Diving the Pit was something that I wouldn’t have considered an option for me until it happened. I have my Open Water diving certification, which recommends divers only descend to a maximum of 18 metres (and many dive shops adhere to these recommendations). The Pit invokes dives up to 40 metres deep. On top of that, I’ve had consistent problems equalizing while diving – this is where pressure builds up inside your ear and it can’t escape. Not being able to equalize properly can lead to serious problems with your ears, and at depths that great would make diving impossible.
When we arrived at our shop of choice, Scuba Tulum, I was asked again if I would like to dive The Pit, and I told them my reservations. They told me that I was welcome to do it if I liked, and that Tim and I would have our own guide so if anything went wrong we could come up from the dive without disrupting the trip for anyone else. Tim said he was on board, and I was much more at ease knowing that it would be just the two of us in the group; Tim has always been a patient and generally awesome dive partner. Por que no, I figured – why not?
We arrived at the entrance to the Dos Ojos system. We were to dive the deeper dive – The Pit – first and then do a second dive in the “Bat Cave” of Dos Ojos. Intimidated is a bit of an understatement to what I was feeling as we geared up and headed to the opening of our cenote, knowing that 40 metres below the surface lay an underground world that I could potentially get the chance to explore, but that it was nearly two times deeper than I’ve dove up to this point.
The Pit was spectacular. I started off the dive slow as I struggled to equalize – it seems as though the first 5 or 10 metres are always the worst. Our guide and Tim sunk slowly down with me. Eventually my ears got sorted out and could deal with the pressure, and I fully began to appreciate the dive. I had only gone diving in the ocean before, and cenotes offer a completely different experience. The towering walls of rock surrounded us as we descended further and further down. Eventually we drifted through the halocline layer of the cenote – where the salt and fresh water try to mix and it creates a layer of blurry water. Due to the traffic in the Pit already that morning, the layer was not as sharp as it apparently can be – as flippers churn the water, it becomes less distinct. As we sunk past the halocline towards the deepest portion of our dive – around 36 metres – a ghostly tree rose out of the blur and the sediment, reaching its long-dead branches towards the light it had long lost. There was a pile of soil and bits of trees on the ground layer of The Pit (the actual cenote is closer to 120 metres deep, but branches off down a small cavern from where were diving). This pile was formed when the ground at the top of the cenote collapsed and deposited itself inside. The stalagmites and stalactites inside the cavernous offshoots of The Pit reach toward one another and almost make you forget you are underwater at times.
We looked back at where we had entered. The sunlight streamed in from above, casting its rays and cutting blue trails through the water in the cenote. Divers made their way to and fro, putting the scale of the formations into perspective. The ghostly remnants of forested life reached skyward from their gloomy home. The entire picture was bordered with hanging stalagtites, reaching their limey claws towards the ground. Bubbles trapped amongst them along the “ceiling,” formed miniature pools of glass. The photos we purchased front the dive shop don’t even come close to doing it justice, but here we are anyway.
The Pit dive was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done. Diving to such great depths in such a unique environment was truly exhilarating. Dos Ojos was a completely different dive and it brought to light how unique each cenote can feel. It was a much smaller cave, and much more enclosed. The majority of the cenote was a cave system that didn’t receive any natural light. Using torches and dodging stone formations awakened the latent claustrophobic in me, and I found myself gulping my air much quicker than I normally would. Halfway through the dive we surfaced inside the cenote in what they call the bat cave – a dark section of the cavern where bats congregate. Without question, I enjoyed The Pit more, but it was incredible to see the differences amongst two cenotes, even ones that were so close together. More cenote dives are making their way on to the list of things to do in life, without question.