MEXICOMexico’s CenotesPenetration diving is usually defined as entering an underwater space where there is no direct ascent to the safety of breathable air at the surface. It is very much a specialised and technically focused area of diving, that seems to attract a hard-core following of very dedicated and committed divers. It comes in two main flavours… cave diving and wreck penetration, and it’s not something you can just go and try as it’s just too risky. You simply have to commit to doing the necessary training.

But there is one location where you can hire fully qualified instructors to provide a safe introduction to penetration diving – the cenotes of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.

The peninsula is the flat, exposed portion of the Yucatan Platform – the huge limestone foundation that forms that part of Mexico. Underground it is often compared to Swiss cheese because of the many caves and caverns found there.

Cenotes are sinkholes where the surface area of an underground cavern has collapsed to reveal what is below. Centred around Tulum, south of the main tourist city of Cancun, is a significant cottageindustry focused on training and the exploration of that Swiss cheese… which can be broken down into basic levels – cavern and cave.

Cavern means you can still see daylight and is basically a form of recreational diving using standard equipment, while cave divers penetrate much further and require very specialized training and equipment. A guided tour of the larger cavern areas of some of the cenotes in the Tulum area is a great way to get a safe introduction to penetration diving. The instructors are properly qualified, the caverns are large and have safety lines laid out to follow and the whole thing is a unique experience!

But… it is an experience that is highly likely to make you want to sign up for the full training programme. The thrill of gliding through those caverns is really quite something and is often said to be the closest thing you can get to being in outer space.

Did you know?The cenotes are home to approximately 15 species of fish. Because the freshwater to saltwater ratio changes from cenote to cenote, so does the number of fish. Some cenotes are seemingly filled with small fish while others are practically void of marine life.Essential informationLocation: Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
Depth: 1m to beyond recreational depths
Diver level: Advanced

“ Every dive you do you will spot something you hadn’t seen on previous excursions, and as well as the rich cargo to keep you captivated, there is plenty of marine life that calls the holds home ”
Who to dive with
Cave Training Mexico