Swim in a Cenote

Ross Dolan's avatar image
Ross Dolan's Goal

activity icon 416 pts



Sound? No.  Sight? Nope.  Complete sensory deprivation?  Absolutely.  Mild sense of foreboding as water level converges with roof of the cave?  Check!

For an authentic cenote experience, try to find one that has multiple rooms, forming a true underwater cave complex.  Slipping into the calm dark water on a hot central american day is refreshing, however I was also greeted by a slight bit of trepidation.  The sun had disappeared behind the walls of the cave, and overhead the thick jungle watched over us like a curious raven.  As we enter, the brilliance of the summer day is wholly usurped by the thick, clammy air emanating from deep within the earth.  Treading water, I feel like we're on the edge of the earth... Not the edge you see in those old pre-colonial maps that dropped off into space, but rather a different edge, one that drops straight into the middle of the earth. 

We swim deep into the blackness, where the water meets the roof.  I pull out a waterproof flashlight and banish the dark to the edges of the cave.  The water is incredibly clear, and reveals that we're now in about 20 feet of water.  Diving down and peering ahead I can see that the roof of the cave only meets the water for a few feet, after which appears another surface.  Come back to the surface, take a deep breath and go for it.  At least it's close enough that if I surface and the roof is 2 inches above the water, I can still make it back... Swim, swim, swim, surface.  Yay, no bonking into rock.  The flashlight reveals a new room, probably 40 feet long and at least a dozen wide, with a roof stretching maybe 8' overhead.  A turn off the flashlight and there it is... complete nothingness.  No matter how hard our eyes strain to find a pixel of light to bounce off our retinas, there is none.  We are floating in a complete void of both time and space, the occasional ripple bouncing off the sides of our enclosure is the only sign that we are still alive, and that somewhere there is still a beer sitting lonely in a cooler waiting to have a lime stuffed in it.  No beer in this cave though, so we better head back.

Tips / Recommendations

Stay in the first cave if you're the least bit claustrophobic!

This would also be ideal for a rainy day in the tropics, as the caves recognize no change in weather!


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