Cave snorkeling in Cenotes dos Ojos, Yucatan Peninsula

We’re a family travel blog through and through… except when one of us has to travel for work or something.  I had the amazing opportunity to tour the Caribbean aboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas and had an awesome time.  The trip was totally unplanned so only I could go, but I was welcomed and had an incredible experience.  The most amazing of it all was swimming through the caves at Cenotes Dos Ojos.

One of the most breathtaking experiences you can have: swimming through the caves of the Cenotes Dos Ojos in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. 2traveldads.comIf you’re an avid cruiser, you may have your favorite things to do in your ports of call or you may use these port days to try new things and see incredible sights you may not get to experience again.  For me, that was Cenotes Dos Ojos, which is an enormous cave system paired with sink-holes and a, wait for it… magical river flowing through them.  Magical, for realz.

Check out our video at the end of the article.  You can see the amazing color, depth and more!  (or watch it here)

First impressions of Cenotes Dos Ojos

Until I got into the water at Cenotes Dos Ojos on the Yucatan Peninsula, I had no idea how incredible swimming through a cave system would be.  I, like everybody else, have seen the rivers flowing through these tropical caves when I’ve watched the BBC’s Planet Earth or any other nature show, but it all seemed really distant and unlike anything that I’d ever do in my life.  Randomly, I got to travel to Quintana Roo in eastern Mexico and actually got to do it.Rob Taylor swimming in Cenotes Dos Ojos Playa Del Carmen Mexico

I couldn’t believe it.  

I had my reservations initially, wondering if it was going to be scary or beyond cool or who knows what else.  I’m not a person that craves extreme adventures or wandering into the unknown, but for some reason dipping into the river at Cenotes Dos Ojos seemed right up my alley.  What made it so amazing, so unforgettable? Everything.

The setting of Cenotes Dos Ojos

Mouth of Cenotes Dos Ojos Playa del Carmen Mexico 5After a bumpy, dusty ride down an arid jungle road (arid jungle? Possible? Yes.) we arrived at Cenotes Dos Ojos.  Um, there was some landscaping and bathrooms and the likes.  I was a bit concerned that I was getting ready to experience a manufactured river ride… and then we walked down the stoney path to a scene straight out of an Indiana Jones movie.

The cave opening was huge.  Huge!  And there were tree roots dripping from the top of the mouth and wrapping and breaking the stones all around. Once I saw this, I forgot that I was ever skeptical.  

I walked over to the rickety old wooden steps that led down the rocks and peered into the water.  I’ve been all over and seen some amazing sights in nature, but never have I ever seen such shockingly clear water.  That may seem like a tiny aspect of the whole Cenotes experience, but until you’re there you can’t understand.  So amazing.Mouth of Cenotes Dos Ojos Playa del Carmen Mexico


Note
:  there are more than a few people at Cenotes Dos Ojos, but due to the jagged rocks, roots and terrain, it’s as quiet as you’d imagine a tropical hole in the earth would be.  #wowfactor.

After a short swim in el Cenote Primero we walked back up the hill and over to another mouth/cavern/cave… cenote I guess, that was shaped like a crescent moon.  Again, the area around the cave was a bit landscaped, but it didn’t detract from the wild, dark place we were about the head into.  More roots dripping off the ledges above, more crystal clear water, tropical birds chirping and blurting at us from all around.  Incredible.  

The depths of the caves

Divers Inside Mouth of Cenotes Dos Ojos Playa del Carmen Mexico 2My own experience was unfolding and incredible, leaving me wowed every time I went underwater or popped back up, but the most captivating sight (besides the cenotes themselves) were the scuba divers.  I was there with my snorkel and goggles, but others had full equipment for a much more grand adventure.  I took a deep breath and dived down.  Finding my own place underwater where I was out of the way, I got to watch the pros adjust their equipment, shine their flashlights and the disappear.  Completely disappear.

Note:  going back to how clear the water is, you can see 50 feet in front of you with a flashlight and it seems whatever you’re looking at is right before your eyes.  Amazing to ponder and peer through.  Now, back to my story.

