Diving in the Cenotes, Mexico

Diving in the Cenotes in Mexico was at the same time my first scuba dive in a cavern and the first in freshwater. Since I started diving, I had only been diving in saltwater. And what a great environment to experience this.

Diving in the Cenotes

Divers preparing to descent in the cenote
Divers preparing to descent in the cenote

During my workation in Mexico, I had the chance to further improve my scuba diving skills. The kind people at Pro Dive Mexico accommodated a program that would allow a maximum of dives, while respecting the work schedule I had set. For the better part, that worked out nice. After a couple of days of improving my diving skills, we programmed diving in the Cenotes. When you get to Yucatan as a diver, this must be on the program.

The Cenotes

Cenotes are sinkholes where groundwater can be found. Through the collapse of the limestone, they become accessible. In Yucatan, Mexico, some of these cenotes are made available to dive in. Most diving companies have agreements with the owners of the caves. The best is to ask how many people are admitted in a day. The cave where I dove was busy, but the owners limit the number of groups so it remains fun for all.

Salt and Fresh water collide

Light in the Cenotes
Light in the Cenotes

Halocline is the effect when fresh water and saltwater collide. All of a sudden, during the dive, the visibility becomes less than a couple of feet, and all is blurry. It’s an interesting phenomenon, and actually pretty nice to dive in. Some people however can panic, as it seems to trigger some claustrophobic reactions. After the first dive, our group had a majority of people liking it, but some (even very experienced) divers said this wasn’t for them.

Safety

Diving in the Cenotes, Mexico
Diving in the Cenotes. Guide with four divers (Koen is the one behind the guide) – Image by Ivan Auala

Cave/Cavern diving is a special skill. Every year experienced open water divers get in trouble and die in the Cenotes. So when you go diving in them, it’s recommended you go with a guide who knows the system, and who has experience in cave/cavern diving. The cenote where I was diving (In Puerto Aventuras) had a couple of rules in place:

  • Maximal 4 divers per guide
  • A distance of 2m/6ft between the divers. Kinda weird when diving is mostly a buddy system, to all of a sudden go and dive in 1 file, and not per 2 divers
  • Don’t dive outside the places where you still can see the sun

The water in the cenote was about 24ºC/75ºF. A 5mm wetsuit was more than enough for two dives of close to an hour.

Bottomline

If you have been diving before, and go with an experienced guide, this is absolutely worth a try. I’ll go back to the cenotes if I make it back to the Maya area in Mexico.

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