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Great Cenote (Dos Ojos) Trip with Play Scuba!

Discussion in 'Mexico' started by mstevens, Mar 6, 2008.

  1. mstevens

    mstevens Toadfish. Splendid is implied but not guaranteed. ScubaBoard Supporter

    My wife, son, and I are recently back from a very enjoyable trip to Cozumel for diving. While there, we took the ferry to Playa del Carmen to go cenote diving for the first time. Based on comments here, I contacted 3 dive shops including Playa Scuba (Playa Scuba Dive Center * Centro de Buceo * Tauchbase - Playa del Carmen, Mexico). Based on the responses, we went with Playa Scuba.

    We all agree the experience couldn't have been better (well, unless it were free...). We were met at the ferry with a cart so we didn't have to lug all our gear the ~5 blocks to the shop. There, we took care of paperwork, loaded the trucks, and set off with Klaus and Luis, the owners.

    The drive to Dos Ojos was pleasant and included a detailed dive briefing and some discussion of the history of Dos Ojos as well as generally about Yucatan cave systems. We stopped at a taqueria on the side of the highway (Tacos el Arbol, I think) for some brunch with the truck drivers. They had all the requisites of a great taco stand, including the trays of salt with habaneros for casual snacking by the insane or ageusiatic. Once at Dos Ojos, we were divided into 2 groups of 3 and geared up.

    My primary comment about the dive itself is: "Blast you, TSandM!" We did this in large part because of her relentless comments about cenotes. She's right: we should have done this before and will do it again. I doubt my wife and I are going to go for cave training, but my 13 year-old is already making plans. Cenotes appear to be a dangerous gateway drug, almost enough to make one want to drink the Kool-Aid.*

    Seriously, though, this was a great dive. Crystal-clear water, no current or waves to fight. This is serene diving. We thought we were prepared for the various speleothems, but it turns out that simply wasn't possible. They're jaw-dropping. The only thing I was left wanting from those dives was more. My meager language skills aren't up to the task of adequately describing a dive in the Dos Ojos cavern. You'll just need to do it yourself.

    Our group consisted of my family and a guide. We went first, which was good since all of us can frog-kick, helicopter, etc. and didn't disturb what appeared to be a fairly small amount of silt. The other group included some very early divers (6 dives) who did kick up some silt and even grabbed some formations despite the dire warnings not to. One ran completely out of air near the end of the dive. (I'm an embarrassing air-hog and still finished with 1,000psi after playing with the fish in the entry area for quite a while at the end of the dive. My wife and son each had 1,500psi or more). We'd taken cameras but all agreed that we wanted to focus on the dive, not photography. Besides, Luis was taking photos and movies with practically the same camera we use so that was one less task for us. Perhaps next time.

    I agree that this is appropriate for open-water divers, but in my opinion better for those with AOW and several dozen open water dives if only for some basic buoyancy and gas management skills. My kid has Jr. AOW and these were his 60th and 61st dives, and he had nothing but fun. He probably could have handled the buoyancy issues with half the dives and without the AOW, but why rush things? For those concerned about feeling "trapped in a cave", I'm relatively claustrophobic (and a psychiatrist, so I don't toss such terms around casually) and loved it. If you can enjoy a swim-through (not Garganta del Diablo, which is more of a tunnel) in Cozumel, you'd love every minute of Dos Ojos, which is much more open.

    After the dives, we had a drive to the secret jungle air station ("more trees means more oxygen in the tanks"), then on to Taco Paco. I can't say I was very cheered at stopping at a Pemex station for lunch, but these were seriously good fish or shrimp tacos, with a really nice array of toppings. They ordinarily close earlier, but the shop had called ahead and ordered for us. Extra points if you speak German, but as far as I can tell the proprietor is fluent in quite a few languages. Back at the shop we relaxed while reviewing photos taken by Luis and burning a CD to take home.

    It was a long day by the time we got back to Cozumel. We'd taken the 0700 ferry to Playa del Carmen, and got back nearly 12 hours later on the 1800 ferry. Those stops for tacos may sound trivial, but they actually made a big difference in how the day went. For one thing, we were able to stagger from the ferry landing across the main square to Casa Denis for dinner...

    This is definitely a repeater for us. I'd like to see some other cenotes on future trips, but would certainly return to Dos Ojos as well. I will definitely do this with Playa Scuba as well. The logistics and communication went smoothly. The guides are clearly very experienced and skillful divers who know what they're doing. They're enthusiastic about cenotes and convey that to those who dive with them. Their serious focus on safety was clear without being dire.

    *Yes, I know it was Flavor Aid in Jonestown. Apparently, though, it's Kool-Aid for DIR/GUE. That difference is probably for the best.
  2. TSandM

    TSandM Missed and loved by many. Rest in Peace ScubaBoard Supporter

    The needle goes in easy, doesn't it? :D

    Glad you enjoyed the dives. The cenotes are truly magical (she says, just home from a week of cave diving in Florida).
  3. Spratman

    Spratman Contributor

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Near Allentown, PA
    Glad you had a great time. Cenotes are magical, not to mention addictive. I haven't done Dos Ojos but will on my next trip. Most people are hooked after the initial introduction.

    Congrats on your new addiction!
  4. whoji

    whoji Contributor

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: UK
    Glad you enjoyed the 'Cenote Experience'

    Like Spratman I haven't dived Dos Ojos, sounds like one for my next trip.
  5. uprock

    uprock Registered

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Calgary
    Did 2 dives at Dos Ojos in January. Lots of fun, great experience. It is totally cool. These were only my 16 and 17th dives respectively but bouyancy control is easy in this environment. There is a local photographer who takes pictures (and short films) of people then sells them a Cd afterward with a large stock gallery of pictures, plus a film he and his friends have made, plus stuff from your dive. It makes a good momento.
  6. Lenmonster

    Lenmonster Contributor

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Baltimore, MD
    My cenote experience has actually caused me to set major goals so I can get back and do more of them. We did Chikin Ha, which was a very easy cenote, but it was so amazing...I now seriously drift to sleep remembering floating in that beautiful water.

    I am getting AOW in June, and am even considering a dry suit now so I can dive local quarries and close-by wrecks...all to get comfortable in an overhead environment. Then...cavern cert. I have no desire to do full cave, but I can see the cenotes being worth the cavern training.

    While I know I will love ocean diving, that clear calm water and the underground beauty is just pure tranquility. I can see why the Mayans considered these things to be the gateway to the gods.
  7. TSandM

    TSandM Missed and loved by many. Rest in Peace ScubaBoard Supporter

    Oh, Lenmonster, be careful what words you use, because you may have to eat them :) Cavern is not enough! (When I took Fundies, I earnestly told the instructor that I had no ambitions at all toward tech or cave diving, but just wanted to be the best recreational diver I could be. Hah.)
  8. Lenmonster

    Lenmonster Contributor

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Baltimore, MD
    I know what you're saying, but all those incident and accident reports are pretty scary. I'll never say never, but I'm going to take it really slowly.
  9. Nylorac

    Nylorac Contributor

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Connecticut
    Magical really is the best way to describe it! My husband and I dove Dos Ojos in January and can't wait to dive more cenotes -it is highly addictive.
  10. Oside Jimc

    Oside Jimc Solo Diver

    Understatement of the year!! All I can think about is going back for Cavern and Intro to Cave!

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