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cave dive photo by Andrew PitkinThe unique dive experience

The Yucatan peninsula was originally under the ocean and the region's limestone foundation is fossilized coral beds and ocean floor. There are no above ground rivers in this area, all of the ground water sinks through the porous limestone and travels to the sea in underground rivers. Parts of the limestone weakened over time and collapsed, leaving sinkholes filled with water - a cenote.

During the ice ages, portions of the underground rivers dried up and water dripping through the limestone left mineral deposits in beautiful formations. Decorations - stalactites and stalagmites - formed in the caves and caverns, and were covered with water when the rivers began flowing once again. Specially trained cave divers enter these cave systems through the cenote entrances.

Cave diving - specially trained divers ONLY

There are over 1 million feet of explored cave passages in the area South of Cancun. These systems are large, relatively shallow and highly decorated with limestone formations. To cave divers, this means long bottom times, virtually unlimited dive sites to explore, and beautiful dives.

You can get a glimpse into a cave diver's world at the IMAX movie Journey into Amazing Caves which features local cave diver and dive instructor, Jorge González.

cave diving mexicoCave divers use specialized equipment to dive in caves underneath the ground. Divers interested in cave diving should get specialized training first.

Much of the underground realm remains unexplored, and groups of cave divers are constantly at work discovering new cenotes and laying new lines See Mexico Cave Diving to learn about cave exploration with Grupo Exploration Ox Bel Ha. This group was featured on the BBC/Discovery series Planet Earth.

Very dangerous, so get certified first

Anyone can snorkel or swim in a cenote, but you should never dive in a cenote, cavern or cave unless you are certified to do so or have a certified guide with you. The safety basic rule is do not to dive anywhere you can't see without a light.

People die by scuba diving in cenote caverns and caves without training. It is dark down there and easy to get lost in a cave and not be able to find your way out. See the National Association for Cave Diving for more information.

If you are a certified open water diver, you can dive in a cenote cavern with a qualified guide. If you are an experienced diver you can learn to cave dive with expert teachers. Mayatech and Zero Gravity offer expert cave and cavern dive training.

Take care of your ears after swimming so you don't get sick.


cover Secrets of the Talking Jaguar: Memoirs from the Living Heart of a Mayan VillageCaves : Exploring Hidden Realms - see photos of a local cave diver in the Journey Into Amazing Caves IMAX movie

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