Taj Mahal Cenote

The Mayan name of this particular cenote was inspired by the famous world wonder white marble palace Taj Mahal  in India.

This means that you have to be ready for an exceptional cavern dive !

This unique place to explore is located about 26 km south of Playa del Carmen and the parking lot is 2 km away from the entrance by the highway 307. Tables are very handy to let the groups of divers set up their equipment comfortably.

This special cavern dive will take you through three different cenotes !

You will start from the only accessible water entrance  in the cenote Tajma Ha. By following your professional full cave guide to the small air dome "points of lights" , very soon you will be impressed by the breathtaking light effects that can offer a morning cavern dive on a  bright sunny day . Admire this natural laser show provided by few small collapses of the cavern ceiling .

Continue to look around and point your dive light on the cenote walls and floor to focus on the many speleothems: numerous well preserved stalactites and thick stalagmites are part of the scenery.

As you will go deeper in the wide tunnel you will notice a dense halocline , the interface created by a change in the water salinity . To perfectly see this special effect , look on your left or right side , not just behind your guide or your dive buddy as your vision could be disturbed. You will slowly dive just above or below the layer of the salt water making your way through the cenote Sugar Bowl .

Once there you have the option to surface in this broad  well of light and check out the tree roots hanging from the walls. In the spring and summer ,look for the sacred bird of the Maya nesting in the cracks of the walls: the turquoise browed motmot bird with is weird bare shafted racquet tip long tail.

The second part of the cavern dive will lead you to the Emerald cenote where great colorful light effects could be observed , especially when the sun shines through the green plants of the Mayan jungle.

Many marine fossils could be seen on the way , representing millions years of our planet history.

As you go back to your same entry point , you will penetrate again the halocline and will have another great perspective of this amazing cavern.

The maximum depth is around 15 meters or 50 feet.

 

Please notice this important recommendation for your own safety and fun:  this cavern dive could be a bit tricky for beginners or for divers with sensitive ears due to its up and down profile. Remember to equalize early and often to avoid any discomfort and to keep a good control of your buoyancy.

Jardin del Eden Cenote

This is one of the most popular cenotes, due to its large area of open water, resembling a lake in the middle of the forest, surrounded by vegetation in the background, showing off a green landscape with abundant aquatic life.

An excellent place for training and practice of cavern and cave diving. Cave diving is a trip through a tunnel connecting the Garden of Eden Cenote with the Corral Cenote, where we can swim and be impressed with backlights that are generated through the mangrove roots, dark brown formations, coral and shell fossil are seen with stalactites, not to mention a thick, warm halocline creating that special effect. Maximum depth 14 meters.

Chac Mool Cenote

Chac Mool or as it is also called "the messenger of the gods" , is in most cases, a sculpture of a human figure reclining back, with his legs and head turned, in whose belly rests a circular or square container. The Mayan name by which it is known was assigned by the traveler and amateur photographer Augustus Le Plongeon who found this  sculpture for the first time  in the archeologic site of Chichen Itza during his stay in The Yucatan peninsula from 1873 to 1885 .

 This representation is still a great unknown and little has been learned about it except that it is believed that it was used as an altar to offer the divine gods offerings and as a sacrificial stone . Many others similar sculptures have been discovered in several countries besides Mexico, most of Central America, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Costa Rica and were  attributed to cultures such as the Maya or Aztec. Today its exact meaning is still a mystery.

This name was chosen for the first cenote along the highway Cancun-Tulum,  located just after the village of Puerto Aventuras in the Riviera Maya .

The Cenote  Chac Mool is very famous for its three entrances and  two different cavern dives ,one of them  being "little brother".

After gearing up in the jungle , you will be just few steps away from an amazing experience !

 the cenote entrance of little brother is quite small and mysterious although it has a perfect plateform that will help you to get in the water and begin this special underwater adventure.From the very start of the dive , you will float in crystal clear fresh water !

