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Dive Review of Scuba Tulum/Vista Del Mar Hotel, Akumal in
Cozumel and the Mexican Yucatan/Maya Riviera

Scuba Tulum/Vista Del Mar Hotel, Akumal, Jun, 2009,

by Amy, CT, USA ( 2 reports). Report 4981.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Australia, Belize, Bonaire, Chuk, Grand Cayman, Hawaii, Palau, Turks Caicos, Yap
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas no currents
Water Temp 77 to 81 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 100 to 200 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Most of the cenote diving was relatively shallow; restrictions were geared to not kicking up sediment, not leaving the guide, obviously. Cenote divers are restricted as to where they can and cannot go according to what is considered "cave" diving vs. "cavern" or "cenote" diving; guides adhere to that.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals N/A Tropical Fish N/A
Small Critters N/A Large Fish N/A
Large Pelagics N/A

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Not a photographer

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 5 stars
Snorkeling 4 stars
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Standing out in the hot sun in the Yucatan jungle, off to the side of a narrow sand track, slightly hung over from the two ill-advised margaritas the night before, sweating my ass off and bugs buzzing around my ears, I wondered for a second "what the hell am I doing here?" Despite the heat, I put my dive hood on to fend off the bugs swarming my neck and ears, and then we began the short rough trek to the edge of "The Pit" cenote, the cenote the dive guides had assured me was a dive experience like no other, akin to a religious experience. A short scramble down a sort of cliff to a platform right at the water's edge, water so blue stretching down for God-knows-how-many feet (well, they had told me: 130), and I'm there. At the Pit. The guide hoists the tanks, already strapped to the BC's, directly into the water, and I shrug into my BC once into the cool water, so welcome after the heat and bugs. Easy! I'm nervous, and Marina, my guide, knows it, but she has warm brown reassuring eyes behind her mask and says she will check with me every step of the way. I'm not a dive "newbie", but this is a deep dive, through a layer of hydrogen sulfide at about 90 feet, which some cave divers who spotted my dive log book at the restaurant the night before had cheerfully mis-informed me would "eat the chrome right off your regulator; super dangerous."

The Pit was in fact akin to a religious experience, descending down into the incandescent blue of the water, the light rays penetrating the depths like lasers. Slowly, slowly we descend, my dive computer clocking the descent at 5 minutes. At 90 feet, sure enough, like a layer of fog, is the hydrogen sulfide layer, with little wisps clinging to the walls here and there, sublime and surreal. Below this layer is the thing everyone talks about with the Pit, human bones, reportedly pre-Mayan. Below the layer it is darker, but still light enough to see our passage going off horizontally. At 127 feet my dive computer is in "ascend right this minute" mode, beeping and flashing, but still we descend, down to the max. of 138 feet. Marina shines her light on a jawbone, still with a few teeth in in. I'm slightly "narc'ed" at this point, everything mellow and languid, like a dream, and I'm very conscious of the sound of my breathing, the air coming out of the tank just behind my head. I remember this feeling from the Blue Hole in Belize, at 141 feet. We begin the ascent, slowly spiraling up the walls of the pit, with its amazing formations--some quite large like the the ones in the Blue Hole, some small, delicate and beautiful. The light streaming in from the surface, so far away, is an indescribable blue, suffused with a glow that is otherwordly. There are more bones, some the remnants of meals in ancient firepits, but also human leg bones and an overturned skull. Also pottery shards which we view when Marina removes a rock in a little niche in the wall. All in all, we spend just over an hour in this luminous water, lingering over our "safety stop" at 15 feet, reluctant to leave this magic place. I marvel at such a perfect dive, endless "vis", my buoyancy perfect, hanging in the water at 15 feet. We wave to our tank assistant Cesar, high up on the surface looking down at us; we can see him clearly. Marina gives me the thumbs-up "want to go up?" sign and I give her two fingers for "two more minutes at safety stop". Really what I want is just to stay here forever, and she figures this out and gives Cesar the "10-more-minutes" sign. We have plenty of air, she and I, and we cruise around the walls of The Pit for easily 20 more minutes before reluctantly surfacing to the real world. 62 minutes total in the Pit!

In the previous two days we had dived 5 cenotes, beginning with the popular (and populated) Dos Ojos, and indeed that day we dove two more, the off-the-beaten-path "Pet Cemetary" (so named for numerous animal bones found there, including what I'm pretty sure was a horse jawbone--como es posible?) and Casa Cenote or the Mangrove Cenote, each one completely unique, with a different vibe and feel. As I descended into each cenote, and particularly as I looked back at the light streaming into the entrance, I could easily see why the Mayans would have thought that this was the entrance to the Underworld, and indeed was impressed with the bravery of those first Mayans who, believing fully in vengeful gods and human susceptability, took that plunge.

Ocean diving will never be the same for me, post-cenotes.

Perhaps the only thing I wish I had known before I left home was how magic the cenotes are; I would have allowed more time! The owners of Scuba Tulum are active environmentally in their area, sprearheading an anti-litter education/action effort in the area of the cenotes. They are committed, engaged, and passionate about the cenotes; it was a delight to dive with them.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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