Each year visitors from around the world travel to the Mayan Riviera to explore the extensive underground system of caves known as Sak Actun (Mayan for “White Cave”). This majestic world beneath is filled with rich history and mystery.
Millions of years ago the peninsula of Yucatan was a thriving coral reef covered by the ocean and filled with life. During the last ice age, the ocean level dropped exposing the reef to the surface. Sinkholes were formed as the limestone gradually dissolved, revealing underground pools filled with beautiful formations known as speleothems. Stalactites (speleothems hanging downwards from a roof or wall) and stalagmites (speleothems projecting vertically upwards from the floor) provide divers an opportunity to witness the passage of time, as these unique formations grow approximately one inch every hundred years.
Mayans call the sinkholes Dzonot (“Sacred Well”), as they once were the only source of fresh water in the jungle for the Mayan civilization. The Spanish call them CENOTES (pronounced “Say-no-tays”). The Mayan considered these sinkholes to be an entrance to the Xibalba (“Underworld”) where their gods live and their spirits reside after death. Many of these cenotes are located within the region of Tulum (State Quintana Roo). Today you can explore cenotes in a number of ways.
MEXIDIVERS has been one of the most respected dive operations in the region since its launch in 2006. Its experienced team of certified dive masters leads daily dives within the caverns of the cenotes. Caverns are defined as the area of a cave within the natural daylight zone, and within a maximum of 60m (200ft) from the surface. Snorkelers can also enjoy the cenote with one of Mexidivers’ friendly guides.
Aktun Ha (Car Wash)
A shallow dive that reveals a beautiful petrified garden. It contains fresh water fish, turtles, aquatic plant life and birds. It offers a 185 meter circuit.
Located Approximately 6km West of Tulum (10 minutes away).
Angelita ( Little Angel )
An enormous 200ft wide pool that opens suddenly from the jungle. This is a deep dive (40 meters) that takes you through what appears to be a huge cloud of sulfur. Once you travel through the cloud, the salt water reveals what appears to be a dark forest.
Located approximately 17km Southwest of Tulum (15 minutes away).
Calavera ( Skull Cave )
Known also as “Temple of Doom,” this formation has the appearance from above of a human skull. The richness of stalactites and stalmatites here also makes it unique. Divers can witness the halocline effect, where salt and fresh water meet, but do not mix due to their different densities. It offers a 160 meter circuit. The maximum depth is 18 meters.
Located approximately 3 km West of Tulum (7 minutes away).
A natural swimming pool amongst a vast mangrove area filled with small fish and turtles. It connects underneath with the sea and is wide open. This area is often used for introduction to diving and a great spot for children to snorkel.
Located Approximately 8km North of Tulum (15 minutes away).
Two cenotes in the same location consisting of crystal clear water, speleothems and fresh water tropical fish. The Blue Eye is a world-renowned diving destination where divers swim underwater before surfacing in a real-live bat cave. The Black Eye offers almost no visibility, requires portable lights, and is one of the eerier and sensory-depriving dives you can make. It offers a 735 meter circuit.
Located approximately 15km North of Tulum. (25 minutes away).
One of the most difficult caverns to traverse, Dream Gate is filled with stalactites and stalagmites and columns. A giant air dome allows divers to view how the roots of the jungle mingle through the rock to reach the water. Divers find themselves swimming between the darkness of a sediment floor below and a sea of bats above.
Located approximately 12km North of Tulum (20 minutes away).
One of the most popular cenotes due to the close proximity to Tulum. Allows swimmers to travel approximately 150’ underneath the natural bridge opening. The main attractions are the fish, turtles and stalagmites. It offers a 202 meter circuit.
Located approximately 2 km West of Tulum (5 minutes away).
Approximately 7km off the main road near Dos Ojos you will find Pet Cemetery. This is a lesser traveled cenote with beautiful rock formations and crystal clear water. Amongst the stalactites and stalagmites you will find a dune like floor containing animal bones dating back to prehistoric times. Shallow depths and fragile rock formations make this a great spot to snorkel.
Located approximately 17km from Tulum (30 minutes).
The deepest cave in Quintana Roo, The Pit is a great place to dive deep. Located 2.8km past Dos Ojos, divers descend in the middle of the cenote through a shallow halroline. This leads through a hydrogen sulfide cloud at 30 meters to crystal clear waters and anthropological remains dating back approximately 13,000 years!
Located approximately 20km from Tulum (35 minutes away).
This is an advanced snorkel dive, as you must free dive and swim underwater 25 feet/7.5 meters from the cenote into the “points of light” room. This room measures 100 feet/30 meters in diameter and at least 18 feet/5.5 meters high in air space. This is an air filled bat cave. Here light enters through holes in the ceiling and penetrates the water like sun beams. Along the cavern floor you will see hundreds of stalactites. It offers a 350 meter circuit.
Located approximately 23km from Tulum. (35 minutes away).