Cenotes Diving in Yutucan

From Cenotes Diving, Playa del Carmen 2013

We took the ferry from Cozumel over to Playa del Carmen on Wednesday, expressly to do some cenotes (cavern) dives, and also some ruins of course.

We ended up doing 4 cavern dives, 2 more than we had originally scheduled for. The last two dives, we managed to squeeze in Saturday, after spending four fruitless hours driving to Cancun’s marina terminal only to turn back at the last minute because the port authorities decided to close the ports due to weather. No swimming with whale sharks for us. I was so, so, so bummed. If only we hadn’t learnt from the other guest couple at Coral Reef Inn about how they swam with 40 whale sharks just a few days before! Anyway, super grateful that our dive guide from Alux Divers, Luis, was available and happy to bring us for more diving on his day off.

A cenote is a deep natural pit, or sinkhole, characteristic of Mexico, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. Especially associated with the Yucatán Peninsula and some nearby Caribbean islands, cenotes were sometimes used by the ancient Maya for sacrificial offerings. There are an estimated over 7,000 cenotes in the Yucatan peninsula; we dove at two – Chac Mool and Taj Mahal.

Very cool dives – fresh/salt water mix. The fresh water is the top layer, and is super clear. Where light enters from holes in the ground, it appears in sharp shafts of light that shine straight down. As we descend lower (usually about 8m), we get into the halocline, where the salt water layer mixes with the fresh water layer. It’s very surreal – you see sort of a mirage effect as you approach the layer. When you get into it, everything becomes really blurry. Once you pass the halocline into the salt water layer, visibility becomes good again.

These caverns are mostly devoid of life, save the occasional carp that we see near the surface in the air domes. We surfaced in two air domes, which had small holes that opened into the ground above. Tree roots dangle down from these holes, and we saw a couple blue and yellow birds nesting in one of these holes. In the second air dome we surfaced in, we also saw dozens of bats.

Besides the dense stalactites formations that are thousands of years old, we also saw fossils of conches, sea urchins, and coral.

From Cenotes Diving, Playa del Carmen 2013
From Cenotes Diving, Playa del Carmen 2013
From Cenotes Diving, Playa del Carmen 2013

Alux Divers’ video of Chac Mool, on a day with abundant sunshine!

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