The Pit is a top bucket list item for me and many other divers. Some of my friends think this cenote is dark and scary while I see it as mysterious and surreal. I was very giddy after first glance of The Pit from the surface. While gearing up my anticipation grew steadily unlike other dives I have done, this one was unique.
I took an ADO bus up from Playa Del Carmen and stayed in a hostel (Mimosa) for 2 nights to dive The Pit and explore Tulum area. After the first night in the hostel I walked over to Ko’ox diving in centro Tulum (close to the bus station) which is the dive shop I made a reservation for this dive.
The Pit lies just north of Tulum, we drive about 15km to get there. My dive guide/buddy is Carlos and we stand in front of the large mural of The Pit showing idealized schematics of the cenote. The Pit is part of an extensive cave system called Sac Actun that runs hundreds of km.
We are diving in the first chamber of this cave which is about 200 ft wide and 120 ft deep at the base.
From the schematic you can see the opening of the cenote is small in comparison to the chamber and on one side of the chamber. This makes The Pit very dark once you’re away from the opening. There’s a long tunnel passage (marked with a line and red triangle) from this chamber to another even large chamber, then another tunnel from there to more chambers.
Carlos goes over our dive plan and route through the first chamber (the actual “Pit”) which is to go down to maximum depth then spiral our way around the chamber back up to the entrance. We cover hand signals which differ slightly due to the darkness and flashlights we have on our wrists.
Descending into The Pit we pass through a halocline which makes visibility very strange and blurry, not particulate type poor visibility but similar to a heat wave blurriness. After emerging through the halocline good visibility returns and we descend to just above the hydrogen sulfide cloud. This cloud is formed by decomposition of organic matter in the absence of oxygen. It looks like a thick underwater fog. The water temp is about 75-76deg F and I’m just wearing a 3mm shorty which feels just fine to me.
Carlos points out some pottery on a ledge opening in the wall that is from old Mayan times. Many artefacts and bones are often found inside cenotes. It is believed that the Mayans would freedive down and place these offerings into the sacred cenotes. The label INAH stands for Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia.
As we spiral back up we check out the ceiling of The Pit with stalactites. What is also unique about diving in a cenote is the change from salt to fresh water and your buoyancy. Along with avoiding hitting the stalactites this will tax your buoyancy skills.
I’m multi-tasking between filming with my GoPro Hero 10, hand signaling, lighting my way with the flashlight, checking my gauges and buoyancy control. But I’m still in awe of it all.
A magical part of the dive is looking at the light beams shining down through the opening.
As we approach the opening there is a freediver practicing with her guide. Watching her pose while sitting on the rocks was also surreal.
Upon breaking the surface I take my BC off while Carlos take the gear up the stairs and I float around for a bit feeling euphoric and accomplished before I head up the stairs.
On the ride back to Tulum I can’t wait to see what I got on film!