The Yucatan Cenotes

The Yucatan Peninsula is a huge platform where water runs through underground caves. Part of this land has collapsed, creating sinkholes called "CENOTES ".

Thousands of these windows to the water table dot the Yucatan Peninsula, and hundreds are located only between Cancun and Tulum, The Riviera Maya. Since the 1980's, hundreds of these Cenotes have been explored and mapped by Cave Divers, exploration and penetration still continues.

Today, the world's three longest underwater Cave Sytems are located in the Riviera Maya:

  • Ox Bel Ha (146.7Km.)
  • Nohoch Nah Chich (61Km.)
  • Dos Ojos (57.7 Km.)


Altough there are so many, only a few Cenotes have large enough cavern areas to provide room for Cavern Diving.

Cenote Chac-Mool

reef picThe entrance to this Cenote is about 100m South of Puerto Aventuras. There are two water entries to Chac-Mool, both leading into the same rooms. The first room is relatively large with with much light entering from the opening. In the second room, a portion of the ceiling has collapsed under an air dome where Divers can surface thus allowing divers to admire two levels of beautiful stalactites. Along the opening of the main entrance, trunks and branches reach into the water. It is here where on a sunny day a stunning laser light show takes place. Chac-Mool is one of the Caverns which has a Halocline. This is where salt and fresh come together creating fascinating visual effects. With its large rooms and and maximum depth of 12m, Chac Mool is perfect for any novice Cavern Diver. It also offers long penetration for Cave Divers and is home to the largest underwater stalagtite in the world.

Cenote Kukulcan

reef picPart of the Chac-Mool System, the entrance is a couple of hundred feet away from Cenote Chac-Mool. Access to the KuKulKan Cenote is through a beautiful pond at one end of the Cenote. At aproximately 10mtrs, you will be entering the Halocline zone. Shine your light to the point were salt and fresh water meet and marvel the reflections projected on the walls of the Cavern. The dive passes through a huge Cavern hat surrounds the Cenote. The light effects are amazing, as sunlight penetrates the darkness. Take a moment to look towards the ceiling at the entrance to see the colors of the rainbow.

Cenote Chickin-Ha

reef picLocated approximately 25 Km. from Playa del Carmen, Cenote Chikin-Ha is the first Cenote in a system that connects several Cenotes through more than 10Km. of underwater passages. Chikin-Ha is well set, with bathroom facilities and a trail leading from the entrance to the Cenote. During the Dive, you will be making your way to the nearby Rainbow Cenote. Upon reaching a depth of about 10mtrs. strange visual effects can been seen as the salt and the fresh water start to mix. This is what is called a Halocline. Descend a couple of meters into the salt water and experience a comfortable change in temperature as salt water is warmer then fresh water. Surfacing the Rainbow Cenote there is the chance to see the never ending search for water in the jungle, a the roots of many plants grow through the rock and stretch to the water's surface. Always kep an eye toward the entrance for spectacular light effects on sunny days.

Cenote el Eden

reef picAlso known as "Pon-de Rosa", Cenote Eden is situated 3 Km. south of Puerto Aventuras and 25 Km. South of Playa del Carmen. A large and beautiful Cenote, it is like a swimming pool in the middle of the jungle. Big Rocks covered by mosses and plants on the bottom of the Cenote are home to a variety of fish, fresh water eels and abundant aquatic plant life. This makes Pon-de-Rosa a perfect place for snorkeling, swimming as well as for Diving courses on days the ocean is to rough to dive. For inexperienced Cavern Divers this Cenote is ideal. The rooms are very large and the main part of the dive takes the diver alongside the nearby Cenote Coral Garden. Here breathtaking shows await the Diver. A Halocline stretches through the Cenote at 10Mtrs. For Cave Divers there are many different passages to explore, often connected to nearby Cenotes.

Cenote Taj-Mahal

reef picThis Cenote which has much to offer for both Cavern and Cave Divers, is situated 26Km. South of Playa del Carmen and 5 Km. South of Puerto Aventuras. The Cavern tour takes the Diver from the entrance into a wide room underneath an air filled bat Cave. Here light enters through holes in the ceiling and penetrates the water like laser beams during the summer months. Along the Cavern floor you will find hundreds of stalactites lying in the sediment. Continuing the dive you enter the sugar bowl, a second small Cenote where you can see an amazing light show on Sunny Days. Tajma-Ha is decorated with stalactites, stalagmites and plenty of hidden fossils can be spotted if you look for them. Haloclines in the deeper areas create interesting mirror like effects as divers penetrate the layer of salt water, which is below the fresh water. For Cave Divers there is the "Chinese Garden" for which you should ask your Guide.

