While I am beavering away on the next installment of “My Favourite Places to Dive”, I thought I would toss another pic or two out there.
These two pictures are captures from my early days with an underwater camera (Olympus 4040z), and I share them, not because they are technically good pictures (far from it in fact), but because of the surreal subject matter.
This dive was at a location called Angelita Cenote, near Tulum on the Mayan Riviera (the east coast of Mexico). The whole region is formed by limestone, and over the millenia (and various ice ages) parts of the peninsula have been both above and below water level. When it was above water level, rain water leeched down through the porous stone and created massive stalactites and stalagmites.
Many of these caves and caverns are now flooded with fresh water, and offer up some very groovy diving which is accessible to recreational level divers who are lead by certified cavern guides. You wouldn’t want to be spelunking in these places on your own – it is way dark and very labyrinthine in many of the cenotes, and people can and do die with some frequency when they attempt this type of diving without adequate training or guidance. It is also not appropriate diving for newbies – you need to have excellent buoyancy control so as to avoid kicking up the fine silt in the cenotes, have a respectable air consumption rate, and you need to be in possession of a calm head that can handle being in a very dark overhead environment.
I’ve been diving in several of the cenotes in the area, but Angelita tops the list as the wildest I’ve done. In this case, the roof of a huge underwater cave collapsed at some point, creating a large vertical shaft. The cenote is deep enough and close enough to the ocean that the top 100 feet or so of water in the cenote is fresh, and beneath that, there is salt water all the way down into the abyss. Between the two layers of water there is a funky (and I do mean ripe) cloud of trapped gases from the trees that sank and decayed when the roof collapsed.
Sticking up out of the sulphurous cloud is the top of a pile of debris from the roof collapse, and several petrified trees. It really plays with your head to be diving in a forest amongst the clouds.
Below the cloud, it is pitch dark. Ascending out of it, back into the light of a watery sun above was almost a religious experience.
To read more about this dive, and about recreational cavern diving in Mexico, feel free to follow this link —-> Cavern Diving in Mexico – Tripping the Dark Fantastic.