When I was a child I loved caves. I only got to tour a couple during my whole childhood, but that experience and books I read stirred my imagination. I once got my hands on an old roll of wallpaper that was about 20’ long. Unrolling it from the far end of my living room, down the hall and into the kitchen, I drew a side view of a cave all along it, complete with pits, stalactites, stalagmites and a few monsters to make it interesting. Then I journeyed into the cave in my imagination and overcame these obstacles. I have maintained my love of caves ever since.
Finding out that there were caves in the Mexican Yucatan that could be swam in and snorkeled, I knew that I had to experience these firsthand. Dos Ojos is one of these caves, known locally as cenotes. Dos Ojos is a great location for cave diving, but I am not a diver. Still, this place was a memorable experience.
As the name implies, there are two cenotes here, and we headed first for the larger one, Ojo Oeste (West Eye). Like many cenotes, the water is in a crescent shape, the center of the cave having collapsed long ago and is now dry ground. But along the crescent is crystal-clear aqua water under an overhang and passages lead back into the limestone. Various groups of divers or snorkelers cluster about, usually led by a guide, but we are here on our own and taking the first platform we come to, we get our snorkel gear on. The water is refreshingly cool as we plunge off of the steps into the water.
Turning to the right, we slide past a stalactite that drops from the ceiling into the water and we venture into Baticueva – the Bat Cave. It is a smallish room with low ceilings, and we move slowly to avoid bumping into any of the formations or knocking our head. In places, we had to be careful to not hit the ceiling if we took our head out of the water for a look around. The darkness was not complete, but it nearly was, especially underwater, where only our waterproof flashlights pushed back against the darkness and any perceived dangers our imagination might place back there.
But the only things in the water are the swimmers and a few tiny fish – mollies, guppies and Tetra that I remembered from my childhood aquarium. We move slowly out of the Bat Cave into the larger area but still hug the wall where the formations are more interesting. Stalactites hang from the ceiling, sometimes plunging into the water. Below, stalagmites poke up from the ground below, betraying that the cave wasn’t always so inundated with water. Occasionally another pair of snorkelers ventured into our area, but we waited and they moved on, leaving us mostly alone in our private world of wonder.
To the right, a submerged passage appears leading off deeper into the cave. We stop there for a moment and watch a few divers swim languorously in the the depths. Their flashlights light their way and reflect off of the bubbles floating from their respirators. The passages are wide and deep, and for the first time I seriously reconsidered whether I should take up diving to be able to swim through those cave passages. We watch them for a few minutes, fascinated by the otherworldly experience.
We continue along and reach a narrow spot with a low roof that leads us to one final area. Here, the orientation has changed enough that the morning sun is now plunging into the water, creating hypnotic beams of light that pierce the water and make undulations of light against the walls and uneven floor. We stop in that spot and bask in the view for a time, enjoying the play of light and the myriad azure shades it creates.
We left the cenote and went to the second eye, Ojo Este (East Eye), a smaller body of water that connected via underwater tunnels back to the first. Divers moved between the two cenotes in a short distance while we had to walk a few hundred yards.
We’ll always remember the sight of the divers moving through the cave tunnels and the wonder of swimming in a cave filled with refreshingly clear water dotted with stalactites.
To see how to take a dip in Cenote Dos Ojos yourself, click here.
You can see a gallery of our own trip to Cenote Dos Ojos here.