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Cavern diving in the Cenotes of Yucatan

Discover the Cenotes of Yucatan Mexico underwater

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The Cenotes of Yucatan offers to divers the possibility to experience a unique type of dive: cavern diving in the Cenotes.

Diving in Cenote will give you a hint of what cave diving looks like in case you are yet undecided to become a cave diver or just want to enjoy the experience once.

What is a cenote?

The word “Cenote” comes from the Mayan “dzonot”. Cenotes are sinkholes created by the collapse of the limestone rocks, filled with crystal clear water.

The Yucatan penninsula is covered with Cenotes. They are found almost everywhere, some remain undiscovered deep in the jungle and others are right in the center of cities and villages. Furthermore they can have all sizes and shapes, some have underwater passages, some offer large pools while others are vertical pits. The Maya considered the Cenotes were sacred doors.

Diving in the Cenotes of Yucatan

Diving in the Cenotes is an exciting experience. You will enjoy the best diving conditions you can imagine. The water is crystal clear and the visibility is incredible, there is very little current and the water is warm all year around (25°C/76F). The underwater caves feature lots of speleothems (stalactites, stalagmites, columns, flowstones…) and stunning sunrays penetrating the darkness of the cave through small openings in the ceiling.

What certification is needed to dive in a Cenotes?

To discover the cavern part of the Cenotes on most sites you will only need an Open Water certification or equivalent, good buoyancy skills and a great level of comfort.

And if you want to go further you will need to get cave diving training and your guide can give you all the necessaries informations.

Formations of the Cenotes

These unique formations are due to a sequence of geological and climatic events. Several million years ago, the Yucatan penninsula was submerged by the ocean and arrised during the glaciation period, when the sea level drops.

Cenotes are formed by dissolution of rock creating a void bellow the bedrock  and the subsequent collapse. These collapses occur during periods when the water table is below the ceiling of the void, since the rock ceiling is no longer buoyantly supported by the water.

What are speleothems?

Speleothems are cave formations resulting from mineral deposits. They take various forms, depending on whether the water drips, seeps, condenses, flows, or ponds. The most known speleothems are:
• Stalactites: hanging from the cave ceiling
• Stalagmites: the “ground-up” counterparts of stalactites
• Column: when stalactites and stalagmites meet or when stalactites reach the floor of the cave
• Drapery, curtain or bacon are thin sheets of calcite hanging downward
• Flowstone: covering floor and walls of a cave
• Soda straws: very thin but long stalactites having an elongated cylindrical shape

You will observe all of these mineral formations and many more in cenotes.

What is the halocline?

A halocline is a type of chemocline caused by a strong, vertical salinity gradient within a body of water. Because salinity (along with temperature) affects the density of water, it plays a role in its vertical stratification. In Cenotes, you will discover this very characteristic and fascinating phenomenon of Haloclines. And you will observe it particularly cleary in Tajma Ha Cenote and Eden Cenote.

The phenomenon is very visual and the demarcation between fresh water and salt water is very clear. In the presence of a halocline, when ascending from the salt water layer (below) to the fresh water the diver can have the feeling of floating in air over water.

In which Cenotes can we do cavern diving?

Cavern diving

Here is a list of the most reknown cenotes in the Riviera Maya. There are many more to be discovered and for the most adventurous divers wanting to experience new dive sites consider a trip to the Cenotes Yucatan around Mérida  and add the culture and the culinary experience to your diving.

The Pit

Depth: 40 meters/ 120 feet
Difficulty: Difficult

The Pit is one of the deepest Cenotes of Yucatan (130 meters) and is part of one of the biggest cave system in the world. You will enjoy the amazing light beams going all the way down to the sulfide layer at 30m.

Taj Ma Ha

Depth: 15 meters/ 50feet
Difficulty: Moderate

The Cenote Tajma ha is located 5 km south of Puerto aventuras. A fairly demanding dive due to the multiple depth changes, you will be rewarded by the stunning beauty. You will observe lots of stalactites, stalagmites and fossils, 3 other Cenotes on the way with amazing light effects and come accross the halocline a few times.

Cenote Angelita

Depth: 40 meters/ 120 feet
Difficulty: Difficult

AngelitaThe Cenote Angelita is one of the deepest cenote in the Riviera Maya. It is particularly known for its sulfuide layer looking like an underground river flowing around a small island whith a few trees. Under the cloud, you will experience total darkness. This is an exceptional dive full of sensations and is for experienced divers only.

Cenote Car Wash

Depth: 16 meters/ 50 feet
Difficulty: Easy

Cavern diving course : first steps into the world of cave diving

Aktun Ha better known as Car Wash is located near Tulum. Its name come from the fact that people used to come to this cenote to wash their cars. In summer the open water pool is covered by a thick and dense layer of algae bloom whith very reduced visibility. Below this layer the water is crystal clear with subtle green brightness. You will meet turtles, fish and possibly a small crocodile. And you will enjoy the amazing beauty of the water lilis.

