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Cenote diving has always scared me and I have actually never done it because I feel a little (lot) claustrophobic. However it’s still there in the back of my mind and I know one day I will do it. Especially living in Mexico so close to the cenotes I really should do it.
Besides, as you will see if you continue reading, not in all the cenotes you are completely in the dark. Some of them are quite open and you can see the light above you, which makes it less scary.
I have collected stories from other fellow writers and explorers who shared their cenote diving experiences with us.
Diving in The Pit cenote – Yucatan Peninsula – Mexico
by Campbell and Alya @ stingynomads.com
The cenotes of the Yucatan peninsula provides some of the most unique and interesting dive sites in the world. Cenotes are freshwater-filled sinkholes formed when the roofs of limestone caverns collapse, conditions in these caves and caverns are perfect for diving.
The Pit is the deepest cenote in the State of Quintana Roo decending to an incredible 119m! The popular dive site is about 40m deep. The name tells you exactly what this dive site looks like, a hole of about 10m diameter falling into the jungle floor.
Rain water filtering through the ground into the cave system results in water with amazing visibility, some days exceeding 50 meters. As you decend during your dive you reach a overhung cavern with some beautiul stalagtites and stalagmites.
One of the highlights is the bright beams of sunlight that reach through the mouth of The Pit and bright rays can be seen 30 meters down. When you decend through a blurry layer you have reached the halocline where salt and freshwater mix, this line is visible because of refraction of light passing through the water layers with different denities.
Close to the bottom of the popular dive area is a cloud of hydrogen sulfate with some interesting tree branches that make for nice photos. Two dives including the Pit starts at around $150. Decending in this incredible pit in the middle of the jungle is a breathtaking experience!
Dive in Devil’s Den – Florida
by Jenn and Ed Coleman @ Coleman Concierge
Devil’s Den is a 54′ cenote in Williston Florida, about a half-hour away from the University of Florida and Gainesville. Entry costs $38 for divers with open water certification or above. It’s a single pit, 120′ diameter at the top that flairs out like a mushroom at the bottom. The water’s always clear and 72 degrees, with no current. This might sound like an easy dive, but there were a couple of times I got a little worried.
Devil’s Den is a popular snorkeling spot, so there’s always a gaggle of feet at the surface. Once you drop down, you can explore the pit at your leisure. Our pre-dive briefing illustrated several swim-throughs you could locate by their depth and position on an imaginary clock assuming the stairs were at 12:00.
The first couple were big spaces between boulders that fell from the ceiling long ago. It was a fun buoyancy skills challenge but nothing more. After a few laps around the bottom of the pit, I began to seek out longer and more challenging routes. Tighter squeezes and multiple turns to navigate. It was nothing too crazy, but enough to get my heart rate up. I had to stop and think about how to move my body to pass through a couple of times.
Devil’s Den was a great one-tank dive, but I had seen enough by then. For a second dive, I would recommend drift diving down the crystal clear waters of nearby Rainbow River or checking out Blue Grotto, the largest clear water cavern in North Florida. While you have your wetsuit on, you can even try snorkeling with the manatees at Crystal River.
Diving in Cenotes dos Ojos – Tulum – Mexico
by Eloise @ My favorite escapes
On our trip to Mexico, we wanted to go diving and snorkeling in Tulum. You cannot visit this region of Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula, without hearing about the cenotes. As we were planning the trip, diving a cenote appeared as a must-do. But for me, the idea of diving in a cave was as exciting as scary. I’m always up for trying something new and like challenges. But underwater, things can go wrong quickly, so I’m often questioning the risks and our abilities.
I lacked experience and not being able to surface like that was totally new to me.
We asked other divers for a dive shop recommendations and then we also needed tips on which cenote to choose. There are so many! We piked cenote Dos Ojos, the most popular one. We got a package at $180 for a double dive including all the equipment, a highly experienced guide, and a divemaster.
Dos Ojos cenote was chosen for the IMAX movie Journey Into Amazing Caves and Planet Earth.
The fact that it was the most popular for tourist was reassuring about the level of difficulty. Also, it is a cavern dive rather than a cave dive: we’d always be at least 60 metres away from an open area. It’s an important detail as we would have needed a course to join a cave dive.
Dos Ojos is quite shallow; the maximum depth is around 10 meters. As our dive time would depend on our air consumption, a shallow site seemed like a good choice.Â
I felt safe and comfortable the entire dive. The visibility was incredible: as far as the eyes can see. We swam following a line, with a guide in front of us and one at the back. The rock formations were beautiful; Dos Ojos cenote is very decorated. But the lights impressed me the most.
It’s rare to see light rays breaking the obscurity while you are swimming in the dark. We had the opportunity to surface, take our masks off, and look at bats flying in and out of the cavern. It surely was an extraordinary dive, and I’d do it again if I could!
Diving Tajma Ha Cenote in Mexico
By Danielle and John @ Two for the world
At first glance, there’s little to suggest that Tajma Ha is anything other than a shallow waterhole tucked beneath a rocky overhang in the jungle. This is, however, the gateway to one of the most unique and unforgettable dives out there.
Tajma Ha is one of Mexico’s magical cenotes, which swiss cheese the limestone bedrock of the Yucatán peninsula. This one is located around half an hour south of Playa del Carmen.
