Playa del Carmen / Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico
What to see: Cenotes – cavern diving, stalactites, stalagmites, halocline, fresh water fish and turtles, maybe even a crocodile
Diving: You will drive to the cenote by car, some do have a parking close to the opening, at others you might have to walk up to 1 km to the entrance. A certified cave diver with special cave diving equipment has to guide you
Level: Certified divers, I would recommend it only to divers who do have a good buoyancy control to make sure not to stir up sediments or destroy the formations
Who should go there: Adventure seeking divers who like rock formations, cristal clear water and special light conditions, there is almost no wildlife in the caverns
How to get there: Flight to Cancun, from there bus, collectivo or taxi to Playa del Carmen or Tulum
Where to stay: A wide range of accommodations are available in Playa del Carmen or Tulum
Where to dive: You will find an incredible amount of dive shops in Playa and also quite some in Tulum. Shop around for your favorite and also check with them if they visit the cenote you would like to see. Usually the dive shops have schedules a few days in advance, also depending on the experience level of the guests
Rates: Around USD 120 to 140 for two cavern dives in the cenotes
Climate: Around 30°C all year round
Water temperature: 26°C all year
Visibility: The best!!! As long as no one stirs up the sediments
Season: All year round
Favorite dive sites: Angelita, Taj Mahal, Dreamgate, Car Wash and the Pit
My trip: I took a “collectivo” from the airport to Playa which was cheaper than a taxi. However, it did take me about 3 hours instead of 1 (by taxi) to get to my hotel. I did travel by bus the last time, these are pretty good, leave frequently and reliable.
In Playa del Carmen: I stayed at Adventure Experience Hotel in the centre of Playa but not on the main tourist street, good price for value for about $ 40 and really friendly staff. A big plus for me – a vegan and a vegetarian restaurant very close by. The hotels on the beach front and the main tourist street (5th) are more expensive, there are many hostels and more economic options to choose from a bit further from the center.
I did dive with Scuba Libre and can highly recommend them. I was already diving with them 1 1/2 years ago and we stayed in contact since. Was happy to be back 🙂 The guides are experienced and they also offer dives in the sea which are great during bull shark season.
In Tulum: I stayed in a Hostel in Tulum for about $ 12 in a dorm room. There are some hostels and cheaper hotels in the town to choose from or more expensive hotels at the beautiful white beaches close to the famous Mayan ruins.
I personally prefer to stay in Tulum over Playa, which is much smaller, a lot less touristy and more alternative (hippie). Most of the cenotes are close to Tulum as well which reduces the drive time to the dive sites. I did dive with Motmot Diving which I can highly recommend as well, I had a very experienced and passionate guide to show me around the cenotes.
For non-divers I would also recommend to stay in Tulum as many of the cenotes can be reached by bicycle. Rent a bicycle (or maybe the hostel has some for free), grab the snorkeling gear and choose a cenote, easy.