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Diving the Cenotes of the Yacutan Peninsula, Mexico by Andrew Falconer

 

As part of a wider trip in Mexico, I spent two days diving some of the cenotes of the Yacutan peninsula of Mexico. The Yacutan is a flat raised limestone plateau, mostly covered in jungle, and known among other things for its Mayan ruins, Caribbean coastline, and cenotes. The latter are sink holes in the limestone surface, which often connect to a system of caves and underground rivers. The water in most of the cenotes is fresh, crystal clear and at a constant temperature of 24 degrees centigrade


 

Location of Akumal near Dos Oyes, The Pit and Nicte Ha cenotes

 

 

Based on reading some positive reviews I chose www.divecenotesmexico.com located in the peublo of Akumal between Playa del Carmen and Tulum on the Caribbean coast. We stayed in an Air B & B in Akumal, and I was picked up by the dive shop owner Susanne at 9am for the short drive in her pick up to Cenote Dos Oyes (two eyes).

 

the line that you must follow during dives

stalagmites iluminated by torchlight

 

 

There was a $US25 entrance fee at the gate leading down a dusty limestone road into the jungle to the cenote. Dos Oyes is one of the most popular cenotes and both scuba divers and snorkellers are allowed. There were quite a few of both, despite it being a weekday during the low season. However once in and following the line through the cavern system, with the snorkellers left behind and the divers spread out we were mostly on our own, being just me with Susanne leading. Prior to entry I

 

 

coming out of the dark towards daylight

Deep into a cavern with only a torch

 

was given a thorough briefing regarding the special rules of cenote diving (torch use and signals / keeping to the line / the one third air rule / buoyancy control). Kitted up (I added a full 3mm wetsuit from Susanne to my usual Indonesian dive apparel of a sharkskin top and rashie body suit) and afterwalking the short distance in the hot, humid Yacutan summer to the entry platform it was a relief to get in the cool clear water. We submerged and after a buoyancy check followed the line into the dark cavern system of one of the Dos Oyes. Although it was pretty dark throughout there was always a little light showing somewhere so that technically it was not a cave. It was a very calm and beautiful experience moving slowly through the crystal clear waters past stalactites of many shapes and sizes. The whole dive was very shallow, with a maximum depth of 5m, so air consumption was not an issue during the 40 minute dive. By the time the dive finished I was glad of the extra wetsuit. We had a snack back at the car, and did a second dive on Dos Oyes, following a different route which was darker and narrower in some places, and included surfacing in an air filled chamber (the bat cave) which had bats flying around.

The next day I was given a choice of cenotes, and ended up choosing The Pit and Nicte Ha, both part of the Dos Oyes underground system, but completely different. The Pit is also a well known cenote

 

Looking down at The Pit cenote from the surface.

Shafts of light in The Pit cenote

 

 

I did a total of 13 dives from Kri, all boat dives except one on the house reef on Sunday, with a diver from the homestay next door, as Sunday is a day of rest, with no boat dives.

 

 

Susanne silhouetted against light beams.

Stalactites hanging down in The Pit

 

 

penetrate down as beams at the right time on a sunny day. We were lucky as it was cloudy at the start but opened up from time to time to enable us to catch the sun beams. The second dive at Nicte Ha after a surface interval had a very pretty entry with lilies on the surface

 

 

The dead tree in The Pit in white H2S mist at 30m.

The crystal clear lily pond of Nicte Ha cenote

 

 

of the crystal clear waters. The cavern system encircled the cenote, and was shallow with quite a low roof, and some tight passages. Unfortunately my camera battery ran out so no photos. In conclusion, my two days of cenote diving was a unique and unforgettable experience, which although not cheap (total cost $US260 + entrance fees) and something not to be missed if you are in the Yacutan. I particularly liked the personalised diving and genuine enthusiasm of Suzanne. She was also very helpful with carrying tanks.

 

August 2019