Several million years ago, a meteor hit earth and let drop the level of the ocean and at the same time lifted the limestone of this area, that has grown by corals over millions of years, above sea level. Precipitation mixed with the CO2 of the organic substances and formed so called acid rain and sept through the limestone that has been shattered due to the massive impact and slowly disolved channels and subterranean riversystems were formed in the limestone.
Some roofs of those caves collapsed later and formed therfore the connection to Xibalba – the legendary Mayan underworld. A rise of the ocean level some 16.000 years ago, has submerged a lot of the formerly dry caves and this is the reason why a lot of geological and archeological treasures have been conserved. There is an estimate that only maybe 10% of all cenotes are discovered and mapped until today.
The Mayans believed that the cenotes were the entrance to their underworld where their goods lived and the souls of the deads went after death. The original Mayan word was “dznot” meaning sacred well and derived as cenote through the Spaniards info our today’s use.
The cenotes offer relatively shallow dives in about 5 – 20 m (15- 60 ft) in incredibly clear water. Visibility as far as the beam of the light travels is normal, stalagtites and stalagmites form a special contrast to the sparkling laser show of the sun and the impressions of the lush surrounding jungle.
Diving in the Cenotes is split into the cavern diving in the daylight zone of the cave (you have to be at least Open Water certified) and the true full cave diving for especially trained divers.