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Cenote Diving on the Mayan Riviera

Listed under Extreme Challenge in Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico.

  • Photo of Cenote Diving on the Mayan Riviera
  • Photo of Cenote Diving on the Mayan Riviera
  • Photo of Cenote Diving on the Mayan Riviera
  • Photo of Cenote Diving on the Mayan Riviera
  • Photo of Cenote Diving on the Mayan Riviera
  • Photo of Cenote Diving on the Mayan Riviera
  • Photo of Cenote Diving on the Mayan Riviera
Photo of Cenote Diving on the Mayan Riviera
Photo by flickr user *amelia*
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Mexico’s underside is mostly limestone which has been hollowed out by the ocean into a whole system of tunnels, caves and caverns called cenotes. Like other underground water systems these caves are still chambers, reverent with stalagmites and stalactites and pale green waters. What is different is that the system is quite large and has many open air entrances and exits and wide tunnels so snorkellers as well as divers can go exploring down here. The water temp is consistent and visibility is really good – the view is surprisingly un-repetitive. If you’ve done this before there are routes that will take you all the way out to the sea. Doesn’t matter how experienced you are you have to go with a local or have a cavern diving qualification, but then I don’t know if you’d want to go on your own. There are something like 700kms worth of tunnels and only the locals know the best ones. The thing I’ll remember most is the different colours of the water. Some of the deeper cenotes are really green, like grass green, but shallower ones have iridescent pale blue water like the caverns you find underneath deserts.

When you fly over this part of the Mayan Riviera you can see the cenotes like pock marks in the ground there are that many. They start off fresh water so they were important to the Mayans, which is why they built their communities around them, so they’re right in the jungle amongst the ruins, another reason for describing the caverns as reverent, local divers are pretty spiritual about them. If tunnels all day every day starts to make you claustrophobic there’s always the Mesoamerican reef off shore.

Written by  Blair Metcalfe.

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