Amazing Cenotes in Mexico to Dive and Snorkel
There is no doubt that Mexico is an amazing country to visit, not just for the typical tourism but also for unique scuba diving and snorkeling experience. Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula is known for having nearly 7,000 cenotes. A cenote is a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath, and in the case of the cenotes in Mexico, they were sometimes used by the ancient Maya for sacrificial offerings and that included humans as sacrificial offerings as well.
There are few challenges when diving or snorkeling inside the cenote. First, the water remains cold (24-26 degrees C/ 75-78 degrees F). Secondly, it is always dark inside the cenote and sometimes, it is spooky (but trust me, it is spooky fun). As for scuba diving, to scuba dive inside the cenote is not cheap, the price is more expensive than normally I paid for the scuba diving in the sea. It is worth it though, where else in the world, you can “fly” inside of an underwater cavern/cave, in between of stalagmite and stalactite…
If your budget is limited, do pick wisely the ones that you wish to visit most. As a start, I can recommend the following cenotes:
Cenote Angelita (Little Angel Cenote)
Located at around 17 Kilometers South of Tulum, the cenote is known for its mystical layer of hydrogen sulfate. The cenote is surrounded by trees, and it looks so peaceful. Due to its depth, the cenote is aimed for advanced scuba diver with minimum dive logged 20 dives. The cenote is not a popular destination for snorkelers since there is no bottom to see due to its depth. However, if you are looking for serenity place surrounded by jungle, the Cenote Angelita is the place. Please check also my blog post about this cenote: Angelita, A Mystical Cenote I Failed to Dive.
Cenote Calavera (Temple of Doom Cenote)
Its location is close by to Grand Cenote and it is in someone’s backyard. The setting is a bit weird, but apparently, the cenotes in Mexico are sometimes located on privately owned land that used as residency that later the residents found the cenotes on their land that can generate tourism money. Calavera is the Spanish word for “skull” and there is a reason why the cenote gets its name. As the sun shines through the holes of the cenote, you can see the reflection of the holes from underwater that resembles eyes socket and mouth of a skull. It’s spooky!
The Cenote Calavera is connected to Sistema Sac Actun, the longest cave system in the world after Mammoth Cave in Kentucky (USA). The caves inside the Cenote Calavera are being called as Temple of Doom Cave System. There were several cave entrants that could bring the scuba diver to the labyrinth of the cave system. Scuba divers should pay attention by looking at the warnings around the caves entrants so they won’t enter the cave by mistake, and always scuba dive next to the rope. An accident had happened in this cenote and sadly, it costs someone’s life (source).
The cenote is also welcoming snorkelers. We saw the snorkelers had fun jumping into the cenote. Please check the following video to see how a snorkeler jumped from a different angle 🙂
Cenote Casa (Home Cenote)
The cenote is located next to the sea and it has cave system that leads to the ocean. How cool is that? The water is mixed with salt water and fresh water. It is surrounded by mangrove with lots of beautiful birds around the mangrove and its water has numerous marine life, including crocodiles. I did not see the crocodiles when scuba diving there, although some scuba divers and snorkelers have reported they have seen crocodiles in the cenote and the crocodiles in the cenote are not dangerous to humans (watch: a video on YouTube of a snorkeler met the crocodile). The cenote is a great spot for snorkeling and scuba diving.
Cenote Dos Ojos (Two Eyes Cenote)
Cenote Dos Ojos is located in the same complex as Cenote El Pit. The two cenotes are connected through underwater caves system and also part of Sistema Sac Actun. The cenote is popular for snorkeling and as well scuba diving. It has two holes that resemble eyes, and as well as entrance to the cavern and caves. The water is crystal clear and it is a perfect cenote for snorkeling and scuba diving.
Cenote El Pit (The Pit Cenote)
Unfortunately, the cenote is exclusively for certified scuba divers. No snorkelers allowed. I explained the reason for my previous post: Magical El Pit, A Cenote to Dive For. It is a stunning cenote, and a must dive cenote. The cenote is deeper than 40 meter and very wide inside. We saw stunning formations of stalagmites and stalactites. It is also known to have sulfur clouds and halocline at a depth of 20 to 30 meter. The best time to dive there is in the afternoon when the sun is up, then you can see the ray of lights shines through the cenote. Totally gorgeous.
Cenote Gran (Grand Cenote)
The cenote has easy access with comfortable stairs to reach. It has clear crystal water and you can see fish and small turtles around the cenote. And bats too! It is a cave after all 🙂 The cenote is popular for snorkeling and it has good facilities like shower rooms and (clean) restrooms. More about the cenote, as you can read on my previous post: Exploring the Grand Cenote.
There are two types of diving in the Cenote: Cavern diving and Cave diving. The Cavern diving is a dive that is no longer than 60 meter (200 ft) from the entrance of the cave. The cavern diving usually does not require the cave dive training but in some dive sites that considered difficult, the authority and dive centers may ask for minimum diving certification of Advance Open Water with specific minimum logged dives. The Cave diving is a dive inside the cave filled of water, an environment where there is no free surface with breathable air allowing an above-water exit. It is considered as extreme sport and a scuba diver has to take cave diving training.
Dutchie and I did the cavern diving in Mexico. I have been wanting to do the cave diving, but the training is expensive and the danger pose by the cave diving is not a joke. I watched an impressive and heart moving documentary about a cave diving in Norway and the unconditional friendships among the cave scuba divers from Finland: Diving Into the Unknown. The documentary gives an insight of the cave diving for its uniqueness, its beauty and its challenges to explore the unknown, the unseen territory of our planet. It takes a lot of courage to do a cave diving. But the most important of all, scuba diving is a sport that develops a strong friendship. An unconditional friendship that they are willing to risk their lives for their diving friends.
Kaveria ei jateta. Never leave a friend behind.