Cenote Dos Ojos

reef picThe entrance to this popular and famous Cenote is situated one Kilometer South of Xel-Ha and roughly 48 Km. from Playa del Carmen. A four Km dirt road leads from the highway to the parking lots and Cavern and Cave entrances. The name "Dos Ojos" means "Two eyes" and originated for the two circular shaped Cenotes which are located very close to one and another. Dos Ojos known for its multiple shallow Dives gives divers plenty of bottom time to enjoy the beautiful decorated system. In the Cenote called "the First Eye" two very different cavern dives start and end. The Dos Ojos Cavern Dive leads the diver mainly along the opening of the "Second Eye" where there is plenty of daylight. It also gives divers a lot of space to swim around huge columns and Stalictites. Be ready for some exciting surprises on this dive. Remember to look occasionally towards the entrance for great backli effects. With shallow dives, crystal clear visibility and great decoration, Dos Ojos is spectacular for Cavern and Cave Diving.

Cenote Dos Ojos, Bat Cave

reef picThe Bat Cave dive is the darker of the two dives in the system of "Dos Ojos" It is a series of rooms and passages underneath an air filled "Bat Cave" in which only little daylight enters. Here an ascent is worthwile to marvel at the stunning decorations and bats hiding between the stalactites. Good bouyancy control is required as you will vitually be flying through passageways filled with beautiful and fragile speleotherms. Cave Divers can plan many different dives and continue miles in either direction into this extensive Cave System. With about 60 Km. of explored length and connected to over 25 Cenotes, Dos Ojos is one of the longest system on the Yucatan Peninsula up to date. IMAX Movies chose this location to shoot parts of the IMAX Film " Journey into the Amazing Caves"

Casa Cenote

reef picCasa Cenote connects one of the longest underwater Cave Systems in the world Nohoch-Na-Chich with the ocean. It is one of the few surface rivers on the Yucatan Peninsula. Located 10Km. north of Tulum and 70 KM. south of Playa el Carmen, Casa Cenote gives the diver the feeling of diving underneath the jungle. The dive follows the course of the river at a depth of no more then 8 meters. Due to the connection with the ocean, both fresh and saltwater fish live there. The dive follows alongside the jungle and at times through algea covered Mangrove roots reaching into the water. Huge rocks overgrown with mosses and green algea decorate the bottom. Surfacing quietly at the end of the river, you might spot differnet bird species. Along the sides of the Cenote there are small caves running into the jungle frequently used by Manatees inhabiting coastal rivers and lagoons.

Gran Cenote

reef picThe name says it all....Gran Cenote is considered one of the Best for snorkeling, Cavern and Cave Diving in the Riviera Maya. The Cenote is part of the system Sac-Aktun which means "Cave" in Maya. It is along the highway to Coba just four Km. outside the city of Tulum. The Cavern dive leads along the edge of the circular shaped Cenote which has a maximum depth of 10 Mtrs. Perfect Bouyancy is required as the Cavern Dive and Cave passages are highly decorated. White walls, crystal clear waters and amazing formations await to hyponiteze the diver. Cave divers can explore various routes inside the incredible decorate cave.

Cenote Aktun-Ha

reef picBetter known as "Car Wash". It is no longer used for washing taxis. Aktun-Ha is situated eight Km. outside of Tulum on the road to Coba. With water level just a few inches below ground level, divers find an easy entrance into the water. For Cavern divers there are upstream and and downstream dives possible. The upstream section with its largechestnut colored columns is the most popular route. You will enter the water through the roots and fallen trees which like any good fairy tail take you into a strange and different world. Looking back towards the entrance, it seems like we are underneath the clouds thanks to a small algea that lives near the surface. The light falling through the roots create an amazing light show and the large room behind these roots is beautifully decorated.

Cenote Angelita

reef picAngelita 'Little Angel" in English, is not only an atypical Cenote Dive, but a once in a lifetime dive dive in all aspects. Situated Seventeen Km. south of Tulum, it is the furthest visited site from Playa del Carmen. Walking about 5 minutes through the jungle you reach this picturesque circular shaped Cenote which does nothing more than go straight down to 60 Mtrs./ 200 Feet. Descending through clear fresh water you will sink right into a mystical Hydrogen-Sulfide Layer at 30 Mtrs./ 100 Feet that looks like a huge cloud with trunks and branches reaching through it. Underneath the cloud the salt water begins. It is dark here, giving the diver the feeling of being in a forest at night. Depending on the air-consumption, the ascent can be done slowly winding up alongside the walls. Some huge stalactites hanging from the edge of the Cenote reminding us of times when the water level was much lower. Angelita is a dive for the experienced diver because of its depth. Most commonly it is dived to a depth of 40 Mtrs/ 130 Feet. This Cenote is also popular for Techincal Diver Courses and Decompression Dives.

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