge stalactites hanging from the edge of the Cenote reminding us of times when the water level was much lower.
Angelita is a dive for the experienced diver because of its depth. Most commonly it is dived to a depth of 131ft/40m. This Cenote is also popular for Technical Dives.
Cenote Bat Caves: The Bat Cave dive is the darker of the two dives in the system of Dos Ojos. It is a series of rooms and passages underneath an air filled “Bat Cave” in which only little daylight enters. Here an ascent is worthwhile to marvel at the stunning decorations and bats hiding between the stalactites. Good buoyancy control is required as you will virtually be flying through passageways filled with beautiful and fragile speleothems. Cave Divers can plan many different dives and continue miles in either direction into this extensive Cave System. With about 37 miles/60 kms of explored length and connected to over 25 Cenotes, Dos Ojos is one of the longest system on the Yucatan Peninsula up to date. IMAX Movies chose this location to shoot parts of the IMAX Film "Journey into the Amazing Caves."
Cenote Calavera: Cenote Calavera, which means “Skull Cave” is also known as “Temple of Doom”. It is located just outside of Tulum, on the road to Coba. Completely different from any other cavern in the area, the entrance passes through a round hole on the surface rock. The adventure starts almost immediately, as you need to jump about 9 ft/3m to the waters surface. The cavern area is a huge rooms with a hill of sediments and rocks in the center. During the dive, divers wind their way slowly around the hill, travelling at different depth alongside the walls of the cenote. In this dive it is possible to move through three different halocline layers. There is much light in the cavern and many hidden fossils to discover. Look up towards the entrance and with imaginations you might recognize the “skull”. Light passing through holes of the ceiling, creates an effect of two eyes and a mouth. For cave diving, there are beautiful passages both on the siphon and spring sides. Ask your guide for “the Fang”, an amazing combinations of a huge stalactite and stalagmite.
Cenote Chac-Mool: The entrance to this Cenote is about 62 miles/100 m South of Puerto Aventuras. There are two water entries to Chac-Mool, both leading into the same rooms. The first room is relatively large with with much light entering from the opening. In the second room, a portion of the ceiling has collapsed under an air dome where Divers can surface thus allowing divers to admire two levels of beautiful stalactites. Along the opening of the main entrance, trunks and branches reach into the water. It is here where on a sunny day a stunning laser light show takes place. Chac-Mool is one of the Caverns which has a Halocline. This is where salt and fresh come together creating fascinating visual effects. With its large rooms and and maximum depth of 40ft/12m, Chac Mool is perfect for any novice Cavern Diver. It also offers long penetration for Cave Divers and is home to the largest underwater stalactite in the world.
Cenote Chikin-Ha: Located approximately 15 miles/25 kms from Playa del Carmen, Cenote Chikin-Ha is the first Cenote in a system that connects several Cenotes through more than 6 miles/10 kms of underwater passages. Chikin-Ha is well set, with bathroom facilities and a trail leading from the entrance to the Cenote. During the Dive, you will be making your way to the nearby Rainbow Cenote. Upon reaching a depth of about 10m. strange visual effects can been seen as the salt and the fresh water start to mix. This is what is called a Halocline. Descend a couple of meters into the salt water and experience a comfortable change in temperature as salt water is warmer then fresh water. Surfacing the Rainbow Cenote there is the chance to see the never ending search for water in the jungle, a the roots of many plants grow through the rock and stretch to the water’s surface. Always keep an eye toward the entrance for spectacular light effects on sunny days.
Cenote Dos Ojos: The entrance to this popular and famous Cenote is situated one Kilometer South of Xel-Ha and roughly 30 miles/48 km from Playa del Carmen. A 2 miles/4 km long dirt road leads from the highway to the parking lots and Cavern and Cave entrances. The name “Dos Ojos” means “two eyes” and originated for the two circular shaped Cenotes which are located very close to one and another. Dos Ojos known for its multiple shallow Dives gives divers plenty of bottom time to enjoy the beautiful decorated system. In the Cenote called “the First Eye” two very different cavern dives start and end. The >Dos Ojos Cavern Dive leads the diver mainly along the opening of the “Second Eye” where there is plenty of daylight. It also gives divers a lot of space to swim around huge columns and Stalictites. Be ready for some exciting surprises on this dive. Remember to look occasionally towards the entrance for great backlit effects. With shallow dives, crystal clear visibility and great decoration, Dos Ojos is spectacular for Cavern and Cave Diving.
Cenote Dreamgate: One of the most magnificent Cenotes and cavern dives in Mexico, and subject of many documentaries by BBC. Located approximately 0.6 miles/1km/ south of cenote Dos Ojos, following a 3 miles/5 km long dirt road into the jungle, this nearly untouched cavern offers relatively short but extremely intense scenic dives both up- and downstream, which will give you the sensation of flying between thousands of very fine formations of stalactites, stalagmites and columns. Divers access this cenote by ladder, whereas the equipment will be descended using a rope. The maximum depth is 21ft/7m. Excellent buoyancy and trim are strictly required due to the cavern´s rich decoration, delicate formations and dark silt floor. This dive is exclusively for experienced divers who did a cenote dive with Pro Dive Mexico before.
