Want a different diving adventure? Hot water, clear and dark at the same time, lights, wilderness, cavities and caves so beautiful that they literally leave you speechless?
The cenotes may well charm you 😉
At the origin of this trip … do I have to admit it?
I traveled to Mexico a bit by chance, taking a last minute ticket for ten days of sunny vacation with family and friends.
The idea was to dive, obviously, but also to sit back and relax, to make cultural discoveries and to be together in a pleasant climate.
Of course, I had already seen some beautiful photos of the cenotes and, while diving almost all year in cold water and rather dark, I must admit that I could imagine my dives in Mexico in the warm and crystalline waters of Cozumel or from Playa del Carmen.
A few days before the departure, Laure, the owner of the dive shop I use to go tells me that diving into the cenotes is just beautiful, extraordinary, and tells me about a Halocline that “gets divers (😁) into the third dimension” .
Just what it takes to sharpen my curiosity and suggest to my buddies to exchange Cozumel dives with more cenote dives.
Arriving in Mexico, the climate keeps its promises. The sky is blue, the sun at the rendezvous and the temperature hovers around 30 ° C. We settle quietly in a hotel in Playa del Carmen and very quickly the desire to dive takes us.
Cenotes: day 1
The days of discovery of cenotes are finally there.
We arrive at the dive club Phocea early in the morning and are divided into pick ups that will take us to our destination. Our material is packaged individually, this is very convenient
Aydin will be our guide for this first day in the cenotes.Immediately his good humor is contagious and seems to be the promise of an exceptional day. Aydin is not stingy in details and anecdotes that he tells us with a lot of humor.
The character and his career to become a diving instructor are so nice that I decided to devote an article to him, (re) discover here.
He explains among other things what are the cenotes. Information I told you in this post very useful to know how to dive respectfully in the cenotes.
Our first step is the cenote Chac Mool.
Located about twenty minutes south of Palya del Carmen, Chac Mool is known as one of the most beautiful cenotes of the Riviera. Its depth does not exceed 12 m.
In order to preserve it, it is now forbidden to bring a camera. The reason given is that the “image takers” sometimes tend to forget their buoyancy and the surrounding environment that inadvertently destroy concretions so old that it is difficult to imagine their appearance. Of course, even if we understand, we can not help but be somewhat disappointed and put back our camera in the car.
The advantage of not having prepared these dives before arriving in Mexico is that finally I do not expect anything in particular.
My only fear finally is the cold with my 5mm diving suit, no boots, no hood … I’m so chilly, I feel a little skeptical about staying for 45 minutes in a water at 25 ° C. Another question is whether my ears will support the multiple depth changes.
After having listened carefully to Aydin’s briefing and put our equipment at the entrance of the cenote (I have the impression of finding myself waiting for a cave visit during a school trip), we wait patiently to start diving … with some doubts about the light so beautiful that is promised when we see this tiny space…. so dark. But it’s not the dark water that will scare me, is it?
Finally it’s time to step in the water. I go down into the water (not so cool) and get my head under the water (not so dark) to observe what is underneath.
And here is the revelation!
I feel immediately invaded by a wonderful emotion: everything is absolutely incredible: the clarity of the water, the softness of the movements of the hundreds of small fish that glow in the dim light that comes up to them, the rocks that form a kind of Ark inviting me to move on and discover the rest of the gallery, … Wow! It is so beautiful !!!
I raise my head and urge my buddies to come and see, faaast! (As if everything would disappear!)
Aydin remind us a last time the few basic instructions, we gather and we move forward for a surreal discovery.
During the dive we can see more and more rooms (or spaces) all more beautiful than the previous one. As I do not have a camera, I focus exclusively on the atmosphere of the cenote, on the lights of our diving torchs and on the indications of our dive guide and the particularity of going into the halocline which reminds me what Laure said to me: “it’s like a dive into the third dimension” and that makes me smile. Below the fresh water, the sea water seems warm to me.
Suddenly Aydin beckons us to watch: he shows with his diving torch a particular place. We all look at this place amazed by the stalactites and stalagmites without suspecting that the only goal of our guide is to gather before turning around and pointing the other side of the room. We follow him and the surprise is total.
An very large space is offered to us: a rockslide has given way to light and nature has invaded the place. The group of divers before us are at this moment crossing this space and it is like a show of shadows which unfolds in front of our amazed eyes!
Time is running out and we are just there in the excitement of this big show.
As Riviera Maya has just wiped a month of rain, the colors of the water of this cenote are declined in orange, red and green, nothing to do with the photos of catalogs … and this gives it an additional charm.
Our dive will last almost an hour and it is difficult to get out.
I would tell our guide that this is probably the most beautiful dive of my life!
Barely recovered from our emotions of this wonderful dive, we pack our stuff to El Eden.
On the road, our guide makes a stop the time to go to admire a … tarantula!
