Cave Diving, Cave Exploration and Cave Mapping in Yucatan, Mexico
Chico at Cian Ka'an Park Mexico

Checking Unchecked Leads. Cenote Azul.

Well… the last nine months have been pretty exciting!  My wife and I moved back to the US from Mexico during the height of Swine Flu scare.  We jump started our web design business, and had our son Hans Griffin.  As one might imagine all of the associated chaos put a pretty big crimp on my diving, however I was still able to get a bit of diving done. I made a couple of trips up to Thousand Islands and I did my first deep dive in the Mud Hole off of New Jersey.  But that is not why I am writing, I am writing because I am back in Mexico for a short trip to do some cave diving.

On Thursday I arrived full of anticipation and some anxiety.  Sol picked me up from the airport.  I had in tow a Silent Submersion DPV conversion kit, my side-mount gear and some other assorted dive goodies.  I was very glad to not have to ride the bus.   Sol dropped me off at Patrick´s apartment and I kicked back and started my wait.    As luck would have it, I came down with a cold two days before my flight.  The first two days here were spent waiting for my cold to pass and my sinuses to clear.  On Saturday, it finally cleared enough for me to dive.  I prepped my gear for a check out dive. 

Sunday dawned and Patrick of Protec blog fame and I decided to go diving.  We debated where to go for a while and decided to head to Cenote Azul.  I was told when I moved here that divers were not allowed to enter at Cenote Azul, so I never tried to get in there.  I said that to Patrick and he challenged me.  We decided to check it out and see if that was true. 

We pulled into the parking lot and spoke to the manager.  She was apprehensive but decided to allow us in, to my surprise.  She charged us each 100 Pesos.  She explained we could drive to the water, which was behind the shack.  Cenote Azul´s grounds are very nice and well maintained.  The walkways are manageable and the Cenote is gorgeous.  The water is about a 3 minute walk from the car.  The water is about 10-15 feet below the parking lot. 

You want to enter the water in the main cenote which is right in front of the wooden deck.  There are two lines at Cenote Azul.  One line runs to Kantun Ki and the other runs over to Cristolino.  You can swim to Ponderosa (Garden of Eden) by swimming towards Kantun Ki and taking a left. 

The main line to Kantun Chi is about 150ft from open water.  There are at least three viable options once you are in the cavern zone, however only the left one will lead you to the main line.  If you are looking for the line to Cristolino, you have to continue past the line to Kantun Chi.   The end of both lines are in the same general vicinity.

It took us about 4 minutes to get tied in.  We started up the line and stopped a number of times to make repairs.  One repair took the two of us to lift a 4 foot slab of collapsed lime stone  off the line to free it.  Another repair required us to cut a ball of line off the main line.  Lastly, we re-secured the line a number of times.  Every time I dive this area of the system I find numerous problems with the line.  In the past I have found the line slack numerous times and I find small collapses regularly here.   If you decide to dive here, make sure you pay attention to the line.  It is in the halocline and it isn´t in great condition, this is a relatively out of the way part of the system and the lack of traffic shows.

After about 45 minutes we reached Kantun Chi.   We turned the dive and headed back.  The swim home was uneventful and relaxing.  We surfaced at 100 minutes.  Overall it was an awesome dive.  I am really glad to be back here.   Diving in Mexico is much more relaxing then diving in New Jersey, there is no drive to the boat, no boat, and warm water.

The lesson this trip is to check out those old possibilities.  There are management changes, line changes and changes in perspective.

8 comments

1 JC { 02.10.10 at 6:51 am }

Hey Hans, thanks for posting this, I think it’s a nice article. I’ve always wanted to go to Mexico and take on the uncommon. Food of course, and do some diving. I’m currently involved in a dive resort here in the Philippines. We, too have underwater caves but I’m sure Cenote Azul would be a whole different experience.

Ever tried diving in Asia?

2 Hans Kaspersetz { 02.10.10 at 7:24 am }

JC,

In 2004 my wife and I did some recreational diving in Indonesia and in 2007 we dived the Great Barrier Reef and the Coral Sea. Both trips were amazing. However, my wife and I both preferred the diving in Indonesia over Australia.

In Indonesia everything was BIG. The crabs and the sea horses stick out in my mind the most. The water was clear and the weather was amazing. The only detractor was the amount of garbage floating in the water.

On the GBR the coral was amazing but that was about it. It blew like hell every day >25mph and we were cold all the time. I imagine our timing was bad. Also the live aboard we were on had some really weird rules which annoyed me. I was told we could dive all we wanted as long as the boat was anchored. The reality was much different. They demanded we do 60 minute dives and limited how many times a day we could get in the water. They didn’t have enough people to staff the dive deck.

I haven’t done any technical diving outside of the US and Mexico, though I am looking forward to some in the distant future. My understanding is there are lots of caves to be dived in Asia. I would just recommend that you get certified for cave diving and then find a group of people doing it and mentor under them.

Cave diving is a lot of fun, though it can be risky if not undertaken with the proper precautions.

Thanks for reading!
Hans

3 Toby { 02.14.10 at 6:08 pm }

Thanks for posting this. Is the dive you did backmount friendly?
cheers
Toby

4 Hans Kaspersetz { 02.14.10 at 8:06 pm }

The dive is backmount friendly! There are no major restrictions that I can think of. There is some very pretty halocline and there is a good amount of up and down which make it fun.

One of the prettiest features of this dive is a large area of fossilized staghorn coral. In the first 10-15 minutes you swim over it. There is piles and piles of it.

Good luck and drop me a comment if you get to dive there. I would love to read what you think about it!

5 Ross { 02.20.10 at 4:13 pm }

Wow, you’re back! Good stuff!

6 Hans Kaspersetz { 02.20.10 at 7:03 pm }

I am not really back. I was in MX for a week. I will be back in a month or two for a real dive trip. This time I only got 3 dives in because I was really sick.

How is AU?

7 Toby { 05.24.10 at 12:28 pm }

Finally made it to Cenote Azul. A lovely gentle dive.

Went in on the first line I saw, t-right, then t-right to a cenote with a show cave. Perhaps Ponderosa?

I need to go look at a map! Thanks for the tip, though.

8 Hans Kaspersetz { 05.24.10 at 12:55 pm }

Toby, glad you had a good dive. Ponderosa is a solid 1 stage away for most people. Maybe more. Plus from Azul you need to make a left. In all likely hood you reached Cenote Cystilino. It is a relatively small place with a couple of pools.

If you did reach Ponderosa, more the power to you! Glad you enjoyed the dive.

Hans