5 Reasons Why Cenote Diving Is Not For You

Diving Cenotes
Diving Cenotes

Are you planning a Cenote dive trip to Mexico, you have probably have done your home work but let us tell you a bit more about them and why diving these ancient sinkholes are not for everybody.

These underwater caves and caverns are a the main dive attraction in the Yucatan Peninsula. When you are scuba diving or snorkeling the Cenotes in Mexico you’ll see some stunning formations of stalagmites and stalactites.

Cenote diving does not require you to have a cave diving accreditation because you are technically not entering the cave. Diving Cenotes without a cave dive certification would be a cavern dive.

The technical explanation of a cavern dive is:

“Cavern diving is the exploration of permanent, naturally occurring overhead environments while remaining within sight of their entrances”

This means when you are diving in a Cenote you should always be able to see natural light, theoretically offering you a direct way out of the cavern system, however don’t be fooled into thinking this makes it an easy dive.


If you are in two minds about going Cenote diving, here are 5 reasons why it may not be for you.

1. When Cenote diving it can get tight In places

While it is a requirement for all dive tours not to include any areas too tight for two divers to pass through at the same time, and therefore there is nowhere you’ll be taken in the Cenotes that you can’t go through in pairs if your need to, it can feel pretty tight in places.

This can be disconcerting if you have never been in an enclosed environment on a dive before, for example while ice diving or inside the wreck of a ship.

Even if you think you’re not claustrophobic, you can react in unexpected ways and experience anxiety the first time you go cenote diving.

2. Accidents do happen while Cenote diving

Although every guide who takes you into a Cenote must be at least certified as a cave diving guide , you may find that the dangers involved in Cenote diving are somewhat undersold.

Plenty of divers returning from the Cenotes report being in groups with very inexperienced divers for who it maybe would have been better to stay in the open water.

Dive within your limits at all times

3. Visibility Can Become Poor While Cenote Diving

The waters in the Cenotes fresh and it is crystal clear, however you can find that silt kicked up by divers can blur your vision as you explore through the caverns.

This can be worse if you are following a line of people, as you have all of the sediment they’ve kicked up in your way.


4. It Can Get Dark In Places

Some parts in the Cenotes are very dark. As any seasoned night diver will tell you, darkness alters your sense of orientation, and this can make you feel like you could get lost easily.

While this is all a matter of perception, and as long as you have a good guide and follow the guidelines you’ll be fine, Cenote diving is not something to do if you have never dived in the dark before.

Diving Cenotes can be challenging.

5. Guide Lines Can Sometimes Be Hard To See

One of the main safety devices put in place to help divers explore the Cenotes are guide lines through the caverns to show you the way out.

While these are there as an added safety measure and you should rely on your guide to get you through the caverns, they are still important, and many divers have reported that on their own tours they found these lines hard to find and see because of silt and visibility issues.


We do not want to discourage you to go diving Cenotes. Not at all. It is amazing and it can be an adventure of a life time. Make sure you dive well within your limits and do not be afraid to call a dive when you are not sure you are 200% comfortable doing it.

Don’t go with the first operator that offers you to go diving the Cenotes. Make sure you know with who you are diving and don’t hesitate to ask for any credentials. Cenote diving is for more advanced divers.

When you are in Mexico and you are planning to do these cavern dives do 1 or 2 open water dives first before you head for the cenotes.

What are your thoughts about Cenote diving? Let us know in the comments below

Want to explore the globe for Scuba Dive destinations? Feel free to check out our Scuba Dive partners anywhere in the world for packages, training or guided trips:

This article is written by Rutger and published by The Scuba Page, the online magazine for Scuba Dive lovers around the world. The Scuba Page is part of RUSHKULT: the online booking platform for adventure sports. Visit the RUSHKULT platform to book your next Scuba Dive training, guided trip and accommodation.


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  1. If you are inexperienced with cave or cavern diving and wanna dive the Cenotes, my only recommendations are to do the following:

    1) Before diving, practice using a reel, also practice using a dual-bungee clip (you clip yourself onto the “main line” so you’re always on the line… and as an added safety measure, using the reel is helpful if for some reason you get disoriented and forget “which way is out and which isnt”.

