Cenote Zapote – Hell’s Bell’s

Matt went in the summer of 2010 to scout out the location of Cenote Zapote as reports emerged of a new dive site opened up due to new road construction leading inland away from the coast.

As we heard more about it photos came up as well, in particular images from Scott of Tacoma, Washington who showed these strange large bell shaped Speleothems called Hell’s Bell’s.

As Matt was looking forward to dive there he wanted to share this first dive experiences with friend Leigh and Ivan both of Tacoma, Washington.

On December 13th Ivan, Leigh and Matt went to dive Cenote Zapote in the Pto. Morelos area. If you are leaving Pto. Morelos south bound just out of town is a large gate and road with a sign Selvatica. Take that road and follow the signs to Kin Ha Cenotes. The last 8 kilometers or so are over rough road and you need a car with a bit more clearance than your average Tsuru or Atos.

The depth of the bells were reported to be in the 120-150 foot/36-46 meter range so we mixed up a light Normoxic Trimix 21-25 with a stage of 50% Nitrox each. For good measure we hung a stage with 100% Oxygen at 20 feet.

As we arrived early Sunday morning we set up shop and gear, lowering most tanks and doubles by a rope and pulley, handed down our cameras off we went ready to go diving. Casualties to this point in time where Ivan’s video camera not working, my Liquivision dive computer acting up and Leigh’s Dive computer not switching on its depth reading. Eventually all was sorted leaving the video camera behind, my X1 coming along and my backup depth gauge going to Leigh.

Cenote Zapote – Hell’s Bell’s

The descent in through a chimney say 20 feet/6 meters across till in about 90 feet/27 meters the shaft is opening into a large bell. The Hell’s Bells are almost immediately spotted. A Hydrogen Sulfide layer is located at about 110 feet/33 meters.

Cenote Zapote – Hell’s Bell’s

As we went for our first dive we thought it should be an easy one limiting ourselves in our pre dive brief to 20 minutes bottom time. The cave monkeys where not done with our equipment as I was struggling to get my photo camera going. I almost gave up but after some 7 minutes finally got it going and was starting to snap away getting some images of them huge bells. What a sight. Whow. The Hydrogene Suffide was quite strong at this time and I was a bit worried that the images do not come out well but it turned out to be ok with them cave monkeys done for the day.

Cenote Zapote – Hell’s Bell’s

Our diving in and under the Hydrogen Sulfide layer stirred it up some and the taste or “smell” of it was rather strong with familiar rotten eggs taste. Not so strong that you get your lips numb though.

As we went back up the chimney and through our decompression we thought how great the dive was showing each other non standards hand signals with wide arm movements.

As we came back to the surface we where super excited and happy that all of us went together on a dive none of us haven’t done yet. A truly cool experience.

The shape of the formations is very special as I have not seen anything like it in Mexico as well the depth of the formations. I have not seen Speleothems in Mexico below a depth of say 80 feet/27 meters as they are usuallly disolved by the salt water. These Hell’s Bell’s here are very remarkable in size, depth and condition.

Thanx to Leigh and Ivan for the company. A Sunday afternoon well spend.



1 Leigh Stone { 01.08.11 at 12:22 am }

Many thanks go to Matt for his great pictures and an excellent dive day.

2 Mario { 05.13.12 at 10:38 am }

AWESOME POST MAN, I so want to go there…. do you know of any operation that takes you diving there?

What are the training requirements to do this kind of dive?


3 Matt { 05.21.12 at 6:52 pm }

I don’t know of any operatin that goes there on a regular basis as it is so remote and far away in the jungle. We do take divers but it is a custom trip. Matt

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