Like the gruyere cheese has holes, desserts have oasis, the Yucatan Peninsula has cenotes or caverns, spread all along the Mayan jungle.
These natural, fresh water sinkholes are found with direct acces to the underwater river systems which form nets below the earth, and exist about 7000.
These gorgeous caverns were formed during a glaciar era, where the sea level was lower. Cenotes are basicly underwater river systems, some of them are connected to the ocean.
The Yucatan Peninsula is a flat land rich in limestone, which millions of years ago was an ancient reef which emerged when the sea level dropped, this is why its earth is porous and rich in calcium. There are not surface rivers or streams, the limestone is so soft that rain percolates through the ground.
When the limestone weakens and collapse, a cenote or hole births, what is the entrance to the underground aquifer – to the Mayans were considered sacred, the entrance door to the infraworld and were used for human sacrifies. The word "cenote" comes from the Mayan language D′zonot and means a subterranean cavity that contains permanet water.
Depending to the depth, salt water can meet to the fresh water, even when they are located many kilometers far away from the shore. This contact layer between the fresh and salt water is called halocline, and the result are incredible visual effects. The slow formation of the stalagmites, stalagmites and collumns, is possible when the rain water pass through the earth taking with her minerals like calcium.
The cavern cenotes we dive in Riviera Maya are Chac-mool, Dos Ojos, Taj-Mahal, Chikin-Ha, Gran Cenote, Carwash, Ponderosa, Casa Cenote Tankha, and advanced cenotes like Pit, Dream Gate, Angelita, Calavera or Temple of Doom, all of them are located southern Playa del Carmen. Definitely the highlight of the destination and a must dive and see !
Cenote trip: 8.30 am a 1.30 – 2.30 pm (depending on which cenote we are diving). Only 4 divers máx.
While "flying" through these caverns you will be delighted with geological formations originated during the last ice age, trully an "Art Gallery", while diving through these spectacular underground caverns enjoy this magical enviroment with its clarity, stalactites, columns and stalagmites plus the incredible light beams. Water temperature all year round is 75 F (24 C).