Anna’s Favourite Warm Water Dive Destination #1 – Mexico Cenotes
The Caribbean Sea – Mexico – the Cenotes – TULUM
Photo credit: Tom St George /www.bestcenotedives.com
What are Cenotes? Cenotes are limestone sinkholes, allowing access to flooded underground caves, linked by water filled passages. The surface layer is freshwater, and doesn’t mix with the lower, saltwater layer, causing a halocline. The water is typically absolutely crystal clear with amazing visibility.
Who can dive them? Many guided dives require only an Open Water certificate – but to really enjoy them, I would recommend taking at least a Peak Performance Buoyancy course which’ll get you much more comfortable underwater – remember there is a halocline – where fresh and salt water stratify – so being prepared for this, and the powdery white sand is pretty important!
Why dive the Cenotes? I love these Cenotes because, well, they’re just so totally different from sea, or freshwater diving! You may find them in the middle of the jungle and whilst (unless cave certified) you’ll remain within the light zone and within 40 metres from the surface (vertical and horizontal distance included), Cenote diving is spectacular in terms of the topography – you can float through stalactites and stalagmites, corridors and even pop up in a completely different cavern. It’s other-worldly and the colours are amazing!
Where are they? There are hundreds of cenotes scattered around the Yucatan peninsula on the Caribbean side of Mexico. I recommend staying in Tulum which is a gorgeous little town with amazing boutique hotels, a great little music scene, cute restaurants, fantastic Mayan ruins on the beach and a laid-back vibe. It’s also really close to some of the most famous of the Cenotes – Dos Ojos, Angelita, Dreamgate (tempted yet?). Tulum is also a stone’s throw from the dive mecca of Cozumel and Playa Del Carmen, and from the big resort and party town of Cancun, if you want to hit the big city and squeeze two holiday vibes in one.
When to go? You can dive year-round – but June to September will combine excellent visibility in the Cenotes, great reef dives in Playa, and maybe a chance encounter with Whale Sharks at Isla Mujeres out of Cancun.
Where to stay? Insider’s favourite for accommodation is the Villas Duendes in Akumal – it’s off the beaten track in the jungle and a car would be required to explore the area. Underworld, in central Tulum, is a British owned and offers purpose built apartments for divers, with dive centre attached. On the beach is the stunning Coco Limited, a little way from Tulum restaurants and bars, but a short taxi ride away.
Who to dive with? I dived with Dom who is the founder of Best Cenote Dives – attentive, small groups, and a great introduction into cenote diving. Dom also recommends Underworld (see above). You can dive or train with both Underworld and Best Cenote Dives.
And the bonus is…. Paradise white beaches, the fabulous food, live music and vibrant bars, at least three Mayan ruins (on the beach, through the jungle, in a 4×4). If you wanted to get a taste of cavern or even cave or tec diving… this may be your happy place.