So, I’m diving down, maybe ten feet under the surface and there are scuba divers another 20+ feet below me.  As they slowly made their way to another opening, each with their own light, they each disappeared.  There were random holes in the rock where you could see faint lights, but not enough to be sure of what you’re looking at.  I watched for a few more moments and then surfaced.  “Wow.”  That’s all I could think.  And then I remembered seeing the movie Sanctum and I snapped back into my own experience.

Being wowed by nature in the Cenotes Dos Ojos

Roots at Cenotes Dos Ojos Playa Del Carmen MexicoI think the reason I chose to swim through Cenotes Dos Ojos was for the geology factor of it all.  A cave AND an underground river: how could I pass that up?  Truly I wasn’t disappointed.  Diving down and swimming between stalagmites with tiny fish darting about, stalactites above and dark depths deep below: it was truly another world.

Just when  I thought it was over and I had to scamper back up the rocks, that’s when the bats started.  That’s right!  Huge bats, flapping around above me, swooping down or crawling along the ceiling of the cave.  There were swallows too, but the bats were the #wowfactor.  Have you heard a bat’s wings flap?  I have.  It’s the sound of sheets when you’re making your bed… but in a cave, in the dark.  The bats were not charging me, but fluttering past, just kind of saying “Adios, y hasta luego…” because they knew I’d return for more exploring soon.


My visit to Cenotes Dos Ojos was through Cancun Adventures.  Our guide was amazing.  She was great at communicating the culture of the area, the science of the Cenotes Dos Ojos and in guiding us through the caves.  Someday, it’d be amazing to explore more of the caves, or even go deeper into them, but for now I get to have this under my belt as an amazing experience and one that I can’t wait to go back to with the rest of my family.  I know the kids will really dig on the bats.

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13 Comments

  • Natasha

    Your photos and video are great. I would surely be wowed by nature with all the lush green plants like that as well!

    July 2, 2016 at 1:52 pm
  • mark wyld

    Looks like a great experience mate, something that you will remember.The sights and sounds of the bats sound way cool. Now admit as much as you love travelling with kids you enjoyed this experience solo didn’t you ? It’s nice occasionally to do things without kids.

    July 2, 2016 at 1:59 pm
  • Anna

    I think if you’re just swimming and not diving Dos Ojos isn’t the greatest actually. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad cenotes, but there are many better ones around for swimmers 🙂

    July 2, 2016 at 2:06 pm
    • Rob Taylor

      Good to know. I see you included a link to your favorites. We’ll check it out, especially because we’re taking the kids to Playa del Carmen next spring and will need to find one that’s kid-friendly (in addition to what we adults will go do). 🙂

      July 2, 2016 at 5:32 pm
  • Grey World Nomads

    I must check out the Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas and its trips around the Caribbean. The Cenotes Dos Ojos look like an awesome adventure! I’ll have to brush up on my Spanish though 😉

    July 3, 2016 at 3:24 am
  • MarieAnne

    I have been planning to visit the Yucatan peninsula for a long time now and I had no idea about Cenotes Dos Ojos. Your photos are amazing!

    July 3, 2016 at 8:37 am
  • Siddhartha Joshi

    Incredible! Loved this place guys…

    July 3, 2016 at 9:34 am
  • Vlad

    It looks absolutely amazing, I would have been left speechless too. Would you like to go back with proper diving gear to do some more exploring?

    July 3, 2016 at 11:12 am
  • Cathy

    We share a love of nature and adventure- I can not wait to do this! Absolutely beautiful photos and wonderful experience!

    July 7, 2016 at 6:28 am
  • Lucy @ Backpacker's Guide

    Wow this looks pretty awesome – can’t wait to visit one day! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    July 14, 2016 at 12:41 pm
  • Tara

    Oh cruise excursions and all that jazz. It looks like you had a great time! Love the video, makes it seem like I was there.

    August 7, 2016 at 2:04 pm
  • Tara

    Oh cruise excursions and all that jazz!! It looks like you had a great time. Loved the video, got a real sense of what it was like to be there.

    August 7, 2016 at 2:05 pm
  • Mario

    Kinda jealous you got this good weather back then. It was cloudy and rainy the days we went scuba diving in the cenotes – sure, weather conditions do not have this much impact here as scuba diving in the sea, but having bright light shine into the caverns changes the phole experience…

    April 1, 2017 at 12:20 am

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