    2) Practice night diving, practice cavern diving and if you aren’t gonna get cave certified, then at least watch a ton of YouTube videos and study a good couple days on cave diving so you understand more about it.

    3) You should get familiar with your compass, and write down somewhere (perhaps duct tape to your suit) something explaining the GENERAL direction the cave goes down in. And what direction you entered from and what generally is the exit. If by some miracle you lose your line and your clip, and lose the guideline (unlikely), at least you’ll have your compass to somewhat help you out (Although the cave can curve; and you should understand that).

    4) Always be looking at your compass to see which direction you’re currently going in. Be aware of which direction is out, and which is in.

    5) Monitor your surroundings as you go down. Try to burn it into your memory.

    6) You need to have a redundant air source in case your first one messes up. Side mount really is a must. Get sidemount certified. Even if you’re not “certified”, if you just buy sidemount gear and practice using it on your own/by watching YouTube vids, you’ll still be WAYY better off than you would be with only 1 tank. A lot of unlucky sh*t can happen to 1 back mounted tank.

    7) You should have at least 3 primary flashlights and 3 backup flashlights (is what cave diving recommends). I understand not everyone can afford all that, but the more you get the better. A good idea for Gran Cenote is maybe just have 3 fairly cheap primaries.

    8) Having a dual bladder BCD is helpful for cave diving but in Cenote’s it’s probably not a requirement. Be aware that if a hole is popped in your BCD from a sharp rock, it can cause issues with hitting the bottom and kicking up silt. If in the unlikely event your BCD gets punctured, start heading back and move QUICKLY (but safely), faster than the silt can kick up. Remain calm and oriented. Continuing to go “into” the cave with a punctured BCD/hitting bottom can create a situation where you turn around to head back and there’s a huge cloud of silt, many meters thick. This can be a major issue. If that happens hold the line and follow the line out. Always have one hand on the line, going hand over hand upwards.

    9) obviously, have a good quality half face mask that’s low-volume and easily equalized and cleared.

    10) don’t go too deep into the cavern/Cenote on the first go around. Practice only going 10 or 20 feet in, and then turn around. Get a few practice dives in. Slowly go 10 or 20 feet more at a time each dive. Always be comfortable and smart about how far you go in.

    11) make sure you monitor your air and always leave 1/3 for going in, 1/3 going back and 1/3 for emergencies.

    If you’re new, have 1/4 for going in, 1/4 for going back and 1/2 for emergencies. Perhaps 1 tank is for going in andback and a 2nd tank entirely for an emergency that way you can remain calm and know you have time to think through any obstacles.

    12) don’t get stuck between any tight spots. If you do, breathe calmly, relax and slowly work yourself backwards out of it. Don’t thrash or move panicked, as you may hit your head and knock yourself out, or you might accidentally hit your tank valve and close it (which is why you should bring 2 side mounted tanks).

    13) before diving, it’s a good idea to practice (with a buddy) learning how to find the line with eyes closed, and how to make your way back with eyes closed (this mimics a silt-out experience). If you haven’t mastered this, then you should probably not go very far into the Cenote at all until you learn this. Be VERY cautious until you learn this.

    I’m not technically cave or cavern certified (but I’m an advanced diver, certified rescue diver and certified sidemount), but what I’m teaching is the basics of what they teach you in cave diving classes.

    The reason I haven’t done cave diving is bcuz my sinuses screw up if I’m in the water for too long lol, they get aggravated so I don’t think I could stand 5 straight 8 hour days of training without getting sinus issues. But I’ve studied it pretty extensively online and practiced it when I go on vacations

    • This comment makes no sense at all and shows that you really have no idea about cave or cavern diving. 3 primary and 3 backup lights for a 30-40 minute dive? For a 2-3h full cave you take 1 primary and 2 backup. Clip yourself into the guideline? Strictly forbidden! For many reasons. Practice with a friend going a bit into the cavern? If he is a certified cave diver, sure. Otherwise strictly forbidden! In none of the caverns here is a restriction where you can get stucked, not even if you swim side by side. If you have an average buoyancy control it’s more than unlikely that you damage your bcd on a sharp rock. Your guide has a redundant air source, that’s enough.
      Please divers, book a proper guide and have fun, cenote diving here is organized very well and safe, in 5 years that I live here not one guided cavern dive ended with a fatality!


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