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Angelita, A Mystical Cenote I Failed to Dive

Following is a video of the mystical scenery in the Angelita Cenote. The video was captured by Dutchie.

After seven years of scuba diving, I have been fearless to scuba dive with tens of sharks or diving inside of underwater caverns and caves. However, there was one dive site that I canceled to dive because of the fear. The dive site called as Angelita cenote or “Little Angel” cenote. A cenote is a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. Located in Tulum (Mexico), Angelita cenote looks like a pond surrounded by trees. It was beautiful. It did not strike as a typical cenote that we had seen in other parts of Tulum.

Can you see the Angelita Cenote? It’s hidden behind the tree.

The cenote does not have underwater caves that connect to other cenotes as in the Sac Actun labyrinth system. It stands alone as you may see in the following “map” of the cenote. It looks like a huge water well, only this one was naturally formed.

Angelita Cenote

We were the first scuba divers on that morning. Just the three of us; Bebe, our dive guide/instructor, Dutchie and myself. We were briefed about the depth and what to expect. The cenote is known for having a mystical scenery at a depth of 20-ish meter due to a sulfuric hydrogen cloud. The cloud is known to be very thick and smelly. The plan was to dive until 25 meters deep. No deeper than that, and we had dive watch to warn us.

I was excited when jumping into the cold water of the cenote. The cenote is rather unique and I was so eager to see the famous sulfuric hydrogen cloud. We went down slowly, as we got deeper, the less visibility it was inside the cenote. The green water got thicker and thicker. I had an eerie feeling of the thought that I could not see. I checked my dive watch; it was only 13 meters depth. How would the visibility be as if we went deeper? I became uncomfortable. No. I could not dive with such visibility. I made a hand sign to Bebe that I had a problem. He looked at me cautiously then I made another hand sign to go up. Dutchie followed us to the surface. After three minutes safety stop, at the surface, I canceled the diving. Dutchie and Bebe went down again. They were diving for another 30 minutes.

A cute new friend. This puppy accompanied me while waiting for Dutchie and Bebe finished their diving.

After diving, Dutchie told me the visibility got clearer after 20-meter depth. It could be that after the storm on the previous day made the cenote’s water muddy down to 20 meters but not in the deeper water. I missed the mystical scenery that often described as an underwater river.

Bebe and Dutchie at the Angelita Cenote

From this experience, I learn to admit our limitation is not always easy. I did feel regret for deciding not to continue the dive, blame it on myself for being afraid of muddy water. Bebe and Dutchie did it well, so why couldn’t I have done the same? But it was not a competition game. I was aware that I was not comfortable with the overall diving condition. I could have gone deeper, but would that be a safe option for the three of us? I had a panic attack when scuba diving in the past, maybe it was a prudent thing to do to stop and ascend to the land. Maybe. Have you conquered your fear to do something that you feel it was beyond your limit?


  1. I think it’s a balance. I was lucky enough to be swimming and snorkeling last week in Kauai and whenever a fear would kick in I’d have to ask myself: am I being too fearful or just cautious? I think it’s good to look at your motivation and to not be too hard on yourself.

  2. What an interesting place and I can understand your fear, Indah – and u were wise to go with your gut! I would love to see soot like this and the sulpher cloud sounds cool / sulpher has so many healing properties for humans and so was wondering if your body felt any different – like did your skin feel different?
    And at least u had a partial (13 m) dive – not a compete miss – 😉
    And my first ocean dive was a tough moment for me.
    After training in a pool and then make – we made it the ocean for certifications and was on a six pack boat – all in our scuba gear and everyone feel backwards – I could not fall back – everyone did easily – not me! Finally – with help from our cap’n – I got in – but after that i never had a hard time – 😉

  3. We saw a senote on our way to Chichinitza and this reminded me of that. I think you did the right thing by listening to your instinct, Indah. Our bodies and mindsets are different each day.

  4. Love the video and find the cenotes of the Yucatan fascinating, having only just seen them from the surface, but have friends who have filmed their experiences like this. I am a strong believer in following your gut, especially if you have had a prior panic attack in similar situation. Sounds like you tried to work through the situation before calling it off…appropriate decision!! Great post….thanks for sharing!

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