Cenote Chac Mool and Kukulcan

Depth: 14 meters / 50 feet
Difficulty: Easy

Cenote Kukulkan, cavern dive in the winter morning light
Cenote Kukulkan, cavern dive in the winter morning light

The Chac Mool Cavern Line leads you through a large well lit Cavern Zone with very impressive breakdown formations and spectacular views of the jungle from underwater. You will see tree roots growing down into the water along the edge of Main Entrance and dive a hypnotic halocline passage.
Halfway through the dive you can surface in a beautifully decorated air dome before continuing on through a cathedral of speleothems.

Cenote Kukulkan offers in winter one of the most amazing light show you can imagine.

Cenote Eden

Depth: 15 meters/ 50 feet
Difficulty: Easy

The Cenote Eden also known as Ponderosa features beautiful light effects and a wonderful halocline. In the open water pool you will observe many colorful fishes.

Chikin Ha

Depth: 15 meters / 50 feet
Difficulty: Easy

Cenote Chikin Ha - Map of the cavern dive
Cenote Chikin Ha – Map of the cavern dive

Chikin Ha means “Western Water”  it is a very large half moon cenote with crystal clear water.

The permanent guideline begins in the open water of Chikin Ha and traverses over to Cenote Arcoiris (Cenote Rainbow) through a large halocline tunnel. On the way back to Chikin Ha you will see fossils, crystal formations and speleothems.

Dos Ojos

Depth: 9 meters / 30 feet
Difficulty: easy

Dos Ojos is probably one of the most known Cenote dive thanks to the I-max movie “Amazing Caves”. The cenote offers two different dives,  the Barbie Line, a circuit with massive columns and stalactites. The Batcave Line is more like a dark cave as you swim around an air bell with very little light entry. All along you will enjoy the variety of its delicate formations.

Pet Cemetry

Depth: 7 meters / 30 feet
Difficulty: Moderate

As the name suggests, you will see along your dive, at the bottom, some animal skeletons. And above all this is not even the hit of these dives! This cave is amazingly decorated with white speleothems. the nearby surface will offer stunning reflexions of these formations. Just hold your breath and enjoy! And if you need more look between the roots for blind fish 🙂

Dreams Gate

Depth: 7 meters / 30 feet
Difficulty: Average

Dreamgate requires really good buoyancy skills as it is very shallow and has very low ceiling. Very decorated with delicate formations, make sure you dive close to the line to limit the impact of your bubbles or an unfortunate fin kick. We love the place and want to enjoy it for a long time.

Zapote

Depth: 40 meters / 120 feet
Difficulty: Very difficult

Zapote is one  of the most demanding Cenote dive as it is deep and fairly dark and you will also encounter a sulfide cloud. But most of all it is very rewarding as, out of this cloud, you will face very special formations, in the shape of a bell. Keep in mind that not only they are very surprising but the are still new to science.

Casa Cenote

Depth: 8 meters /  30 feet
Difficulty: Easy

Casa Cenote - Cenote Manati - Tank Ha

Casa Cenote is one of the easiest cenote dive. You will dive directly under the mangroves and get the chance to meet some marine life since the Cenote is directly connected to the ocean. Most of all you will swim across a dense halocline and observe some beautiful lights effects.

 

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Decompression Procedures Diver

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The decompression procedures course is an exciting step further into your dive career.

Decompression ProceduresYou can train in your properly configured recreational gear with just an extra stage for the deco gas. You will only need and extra regulator and stage rig and you can still join regular dive operation which is a great advantage.

If you already are an Intro to tech or Sidemount diver you can use this configuration with an extra deco tank.

You will get the best out of this training if you already are an Advanced Nitrox diver or if you combine Decompression Procedures and  Advanced Nitrox.

These courses will be the foundation of all other technical courses.

Objectives of the Decompression Procedures Course
  • Extend your bottom time
  • Safely execute decompression dives
  • Dive deeper
  • Look deeper into the decompression theory
  • Extend your diving techniques
Duration
  • 3 days minimum
  • Dives: 4 dives minimum (including 2 below 30 metres / 100 feet)
  • Adv. Nitrox + Deco Procedures: 6 dives minimum
Limits
  • Depth: 45 metres/150 feet.
Course prerequisites
  • Minimum age 18
  • Minimum certification of SDI Advanced Adventure Diver, Advanced Diver, or equivalent
  • 25 logged open water dives
Equipement
  • Primary cylinder(s), Independent or isolated back-mounted
  • Decompression mix cylinder(s) (with submersible pressure gauge and Labeled)
  • Depth gauge and bottom timer and / or dive computer
  • Regulator(s)
  • Buoyancy compensator device(s) (BCD) adequate for equipment configuration
  • Line cutting device
  • Ascent reel with lift bag /surface marker buoy
  • Oxygen (O2) analyzer; may be supplied by the instructor
  • Exposure suit adequate for the open water environment
  • Underwater slate
What will you learn?
  • Choosing the Decompression gas
  • The use of dive Tables and personal dive computers
  • How to set Emergency and contingency plans  (in order to face equipment failure, omitted decompression, etc.)
  • Decompression diving procedures
  • Choosing the equipment and configuration
  • Pre-dive checks and drills
  • Stress analysis and mitigation
  • Following a decompression schedule
  • Gas switching
  • Team awareness and communication
  • SMB/lift bag deployment
  • Proper trim, buoyancy and finning techniques
  • Emergency procedures (in case of equipment failures, catastrophic gas loss, omitted decompression, navigational errors, etc.)
  • Equipment considerations, cylinder labeling, analyzing nitrox mixtures, and gas blending procedures
 What’s next?

