Exploring the Grand Cenote

The cenote is a deep natural well or sinkhole formed by the collapse of surface limestone that exposes groundwater. Mexico has numerous cenotes around its territory, and they are considered significant by the locals. The ancient Maya respected the cenotes, and the Mayans depended on the cenotes for the freshwater sources all year round. They believed Xibalba, the underworld, and the god of rain, Chaac, lived at the bottom of the cenotes.

Interestingly, most cenotes in Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, are connected through an underwater cave system called Sistema Sac Actun. Sistema Sac Actun with the length of 335 km (208 miles) is the longest cave system in the world after Mammoth Cave in Kentucky (USA).

Gran Cenote - Sac Actun
Sistema Sac Actun (Click for larger view)

We visited the Grand Cenote in Tulum (Mexico), one of the cenotes that also in the Sistema Sac Actun. The cenote is popular for snorkelers and scuba divers. Dutchie and I did scuba dive inside the cenote and it was magnificent. We did not enter the caves that connected throughout the cave system Sac Actun, but we scuba dove around the cenote itself. The inside of cenote is covered by the freshwater and it was surprisingly huge. Following is the map of the Grand Cenote from Pro Dive Mexico. We were diving following the yellow line. As you notice, it was not deep but the cenote was covered by water except the snorkel area.

gran-cenote

Inside of the cenote, we saw stalagmites, stalactites, and columns, just like the following images. Our dive master, Julio, was in these images. He led us when we were exploring the cenote. It’s exciting to see the stalactites under the water but at the same time, it’s weird to scuba dive without seeing any other living species other than us.

I wonder if there were more underwater cave systems in the world that still unknown. Have you been exploring a cave?

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