Follow your full cave guide and look around as  this particular cavern is full of stunning light effects and this is an important  part that gives its magic to the dive.

As the dive will go , you will slowly reach the halocline , this interface in between fresh and salt water. It is so sharp that it looks like another surface underwater. It is something you don't want to miss ! Your vision will get a bit blur as you penetrate the salt water and you will also feel the difference in the water temperature , which is a pretty cool sensation.

later in the dive you will see the luxuriant green plants of the mayan jungle shining through the clear water and you will arrive to the other part of  the cavern where the amazing decorated chamber is waiting for you, looking just like a cathedral with thousands of milenary stalactites hanging form the cavern ceiling. Then you will be able to surface in the air dome  resulting from a collapse thousand of years ago.  Here you can remove your regulator and breathe fresh air as you look at the roof and other formations.

This cenote dive has a maximum depth of 13 meters or 40 feet.

 

This is truly a must see for cave and cavern divers when visiting the underworld of the cenotes in the Yucatan peninsula.

Kukulkan Cenote

Kukulcan is one of the most important gods of the Maya pantheon for being a creator deity of the universe. It is related to the wind and wisdom; its name means in Maya " feathered serpent". It is equivalent to Quetzalcoatl of the Aztecs, with its long and iridescent quetzal feathers. In Maya art they have often found bird-serpent symbols that could be considered emblematic of this deity, also seen as a hero who came from afar wearing strange clothes and with foreign customs. He is credited with the invention and teaching of writing to the Mayan people.

According to Mayan mythology, it is Kukulcan who descends every spring and autumn equinox the main steps of El Castillo, the main pyramid located in the archaeological site of Chichen Itza,in the Yucatan peninsula.

For the local cavern divers , Kukulcan is a beautiful cenote which belongs to  the cave system Chac Mool , located about 20 minutes  from Playa del Carmen in the direction to Tulum.

This is an excellent place to start a new underwater experience with cavern diving as it offers the comfort of a very broad area of open water at the beginning.

 Right from the start of this dive , you will be amazed by the atmosphere ! In the morning when the sun is part of the trip , the cenote is completely flooded with sunlight which create a magical shade of blue light that filtered through the plants and roots of the Mayan jungle. It makes a fantastic spot for wonderful underwater pictures.

Few frog kicks later, you will go down to 12 meters or 40 feet and will dive in the halocline , this phenomenon caused by the different levels of salinity in the water . You will perfectly see the difference of fresh and salt water , a unique visual effect, special in the cenotes of the Riviera Maya.

 

The maximum depth of this cavern dive is 15 meters or 50 feet . The slow pace of your full cave guide will let you appreciate the white walls of the cenote made of pure limestone, the beauty of all the formations like the stalactites and stalagmites and the interesting  marine fossils of shells and coral.

Dos Ojos Cenote

 Dos Ojos is the Spanish for " two eyes " as the large cavities formed by the cenotes of this land  can be seen from the sky as the shape of two eye-sockets.

It is one of the largest cave system in the area of the Riviera Maya, first  explored in the 80's located south of Playa del Carmen , about 20 minutes ride before Tulum.

The place is so famous for different reasons ! It offers amazing diving adventures for open water and advanced divers. But you may have seen it on TV !!!  It was  featured in the Imax movie "Journey  into  amazing caves"  in 2002 and in a part of the Hollywood  movie "The cave". It also hosted a  record-breaking free dive. Carlos Coste swam 150 meters (490 ft) on one breath and became the Guiness world record holder for "Longest distance swam underwater with one breath" from one to the other eye.

This wonderful place is also great for snorkeling as it offers crystal clear water and large open water , ideal to enjoy a nice refreshing swim , admiring stalactites and stalagmites in both eyes.

Cavern diving is a must do in this system as it gives a lot of possibilities like easy and shallow dives using the first eye as the main entrance for both dives.

