Diving into the eerie and surreal world of Cenote Angelita
We started our descent at Angelita with crystal clear water all around us, the sunlight filtering through the trees, shimmering, creating a strobe light effect. We all looked at each other and smiled, sharing that rare moment at the beginning of a dive; that moment of pure anticipation and exhilaration.
Then, as we dropped down deeper and deeper into the cenote, we saw it before us growing larger and larger, a huge grey/grey cloud hanging in the water, a seemingly impenetrable barrier absorbing all light, as if absorbing all energy.
My mind was screaming at me to slow down, to stop, to go back to surface, to go anywhere apart from into that cloud, and yet we dropped like pennies into a well, heading only one way.
First my legs plunged into this murky cloud, immediately lost to me, quickly followed by my waist and then by my torso. All of a sudden I was enveloped, my eyesight only registering green and the occasional flash of orange from my torch as I frantically struggled to focus on anything; I couldn’t even see my hand a foot in front of my face.
It was like I was in a dream with no control of my own body, flying through space. To me, this was time travel, losing all senses, floating weightless through the water. Then, as suddenly as I was lost, I was found again, coming through the other side of the cloud to pitch black darkness.
My torch searched the water until it fell upon my brothers, both looking at me, both smiling, the anticipation gone, but still the look of exhilaration upon their faces. We all knew Angelita was a dive site like no other, truly a once in a life time experience, and it was just confirmed to us.
Just a couple of hours earlier we were picked up from our villa by Manuel, owner and all-round-nice-guy of Yucatan Diving. We’d barely even said hello before he started telling us all about Angelita (little Angel in English), our first dive site of the day.
17 kms south of Tulum and taking 20 minutes to drive there, Manuel described Angelita to us in detail, explaining what made it such an amazing and unique dive site.
His enthusiasm was infections; we couldn’t wait to see it for ourselves.
The thing about Angelita is this cloud, this grey/green cloud that just hangs there in the cenote, is a one of a kind.
Angelita is about 60 metres in depth, straight down like a well, and at the bottom are a couple of old tree trunks and leaves, and all this detritus gives off hydrogen sulphur (now for the sciency bit).
What this creates is a hydrogen sulphate cloud around the 30 metre mark the completely separates the fresh water on top from the salt water beneath it, and as I mentioned, this hydrogen sulphate cloud is impenetrable; there’s no way any light can filter through creating a dark world underneath.
We arrived at Cenote Angelita in the morning and sat around while Manuel gave us our dive brief. Obviously the major draw here is this cloud, so our plan was to drop down to 40/50 metres through the cloud, then do a multi-level stop back to the surface swimming around the dead trees.
We kitted up in the car park and then walked down to the cenote. Surrounded by a few trees, Cenote Angelita is a bright blue gem in the Mexican jungle, and when you first walk through the trees and see it, it almost exudes this energy, this aura, which makes it such a special dive site.
It’s hard to describe going through the hydrogen sulphate cloud. It’s one of those feelings that words just can’t do it justice, but you seriously couldn’t see anything at all, and it’s that unknown, that uncertainly, that makes it so exciting.
Below the cloud is darkness, and I was so surprised at how no light made it down here when only moments before we were in crystal clear waters. I even turned my torch off for a few seconds to see what it was like and it really was pitch black. It’s strange to say, but it felt like swimming around a forest a night – how many times can you say that in your life?
Once we made it back through the cloud again floated around in pure bliss, all of us completely pumped by what we’d just experienced.
On the way back to the surface Manuel took us through a little cave in the side of the cenote, and it was cool to have a little taster of why so many people dive the cenotes in Mexico, for these cave systems.
Back on the surface, we all hooted with joy, manic grins on our faces. Words tumbled out, my brothers and I all fighting to speak first, fighting to be heard, but there was one thing that we all agreed upon; we just shared something so unique, a privileged and special experience. We all knew one thing – we really had just dived one of the world’s best dive sites.
A two tank dive at two different cenotes in the Yucatán Peninsula with Yucatan Diving & Travel costs US$140 and includes all transport and equipment. That also pays for Manuel, one of the best dive guides I’ve had. Seriously, I can’t recommend these guys enough.
As with all of the cenotes in Mexico, the Maya own the land. Therefore you have to pay an entrance fee to be allowed to dive here. At Cenote Angelita, the entrance fee is 250 peso.