I promise you that I’m not particularly afraid of spiders, but here I preferred to stay in the car!
Another cenote, another atmosphere. Mexican families who spend the afternoon in El Eden are in the zone reserved for bathers. The place is more open than Chac Mool and also more popular.
To get into the water, you have to make a giant stride. The time to make the final adjustments and go.
We follow our dive guide to where the water goes into this underground world that fascinates me.
The entrance of the cenote is much wider than that of Chac Mool.
We meet other teams of divers including scuba scooter.
Here the beauty of the show is immediately visible.
Skylights allow the rays of the sun to become embedded in the aquatic world with roots of this Mexican jungle that surrounds us and plunge into the depths of clear waters … and it is a real beauty.
I try to take somepictures in this dark environment but I’m so absorbed by the show that it is difficult to take beautiful shots.
So I let myself be carried by the feeling of fullness that invades me and focuses on the emotion of the experience.
As in Chac Mool cenote, the halocline is impressive and makes us travel in a somewhat surreal world alternating temperatures: 25 ° C in the fresh water of the cenote and +/- 28 ° C once we are in contact with sea water.
We observe the shadows of the divers that we meet in front of the rays of the sun that illuminate the clear water, magic!
We arrive slowly at the end of the dive and once again I am dazzled by the sight of the light that floods the exit of the cenote.
Hard to go out. While the others have surfaced, I can not help but stay with a photographer member of my team a little bit more in the herbarium where people start their dive and is a refuge for a multitude of curious fish.
Aydin, our guide, smiles when he sees the stars in my eyes.
On the way back to Playa del Carmen, we constantly question Aydin about everything we saw.
The cenotes: Day 2
For this second day of cenotes, Didier, the head of the dive center reserves us a pick up and Aydin will be our guide to continue the exploration of the Mexican cenotes.
This second day will be devoted to the discovery of the cenote Dos Ojos “Two Eyes”.
Probably the most famous cenote because of the movie “Amazing cave”, Dos Ojos is perhaps the most beautiful cenote of the Riviera Maya.
We leave early to arrive on the spot before other divers. Strangely, there are few divers present that day, which is much better for us. The Dos Ojos spot is usually very busy and really well organized. Restaurants at the entrance of the spot, a large car park, toilets, some shops to buy souvenirs and other T-shirts when you are addicted to diving, …
Aydin gives us a complete briefing at the entrance of the cenote.
With a wide opening, the cenote of Dos Ojos is also frequented by bathers who swim with pleasure and also snorkel in this surprising environment.
I can not wait to jump into the water and I must admit that I am a little distracted during the briefing. Whatever, I will follow my guide to discover this environment that promises to be gorgeous.
The spot of Dos Ojos allows two very different dives.
The first called “batcave line” will take us into absolutely incredible cavities, one of which allows the observation of bats (without disturbing them).
In this cenote, it is allowed to take picture, and we take a lot……..
In the cenote of Dos Ojos, the sun filters its rays in clear water while the trees drop their roots in the immensity of this millenary site.
We move in narrower passages with a relatively low luminosity that could make us think of diving cave … and I love it!
It is necessary more than ever to be attentive to its buoyancy so as not to bump inadvertently into stalactites and stalagmites. The lights are fantastic on stalactites and stalagmites.
There is a strange fauna and flora but not very numerous species. We also observe fossils and other traces of history in this particular environment.
But what bluffs me completely is probably the end of the dive with the gigantic and luminous opening of the cave towards the exit: WONDERFUL
I come out of this dive once again assuring Aydin that, really, it’s still the most beautiful dive of my life.
After a surface interval of one hour, we get ready to make our second dive on the spot following the route called “Barbie Line” because of a poor Barbie being eaten by a crocodile midway.
Our dive is punctuated by the passage of snorkelers in places that are reserved for them and it’s strange to see them flutter from the bottom.
On a circuit of more than 500 meters we are once again enchanted by the play of lights, the thousand-year-old concretions and all this indescribable atmosphere of the dives in cenotes.
Unfortunately, the end of the dive is announced and we head to the exit looking at other divers who leave to start this amazing experience.
To end the day with style, we enjoy a Mexican dish in one of the restaurants raving about the fantastic dives we have just experienced in an area rarely visited by divers.
To make you want to dive into the cenotes too:
Cenotes for snorkelers
The day before our departure, we can not resist the idea to dive one last time in the particular atmosphere of the cenotes but this time we choose the snorkeling option (Let’s stay on the safe side for the plane).
It is the cenote Azul that will be our favorite and will offer us the pleasure of a beautifully crystalline water and a gentle exfoliation of our feet by dozens of tiny fish … what a happiness 😁
Diving in the Mexican cenotes remains among my best diving memories. Reserved for divers able to control their buoyancy, dives in cenotes are an urgent experience on your “TO DIVE LIST“
Have you ever tried the cenote diving experience?
Above all … do not forget to be happy 🤗
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