There are over 3,000 cenotes in the Yucatan which are known, and it is believed that most of these caves are connected. I had the opportunity to dive only 2 of these 3,000, which simply means that I have 2,998 reasons to come back and visit the area :) But, I will say, I feel like between the two dives I got just about everything I expected out of my cenote experience.
Our group traveled 2 hours north from Pez Maya to the small city of Tulum. Luckily, one of the girls in our group was uber organized, and as soon as we were checked into our hotel she was off to find us the best cenote diving deal. She ended up booking us a two tank dive with a shop called Scuba Tulum for about $70 total. So, at 8AM the next morning we were off. First we went to The Pit, a cenote that is more than 100FT deep. As we descended we experienced a dazzling light show, the sun piercing through the almost unreal crystal blue of the water. Next we passed through a halocline like I've never seen in all of my diving experience. It was like passing through a layer of oil, like coming out of a dream, trippy and hazy. Under the halocline the water became like glass once again, just a bit darker. All around us were ghostly limestone walls intricately carved by mother nature, more beautiful then anything man made. The vastness was like being in a grand cathedral. Below we could see what looked like a white sand bottom at roughly 100FT. But it wasn't a flat bottom, not even close. As we dropped closer it was exactly what I wanted to see, exactly what I had read about and seen in pictures. It was a hydrogen sulfide cloud, which as we got closer looked like an underground, underwater river. Protruding from the depths of this eerie river were dark branches from centuries old trees, reaching hopelessly towards the surface so far above. It was absolutely magical. We could have passed through the cloud into the very dark depths of the Pit, but not everyone was certified to dive that deep so after a short visit floating just above the cloud we began out ascent. On our way back to the surface we explored a short distance into one of the caves and even got to see some artifacts from the ancient tribes of the area, which used these cenotes for burials and sacrificial ceremony. Excellent first dive!
Like I said before, between these two dives, I felt like I got everything I was expecting from my first cenote experience. Cave-like diving and underwater sulfur rivers, and deep and shallow, crystal clear waters sliced by thermoclines. It was amazing! However, without question, you will find me back in Mexico again to explore even more of these magical underwater worlds. In the mean time enjoy a few of the many many pictures, which hardly do justice to the beauty of Mexico's cenotes.
And just to give you a view of how different cenotes can be. The pictures below are from a cenote set back in the jungle of the Sian Ka'an Biosphere. It looks more like a lake, and the green hue is created by algae growth, runoff and the surrounding mangroves after a rainstorm.