Best cenotes for cave diving in Playa del Carmen

Cave Diver swimming in a very decorated cave near Tulum.

Aktun/Car Wash Cenote

Cenote Aktun Ha is better known as Car Wash, named so because Tulum taxi drivers used to wash their vehicles in the cenote, because they could drive right up to the water level. This makes for a very easy entrance into the water for divers. The most popular section of the cavern is the upstream route, since it has large, chestnut-colored columns. The open water area has lots of beautiful vegetation and freshwater fish and as you swim towards the cavern you will see large fallen trees. The sunlight coming through the roots create an amazing light show when looking back to the open water from the cavern.

For cave divers, The Room of Tears is accessible from Car Wash, as it is located between Car Wash and Cenote Zazil Ha in Tulum. This room is thought of to be one of the true gems of the underwater cave world. To get to this amazing room, you must find a secret jump line. It is an exciting and visually rewarding dive.

Angelita Cenote

Is located a few minutes south of Tulum. This site is more of a sinkhole than a cavern as there is very little overhead environment. It is among divers’ favorites because of its maximum depth of 180 ft/55mt and an incredible phenomenon that occurs at about 100ft/30mt. At that depth, there is a very dense cloud of hydrogen sulfide which looks like chocolate milk. At about 110ft/33mt, you will be below the cloud in crystal clear salt water but there will be no sunlight since it is absorbed completely by the cloud. The experience is unique. This dive is suitable for advanced divers. We recommend that you combine this dive with Grand Cenote or Calavera.

Calavera Cenote

Calavera means skull in Spanish and gets its name from the shape of the three holes that lead into the water. When seen from below, the sunlight passes through the holes giving the illusion of two eyes and a mouth. This cavern is very large and an amazing dive. There are a few sections in the cavern where you will swim through a halocline. A halocline is where two separate layers of salt and fresh water touch. These waters will not mix unless they are disturbed, resulting in reduced visibility (like the back of a jet at the airport). There are plenty of fossils at this site, making it very popular among local divers.

Chac Mool Cenote

Chac Mool (Mayan God of water) is in Puerto Aventuras and is the closest cavern dive to Playa del Carmen. This dive site is one of the few that offers 2 completely different dives within the same park. The first dive is usually completed in the Kukulcan cenote. During this dive you will experiment with the mixture of salt and fresh waters, called a halocline. The second dive at this site normally takes you from the Little Brother cenote to the main Chac Mool cenote and back. This dive takes you past some beautiful formations and into an airdrome where you can surface and talk to fellow divers. It is suitable for beginners, but extra care needs to be taken to avoid damaging the fragile formations.

Dos Ojos Cenote

Dos Ojos means Two Eyes in Spanish. The cenote gets its name from the 2 openings that are very close to each other within the park. These holes are linked to each other and it is very easy to scuba dive between them. The cavern dives at either the Barbie Line or the Bat Cave are some of the most famous in the entire area. The site is beautifully decorated and is also very popular amongst snorkelers. The average depth here is less than 30 ft/10 mt.

Grand Cenote

Is probably the most known cenote in the Riviera Maya. It is located just a few minutes west of Tulum. It is popular with swimmers, snorkelers, and divers. The average depth for this entire area is shallower than 30 ft./10mt allowing for very long dive times without decompression issues.

Cuza Nah Loop is probably one of the most photographed cave passages in the world. The decorations within the loop are white and plentiful making it very appealing. Getting to Cuza Nah requires some complex navigation starting at Gran Cenote, then swimming past Cenote Ho Tul. The dive is adequate for divers with above average buoyancy and trim as their fragile decorations are everywhere.

Paso de Lagarto is the gateway to some incredible caves. Tucked away from Gran Cenote’s main line, the jump to Paso the Lagarto is one of the longest in the area. This cave is part for world’s second longest submerged cave system, Sac Actun. This section of Sac Actun is beautifully decorated with stalactites and stalagmites and Paso de Lagarto is no exception. From here, you can access the beautiful caves of Box Chen and Calimba. The dive is suitable for cave divers with excellent buoyancy control.

The Downstream(syphon) section of Grand Cenote is not littered with stalactites as is the upstream but it does possess something very appealing for divers that like a bit of a challenge. This section is small, very small. There are numerous major restrictions in which even the smallest side mount divers must remove equipment to get through. That, coupled with the strong syphon in some areas, will get your heart beating. This dive is adequate for expert cave divers with advanced side mount skills. Grand Cenote is probably the most known cenote in the Riviera Maya. It is located just a few minutes west of Tulum.

Taj Ma Ha Cenote

Taj Ma Ha is located between Puerto Aventuras and Akumal. This site is very popular amongst cavern divers because it offers a huge range of things to see. There are sections where you can observe the visual disturbance created when the layers of fresh and salt waters meet, called a halocline. Just beyond the entrance, you will find another beautiful sinkhole called Cenote Sugarbowl. Between the Sugarbowl and Taj Ma Ha cenotes there is a huge chamber that is only partially filled with water. There are a few cracks in the ceiling of this chamber which, between the months of May and September, allow beams of light to come down through the water, making the Points of Light Room a must see during the summer months. It is a great beginner site, but extra care needs to be taken to prevent damage to the fragile formations.

The Taj Ma Ha cenote has been popular among divers for years. The entrance to the cenote is incredibly beautiful. The dive begins on the permanently installed cavern line. At the end of the cavern line you jump to the cave line, and then look for a hidden jump to take a secret tunnel to reach the Chinese Garden. The towering decorations within the two chambers of the Garden are stunning.

The Pit Cenote

The Pit is a dramatic site to see as the water level is a couple of stories below the outer rim of the cenote. From the surface looking down you can see the infinite abyss below. This site is deep, very deep, and therefore is suitable for advanced divers, or those wishing to expand their deep diving experience. At about 100ft/30mt, there is a thin layer of hydrogen sulfide which looks like a thin white cloud. The Pit also has a huge chamber with a ceiling and very large stalactites. That coupled with the crystal-clear water makes for a site that will leave any diver in awe. We recommend that you combine this site with Dos Ojos since it is also within the Dos Ojos Park.

Dreamgate Cenote

Dreamgate is one of the most decorated cavern and cave in the area. There are beautiful stalactites and stalagmites all over the place in this giant chamber. The decorations here are very fragile so advanced divers with great buoyancy control are welcome to dive this site with us. Dreamgate is very shallow with maximum depths barely surpassing 20 ft/6mt.


Blue Life is safest way to dive the Cenotes in Tulum and Playa del Carmen. Book your course now!

Write a comment