When investigating new corners of the globe, the common wisdom is to” dive deep ,” but rarely is that advice literal. Now it is: A team of divers in eastern Mexico have discovered what’s believed to be the longest underwater cave in the world, merely three miles west of the white sand beaches of Tulum.
The findings confirm that the vast, 164 -mile-long Sistema Sac Actun, a waterlogged system of natural sinkholes, or, is actually connected to the nearby 52 -mile-long Dos Ojos system, bringing the total length of the caves to a gale 216 miles. That’s more than the combined high levels of 24 Mount Everests stacked on top of each other. The warren of caves also stretches downward, to a depth of more than 332 feet, building parts of it deeper than London’s Big Ben is tall.
More exciting than the otherworldly underwater photographs coming out of the caves is the possibility of deciphering the secrets of the Maya civilization, which ruled such regions before Spain’s 16 th century conquerings of Central and South American. were often holy sites in Mayan culture, thought to be portals to the gods. Divers have unearthed religion artifacts and eerily perfect human skeletons in many of them, leading researchers at the Gran Acuifero Maya–a project dedicated to the study and preservation of these caves–to believe they were used for sacrifices.
” It gives us an opportunity to appreciate much more clearly how the rituals, the pilgrimage sites, and ultimately the great pre-Hispanic settlements that we know emerged ,” underwater archeologist and project director Guillermo de Anda told Reuters.
It’s yet another reason to book a plane ticket to Tulum, which has gained popularity not just for its pristine beaches, eye-popping coral reefs, and high-end pilates retreats aimed at the female corporate define, but also a varied and impressive culinary scene.
In recent years, Tulum has attracted luminaries that include cook Rene Redzepi, who opened a pop-up version of his Copenhagen eatery Noma there in 2016. It remains a luxurious escape for lovers of creature comforts, whether they choose to stay in a ritzy treehouse with seaside views or an art-forward hotel brimming with original runs by Picasso, Warhol, and Botero.
Sistema Sac Actun and Dos Ojos were already prime scuba diving destinations, but this revelation certainly entails the combined system deserves a designation as one of the most extreme scuba dives in the world. It’s a sliver of good news for the broader Quintana Roo region, which this past summer was included in a U.S. State Department advisory warning Americans about travel to Mexico in light of rising homicide rates. Here’s hoping it’s a harbinger of a bright and shiny future.