I’ve dived along the coral reefs of Corn Island, Nicaragua, to the slightly murkier reefs of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates. However, there is something about diving “underground underwater” that creates a crazyyyyyy, otherworldly and surreal effect on the senses! In Tulum, Mexico, which sits along the Yucatán Peninsula, there are thousands of cenotes that make up the world’s largest underground cave system. People swim, kayak, snorkel, and for those a bit more adventurous, scuba dive these underwater freshwater pools. Why leave??? Yes, the cenotes consist of caves and caverns underground and are absent of coral reefs, but believe me, you won’t miss them!
I went diving in two cenotes in February with Pro-Rec, an SSI certified dive shop (sometimes the month you dive determines the light penetration and clarity of certain cenotes). A great addition to our dive team for the morning -myself and dive guide, Arturo-was renowned underwater Tulum photographer, Tom St. George who took all of these great photos and video shown here!
As you meander through the cavern-a cave-like environment with openings in your line of sight- there are impressive rocks, stalagmites, stalactites, and tree branches that lie in the cenotes and create a mystical-looking background to your dives. You don’t want to miss having your photo taken next to these underwater gems!
For my February dive, we went to two dive sites: Ponderosa and Tajma-ha cenotes. At the beginning of a dive, the instructors usually give comprehensive briefings that map out safety protocols (like the rule of thirds, where you use one third going of air going to the end of the cavern; one third coming back; and should have a reserve left of one third). My guide, Arturo, also discussed how to keep a light source with me at all times for visibility in the cavern; and he pointed out on the map where the deepest and most shallow points would be inside Ponderosa. There were beautiful rocks and stalagmites and stalctities inside the Ponderosa cenote; places where the cenote opened up to huge, dark canopies.
At the second dive site, Tajma-ha cenote, there were several trees that fell from land and “landed” underground. Those branches and trees formed a very “Tim Burton” nightmarish background, but it was very cool to be a part of the mystical landscape. There was also a rock formation that Arturo shined his light on that resembled the Leaning Tower of Pisa. After exiting the dive, I found that the land surrounding the cenote was also quite dreamy: there were palm trees gently swaying, with light rays shining through the cracks in the canopy. An experience to remember, and one for the dive books!
My recommendation for a villa rental in Tulum would be the Playaakun Eco Luxury Beach Retreat. The owners are very personable, and consider the villa their house, so they greet you with the hospitality of relatives coming to visit. You can book the entire villa for your group, or if you are traveling solo or as a couple, you can rent one of the four bedrooms by room. The property is ideally nestled in Tulum’s peaceful and STUNNING Sian Ka’an protected biosphere reserve! Namaste! and can I forever STAY???
Diving photos and video: Tom St. George