Cenote Diving in Tulum, Mexico.

Photo by Mekan Photography.

Cenote Diving, beauty lies beneath the surface.

This is true for cenote diving in Tulum, Mexico. A place that becomes a more and more popular tourist destination as time and Instagram photos go on. My reason for taking a whirlwind trip to this beautiful place though, is not the same as most.

This adventure lay under the surface of the jungle floor in the water of the cenotes and caverns of Tulum, Mexico.

The jungle, ocean and cenotes are brilliant natural attractions that are available but I came for beauty that, although seemingly difficult to find, held the most wondrous sights and experiences.

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Having never traveled out of the US and enough diving experience to have my advanced open water and nitrox certifications, I decided to take a leap and book the trip on quite short notice.

Cenote diving, here I come.

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I’m going to have to make a YT vid because there is just so much to show y’all from this trip. ‼️I’ll be sharing more with my email list this Thursday so if you aren’t signed up comment below and i’ll send you the info! 🤿Go check out Taz Diving to find out how to do these dives! #tulummexico #tulum #cenotes #scubadiving #scubaadventures #advanceddiver #scuba #caverndiving #cavernmexico

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The arrival

A month later I found myself sitting in the Cancun airport with incredibly bad service and no clue what was going on.

I sat for several hours before figuring out how to buy a bus ticket to Tulum.

Airplane in sky
Tampa Bay SCUBA Club on ADO bus from Cancun to Tulum.

Then met up with the rest of the dive group that I had never met from the Tampa Bay SCUBA club.

We ended up using ADO to get from Cancun to Tulum. (I’ll talk more about logistics in another post.)

The bus ride was about a 3hr trip. The two Canadian women sitting several rows back provided plenty of entertainment. They had for sure never visited Mexico before. FYI the public transportation doesn’t drop you at your private resorts front door. Hope they had a great trip…

A 3 hour bus ride later we arrived in Tulum. We hiked a mile or so to our accommodations. Which exceeded anything I would’ve thought to have stayed at during this trip.

We met Taz who led our amazing dive trip throughout the week and she showed us around our temporary home. We picked rooms and would later find out one of our rooms was part of a furry friends commute to work…

Air B&B in Tulum

That evening we met our other dive guide Arturo and our photographer for the trip to Mekan. You’ll see a lot of the photos captured by Mekan later in this post!

Taz presented us with all the information we need for the week including sneak peaks of the cenotes and the epic photos Mekan would capture at a few of the sites.

You may have a few questions about cenote diving, so I’ll answer these right quick…

What is a cenote?

A cenote is described as an underground chamber or cave that contains permanent water. The word itself is pronounced “seh-no-tay” and it’s a Spanish conversion of the Yucatec Maya word “D’zonot” or “Ts’onot”. Cenotes come in all shapes and sizes and in Mexico have probably existed for no more than 150,000 years.

What significance do these cenotes have in history?

Cenotes were said have been significant to the Mayan people as they acted as their main water source as well as the considered entrance to the Mayan underworld. Some Cenotes were sites for offerings and rituals to the Mayan gods. We were able to witness some artifacts on our trip while at The Pit.

Cenote Finder has done a great job of explaining so check them out to learn more about cenotes!

What’s the difference between a cavern and a cave diving?

Cavern diving is the exploration of natural occurring overhead environments while remaining in sight of their entrances. It may seem at times, with your flashlight, that there is no light. If everyone turned of flashlights you be able to see light from the exit.

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Day 1 | Casa Cenote & Cenote Carwash

Casa Cenote | “Cenote Diving is the best thing ever!”
Diver in Casa Cenote

Our very first cenote dive was mostly open water but had such a unique experience to offer.

Since most of the dive was open water and not very deep the light made everything look like it was glowing.

There is so much life here from plants to fish and people. One of the silliest parts of the trip was seeing new divers being carted around by instructors like they were purse dog.

We got to encounter a very peaceful crocodile, Panchito (little hot dog)  as we surfaced before entering the cavernous portion of the cenote.

He was super chill and just having a great time in the sun. We sat for a while and took photos like this one that Nellie Alwan Photography captured.

Nellie Alwan photo of Crocodile, Panchito, in Casa Cenote.
Diver in Casa Cenote cavern.

We then descended to make our way through our first cavern of the trip. This only my second or 3rd time cavern diving and I came to love it by the end of this trip.

Brooke is getting footage in this photo as we follow our guide through the twists and turns.

This dive had everyone saying “There is no way it gets better than this.” and Taz challenged that statement with  “Just wait.” 

Spoiler… It got better.

Every day we had amazing meals made by our chef for the trip! For lunch we stopped by a local spot every morning to pick up the most amazing vegan meals, meat eater or not. This stuff was delicious and the perfect amount of food between dives each day made a delicious surface interval.

Don’t know if it was in my head but the second dive, I always felt a bit more buoyant. Must’ve been all the food I ate.

Cenote Carwash | No cars were washed in the making of this dive.

