Cenotes (pronounced say-NO-tay) is the Mayan
word for ‘sacred waters’ or what we call in English,
caverns. In the diving world there are some very strict definitions
that separate a cavern/cenote from a cave. This definition has
been made to ensure diving safety and enable open water certified
divers entry into this beautiful system of staglamites and stalamites.
A cavern is any area where there is visible light
every 200 ft/60m. Guides for this environment must be cave certified
and can only take a maximum of 4 divers per group. When you go
on your first cenote tour, you will be briefed as to the rules
of the cenotes which are different from that of open water diving.
Equipment is the same except for the use of a cavern light to
assist in seeing the detail inherent on your tour. Long suits
are recommended as the water temperature is 74 degrees F.
The history of the cenotes is as interesting
as the tour itself. Millions of years ago, the cenotes were an
underwater river system used by the Mayans to travel through the
country. The cenotes as we know them now were only half full.
The water protects the unique formations, stalagmites and stalagtites,
which were formed when the caves were dry.
In the Tulum area we have many cenotes for the
avid diver and snorkeler.
Cavern diving is a unique experience that is
only offered here in the Mayan Riviera and the Yucatan Peninsula.
A cavern dive is NOT a cave dive. The standards
and certification requirements for divers in the cenotes is quite
a different species and follows different standands to that of
cave diving. The standards and definitions of a cavern dive have
been clearly outlined by the International Cave Diving Certification
For diving purposes, the following standards
define a cavern/cenote dive:
||The area of the cavern is with the natural daylight
||Divers need to be within 60m/200 ft of natural daylight
||All open water divers must be accompanied in the caverns
by a certified cave guide
||There is a maximum of 4 divers allowed with each guide
Here at Cenote Dive Center, we adhere to the
standards and ensure our certified recreational divers understand
and acknowledge the rules of cavern diving. Remember, safety first,
All of our guides are cave certified and can
guide in the caverns and caves. If you are a certified cavern
diver and want to experience the 'cavern addiction', our guides
would be happy to take you on a guided cavern tour. If you are
really nice to them, they may show you some of their secret spots…read
on further for descriptions of some of the most popular cavern
dives in the area.
TEMPLE OF DOOM (Calavera/Skull)
Location: 2 km from Tulum on road to Coba on
Description: 3 holes in ground (one 30 ft &
two 4 ft in diameter) create a skull shape, hence the name. Has
the infamous halocline, which is a mix of fresh and salt water.
Swimming: Great. 10 ft drop down into cenote.
Rope swing & ladder
GRAN (Sac Aktun/White Water)
Location: 5 km from Tulum on road to Coba on
Description: Ladder steps lead to half moon shaped
cenote decorated with small passages & openings. Famous for
brilliant speleothem decorations & crystal clear water. Fresh
CAR WASH (Aktun Ha/Water Cave)
Location: 8 km from Tulum on road to Coba
Description: Can drive right in approximately
30 m (100 ft) to cenote & locals used to wash vehicles here,
hence the name. Fresh water only
DOS OJOS (Hidden Worlds)
Location: 48 km south of Playa Del Carmen/3 km
south of Xel-Ha/On right 4 km down dirt road.
Description: Part of Nohoch Nah Chich cave system.
Fresh water system only.
ANGELITA (The Angel)
Location: 4 km south of Tulum off the main highway
Description: Advanced dive for cenote enthusiasts.
Check dive required prior to entering this system. Contains a
natural sulpher layer that resembles a cloud.
Location: 4 km south of Tulum on right.
Description: Crystal clear water that is great
ESCONDIDO (Mayan Blue)
Location: 4 km south of Tulum on left/Across
from Cristal Cenote
Description: Tarzan & Jane style. Beautiful,
crisp, clear, secluded. One of least known.