While we were in Mexico, we had the good fortune of meeting up with a few traveling families like ourselves. Besides for the instant bonding that occurs whenever you meet someone with a similar life to yours, meeting up with someone guarantees that you’re going to get out of house and try something new.
One of the families we hung out with was Erin and Josh from Travel With Bender. Not only do they have their own travel blog, they have two young ones as well and it was great to let our kids hang out with kids their own age.
After tons of back and forth, we rented a couple of cars to check out a few of the bigger name cenotes around Playa del Carmen. We decided we needed to see Cenote Dos Ojos (Spanish for two eyes) just outside of Akumal and Grand Cenote, just outside of Tulum. Both get great reviews, both offer something for divers and snorkelers alike (we weren’t diving that day) and both are fairly closed off. The fact that they’re almost cave like and close enough for a day trip from Playa del Carmen intrigued us.
Unlike Cenote Cristalino, the cenote we visited the last time we were in Playa, these two cenotes required walking down into their depths to get access to the water. We weren’t sure what that would entail but we knew it would be very different than Cristalino.
If you’re not familiar with a cenote (Se-Noh-Tay), they’re large sinkholes that occur naturally in the limestone rock that exists all throughout this area of Mexico. Sometimes they’re open air pits and sometimes they’re caved in caverns. With the vast network of underground rivers throughout the peninsula, they also occur underground. There are dozens of fresh water cenotes from Cancun down to Tulum and all the way to Merida. Once worshiped by the early Mayans as entrance ways to the underworld, today they’re quickly becoming a way to attract visitors and generate a little income. More seem to be opening up everyday.
Dos Ojos Cenote
We had heard that Dos Ojos was one of the most popular diving cenotes in the region. This didn’t fully hit home until we drove into the parking lot and listened to the diving pitch. The sales man at the entrance seemed awed that we weren’t interested in doing a dive. With two young kids in tow, diving has taken a back seat these last few years, but Micki and I are confident that once we can trust the kids not to do something dumb while we’re gone we’ll definitely take it up again. To be perfectly honest, Dos Ojos was the first time since we had kids that I truly wanted to strap a tank to my back and plop a regulator in my mouth. More on that in a moment.
After paying near the entrance just off the highway south of Akumal (it was 100 pesos a person and four-year-old Jordan was free), we drove the two graveled kilometers to the site proper. We quickly understood that Dos Ojos is a serious diving destination when we were forced to park our cars just outside the main gates while divers got to drive right in. As we walked the extra few hundred feet past the cars, vans and trucks full of divers and their gear in various stages of preparations, we knew it would be busy.
We decided to check out the first cavern and as we descended the long steps down to the entrance, divers were everywhere. With a bunch of bench-like tables set up for diving gear, we were surprised there was no dedicated area for the snorkelers. It definitely made it awkward for the kids and our bags, but we found an empty space behind one of the tables and set up shop. One thing nice about recessed cenotes is that we didn’t need to apply any sunscreen on the kids. We’re not sure who enjoyed that the most, them or us. 😉
There are two entrances into the first cavern at Dos Oyos with platforms at both locations. and large steps leading into the water. There’s also a nice area where divers can fall backwards into the water, which doubles as a good jumping point for all of us non-divers. It was in this congested area that we spent most of our time.
Dos Ojos is definitely a two class cenote and though the snorkelers were always above looking down at the divers, at Dos Ojos the diver is king. Of course, anyone who’s ever lugged around a 40 lb tank strapped to their back while in full diving gear and wearing fins knows that mobility on land isn’t the easiest. To put it simply, we quickly learned to get out of the diver’s way when they were on the move. The problem was there wasn’t a ton of room to maneuver and the steps, one of only a few handful of locations young kids could touch the bottom, were constantly in use.
Regardless, we had a good time at Dos Ojos. The fresh, cool water is crystal clear, the light strong enough to see fish and cool rock formations while snorkeling, and the water is deep enough that there is plenty of room for both divers and snorkelers once they’re off the platforms and in the water. The drop down is impressive, the caverns gorgeous and watching the divers enter the dark tunnels from above made me wish I was with them. It was amazing to see how far their little flashlights reached in the dark caves that they were entering.
For anyone wanting to check the place out, the water is pretty deep around the bigger platform, however there are shallower areas around the second platform. Though divers constantly came and went, for the most part Dos Ojos was full of playful snorkelers who swam around the first cavern. The kids enjoyed a round of platform jumps and we all had fun seeing what the place had to offer.
After a good hour or more at the first cavern, we made our way to the second cavern. By then we were all ravenous and the kids were a little tired so we didn’t spend much time there. From a snorkelers point of view, it was a little darker and not as inviting as the first entrance, so we decided to call it quits and jumped in the cars and headed to Tulum for lunch. From a divers perspective, the second entrance looked promising with a long underground cave system linking the two caverns together and the chance to visit a bat cave that is unavailable to snorkelers.
There are a few little snack shops on site and hammocks strewn up here and there in the relaxing zone at Do Ojos. There are also bathrooms and fresh water available for the divers to rinse out their gear, however the clear, fresh water in the cenotes shouldn’t be a problem in that regard.
There are dive tours right on site (though you can hire outside dive companies as well) and the prices seemed reasonable for a dive. Unfortunately, I didn’t write any of the prices down so you’ll have to shop around if you decide to dive the place yourself. At 100 pesos a person for snorkelers, the price seemed a little high to me, but Cenote Dos Ojos has is beautiful and fun so it’s not a ridiculous fee.
I would look into diving there if you have your certification and aren’t afraid of dark, underground worlds. The place was featured in the 2002 IMAX Film Journey into Amazing Caves and the cave system is supposedly one of the longest underwater cave systems in the world.
In all, Dos Ojos was a great cenote to check out and we all enjoyed our morning there. Regardless of whether you’re a diver or a snorkeler you’ll probably enjoy what it has to offer.
If you’re interested in Grand Cenote, the other cenote we visited, we’ll add a link as soon as the post goes live.
Where is Cenote Dos Ojos?
Cenote Dos Ojoys, also known as Two Eyes Cenote, is between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, Mexico.
How do I get there?
By car, Cenote Dos Ojos is a 40 minute drive South of Playa del Carmen. Turn right just after Xel-Ha onto the marked gravel road.
From Playa del Carmen, a colectivo (shared bus) should cost around 30 pesos (approximately $2.50 USD). You can catch the colectivo in Playa del Carmen on Calle 2 Norte between Av. 10 and 15.
A taxi to Cenote Dos Ojos should cost around 350 to 400 pesos (approximately 32-36 USD).
What does admission cost?
Admission is 100 pesos (approximately 8 USD) for adults. Children under six are free.