June 19, 2016
Calavera is perhaps the easiest of the cenotes near Tulum to find. Drive west of Tulum on 109. Calavera is the first right hand turn after the police check point which is perhaps one-half mile from the intersection of 307 and 109. There is an obvious white gate with an arch where you pay 200 pesos per person. Turn your car around and back into a spot as directed by the attendant.
Take the trail that starts on the right side of the building you are parked near. The Cenote is about 50-70 yards back along the track you will find to the right. Watch your step leading to a large hole in the limestone because there are tank traps along the way that could swallow your foot or even your entire body.
There is a rickety ladder and ropes that you can use to deliver your tanks to the water. Be careful since you can get hurt here if you are careless. After racking up its easiest to jump into the water from the top of the hole to don the tanks.
From the ladder, and over our right shoulders, we found a line that led down to a cavern line and the “stop” sign. There is a large hallway in front of you. To find the main cave line descend into hallway and look up, and left. The gold line is there with a red arrow. We used a primary reel to connect the cavern line to the main line.
We did two dives in a remarkably beautiful cave system. Large rooms, amazing formations, halocline, thermocline–you got it all here. However, for us this was a check-off dive meaning that we’ve done it, and probably won’t return.
Here’s why: The approach is tedious. Humping tanks and managing the the rickety ladder were not fun. The bugs did make us feel lighter though, since they threatened to carry us away.
The route had many junctions. This coupled with the halocline made visualizing the T’s a challenge. Some of the T’s literally sit at the interface of the fresh water and salt water so to confirm your markings (cookie) you had to drop underneath the interface and gently pull the line down to be sure about the direction of movement. I can see how poorly trained divers die in these caves because if your navigations skills are less than up to par you could get lost and swim in circles until your gas is gone and you drown.
On our second dive we came to the end of the line that was near the cavern zone. Here we found that someone, perhaps several someone’s, had written in the cave floor leaving initials and other drawings. Perhaps a cavern guide is bringing his clients to this point or open water divers are doing this on their own. In any case, it was a bummer to see this.