Cenote Carwash was stop number two where we had come to encounter beautiful views. We ate our lunch before performing the workout of putting on the thickest wetsuit possible. I am ice… so 5mm wetsuit for me.

We headed below the surface to spend 41 minutes and 36 seconds exploring a whole different world.

As you enter the mouth of the cavern and take a look back you see all the people. They are none the wiser to the beauty below, swimming the day away making attempts to touch the cenote floor.

You could look right through this leaf that was decaying on the cenote floor.

We ventured through formations till we came to signs displaying “Stop unless cave trained”.

When we headed back, we did a lap around the open water portion of the cenote taking photos of lilies, turtles and found what we thought was albino frog but turned out to have just been a frog who calcified from spending a bit too long under the water…

The frog is sitting on the log under Taz in the photo.

Diver looking at dead frog in Cenote Carwash.
The food the whole trip was epic.

At the end of each day we headed back to an amazing meal made by Lalo.

I don’t let social media eat first so I only got a few photos of the incredible food. It was always so delicious that I dove right in.

This photo was our breakfast one morning with coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice.

Lalo made papaya juice and a green juice that were delicious!

Plus Taz kept snacks everywhere on this trip so no one ever went hungry!

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Day 2 | Dos Ojos Barbie Line & Dos Ojos Bat Line

Dos Ojos Barbie Line | What do you mean by Barbie?

We geared up to look as pretty as possible for our first photo shoot.

On our first dive I was sure what to expect from the name “Barbie Line”,  but as we approached the back of the cavern I saw the reason for the name… spoiler alert, it was an actual barbie tied to the line being eaten by a gator. Apparently people sometimes braid her hair or change her clothes and it was hilarious to see. 

Dos Ojos Bat Line | The Bat Cave.

After a delicious surface interval we headed back into the caverns but in the opposite direction. We found not only incredible formations and the occasional light beam but a cave full of bats that we were able to surface in for a few minutes to take a look before turning back to the entrance.

Mekan headed into each dive first, to get set up. He strategically placed lights and set himself up. Before the dive he briefed us on instructions. Relax, Get in front of the light while he guided us, strike a cool pose while swimming straight into the lens until you just about hit him.

One of the dives I did actually hit him. Sorry Mekan!

Dos Ojos cenote diver photo

It did make for an awesome photo though…

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Day 3 | Jarden del Eden & Taj Ma Ha

Jarden del Eden | The Garden of Eden but, underwater.

It has the name for a reason. Absolutely beautiful from the surface and down below.

Here we got to experience the most epic and possibly scary at times thing, a halocline.

In oceanography, a halocline is a relatively sharp discontinuity in ocean salinity at a particular depth. The salt water and fresh water meet but do not mix so it looks like your vision has gone completely blurred.

It was also way warmer in the halocline so it was one of my favorite places to be except it was quite difficult to see.(  Mekan Instagram Halocline Video.

The curtains of light that beamed into the cavern were like God reaching through the dark to remind me he’s always there.

We made our way through the cenote following our guides and taking care not to hit anything. Not hitting things was only difficult because we all kept turning around and flipping upside down to get all the good photo angles and see every last bit of this incredible place.

A photo doesn’t do it justice but here are a few.

We headed back to the exit and shot some beautiful photos in what really looked like a magical underwater garden.

I took these photos using the GoPro Hero 10 Black. If you’d like to purchase this camera and support me you can purchase this camera through THIS LINK at no extra cost to you! Thanks!

Taj Ma Ha | We climbed.

The name inspired by the famous Taj mahal, with a play on words as the Mayan word for water is “Ha”.

This cenote truly could match as a wonder of the world displaying it’s beauty and magical light.

As we passed by “Leaning Tower of Pisa” a beam of light showed through. I passed my hand through the light and for a moment my skin looked like a shimmering vampire.

This photo is the dive profile that my Garmin Descent captured as we ventured through this cenote.

That first mountain looking climb actually felt like we were climbing an underwater mountain.

This was quite the experience. You’ll notice I say before surfacing…

This was due to surfacing in one of the cenotes we passed passed on our route.

In this photo I am looking up into Cenote Sugar Bowl as we surface.

We had this beautiful cenote all to our self as we explained to each other how cool this was. We were all in shock of everything we had seen on this cenote dive and how different each of them were.

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Day 4 | Angelita (100ft)  & Dreamgate

Angelita (100ft)  | A whole different planet.

After driving into the jungle we were greeted by the sweetest doggos and a little surprise in the middle of the seemingly small cenote in front of us.

Our second Croc of the trip of which Mekan captured a beautiful image of a few weeks later. ( Mekan Insta Croc Photo )

We went over the game plan and prepared for our deepest dive yet to see something that looked like it could only exist in an outer space film.

This dive was to 100ft and for a while on our descent it just looked like a big circle of nothingness while watching my dive watch and adjusting my BCD to ensure I didn’t descend too quickly.

