Saturday, May 31, 2008

Scuba Diving the Cenotes

Review by Mark Glesne, Founder of Neutral Dive Gear.

My wife Corissa and I just returned from an absolutely amazing vacation to Cancun, Mexico. While there, we had the pleasure of scuba diving the cenotes, and let me tell you: the cenotes should be on every diver's "must dive" bucket list.

As you may know, cenote is a type of sinkhole containing groundwater typically found in the Yucat√°n Peninsula and some nearby Caribbean islands. The term is derived from a word used by the low-land Maya to refer to any location where groundwater is accessible.

These subterranean water bodies make for breath-taking scuba diving.

How To Get There

From Cancun's hotel zone, Corissa and I rented a small car and took a straight shot down Hwy 307. Heading south(west) through the Riviera Maya, cenote dive operations for your choosing line the right side of the road.

We pulled into Hidden Worlds Cenotes Park (which we remembered it from our drive to Tulum the day prior) and were certainly glad we did so. If cenote diving is on your "must dive" bucket list, we can personally recommend Hidden Worlds. It's a bit farther than some of the other cenote dive operations along the 307 (about 10 minutes north of Tulum), but definitely worth it. (If you're diving Cozumel, simply take the ferry to Playa del Carmen and head south on the 307.)

Hidden Worlds: What To Expect

Hidden Worlds is a clean and professional dive operation. I was nothing short of smitten with how well my wife and I were treated, and how smooth the process flowed. With no prior reservation, Corissa and I walked into the shop, approached the desk, and declared "We're here to dive the cenotes!"

A team of bilingual, uniformly-dressed shop staff sprung into action: giving us a dive overview, processing our payment, assigning us a personal possession locker, preparing a crate of gear, etc.

This is the kind of service for which the scuba diving industry is known. And this is why I love the industry so much.

Less than 20 minutes after walking into the shop, Corissa and I were suited up and ready to dive. We were immediately greeted by our DM, Victor, and helped onto the back of a frame-less truck of sorts.

With the hot sun on our backs, we traveled inland about ten minutes through the forest on a bumpy trail, standing on the bed of our Mexican scubamobile. Hey, what would scuba diving be without a little topside adventure, right!?

It was actually quite charming.

Upon arriving at our dive destination, you can't help but notice the interesting entrance to the dive spot. Surrounded by a wooden platform and a penetrated by a rope pulley and steel ladder/staircase, you know immediately that this will be an experience unlike any dive you've encountered in the past.

After seeing the entrance to the cenotes, my excitement only grew. I could not wait to get in the water.

Corissa and I assembled our rig, grabbed our snorkel gear and weight belts, and headed down the ladder to the platform below.

Here's the unfortunate part of this story.

Corissa and I did not have an underwater camera with us, so we were unable to take photos of our dive beyond this point. However, the pictures you find doing a Google image search do justice to the stunningly majestic diving that occurs in these cenotes (including the photo at the top of this post).

After a thorough dive brief, we donned our gear in the water, conducted a quick buoyancy check, tested our flashlights and submerged. From there, I'm not sure if I can even describe how beautiful of an experience this dive was.

Zig-zagging in and around the staggering underwater formations was breath-taking. Surface openings created naturally-lit rooms, and light effects you have to see to believe. Floating through caverns full of crystal clear water, stalagmites and stalactites, tranquil beauty surrounded us in these pristine windows to the underwater world.

Here are just a few of my favorite pictures from my Google image search.

Now, if those photos don't entice you to begin planning your own trip to the cenotes, I don't know what will!

After 45 exhilarating minutes underwater, we surfaced like first time divers.

"Oh my gosh!" I blurted after removing my reg.

"That was beautiful!" Corissa said.

Victor looked at us both, smiled, and said "I love my job."

That about said it all.

We off-loaded our gear onto the platform, grabbed our snorkel gear and weight belts, and headed up the ladder. Once topside, I assisted Victor in bring our rigs up, using the rope pulley.

Once all the gear was up top, Victor invited us to walk around and look around at all the openings from top-down, as we had just seen them from bottom-up. After a few minutes, we hopped back on the scubamobile and headed back to the shop.

It was as simple and as beautiful as that.


Horizon Charters Guadalupe Cage Diving said...

Excellent trip report NDG!

It's on our bucket list too.

bigcancino said...

I just did Chac Mool and Chac Mool--Little Brother this month, May 2008. Both were great experiences.


Neutral Dive Gear said...

"Excellent trip report NDG!"


Keep diving!


Neutral Dive Gear said...

"I just did Chac Mool and Chac Mool--Little Brother this month, May 2008. Both were great experiences."

So rad! Thanks for the videos... love it!

Anonymous said...

Hello everyone. I'm not a diver but i really enjoy watching at these amazing photos. I did a post on my blog which concers with the Yucatan Cenotes and other ones. please come and comment! :D