Jailhouse Cenote

Cenote Jailhouse. The maximum depth is 90 ft (29 m). Steve Bogearts, with Bil Philips’s help, connected this cave to the massive Ox Bel Ha cave system (‘Three Paths of Water’) on March 28th, 2011.

Nestled south of Tulum and near the captivating Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, the Ox Bel Ha cave system unveiled its mysteries in 1996 when a team of cave divers embarked on its discovery and exploration.

Ox Bel Ha Cave System from January 2023 (thanks to CINDAQ team efforts) becomes again the World’s Longest Underwater Cave. It boasts an impressive length of 496.8 kilometers (308.6 mi), securing its status as the world’s longest underwater cave system. As of the end of 2023, the cave system encompassed 160+ cenotes. The most notable ones are cenote Jailhouse, cenote Naharon, cenote Escondido (Mayan Blue). According to the latest CINDAQ annual report, the system includes 56674 survey stations, 615 sections, more than 2500 jumps, 1500+ T intersections, and 7683 cave line markers.

Ox Bel Ha Cave System map

Ox Bel Ha general map
Ox Bel Ha general map

The Yucatan Peninsula’s distinctive geological history, a testament to the Earth’s transformative power over millions of years, has given rise to a sprawling labyrinth of underground passages and cenotes. This unique geological formation, a gift to cave divers and geology enthusiasts, has established the Ox Bel Ha cave system as a paradise to explore and admire.

Cenote Jailhouse

The landowner has cleared most of the jungle surrounding the cenote and constructed a stone wall on the south side. Two equipment tables are available, along with a QRSS map on display under a glass frame underneath a palapa roof to protect it from the rain. Finally, stone steps are along the pathway to the water.

The basin’s water is clear from late October to early April, and green-brown algae cover the rest of the year. Once a group of cave divers enters the water of Jailhouse Cenote, it turns to muck.

The permanent line begins to be tied to a stone on the left side of the cave opening. Follow the string thru a small opening, and the line turns right down a steep slope of organic slit debris. Accordingly, you will make a mess if you are not gentle with your buoyancy. At a depth of 40 ft (12.2 m), there will be a permanent T-intersection with two white arrows pointing back to the surface.

Upstream and downstream areas

To the right is the upstream section of the area. Moving along the main line, you will reach the Muknal Siphone area. Continue your cave dive; after about 1 kilometer, you will reach a T-intersection. A short line to the left will take you to Sun Cenote. Moving to the right, after a while, you will reach the Dead Zone passage and find yourself in Cenote Mayan Blue.

To the left is the downstream area. Swim left about 250 ft (76 m) and find two offshoot lines on the right side. The offshoot line that heads to the right is a shortcut to the incredibly deep saltwater line. The offshoot line to the left is another shortcut line and will take you to the beginning of the saltwater area. Jump across and swim right about 100 ft (30.5 m), then jump left, 50 ft (15.2 m), and you enter the beautiful Swiss siphon passage.

Our Jailhouse Cenote cave diving video

Jailhouse Cenote cave lines map

Jailhouse Cenote cave lines map
Jailhouse Cenote cave lines map

Steve Bogearts, with Bil Philips’s help, connected this cave to the Ox Bel Ha cave system on March 28th, 2011. There is a beautiful cartography map of this cenote and the surrounding area drawn by Jim Coke.


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