Cenotes Diving in Riviera Maya
Knowing the best cenotes in Mexico is valuable information when you are going to visit the Yucatan peninsula. Traveling to the the Mayan Riviera and not visiting a cenote, is like going to New York and not visiting the statue of liberty: Absolutely Impossible.
We can find three types of cenotes: open sky, semi-open and caves. Erosion is what tells us which cenotes are the oldest, being those completely open, and the youngest ones, those that still conserve their dome intact. In fact, rain or underground currents pierce the calcareous terrain of the Riviera Maya until the domes disappear or collapse.
If you want to know more which are the best cenotes in Mexico to dive and practice snorkel, Keep Reading…
Cenote and cavern diving in La Riviera Maya
- The Pit
- Dos Ojos
- Taj Maja
- Chac Mool
- Jardin del Eden
- Gran Cenote
- Car Wash
- Pet Cemetery
- Hells Bells
Located in the depths of the Mayan jungle, El Pit is more than 120 m / 394 ft depth. Its appeal includes two haloclines at 12m / 39ft and 15m / 49ft, crystal clear waters and breathtaking light effects. In El Pit we can find a gaseous cloud. Approximately 30 meters / 98.42 feet depth, the organic material decomposition creates a hydrogen sulfide curtain from which the branches of trees emerge ghostly. Of course, diving El Pit is a privilege reserved for advanced divers with excellent buoyancy control.
Dos Ojos Cenote
Fifteen minutes north from Tulum by car we find Cenote Dos Ojos. Although it was discovered in the 80s, its endless corridors are still being explored today. In fact, last year it was discovered that it is part of the longest cenote cave systems in the world, and that it is connected to the Sac Actum system. In total, 347 km / 215.62 mi that make Dos Ojos one of the best Cenotes in Mexico to practice your preferred sport variety. Maybe, that is the reason why it is one of the tourists’ favorite cenotes. There, you can snorkel under its open eye to the sky, dive in cavern or dive into its depths and practice cave diving.
Despite the fact the Angelita cenote is also in Tulum, to get to the entrance you will have to walk about 45 minutes through the jungle and descend a great height before finding the cenote’s eye. This unevenness continues inside the water because it is an extremely deep cenote: 55 m / 180 ft. At around 30 m / 98.42 ft deep you will find an about 3 m / 9.84 ft thick hydrogen-sulfur cloud produced by microorganism from organic sediments. Undoubtedly, Angelita is one of the best cenotes in Mexico for technical diving.
This cenote is also known as Temple of Doom, It is situated 45 km south from Playa del Carmen, 3 km north of Tulum. It is one of the favorite cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula near Tulum. This unique cenote is great for both swimming and diving and is an easy day trip if you are staying in Tulum. At first, it doesnt look very impressive, seen from the top: just a 5x5 meter hole filled with water.
Underwater, however, it is awhole new world. The most impressive feature of this cavern is that it has both a halocline and a thermocline. A halocline is the area where sweet water meets salt water. Since they have different densities, they don't mix, and so you can see the plane where the two waters meet. When you pass trough the halocline, you inevitably create a bit of a mixture with your fins. If you swim directly behind another diver, the visible plane disappears and instead your vision becomes blurry and you can't see much at all due to the sweet-salt mixture. Fascinating!.
Chac Mool Cenote
Just after the Puerto Aventuras bridge and only 20 minutes by car from Playa del Carmen is one of the best cenotes in Mexico to practice any type of scuba. The Chac Mool Cenote, whose name for the native Mayans means “Great Red Jaguar” has three entrances. From any of them you will access three incredible diving routes and an impressive experience will be waiting for you in all of them. You will enjoy an impressive range of blues there, offered by the rebound of the sun’s rays on its waters and walls. In addition, you will have the opportunity to see hundreds of stalactites and columns. The maximum depth is 13 m / 40 ft but at 10 m / 32.80 ft, you will encounter a very precious halocline: Guaranteed!!! All these characteristics, made this spot one of the best cenotes in Mexico to enjoy scuba diving.
Jardin del Eden Cenote
Ponderosa or Jardín del Edén, is only3 km / 1.8 miles from Puerto Aventuras and about 25 km / 15.53 miles in the south of Playa del Carmen. This cenote has a huge totally open entrance that will make you fall in love, if you want to snorkel or simply swim in its fresh and crystalline waters. This place looks like a natural lagoon more than a pond.
On the road to Coba, about 5 minutes from Tulum, on the right side of the road is the Gran Cenote. It is also part of the Sac Actum system and deserves a visit without a doubt. It has two accesses, one of them is a small beach with sandy soil and that is preferred by those who practice snorkeling. Both entries are connected by a tunnel, but there is much to discover there. Its stalactites, stalagmites and columns make the Gran Cenote one of the best cenotes in Mexico, a witness to the geological evolution of the place. Besides, it’s 10 m / 33 ft depth is enough to leave you speechless from an unforgettable diving experience. And if that is not enough for convincing you that this cenote is worth a visit, you should know it also offers a large example of the native fauna, such as the freshwater turtles that inhabit the small central island or the bat community in the dome.
This cenote is probably one of the most underrated cenotes in the area. As the cenote is very Deep,it is the perfect conditions for diving, one of the highlights is the underground cave network.
Pet Cemetery Cenote
Pet Cemetery is a stunning Cenote deep in the Jungle. It got its name by the original explorer from the animal bones found in the cave. Also known as Cenote Sac Actun it is part of the largest underwater cave system of the world. The cavern dive is one of the most decorated and is very shallow (maximum 7m/25ft). It requires excellent buoyancy skills to avoid damage of the fragile formations (for certified cave divers only)
Cenote Kukulkan is one of over 6,000 cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. This cenote is an underwater photographer’s dream, thanks to its delicate rock formations and awe-inspiring light display. It is also located close to another popular cenote in the region – Chac Mool. These two cenotes are visited as one by tourists who visit the area.
If observing the phenomenon caused by the river fresh water and the sea salty coming together is what you want, one of the best cenotes in Mexico to achieve this is the Tajmaha. Located next to Xpuha, just 5 km / 3.10 miles from Puerto Aventuras, this cenote is in the middle of the jungle. Among so much vegetation, you will be surprised to find its small entrance, which is nothing more than the gateway to wonder land. Besides the halocline, this cenote is also famous for its stalactites, stalagmites and fossils. Here, it does not matter where you look, there is always something amazing to see. The entrance bifurcates in two. The line on the right, longer, allows you to descend up to 14 m/ 46 ft. deep. The line on the left takes you to the cavern of the bats. But for lovers of cave diving, there is still 40 m / 131.23 ft. Depth
Hell Bells Cenote
The amazing formations in the cenote are shaped like giant bells with a maximum depth of 120 feet. For advanced, experienced divers only. Immersed in the jungle, about 20 minutes from Puerto Morelos and 45 minutes from Cancun, the Hell’s Bells cenote formations are almost immediately spotted. No other cenote has these amazing bell formations. A hydrogen sulfide layer is located about 110 feet or 33 meters into the cenote, making this dive truly unusual. In combination with Cenote Kin Ha, this trip is one of the most requested by experienced divers, a truly incredible scuba diving experience.