Tajma Ha is actually three linked cenotes, and to journey through them is to immerse in a parallel universe. Unlike the noisy crackling of a reef dive, it’s eerily silent; only our steady inhale and exhale breaks the stillness.
There’s little current but crystal clear viz to the very far reaches of our torchlight. At several points, we descend into a shimmery halocline, where fresh water meets the heavier, denser salt water that seeps in through the limestone.
Buoyancy is a constant focus as we carefully follow our guide along a cavern line, through narrow passageways, past ancient rock formations, and into wide, open spaces. The max depth at Tajma Ha is around 15 metres, but we’re up and down throughout the dive.
We fin through to Sugarbowl cenote, where a curtain of sunlight radiates in the depths from a hole in the cavern above. Then we arrive at the Points of Light Room, which lives up to its name with three sharp blue beams cutting the water; a marvel that apparently only takes place between May and September.
Too soon, we’re back where we started and quizzing our guide about other cenote dives in the area. There are plenty of them, so there’s no question we’ll be back. Along with our experience diving in Cozumel, the otherworldly thrill of Tajma Ha cenote has definitely made this corner of Mexico one of our favourite diving destinations.
We dived Tajma Ha as part of a double cenote dive trip which included Jardín del Edén cenote (another amazing dive), and cost us around $180 each, with dive gear, transfers, park entry, and an awesome Cave Diving-certified guide.
Diving in the Cenote Kin-ha – Puerto Morelos – Mexico
The dive starts by descending down to the deepest part and then generally you will do 2 loops of the cenote while slowly ascending. You will do a safety stop before coming up. What makes this dive so special is the formations you will see here. They are pretty out of this world and I’ve not seen anything quite as magical at I have here. You really do get the sense of entering the Mayan underworld.
Living here in the Riviera Maya, I go diving a good amount in Cenotes and I must say that this one was one of the most magical, but it is also the most disorientated dives I have ever done. During the first 15 minutes of the dive I had to really work hard to keep myself calm. It was pitched black and it took a while for me to calm my breathing and settle into the dive.
However, once I finally calmed down and found my bearings the dive really was incredible. Even though I did have a little panic, I went with, who I consider the best company in the area, so I knew I was in safe hands.
The cost for this dive will really depend on how you go with. Expect to pay around $100 USD. Remember cheaper isn’t always better. There are a lot of companies who cut corners here, do your research before booking.
Diving in the Cenote Azul – Playa del Carmen – Mexico
Alexander Waltner by Destinavo
Cenote Azul is one of the best cenotes in the Tulum area, and it’s easily reached from both Playa del Carmen as well as Akumal and Tulum. It has free entrance, and what’s even better is that it has several areas. In contrast to other cenotes in the area, the Cenote Azul is an open-air cenote where you can go snorkeling in one of the pools, and go diving in the deeper pool.
The fishes living here will eat your dead skin, so you’ll basically get a free spa treatment while bathing. It’s safe to go diving here and it’s great for beginners as you don’t have to swim under some rock. The depth is about 5 meters, so if it’s your first time diving in the cenotes I can recommend going here.
The water is crystal clear, so you’ll have excellent visibility, which adds to the comfort. And there are some fishes living in the deeper section as well, so you’ll have an interesting marine Life to explore below the Surface as well.
Cenote eden is the nearest cenote and it’s located within walking distance from here. The easiest way to get to Cenote Azul is to go by rental car, but it’s also possible to take a minibus and be dropped off by the road if you tell the driver.
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Book Your Trip: Practical Tips and Tricks
Book your accommodation
I use most of all Booking.com. I find it very convenient because it shows all kinds of accommodations, from hostels to villas to hotels. I love the layout of the site and the comments of the previous guests. And they always have great deals.
However, I always recommend to check out different sites and compare them. I come from the travel industry and I know for a fact that hotels agree from time to time with different tour operators to make special exclusive deals. So maybe one day you will find a great deal with Booking.com and the other day with Expedia or Hotels.com for the same hotel. So it is always worth checking them all. Of course, there are many other booking sites, but these are the ones I feel more comfortable with.
Now you have to know that Expedia and Hotels.com belong to the same company Expedia Group, together with many other sites, but they still display different rates as they have different targets. I know it sounds odd, but it is what it is.
Last but not least, always check the hotel web page because sometimes they have a better deal. Even better if you can call the hotel directly and ask if they have a special rate for those dates that you want to book. They might give you an offer in order not to lose a potential client.
I also check the reviews on TripAdvisor, both for hotels and tours. It doesn’t cost a thing and it helps a lot in choosing. You can also check their prices and compare them as well.
Book your flight
For flights, I use both Skyscanner and Expedia as well. The same rule applies: always compare. They are both good because they are aggregators which means that they compare prices from different sites and airlines. However, it’s always good to double check with the airline site directly.
Don’t forget your travel insurance
I couldn’t have one while I was traveling in Mexico because I am a resident there, but as soon as I left I did my insurance with World Nomads. After a research on the web and through friends I found World Nomads to be the most used and the most reliable when it comes not only to sickness but also missed flights, credit cards issues and so on. Whatever insurance you decide to get, that’s fine though, as long as you have one. I just can’t imagine being stuck in a place sick and miserable and not being able to get the necessary treatments because I can’t afford it, or having to ask my parents or friends to support me. That’s inconceivable to me. For me, it is super important and I can never recommend it enough.