Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
December 10, 2023 ·  3 min read

Scuba diver captures breathtaking labyrinth of underwater caves worshipped by the Mayans

For even the most experienced scuba divers, exploring a vast network of underwater caves is daunting and dangerous. Fifty-year-old Martin Broen from Argentina spent three years diving in and photographing the underwater caves beneath the Maya Riviera in Mexico. He has finally released the photos from his dives, and they are more stunning than you could ever imagine.

Image Credit: Martin Broen

Scuba Diver Captures the Beauty of Underwater Caves in The Riviera Maya

When you dive deep in dark, underwater caves, you are assuming a pretty sizable risk. At any point during your dive, you could be mere minutes from an exit, but you could also be hours from one. If something goes wrong, you could be stuck. (1)

Image Credit: Martin Broen

Despite these risks, Martin Broen, a product designer and innovation manager from Buenos Aires, Argentina, went diving in these caves for three years. His goal was to capture their serene beauty on camera so that the public could enjoy a spectacle few get to ever see. (1)

“The entry points to these cave systems are known as cenotes and allow you to pass from the jungle to a magical underwater world illuminated only by the few sun rays that penetrate through the sinkhole or the light you will be bringing with you,” he explained. “The different cenotes offer quite different experiences and are all magical in their own way. I was amazed and super excited; it was nothing like I’ve ever done before.” (2)

Image Credit: Martin Broen

He describes the water as being so clean; you feel like you’re flying rather than swimming. What’s even more intriguing are the things you will find on the caves’ floors: Fossils from early humans and gigantic mammoths, to name a few. (2)

The Underwater Caves at the Riviera Maya

Most of us know the Riviera Maya. It’s a popular tourist destination south of Cancun, in Mexico. Originally, it was called the Cancun-Tulum corridor. (3)

Image Credit: Martin Broen

In this corridor, there are thousands of natural caves (cenotes) that formed millions of years ago. They are the result of limestone caves that collapsed and then preserved by the salty water that filled them up post-ice age. While many will explore the cave openings, few will go in so far to capture the true beauty that extends far beyond where the light from outside can reach. (3)

Image Credit: Martin Broen

“The caves took millions of years to form during the ice ages when they were dry. They then got preserved in time when the sea level rose, and the caves got flooded,” Broen explains. “The water in the caves gets filtered through the rocks and therefore is crystal clear, so gives a complete feeling of flying inside those alien-like spaces, closer to exploring a different planet.” (1)

Image Credit: Martin Broen

Read: This incredible image shows a rare phenomenon of the moon surrounded by a celestial rainbow

Taking Photos In A Cave

Photography is a difficult craft to master. This becomes even more challenging underwater, in a place where there is zero natural light. Broen says on top of relying only on the light you bring with you; you also have to manage your gear to ensure you’ve got enough oxygen to get you out of the cave and back to the surface. (1)

Image Credit: Martin Broen

“[You are also] shooting at very low speed while holding your breath, while maintaining your buoyancy and being sure you don’t damage any formations,” he says. (1)

Image Credit: Martin Broen

Despite the challenges, Broen masterfully navigated and photographed the caves for all of us to enjoy.

If you would like to purchase a print, they are available on his website.

Keep Reading: Photographer Captures Adorable Laughing Dormouse Perched on a Flower


  1. Daring scuba diver captures breathtaking labyrinth of underwater caves worshipped by the Mayans beneath a Mexican riviera.” Daily Mail. Jemma Carr. February 19, 2021
  2. Daring scuba diver photographs breathtaking labyrinth of underwater caves beneath a Mexican riviera.” Daily Mail. Jack Elsom. April 2020.
  3. Brave Scuba Diver Shares Stunning Photos of Mazes of Underwater Caves Beneath Riviera Maya in Mexico.” Science Times. Staff. Apr 17, 2020.