Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula is truly a unique place for scuba diving. Not only do you have the Mesoamerican reef right in front of the Riviera Maya but also uncountable caverns, caves, and water-filled sinkholes in the middle of the Mexican jungle. Those sinkholes, the cenotes, are the entrance to the world’s longest underwater cave system and the gateway to a one-of-a-kind diving adventure.
Even though there are so many cenotes around the peninsula, everyone is slightly different, so it’s a tough decision which one to dive first. So maybe the best choice is to stick to the famous ones in the beginning or go with a local guide to figure out the best one for your cenote adventure.
As cenote diving is probably one of the most popular things to do around here almost every dive center between Playa del Carmen and Tulum offers those dives. In general, most of the dive centers are offering two different types of dives: cavern dives, which you can do with open water or advanced certification, and if you’re a certified tec-diver and want to go beyond the daylight zone and deeper into the cave system you can do cave diving. Both are possible from Dos Ojos but for me and my very limited scuba diving experience, it was cavern diving.
As it was the first time for me diving outside tropical warm ocean water and I also wasn’t sure how I would cope with dark and enclosed spaces I decided to do my first cenote dive with a private instructor. Besides that, I wanted to dive with a woman for once. Because let’s face it, the majority of the scuba diving world is still middle-aged men, and sometimes you just wanna have fun with another girl that scubas.
So, thanks to the internet and social media I found the amazing Taz, a professional and independent dive instructor. Booking the dive trip with Taz was super easy and uncomplicated, and after scheduling everything through email and Whatsapp I met with her in Tulum at the dive shop where she stores her equipment. After collecting tanks and loading everything in the truck we decided where the two dives would take place. This kind of spontaneity comes in very handy as you can decide which cenote fits best with the day’s weather condition, your level of experience, and your personal diving preferences. For me, it was cenote Dos Ojos where I would do my first cenote dive ever.
Dos Ojos means “Two Eyes” in Spanish and is a flooded cave system located north of Tulum and connected to one of the largest cave systems in the Riviera Maya. It refers to two neighboring cenotes that connect into a cavern zone shared between the two and appear like two large eyes in the underground. Dos Ojos contains the deepest known cave passage in the state of Quintana Roo with around 119 meters (391 ft) of depth located at “The Pit” another famous cenote and popular dive spot around here. The water temperature is around 25 °C (77 °F) with a maximum depth of 10 meters (33 ft) and, since the water is rainwater filtered through limestone, the visibility is just incredible.
By the time we arrived at Dos Ojos Taz already knew half of my life story (Taz if you’re reading this: I’m sorry but I was just so excited to finally be out with a female dive instructor), and after a short briefing at the dive site, we didn’t lose any more time, geared up and I followed Taz into the Mayan underwater world. As we entered the cavern the daylight faded fast but never totally went away. The first route of the day was the so-called “Barbie Line” which passes mainly by the entrance of the “second eye” therefore daylight finds its way into the cavern system most of the time and it’s rarely completely dark. So, instead of feeling uncomfortable about being in a dark, enclosed space, I felt curiously enough more exhilarating than scary. Also, I was more occupied by looking at the numerous incredible stalagmites and other rock formations we passed on our way through the cavern. As if that wasn’t enough the true magic of the cenote reveals itself when the entrance comes back into sight and you can see from below the surface the incredible play of sun rays hitting the crystal-clear cenote water.
After the dive, it was lunchtime which included some delicious Mexican food and fruits, all provided by Taz, and after some more talking we were ready to hit the water again. The second dive at Dos Ojos was pretty much the same as the first with the exception, that you can surface halfway through the dive in a pretty awesome bat cave.
Back at the entry point, it was time to clean up, and faster than I wanted the trip was already over. But the thing about cenote diving is (and this comes from someone with a severe condition of claustrophobia) that it does not leave you until you go back down there into that ancient world of rocks.
Ultimately my first scuba diving experience at the Mexican cenotes was so much more awesome than I expected it to be and that’s mainly thanks to Taz. In the well-oiled dive industry where quantity is often found before quality, especially in touristy places, it’s good to know that people like her exist. At the end of the day, we all share this one passion, scuba diving, and now and then it’s nice to have someone by your side to share that passion with, and for a baby diver like me who is just starting to discover the underwater world, it’s a good deed to have the time and opportunity to ask all the questions I still have about scuba diving and to have someone by my side who is as experienced and patient with all the questioning like the Amazing Taz.