Traveling the Yucatan and Central America on $20 USD a day

Dive: Tulum

If you’ve come to Tulum with the intentions of diving, most likely your diving designs involve the deep, dark and spooky cenotes — a geographical feature found mainly in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. The options are plenty for the certified diver — beautiful, crystalline waters punctured from top and bottom with the sparkling spires of stalactites and stalagmites, respectively. Slowly twisting your way through the labyrinthine maze of rock formations you’ll be amazed by your fascination with an underwater world that seriously lacks what likely got you hooked on diving in the first place — marine life! The ground-filtered waters of the cenotes are nearly void of any flora and fauna; there are some tropical fishies, snails and crabs to see — but that’s not why you’re there.

The Pit and Angelita are two cenotes in the area that boast a hydrogen sulfuric cloud, a dense and drastic change in opacity at about 30m caused by organic decomposition. In Angelita this manifests as an underwater river of sorts — with gnarled trees breaking through it’s wispy currents. And beneath the cloud there is another world of clear and high visibility salt water.


Scuba Tulum
Ran by Paolo, a Swiss transplant, this shop is very professional and will take you diving even if you’re the only one in the group — as I was. Great divemasters and great lunches provided for the two-tank dives.

Two-tank guided cenote dive, transportation, lunch, equipment included (park entrance fees not included — range from $8-20usd/$100-250 pesos)

One-tank guided cenote dive, transportation, lunch, equipment included (park entrance fees not included — range from $8-20usd/$100-250 pesos)

Two-tank reef dive, transportation, guide and equipment included

Discover Scuba: $85usd
Open water certification: $375usd
Advanced open water diver: $335usd

tel: Paolo 984 131 27 67
Av. Tulum Mz 4 Lt 1 Esquina Centauro Sur
(in front of policia federal)

Mot Mot Diving
Located alongside a bakery under the same owner, Mot Mot is a professional outfit with savvy divers eager to help and guide you through your underworld underwater adventures in Tulum.

Two-tank guided cenote dive, park fees, transportation, lunch, equipment included.

Two-tank guided dive of The Pit and Dos Ojos — park fees, transportation, lunch, equipment included.

Three-tank dive of The Pit and Dos Ojos — park fees, transportation, lunch, equipment included.
(Note: Dos Ojos has two separate lines to dive: the Barbie line and the bat cave, each requiring a tank and therefore being two separate dives.)

tel: 984 802 5442
Av Tulum 570 entre Orion y Beta Sur

Kay Op Dive Club
Good gear, knowledgeable guides and friendly service — Kay Op is a great option for your cenote diving needs here in Tulum.

Two-tank dive in Dos Ojos — park fees, transportation, lunch, equipment included.

Two-tank dive, one deep dive (Angelita or The Pit) — park fees, transportation, lunch, equipment included.

Two-tank guided cenote dive (not The Pit or Angelita) — park fees, transportation, lunch, equipment included.

tel: 984 164 40 40
Located next to the bus station on Av Tulum

Take me back to Scuba Centric

Cenote diving — take the plunge

By Emily Hunkler

Snorkel lagoon entrance to Gran Cenote.

The flashlight that was just attached to my wrist was now fluttering, spinning and illuminating its path to the bottom of the cave. Damn it. I thought. Amateur mistake. I had dropped my torch before I had even dropped five meters. As I watched the beam of light fade into the depths I turned in time to notice my divemaster Luis disappearing before my eyes as well — and he was only an arm’s length away. We were descending into the cloud of hydrogen sulfide that lingers at 30 meters in the deep pit of Cenote Angelita. A nearly opaque strata separating the saltwater below it from the freshwater above it.

Cenote diving is a unique and exhilarating experience to your previous underwater adventures. It’s other worldly. It’s beautiful. It’s haunting. It’s awesome.

And if you are going to dive the cenotes of the Yucatan, you really must include one with the hydrogen sulfide cloud.

Most of the cenotes are easily accesible from Tulum; just a quick little drive out of town. And there are different options — the beautiful, sparkling white cave formations and cerulean blue lagoon waters of Gran Cenote, the spooky, haunted wasteland ambiance of Angelita and loads more in between. Talk to the dive shops in town and you can easily make an informed and fitting choice for your own interests and skill level.

Is it scary?

No. Of course this is not an objective statement, but cenote diving is not such a jump in skill level as one might think. Sure there are stalactites and stalagmites to navigate, so long as your comfortable controlling your buoyancy you’ll be fine. And of course there is the issue of claustrophobia — ceiling overhead, rocky or sandy bottom beneath. This is, of course, a legitimate concern and among the more common phobias — but as long as you are confident in your ability to control this anxiety, you’ll be all right. And if you do freak out, your divemaster is right their with you to guide you safely to the surface — unless you have special training you won’t be too far from the surface at any time during your dive.

Spooky is more the word I would use to describe cave diving. The waters of Angelita lend the impression of an underground river winding its way around a dead and decaying cone of debris that rises from more than 60 meters below. Massive tree branches with white calcite accents on its trunk and branches stretching toward the sunlight. The distinct lack of marine life provokes a sense of unease during the dive that makes the experience all the more intoxicating.  Should we be down here if nothing else is? 

Even the pristine waters the likes of Gran Cenote are haunting in their own right. Ghost white spires and boulders piercing and punctuating the water from every direction providing the only contrast to the deep hues of blue and green waters. Deep tunnels with no end in sight beckon from the  darkness beyond your flashlight’s beam.

Above the surface caves can seem unsettling and uninviting — but something changes when you sink into the system. The fear of the unknown is relinquished and the desire to explore as many cracks and crevices as possible takes over. At least this should be the case for most divers — why else did you ever begin your diving career? Just like you were nervous the first time you made eye contact with a barracuda or the rush you felt on your first night dive, anxious and a little scared to see what your torch would bring to light — cave diving is an exciting and unforgettable addition to your dive log.


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