DIVE IN CENOTE DOS OJOS
Home to one of the top diving sites in the world, the Yucatan Peninsula is high at the bucket list of snorkelling enthusiasts. Dos Ojos Cenote is a scuba divers bliss offering crystal waters and exciting underground passageways
Words: Aleksandra Georgieva
Photography: Jakob Owens, Jared Rice, Roberto Nickson
01 April 2020
Deep into the Yucatan Peninsula about 300 miles (483 km) of connected underwater passageways create one of the top diving sites in the world. Cenote Dos Ojos (from Spanish meaning "Two Eyes") is a natural cave system, home to the deepest-known cave passage in Quintana Roo, Mexico.
Divers can explore Cenote Dos Ojos’s underground rivers and nearly 7,000-year-old caves. With water temperature of 24°C (77°) snorkelling enthusiasts find themselves at heaven on Earth.
The rocky stalactites and stalagmites guard crystal waters where non-divers can simply float and enjoy the natural beauty of this rare tourist spot. Major resort towns in the area typically offer daily trips including scuba diving and sightseeing. If you travel on your own, make sure to bring your own food and pack your spirit of adventure.
The cenote is a popular holiday spot among the visitors of the Mexican peninsula. It is located off of Highway 307, about 17 km (10.5 miles) north of Tulum and 50 km (31 miles) south of Playa del Carmen. You can get a ferry from Cozumel and reach the site in about 35 minutes. You can also get there by car and renting diving gear is available near the cenote.
If you plan to scuba dive, you will have the best visibility throughout April and November. However, the water temperature remains pretty much the same all year round, so apart from the crowds in high season (April, May and November), you can visit any time of the year and get a pleasant experience. Some tours include a stop at the Coba ruins nearby. At its peak the Mayan site was home to 50,000 inhabitants. Today you can climb the 42 metres (137 feet) Nohoch Mul pyramid, which is the highest spot on the Yucatan Peninsula, providing panoramic views from the top.
Dos Ojos remains among the greatest treasures of nature on the Caribbean coast and one of the best travel stops in Mexico. The flooded cave system was first explored in 1987. Today there are 28 known sinkhole entrances, called cenotes by locals. Dos Ojos is part of the Sistema Sac Actun – the longest known underwater cave system in the world.
In 1996 cave explorers made their way across 1,500 meters (4,900 ft) past the main entrance to discover ‘The Pit’ – the deepest (119.1 metres) known cave passage in Quintana Roo. This deep passage took the explorers through ‘The Next Generation Passage’, ‘Jill’s Room’, ‘the Beyond Main Base passage’ and the ‘Wakulla Room’. The total length of the combined system as of 2014 measures 319.05 km (198.25 mi).
Dos Ojos connects two neighbouring cenotes into one large cavern zone. Into the underground these two cenotes appear like two eyes, hence their name. the cave system is naturally connected to marine water with certain tidal influences. A connection to the ocean has not yet been humanly explored, yet dye tracing of volumes of water showed a flow towards the nearby coastal bedrock lagoon Caleta Xel-Ha.
The reason the water in the Dos Ojos cave appears so pure is rainwater filtration through limestone. Combined with very little soil in the area this phenomenon results in the crystal clear water diving enthusiasts and tourists alike put high up their bucket-list of adventures. Looking closely travellers can see a variety of fish, no longer than 10 cm (3.9 in) that inhabit the cavern waters.
The Dos Ojos Cenotes welcome around a hundred tourists and snorkelling enthusiasts per day. Most guided tours include two dives a day, each about 45-minute long with a 60-minute surface interval. Snorkelling is also possible in the ‘Bat Cave’ cenote where the visibility is excellent and when limited is due to the available lighting rather than water transparency.
FREEDIVING RECORD: On November 3, 2010, Dos Ojos became the location of a Guiness World Record in freediving. Carlos Coste swam 150 m (490 ft) becoming the holder of the record for for "Longest distance swam underwater with one breath (open water)".