Sistema Taj Mahal
It is rare when a cave — spectacular as it may be — is eclipsed in beauty by its cavern. Yet, that is what many divers feel is the case at Taj Mahal.
The entrance to Taj Mahal is located on the west side of Highway 307, five and a half kilometers south of Puerto Adventuras. The cave itself is quite a drive back from the highway, with lots of ups and downs. Nevertheless, rental cars and other vehicles can make it without difficulty.
The main entrance to the system is a circular cenote, with stairs leading to an island in the center. Cave passageways radiate outward in all directions; the main passageway (denoted by a gold line) is directly opposite the parking area. It is possible to make numerous trips to Taj Mahal and never start out on the same line twice.
One of the longest possible dives is simply to take the main line to its conclusion at Cenote Vista Bonita. In the process, you will pass over breakdown piles consisting of huge boulders, and through one of the region’s single largest cave rooms. It is also possible to get to Vista Bonita by taking an offshoot tunnel that shortcuts much of this swim.
When you return to the main entrance from whatever direction you choose to go, you will want to recalculate thirds so that you can take the cavern tour. The figure-eight-shaped tour line begins to the far left of the stairs and passes through, or within sight of, three separate cavern openings. If possible, time this for mid-day so that you see the incredible light show that is the high point of the tour.
The first room you will enter is a football-field-size chamber called Points of Light. If you are the sort of person who likes to save the best until last, take the cavern line to the right, bypassing the breakdown pile at Points of Light (you can see it on your return). Continue straight ahead on the cavern tour line and you will leave Points of Light and enter the Sugar Bowl, a circular cenote that drops over 30 feet straight down from the jungle to the water below.
Taking the right-hand fork in the line at the top of the Sugar Bowl breakdown pile, you will descend into another large cavern. The line will take you below the halocline. As you come around the line and begin back towards Sugar Bowl, you will see yet another large cavern opening on your right. The line will now continue up the back side of the Sugar Bowl breakdown pile and across the top. You can pause momentarily at the top of the Sugar Bowl, surfacing to enjoy the view, before heading back to Points of Light.
As you re-enter the Points of Light chamber, take the right-hand fork in the line (easy way to remember how to make this dive: whenever the line forks, regardless of your direction of travel, go right). This will take you on a meandering course through the chamber, past large stalactites and other formations.
If you have timed things right, as you cross the top of the breakdown pile, you will see the phenomena for which the room is named. Piercing the celling of the chamber are three small holes. When the sun is directly overhead, it penetrates these holes, forming columns of light that illuminate the rocks and formations below. The effect is quite breathtaking.
Continuing on the line will take you back to the entrance — and you will have gotten significant mileage out of a single set of doubles.