Image: TripAdvisor

These pictures will make you double or even triple-take when you see them and you’ll be asking yourself what you’re actually looking at! Is that…a river underwater? Well, I can say that it definitely is – it’s the Cenote Angelita!

This fascinating underwater river is located off the Mexican peninsula of Yucatán, about 15 minutes away by car from Tulum. This magical place is certainly deserving of its name, which means ‘Little Angel’ in English. If you’d like to know how this natural phenomenon was made and how to experience for yourself, then keep reading!

Underwater river Mexico – how did this phenomenon come about?

First of all, let’s clear up what Cenote Angelita actually is. A cenote is a limestone sinkhole that’s created by the collapse of the bedrock or cave beneath it and subsequently filled with water. In the Mexican state of Quintana Roo there’s over 100 of them! The total length of all the underwater cave systems that have been explored amounts to over 480 kilometres. Thanks to the collapse of the cave, openings are created which make it possible to explore the system. So, this underwater river isn’t really a river per se, but instead an illusion created by a phenomenon called a halocline.

If two kinds of water with different salt contents meet – in this case freshwater and saltwater – they’re unable to mix due to their different consistencies. The cave, 15km south of Tulum, descends directly down for 60 metres. In Cenote Angelita the first 30 metres are filled with freshwater, where you’ll have a clear view. It’s then followed by a 1 to 2 metre-thick layer of hydrogen sulphate, which is milky, foggy, and obscures your view into the depths below. The rest of the cenote is filled with saltwater. The supposed underwater river is therefore just a layer of saltwater that’s trapped in the cave!

For experienced divers only

To reach this underwater cave you’ll have to undertake a little trip through the jungle before reaching the well-hidden cenote which is made for fantastic diving trips. It has to be said that this cave system is only for experienced divers who’ve completed at least 20 dives though, as you’ll be reaching depths of up to 60 metres. If you fit the bill, you’ll be face-to-face with an unforgettable phenomenon, diving into the clouds and even looking at the leafy underwater trees that are found at the edges of the ‘river’. It makes the illusion almost perfect!

I came across this fabulous video that gives a better impression of the underwater river in Mexico.

Isn’t it marvellous how beautiful and diverse our Earth is? The fact that there are rivers underwater is something I’d never really believed! Should I write more about other extraordinary places and natural phenomena? I’m looking forward to your feedback! If you’re planning a trip to Mexico and are an experienced diver, a trip to Cenote Angelita is an absolute must. For cheap flights have a look at my Flight Fare Finder and great accommodations can be found on or Find a cracking bargain and have fun!