Popular Mexican Cave Diving Sites
There is no area in the world with as many underwater caves as the Yucatan Peninsula’s Riviera Maya. This coastal region, stretching from just south of Playa del Carmen to Tulum and slightly inland, has over 100 different cave entrances and miles upon miles of passageway. Most of it is breathtakingly beautiful.
The caves in this region are much shallower than those in north-central Florida. During the Ice Age, water levels were so low that many of these passages were exposed to air for hundreds or thousands of years. This allowed time for the formation of millions of stalactites, stalagmites and columns, in an unimaginable variety of shapes an sizes.
Steve Gerrard’s book, Cenotes of the Riviera Maya, lists over 50 cave diving sites accessible to recreational cave divers. On this website, you will find information on twelve of the most popular of these sites. Steve’s book will tell you even more.
The sites listed are located either just off Highway 307 or along the Coba Road, just west of where it intersects with Highway 307 on the north side of Tulum. The links appearing below will take you directly to information on the site which interests you (they are listed north-to-south order). Or, you can use the links at the lower right-hand corner of each page to go through the sites one at a time.
Save Time. Money and Frustration: Get a Guide
Cave diving in Mexico is not like cave diving in Florida. If you learned to cave dive in Florida, you already know how to get to most of the sites, where to park, and where to find the main line. Getting to any of the popular cave diving sites in Florida does not require four-wheel-drive vehicles or burros. If you think you and your buddy can just show up at the Cancun airport, rent an economy car and some doubles and just start hitting the sites, you may be in for a rude awakening.
- Even with the detailed driving directions provided in Steve Gerrard’s book, many of the sites are difficult to find. The entrances may have no signs (or misleading signs), or be hidden behind other buildings.
- Unless you speak fluent Spanish, you will not be able to communicate with the attendants at most sites, to find out who to pay and how much.
- As you drive back into the jungle from the entrance, you may not know how far to go or where to turn.
- The main line in most popular Mexican caves starts a considerable distance from the entrance. It is easy to waste an entire dive just looking for it.
- Even when armed with a map, it is difficult to tell which tunnels are worth seeing and which are not.
Considering how much you are likely to invest in air fare, accommodations, meals and car rental, it makes sense to protect that investment by engaging the services of a professional guide. Most of the area’s guides are certified cave diving instructors or divemasters with extensive cave diving experience. These are the same people who have helped to map and explore many of the systems.
If you are staying at a cave-diving-oriented resort, there will be qualified guides on staff and their services will be included in part of the package price. You can also contact Mexico-based instructors through the websites of the various cave and technical diving training agencies. Additionally, many USA-based cave diving instructors organize guided trips to Mexico.
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