Cancun is one of the world’s best scuba diving destinations, being near to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second largest coral reef on the planet. The reef, which stretches from the Bay of Islands of Honduras to Isla Contoy off the coast of Cancun, is home to a dazzling array of tropical fish and other marine species.
The World Wide Fund for Nature estimates that an impressive 500 species of fish, 65 species of coral and five different species of sea turtle call the reef home. With many different diving spots, it is possible for divers of all ages and abilities to get a glimpse of these sea creatures.
Even if you have never dived before, Cancun is a good place to learn! Due to its popularity with tourists, there are many quality dive schools that can teach you, as well as dive sites to suit everyone from the absolute beginner to the more thrill-seeking expert.
Whatever your experience with diving, here are some of our favourite places to go diving in Cancun and its neighbors:
1. Caones, Puerta Aventuras
One of the best sites for beginner divers and away from the crowds, Caones is a great place to go and meet some friendly local marine life. What makes this site suitable for beginners is that it is located fairly close to the shore, and the current is not too strong. As a result, it is a good option for younger divers or those who have not been diving for long.
While it isn’t quite as popular as some other dive sites around Cancun (partly because it is over an hour away), it offers great opportunities to view wildlife including dazzling tropical fish, colourful coral, and – perhaps most exciting of all – friendly sea turtles who don’t even mind if tourists swim close by to them.
2. Underwater Museum [http://musamexico.org/]
The underwater museum in Cancun is a quirky dive site with a great backstory. Given Cancun’s popularity with tourists, the local government authorities decided to create an underwater art gallery to try to persuade some tourists away from the reef and give it a little bit of breathing room. Therefore, the Underwater Museum was created.
Beneath the surface of the water, there are over 500 life-size art pieces for divers to check out. Plus, it has become quite the ecosystem itself, with lots of species of fish (and even sharks) living around the museum which lies between the Isla Mujeres and Punta Nizuc.
3. C-58 Wreck (General Anaya)
Located about 90 feet below the ocean’s surface, the C-58 is a shipwrecked world war two US Navy Gun Ship that is a popular and exciting dive site for more experienced divers. Not only is the ship itself a great sight, with its eerie barnacled hull and interior that can be explored by following the safety lines, but there are many species of marine life that have made the wreck their home.
Near the wreck, wish lies in the waters between Isla Mujeres and Cancun’s mainland, experienced divers can expect to see species including massive tuna, graceful stingrays and barracuda fish.
4. Manchones, Isla Mujeres
Difficulty: Beginner & Experienced
Suitable for all abilities, Manchones, which lies of the coast of Isla Mujeres, is one of the most popular dive spots in all of Cancun, largely thanks to its spectacular array of marine life and suitability for beginner and experienced divers alike, with a depth of about 40 feet.
In the region, you can expect to see species including many tropical fish, sea turtles, stingrays and octopus. You can even return at night for a different view of the area, and a chance of seeing the more nocturnal sea creatures. There’s also a large, imposing cross under the water, which makes for an interesting sight.
5. Shark Point, Playa del Carma
For those with nerves of steel and who enjoy a bit of a thrill during their holidays, Shark Point is an amazing diving sight suitable for more advanced divers. As its name suggests, the area is home to many bull sharks, especially between November and March. Experienced divers are sure to have a once in a life time experience swimming with these harmless – but scary looking – creatures. Yes, it’s a bit of a drive from Cancun, but it is well worth it.
Honourable Mention: Gatas, Puerto Morelos
If you’re not in Cancun during bull shark season, don’t worry! Head for Gatas, about 20 minutes from Puerto Morelos. Here, you can see an impressive selection of animals including fish, turtles and lobsters – and even Grey Nurse Sharks! The area is also home to many Lion Fish, a toxic species of fish that threatens the local ecosystem and can lawfully be spearfished
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