Wetsuits slung around our waists, we are on tip toes looking down over the edge into a deep dark hole. “So this is the pit” exclaims Santos, our guide from Mexidivers Tulum. Perched on the edge of a 5m drop we are glaring at the surface of the water, it seems that The Pit is an apt name for our first dive. Today, for the first time, we are diving the Yucantan Cenotes.
In and around the Yucatan area there are 4000 sink holes like these hidden by thick jungle, 20 of which are available to dive. Santos has spent the last 18 years diving them all, his vast knowledge of the area was evident from the minute his excitable guests got him talking. “This is a very nice dive”, he assures us with a wide smile and we are in no way up for debating that. As he gives his briefing, the suns rays hit the surface of the cenote revealing a wondrous emerald green. We can see the beams physically penetrate the water and onwards, probing their way deep into the blue abyss, we cannot wait to take the plunge.
The Pit is a 50 meter cylindrical sink hole interrupted solely by a thin halocline (a blurry layer of water where fresh and salt water meet). Submerging further below to the rocky bottom the chamber opens and it’s not until you turn to look back up that you realise the enormity of the cavernous space and the infinite visibility of the cenote. We allow ourselves to become completely swallowed, heading away from the luminous beams, deeper and deeper until our ceiling evolved into masses of jagged stalactites. The bottom plateaus off at a milky haze of hydrogen sulphide, a natural underwater river than you can actually drift below. We don’t because we are already 40m deep and instead watch it slowly disfiguring and configuring, the effect somewhat resembling a 60’s lava lamp. Gently we take our time circling our way back up the sink hole, in awe as the light reflections play against the walls. Upon the surface we congregate, a quick glance at one another confirmed how I felt: Blown away!
Dos Ojos is one of Santos’s favourite and you could tell he was excited to show us his domain. Straight in we avoid the myriad of snorkelers and descend down into the aquamarine amphitheatre though the back of the cavern. What Santos had kept from us is that this dive was to take part in the colossal cave systems stretching 31 miles below the surface, a cave system that was created thousands of years ago before water eventually filled it. For 50 minutes we wove amongst giant stalactites and stalagmites, around bulbous limestone creations and rocky formations. On and on we pushed through an intricate maze of narrow chambers, tunnels and small caverns which eventually led back into the blue lagoon where our journey began, where we could breathe fresh air once more.
Today was merely a brief introduction into cenote diving, but what we experienced with Mexidivers Tulum opened our eyes to a from of diving that neither of us have ever experienced before and one we cannot wait to pursue further.