Cenote El Eden: Also known as “Pon-de Rosa”, Cenote Eden is situated 2 miles/3 kms south of Puerto Aventuras and 15 miles/25 kms south of Playa del Carmen. A large and beautiful Cenote, like a swimming pool in the middle of the jungle. Big rocks covered by mosses and plants on the bottom of the Cenote are home to a variety of fish, fresh water eels and abundant aquatic plant life. This makes Pon-de-Rosa a perfect place for snorkeling, swimming as well as for Diving courses on days the ocean is to rough to dive. For inexperienced Cavern Divers this Cenote is ideal. The rooms are very large and the main part of the dive takes the diver alongside the nearby Cenote Coral Garden. Here breathtaking shows await the Diver. A Halocline stretches through the Cenote at 30ft/10m. For Cave Divers there are many different passages to explore, often connected to nearby Cenotes>.
Cenote El Pit: El Pit is a deep and rugged gash in the jungle floor just 2 miles/3 kms past Dos Ojos. The entrance is steep and narrow, so be careful and use the pulleys for lowering heavy equipment as necessary. Arrive early in the morning for this deep dive and best light penetration. Once in the water, stop and appreciate the tranquil surrounding that tower above. Descend in the middle of the Cenote through a shallow halocline towards the hydrogen sulfide cloud at 90ft/30m. Like Angelita, tree branches eerily protrude from the cloud, what seems to be the cavern floor becomes visible. But don´t stop there! El Pit continues deep below the cloud and narrows into darkness down to 120+ft/40+m. Continue your dive above the cloud exploring the cavernous overhang of the Cenote before coming up to the sloping ceiling at 30ft/10m. Here you´ll not only find stalactites of all shapes and sizes but also enjoy the laser beams of sunlight penetrating the gash from below.
Cenote Kukulkan: Part of the Chac-Mool System, the entrance is a couple of hundred feet away from Cenote Chac-Mool. Access to the Kukulkan Cenote is through a beautiful pond at one end of the Cenote. At approximately 30ft/10m, you will be entering the Halocline zone. Shine your light to the point were salt and fresh water meet and marvel the reflections projected on the walls of the Cavern. The dive passes through a huge Cavern that surrounds the Cenote. The light effects are amazing, as sunlight penetrates the darkness. Take a moment to look towards the ceiling at the entrance to see the colors of the rainbow.
Cenote Pet Cemetery: Pet Cemetery is a very beautiful cenote deep inside the jungle which is located farther along the same access road as cenotes Dos Ojos. Its name refers to the number of animal skeletons found in the cenote, one of which are the fossilized remains of an extinct prehistoric camel. This cenote belongs to the second longest underwater cave system in the world, Cenotes Sac Aktun. Much of Pet Cemetery is very shallow with a depth of only about 9ft/3m and a wide berth of daylight, which makes it an ideal site for advanced snorkelers. It is one of the most decorated cenotes in the area containing delicate white stalactite, stalagmite and column formations in water of amazing clarity which creates the effect of a crystal palace. A visit to this cenote is memorable for both snorkelers and divers.
Cenote Taj Mahal: This Cenote, which has much to offer for both Cavern and Cave Divers, is situated 16 miles/26 kms south of Playa del Carmen and 3 miles/5 km south of Puerto Aventuras. The Cavern tour>takes the Diver from the entrance into a wide room underneath an air filled bat Cave. Here light enters through holes in the ceiling and penetrates the water like laser beams during the summer months. Along the Cavern floor you will find hundreds of stalactites lying in the sediment. Continuing the dive you enter the sugar bowl, a second small Cenote where you can see an amazing light show on sunny days. Taj Mahal is decorated with stalactites, stalagmites and plenty of hidden fossils can be spotted if you look for them. Haloclines in the deeper areas create interesting mirror like effects as divers penetrate the layer of salt water, which is below the fresh water. For Cave Divers there is the “Chinese Garden” for which you should ask your Guide.
Cenote Zapote: Named after the Sapote trees growing nearby. It is located on the “Ruta de los Cenotes” the old road from Puerto Morelos to Valladolid. Zapote has quite a deep drop from the land surface to the water surface of 20ft/6m but its access is easy via stairs. The walls will rise above you like a fortress and once you start your descent they become narrower until a depth of 66ft/20m before starting to open back up again. This is a dive for experienced divers because of the depth and excellent buoyancy control essential to avoid uncontrolled descents or ascents. Once you reach a depth of 100ft/30m you will be above the talus cone in a bell shaped chamber with a narrow skylight in the top through which you just descended. Halocline and a thin misty layer of Hydrogen Sulfide floating on top of it, as well as some of the most amazing and incredible formations will guarantee a memorable dive.
Commonly described as bells, elephant feet, shower heads or trumpets, they will truly take your breath away with their strange beauty and impressive size.
Cenote Gran Cenote: The name says it all – Gran Cenote is considered one of the best cenotes for Cavern and Cave Diving, as well as for snorkeling in the Riviera Maya. It is part of the system Sac-Aktun which means “Cave” in Maya. It is along the highway to Coba just 2.5 miles/4 kms outside the town of Tulum. The cavern dive leads you along the edge of the circular shaped Cenote which has a maximum depth of 30 feet/10 m. Perfect buoyancy is required as the Cavern Dive and Cave passages are highly decorated. White walls, crystal clear waters and amazing formations await to hypnotize the diver. Cave divers can explore various routes inside the incredible decorate cave.
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