Scuba diving in Mexico there are three main attractions in the Riviera Maya and Cancun region of the Yucatan peninsula for more experienced divers. Diving with whale sharks, diving with bull sharks and cenote diving in the spectacular cave systems of the Yucatan peninsula. Diving with whale sharks and bull sharks are both season bound and unfortunately we were here out of season for diving with either. We did however do some amazing cavern diving in the cenotes. The Yucatan Peninsula is not the only place to dive in Mexico, for more dive sites look at this guide to diving around Mexico.
Diving in Mexico – seasons in the Yucatan Peninsula
- Whale sharks June – Sept
- Bull sharks Nov – Feb
- Cenotes Jan – Dec
Cenotes Yucatan Peninsula
The Yucatan peninsula poses a complex network of underground caves of hundreds of kilometres in limestone rock.
What is a Cenote ? Cenotes are freshwater-filled sinkholes formed when the roofs of limestone caverns collapse. The cenotes then provide an entrance into the cave system. Rainwater filters through the earth into the cave system. Consequently many cenotes are filled with crystal clear, turquoise water perfect for diving. Some possess an array of stalagmites and stalactites formed over millions of years that makes these caves even more beautiful. The Yucatan cenotes are entrances to intricate cave systems that draw divers from around the globe.
Cenotes Tulum – Cave and cavern dives
There is a distinction between cave and cavern diving making it possible for anyone with an open water qualification to dive in the cenotes. Cavern diving is the exploration of overhead environments such as caves always keeping the entrance in sight. Cavern divers do not go no further than 60m without access to the surface. They use a guide line to prevent getting lost that is already attached to the cave floor.
It differs from cave diving in that cave divers may penetrate very deep into the caves. Cave diving is technical diving and specialized training is required. For cavern diving the same qualifications as for openwater dives are required. There are many cenotes to dive in around Tulum, the dives are expensive, you can read HERE about different Cenotes. We decided to do a triple tank dive in two different cenotes, Dos Ochos and The Pit.
Diving in Cenote Dos Ojos
This beautiful dive site is known for shallow dives and you only need an open water qualification to dive here. We did two dives in this cenote. These two caverns start and end in the same place but are very different from each other.
The Barbie line, it is a 500m circuit and containing plenty of daylight. It also gives divers a lot of space to swim around huge columns and stalactites. The light and beautiful scenery is very nice for taking photos.
The Bat cave line feels almost like a cave. It is the darker of the two due to the fact that it leads around an air filled bat cave with little daylight entering.
The Dos Ojos underwater cave system was featured in the 2002 IMAX film “Journey into Amazing Caves” and the 2006 BBC/Discovery Channel series “Planet Earth” and parts of the Hollywood 2005 movie “The Cave” were filmed here.
Qualified cave divers do dives of many miles in the Dos Ochos cave system
Diving in the cenote The Pit
This unreal dive was definitely my favourite cenote and one of the most beautiful places that I have ever dived. It is a deep dive and an advanced qualification is required.
The Pit is a sinkhole inside the deep jungle near Tulum, it is a part of the Dos Ochos system. Rays of bright turquoise light reach more than 30 meters straight down with unlimited visibility. A cloud of hydrogen sulfate, anthropological remains and cave formations make this cenote an an unreal experience.
The Pit (119 m) is the deepest cenote in the State of Quintana Roo. On our dive the water was crystal clear and from 37 meters I could see a diver on the surface entering the water. Panicking at this depth can be very dangerous. A diver in another group had a problem. I saw him sprinting the whole 30m to the surface, heading for decompression problems in water as clear as if he was floating in the air.
The price of Cenote Diving
Diving was expensive a triple tank dive including Dos Ochos and The Pit cost $140, but was the best deal we could find. This included all gear and was from the dive shop in Tulum.
We stayed in Charly’s Hostel in Tulum, dormitory 180 peso ($9.50)
We ate streetfood or at cheap restaurants and our budget for meals was about 60 peso ($3) per day
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