 The first one is the Barbie Line , performed in the direction of the second eye , offering plenty of day light and large tunnels , stunning "against the light" views of thick columns.

The second dive take you to the bat cave ! Smaller tunnels and ups and downs with less light lead you to a stunning chamber decorated with millions of stalactites in between which bats like to hang.

The maximum depth is about 9 meters in both dives and dive time can be extended to one hour for the Barbie line.

Another  exceptional dive takes place in The Pit, the 3rd longest underwater cave in the world. This is the most adventurous cavern dive of the area , reserved for advanced divers only. For a long time the access of the pit was very challenging so very few group of divers would go there. In 2012 , the stairs were finally built and allowed more people to discover it.

Being the deepest part of Dos Ojos system ,it is also the deepest cave discovered in the state of Quintana Roo so far. It has a maximum depth of 120 meters or 400 feet.

As you go on a sunny day , your descent will follow the sunbeams that create an amazing curtain of light before reaching the cloud of hydrogen sulphide at 30 meters or 100 feet down. A small island also appears from the cloud. It is magical and totally surreal !!! You will cross the cloud and check out the amazing light effects when looking back at the surface . The ascent will be slow, like a spiral shape performed as multi level, swimming along the walls in this huge well , while you can admire stalactites and the mark of the different levels of water revealing the story of our planet.You may feel tiny at the safety stop when looking down and around in this beautiful cenote !!

Any ways ,you wont regret the visit in Dos ojos as beginners or advanced divers , that s for sure !

 

Chikin Ha Cenote

Chikin Ha is a Mayan word which means "Western water". The word "Ha" refers to the water that's why many cenotes names are composed with it.

 It is a private land that belongs to a Mayan family , located about 25 kilometers from Playa del Carmen, near the cenote "Jardin del Eden -Ponderosa" on the highway 307 heading south of the Riviera Maya.

After the main entrance on the freeway , enjoy the ride and observe the variety of trees in the dense Mayan jungle.

 It will take another 10 minutes drive to reach the parking lot well equipped with a typical Mayan palapa and very useful tables to help the group of divers set their gear.

This beautiful land hide 3 different charming cenotes.

Take a look at the first cenote called Xtabay - a Mayan term referring to a mythological woman-   as it is the one that is part of the Ponderosa cave system , the neighboring property. It is a good place for snorkeling and also for divers in training for their cavern and cave diving course.

Follow the path on the right to the cenote Chikin Ha , walk down the stairs and you will find an amazing natural pool , with superb light effects on a sunny day.The cavern entrance could look a bit dark at first sight although when on the first stair by the crystal clear water your eyes will get used to the low light and you will discover a huge cavern and will be able to see the other entrance of the tunnel.

Your underwater journey begins just here ! Let your experienced full cave guide  take you away for a very special discovery !!!

Approximately after 20 minutes into the dive through a large tunnel with a halocline , the permanent guideline leads to the cenote Taakbil Ha which means hidden water, although cave and cavern divers from the Riviera Maya call it the Rainbow cenote because of the colorful effects when looking at its surface.

Surfacing in the sacred cenote Rainbow is an awesome adventure as the cavern roof collapsed thousand years ago , forming a little island in the center of the cavern. Luxuriant plants and roots finding their way to the water are part of the surroundings . Look for the "elephant foot " , the root of the ficus tree that crosses the fragile limestone to reach the water ! You may also hear a strange noise during spring and summer season , this is the song of the " toh"  bird, a turquoise browed "motmot" bird that build its nest in the cracks of the cenote and is sacred to the Maya civilization.

You will head back to the cavern of Chikin Ha following a different guideline to end your dive by the other entrance where you can admire many fossils of corals, shells and  sea urchins.

The maximum depth of this dive is 13 meters or 40 feet , just the depth you need  to reach the salt water and dive under the strong halocline.

 

This cavern dive is the ideal choice to combine with the cenote of the neighboring property "El Eden-Ponderosa".