The name “The Pit” Cenote, really doesn’t do this cenote justice. However, it does pretty accurately sum up the topography you’ll encounter while diving the pit cenote near Playa del Carmen and Tulum. The Spanish name isn’t much better because it’s just called “El Pit Cenote”. If you look past the unflattering name you’ll find one of the most unique and beautiful cenotes to dive in the Yucatan. A favorite of many dive masters, the pit cenote is a special and unique cenote to dive.
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How to get to the Pit Cenote
The Pit Cenote is located inside the Dos Ojos Natural Park, which is 22km north of Tulum, about 54km south of Playa del Carmen, 28 km from Xpu Ha, and 278 km from Merida in the Riviera Maya. There are large signs along the highway for “Dos Ojos Cenote”, turn in here and follow the road to you reach the fee & registration building. Here you will need to pay the cenote entrance fee and dive fee. If you are diving with a dive shop, they will typically handle this process and fee for you.
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Once inside the large Dos Ojos Park, follow the dirt road past the Dos Ojos Cenote, further into the park until you reach signs for “The Pit Cenote”. There is a bumpy dirt road all the way to the Pit Cenote. There’s parking for divers and each parking spot has a table to assemble gear. There are also basic restroom facilities right at the cenote.
There are wooden steps all the way down to the opening of The Pit and a small platform to enter the water from. There is also a hoist to lower and lift your gear in and out of the water, tips expected for this service.
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Diving the Pit Cenote
Most visitors to the Yucatan book cenote dives in the cities they are staying and the dive shops will arrange transportation and equipment rentals. Cenote diving is a popular activity and there are many dive shops to choose from. We dove with Scuba Playa and would rate them as average. Overall everything went well and equipment was in relatively good shape. The concierge at Elements Playa del Carmen recommended a few dive shops in town, we visited two to ask a few questions and check out their dive equipment.
The cheapest cenote diving package we’ve seen is $150 two tank cenote dive, click here. I wish I would have booked this online because no dive shop in Playa del Carmen had prices this low. Highly recommend booking online here in advance not only for the price but then you can pay by credit card in USD instead of taking out money to pay in pesos.
Independent diving at the pit cenote is possible. Most local dive shops have rental equipment and air to allow you to visit the many cenotes without hiring a guide/dive master. Park fee for diving the pit: 570MXP combined with a Dos Ojos dive
Park fee for diving the pit: 570MXP combined with a Dos Ojos dive
The main draw to the Pit Cenote is the beautiful light beams that light up this deep cavern dive. There’s also an eerie layer of hydrogen sulfide toward the bottom of the main cavern that makes for some interesting pictures. To get the most out of this dive you should be Advanced Open Water certified or higher. The max depth of the main cavern is 40 meters and the acid layer at around 27 meters.
Topography of the Pit Cenote
The Surface of the Pit Cenote
At the surface, there is a 10-meter oval-shaped opening that opens up to a much larger cylindrical cavern. At the surface, there is an overhang with some stalactites clinging to the ceiling.
At 10 meters the pit opens up to a further overhung cavern. At the edges of this overhang are rimmed with large stalactites.
The Light Beams of The Pit Cenote
The main draw for most divers are the dancing light beams that fill the cavern on sunny days. The narrow opening lets streaks of light into the pit cenote and the crystal clear waters let the light reach all the way to the bottom nearly 40 meters. It’s best to dive this site on a bright sunny day to have the best chance of seeing the light beams. Some of the best photos of the light beam will come from around 10-12 meters just above the fresh and salt water mixing layer.
The Fresh & Salt Water Mixing Layer – (Around 12 Meters)
Where the fresh and salt waters meet can very be poor visibility. At this level, the water appears blurry because of the way the light refracts in the two different waters. If you take photos in this layer they will appear out of focus. On our dive, the light beams were amazing while we were going through this layer, but all of our shots didn’t come out.
The Hydrogen Sulfide Layer of The Pit Cenote (Around 27 Meters)
Toward the bottom of El Pit Cenote, there is a cloudy layer that almost looks like you are diving through the fog. This is a natural phenomenon is called the Halicon Layer and it’s made of hydrogen sulfide suspend in the water. This layer can generally be found around 27 meters and is around 2-4 meters thick. This layer sits on top of rocks fallen on the bottom of the main cavern and there are also eerie tree branches laying in the acid fog. The Rocky bottom of the Pit Cenote (25-40 meters)
The Rocky bottom of the Pit Cenote (25-40 meters)Rocks from the
Rocks from the collapsed opening of the cenote lay on the bottom stacked higher toward the center of the pit. The acid layer covers the tops of the rock pile and on top of the rocks, there are some tree branches hanging in the fog.
Deeper diving in El Pit Cenote
What most don’t know about this cenote is that it’s actually almost 400 feet (121m) deep. There are multiple passages that lead to other rooms that connect to El Pit.
Tamaco Arm of El Pit Cenote (around 15 meters)
Inside the main chamber of The Pit Cenote is a corridor that runs horizontally for thousands of feet. There is a permanent line at the mouth, but expert advice should be found before exploring this part of the cenote.
The Pit Cenote FAQ:
- How deep is the Pit Cenote? The deepest part of the Pit Cenote is around 40 meters.
- What time of day is best to dive the Pit Cenote? The best days to dive the Pit Cenote are sunny days during the late morning to the early afternoon. This time of day has the best chance of seeing the light beams from the sun’s rays in the pit.
- What is the cloudy layer in El Pit Cenote? hydrogen sulfide
- Is the Pit Cenote fresh water or salt water? The top 10-12 meters is fresh water and then there is a mixed layer of fresh and salt water. Below 12 meters is salt water.
- How deep is the acid layer in the Pit Cenote? The layer of acid is suspended at around 27 meters.
- Can I bring a camera into the Pit Cenote? Yes, cameras are allowed in the pit, small underwater cameras like a GoPro are free, but larger “Professional” Cameras there is an extra charge. The cost to bring a professional camera into the Pit Cenote is 300MXP or 500MXP for a combination ticket for both the Pit and Dos Ojos Cenotes. I did have to purchase a photo ticket on my dives. If you are snorkeling I suggest a GoPro dome for those unique over-under shots.
- What other cenotes nearby do you suggest for diving? One of my personal favorites for both diving and swimming is Cenote Calavera, which is located right outside of Tulum.
Is diving in a cenote on your bucket list? There are a ton of amazing cenotes in Mexico but El Pit Cenote is one of the best!
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