All of a sudden out of the darkness appears what looks like an island floating in a cloud. This sight was a hydrogen sulfide cloud creating a false bottom.

While possible to descend below the cloud further into the abyss, it didn’t make sense to do so for the intentions of our dive. We watched as divers disappeared into the dark and others reappeared.

In between getting into positions for some epic photos with Mekan, we played in the cloud, bobbing down just far enough to reach out and touch it.

Wishing I could stay just a while longer, our guide and computers gave the signal to start our accent to the jungle above where the crocodile lay.

Unforgettable.

Dreamgate | Named for a reason.

We hopped in the trucks and drove through the jungle to arrive at dreamgate. A stark difference from our prior dive in Angelita. Since we were having our extra photoshoot today I decided to get a little more risky by taking my regulator out of my mouth and giving a big smile for the camera.

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Day 5 | The Pit (100ft) & Nicte Ha

The Pit (100ft) | They found it from a cave.

Cenote diving is so versatile. This cenote while similar in depth and also having a hydrogen sulfide cloud and halocline like Angelita or other cenotes, was so incredibly different.

The hydrogen sulfide cloud sat at 30 meters or 100ft similar to Angelita. This cloud was less defined then Angelita but still gave the illusion of a false bottom.

After spending some time at around 100ft we ascended due to one of the divers having some odd buoyancy issues. We are guessing it was due to going from fresh down to salt water as we are more buoyant in salt water vs fresh.

Once we ascended back to the fresh water we explored a ballroom like portion of this cenote. It was incredible to see beams of light shining through the cenote entrance straight down to the bottom.

A lot of my photos from this portion of the dive turned out blurry due to the halocline. We swam over to the entrance where the cenote had originally been discovered by cave divers. I found it odd but spectacular that this cenote was discovered through a cave rather than on the surface.

Nicte Ha | I might have hit a thing or two…

Nicte Ha was the only dive I hit formations…

Taz saved this dive for last knowing it was a little more technically challenging. I only hit the ceiling once due to it being quite narrow in this particular cavern.

This was the only cavern with a slight current that you could actually feel. Wasn’t problematic for our group but the group before said it was rough.

It also had so many beautiful lilies everywhere which made for a sight looking out at the open cenote from inside. 

We also spent some time post dive taking some underwater “normal” photos!

Definitely felt like a mermaid for sure!

After our very last dive we were sad to be ending an incredible week of diving. Taz surprised us all with matching Taz Diving shirts to commemorate an awesome experience cenote diving in Mexico!

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Day 6 | A day on land.
The Mayan Ruins.

Since you aren’t supposed to fly and dive within 24 hrs of each other Taz planned a day on land.

A day just as unique as every dive, we visited Coba ruins. Before Covid you’d be able to climb the ruins due to it not being such a popular tourist site.

You’re no longer able to climb the ruins but you can rent bikes and ride around the ancient city which we did after spending some time with a guide.

We took a ride through the vast jungle to different sites.

We stopped by old arenas used for playing games where they apparently threw concrete balls up toward a basketball looking concrete net.

And that was that.

We grabbed a bite to eat at a local restaurant and headed back to the house to hang out with group.

For our final night we a had a big barbeque and all chatted about our time during the trip. We shared our favorite moments and got to know each other even more.

One of us got taken out a little early due to a double ear infection and another the last day due to some type of virus. Definitely be sure sure to keep your ears cleared out with something like “ear beer” which I found out how to make on this trip.

I’m not a healthcare professional but from personal experience this stuff works!

Recipe: 1/2 Vinegar, 1/4 hydrogen peroxide and 1/4 rubbing alcohol.

Who held the trip?

Taz Diving

Taryn (Taz) was the dive guide and coordinator of our time in Tulum. She provided an excellent experience from the accommodations to the food to the photographer to the diving and transportation! Taz is not only professional but also a super cool person to hang out with in between dives.

Couldn’t have asked for a better guide while in Mexico! She truly puts her all into her work and it shows.

To learn more about Taz and her upcoming trips in Mexico and all over the world.

Brooke

Authentica Travel and Dive.

Brooke, the founder of Authentica Travel and Dive and Tampa Bay SCUBA Club organized the amazing group of people on this trip and brought us all together. She has a passion for diving and travel and is sharing it with others by coordinating trips and bringing others along on her adventure! Brooke truly embodies the spirit of Living Through Motion and brings so much to the community! Check her out on Instagram @brookesadventuretravel or check out her website Authentica Travel and Dive.

Tampa Bay SCUBA Club at Dos Ojos Cenote in Tulum, Mexico.

You could be on the next trip to Tulum!

Brooke has put together another trip to Tulum to dive with Taz Diving for February of 2024! As of June of 2023 there are 3 spots left!

To book your spot on this trip contact Brooke from Authentica Travel and Dive at :

brookebarber@authenticatravelanddive.com

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Need a workout plan and someone to hold you accountable to be ready for your next adventure?: Cenote Diving in Tulum Mexico.

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