Nitrox     Advanced Nitrox     Extended Range     Trimix

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Ocean Diving

Ocean diving in the Riviera Maya:

Warm, calm, and absolutely amazing clear water with exotic sea life, divers of all levels and from all over the world will love to explore the many fantastic undersea environments this region of the globe has to offer.

You will get the opportunity to dive on one of the largest coral barrier reef in the world and every dive site will bring its lot of surprises.

  • Bull Shark diving

In winter pregnant female bull sharks come to the shallow waters along the coast in front of Playa del Carmen. Will you dare dive with them?

This is an amazing dive where you just go down to ~25m/75ft on a sand patch and just enjoy the amazing show of many bull sharks peacefully and gracefully swimming around you.

Bull Sharks - Playa del carmen
Bull Sharks – Playa del carmen
Bull sharks diving - Mexico
Bull sharks diving – Mexico
  • Ocean diving in Cozumel on a Day trip from Playa del Carmen

The fast boat takes you directly to Cozumel in approximately 40 minutes, straight to the dive site. The first dive in Cozumel is tipically a deep dive on a wall with a maximum dive depth of around 70-80 feet/20-24 meters. The second dive is on a shallower reef at around 40-50 feet/12-15 meters.

  • Ocean diving in Playa del carmen

Diving Playa del Carmen is a great option if you want to discover or rediscover Caribbean diving with the ease of flying to Cancun, Mexico, rather than to a remote island.

  • Technical diving

 

You feel like deep diving in the ocean contact us for more details.

Contact

Contact Deep Dark Diving

Scuba Diving in Yucatan, Mexico – Personalized Guiding and Training

Group packages available

Mail: info@deepdarkdiving.com
WhatsApp: +52 1 984 135 7062
Location: Playa del Carmen & Mérida, Mexico
Facebook: Deep Dark Diving

We are passionate instructors offering guided dives and training for Reef diving, Cavern diving, Cave diving, Deep diving

I spend a lot of time underwater and far into the jungle, out of phone signal and internet reach.  In fact I am probably underwater somewhere in one of the amazing caves of Yucatan. I really do my best to give the best service possible and assure that we can offer the best dive experience. You probably come a long way for a very special holliday and we’ll garantee a very special experience. I personnaly answer  all emails and deal with the organization… so please be patient, it’s worth it 🙂

Thank you, back to you as soon as possible

Géraldine

 

Intro to Cave Diver Course

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Intro to Cave Diver Course
Deploying a guideline

After enjoying your cavern diving course and discovering diving in overhead environment it is now time to move on to the Intro to cave diver course.

Not only you will tune up your skills further into the cave but you  will adopt additional techniques and procedures required for simple cave dives.

Of course, upon satisfying with the intro to Cave course requirements you may enroll to the Full Cave Diving Course.

Prerequisites
  • Cavern Diver certification or equivalent
  • Minimum age 18, 15 with parental consent
Qualifications
  •  “Rule of thirds,” OR 1/6th if using doubles
  • Maximum depth of 40 metres/130 feet.
  • Proper cave diving equipment must be used
  • Maintain a continuous guideline
  • Progress on to the next level: Full Cave Diver course!
Gears
  • double cylinders or dual valve manifold
  • Two independent first and second stage regulators; one regulator equipped with a long hose (2 metres / 7 feet)
  • Buoyancy compensator device (BCD) with power inflator
  • Exposure suit adequate for diving environment
  • Line cutting device
  • Three battery powered lights; 1 primary and 2 back-ups
  • Safety reel/spool
  • One primary reel
  • Computer, watch or bottom timer and depth gauge
  • Slate or wet notes with a pencil
  • Submersible dive tables or backup dive computer
  • Directional and non directional line markers
Duration
  • Minimum 3 days
  • Open water training
  • minimum 4 cave dives
  • Theory: minimum 4 hours
What you will learn
  • Policy for cave diving
  • Gas management
  • Psychological considerations of cave diving
  • Equipment choice and configuration
  • Communication (light and hand signals, touch contact)
  • Swimming techniques
    • Body posture/trim
    • Buoyancy control
    • Line following
  • Physiology
    • Breathing techniques
    • Stress management
  • Cave environment
  • Cave conservation
  • Problem solving
    • Emergency procedures
    • Equipment failure
    • Silting conditions
  • Accident analysis
  • Cave diving etiquette

 

CAVERN     FULL CAVE

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