Cenote, is a term that comes from “Dzonot” which in Maya means “abyss” are natural swimming holes formed by the collapse of porous limestone bedrock, which has revealed a secret subterranean world of groundwater pools. If you visit the Mayan cenotes you can escape to a secret underworld of turquoise pools where Mayans communicated with the gods.
The Mayans revered cenotes because they were a water source in dry times; The name cenote means 'sacred well'. Mayans settled villages around these spiritual wells and believed that they were a portal to speak with the gods.
Ceremonies and rituals were performed and offerings were made to the "Gods of the Underworld". In some cavern systems artifacts can still be found.
During the last ice age, ocean levels were 100 feet/30 meters lower than today. Approximately 18.000 years ago the ice began to melt and the ocean eventually rose to its current level, flooding the passages and creating a massive network of subterranean rivers unlike anywhere else on Earth.
Diving in the cenotes of Riviera Maya is one of the most extraordinary experiences a diver can have. It is very important never touch or disturb anything in the caverns, especially something of an archeological nature. Today adventurous scuba divers can safely visit this enchanted and awesome place.
It is estimated that only in the Yucatan Peninsula there are over 3000 cenotes and many still undiscovered throughout Mexico.
Cenote water is often very clear, as the water comes from rain water filtering slowly through the ground, and therefore contains very little suspended particulate matter.
Cenotes around the world attract cave divers who have documented extensive flooded cave systems through them. One of the best destinations for cenote diving is Playa del Carmen in the Caribbean coast of Mexico. Apart from the excellent tourist facilities found in the region, it also has some of the most stunning cenotes in the world.
The cenotes along the Caribbean coast of the Yucatán Peninsula, within the state of Quintana Roo, often provide access to extensive underwater cave systems, such as Sistema Ox Bel Ha, Sistema Sac Actun/Sistema Nohoch Nah Chich and Sistema Dos Ojos.
Cenotes have attracted cave divers and there are organized efforts to explore and map these underwater systems.
The most spectacular cenotes are Tajma Ha, Dos Ojos, The Pit, Grand Cenote, Carwash, Dream Gate, Chac Mool, Zapote and Angelita, all within a short trip from Playa del Carmen.
For you to participate in cenote dives, all you need is to be a certified Open Water Diver with a minimum of experience and skilful buoyancy control.
If you want to try out some cenote diving in the Riviera Maya, look for Scuba Planet Mexico, a local provider of quality scuba diving services.