An idyllic, Carribean island full of charm, Isla Mujeres is beautiful. Easy to reach, with crystal clear waters, this is a scuba divers paradise. Thanks to the varied marine line, and unique underwater museum, there’s plenty to see underwater. Find out all you need to know about scuba diving in Isla Mujeres and exploring MUSA underwater museum.
What is the diving like at Isla Mujeres?
Mexico is quite famous for cenote diving. Here on Isla Mujeres however, it is all about the ocean! As a little island in the Caribbean, you can expect some brilliant dives. The water is usually very clear with great visibility. There is plenty of hard and soft coral to enjoy. Marine life is abundant. Turtles, barracuda and reef sharks can often be spotted. The fish are typical brightly coloured Caribbean natives. There are many dive sites, and so there is a lot of variety for both new and experienced divers. Currents are generally very mild, and plenty to see at shallower depths. This make Isla Mujeres perfect for beginners. Perhaps the biggest draw to Isla Mujeres is the underwater museum, or MUSA.
Diving MUSA, the underwater museum
The biggest draw to diving in Isla Mujeres is the underwater museum. This collection over over 500 statues underwater is incredibly unique. Most of them were designed by British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor, and was officially opened in 2010. When I visited the museum myself, my guide told me many interesting stories about the statues. Firstly, the museum itself was a project with a purpose. the idea behind it was to provide an attraction away from the reef. Whilst there is reef nearby, the statues are on a sandy bottomed area of ocean. This meant that people had something to see away from the reefs, therefore giving the reef space to regenerate.
The statues themselves range from cars to humans, and grenades to houses. They are set out over a huge area, so you certainly need more than one dive to make the most out of it. One of the most impressive installations is The Silent Evolution. More than 400 life size human sculptures are shown in various different positions. Each one is incredibly life like, with the artist basing them on local fishermen. The artist intends them to show both the negative and positive impact that humans have on the environment. ultimately, as time goes on, nature will reclaim the statues. Even now, after only 10 years in the water, it is fascinating to see the coral and plant growth on the statues.
Is Isla Mujeres a good place to learn to dive?
I visited Isla Mujeres as a very experienced diver. It really struck me, as a PADI Instructor, what a great place this is to lean to dive! The conditions are great for new divers! The visibility is pretty much always good, which is helpful for new divers. It means less stress in water for beginners. There is very little current, which is another benefit. The biggest draw would be MUSA though, as even new divers can see the sculptures! Most of the underwater museum is at a depth of around 8-10 metres. Therefore, it is perfect for those learning to dive, as training dives could be done in the museum area! I dove MUSA with Pocna dive centre, and found them excellent. I met the owner, who was very passionate not only about diving, but conservation and training too.
Do I have to be a diver to see MUSA, the underwater museum?
Fortunately for those who don’t dive, there are other ways to see the underwater museum! There are glass bottomed boats which make the trip out. You can look down through the glass and see the museum without getting wet! It is a great option for families and young children. Thanks to how shallow the museum is, you can see a lot from the surface! You can also take a snorkel trip to MUSA. Boats will drop you in the area and you can look down on the statues. If you are not a strong swimmer, you can always ask for a life jacket. Always listen to any onboard instructions, especially concerning boat traffic in the area.
How to see whale sharks near Isla Mujeres
From June to September, whale sharks are often spotted around Isla Mujeres. Unfortunately, you cannot book a dive trip to see them. operators in the area only run snorkel trips. However, as whale sharks tend to stay near the surface, snorkelling is a great way to see them. Whilst we know when the season runs for whale sharks, this is nature so nothing is guaranteed! The operators in the area know where the whale sharks like to congregate though! It is thought they come annually to the same area to feed on fish eggs. The whale sharks are heavily protected, which is great news. Only certain numbers can be in the water with them at anytime. Of course, there is a no touching rule too, so please abide by these rules as they are for the animals welfare.
Best time of year to dive Isla Mujeres
Diving can be done from Isla Mujeres year round. However, like most places, certain months are better. Water temperature doesn’t vary much year round. It tends to stay between 78 and 82ºF (25 and 28ºC) at all times. June to September tends to be the Whales Shark season. Visibilty also tends to be slighty better May to September too. It is also worth noting that Mexico in general can be very rainy for the months of July – August. Whilst that doesn’t mean you cannot dive, if you are going for a holiday you may want to consider avoiding rainy season! Really, the very best underwater conditions do overlap the rainy season. However, year round diving is great, so unless you really want to see whale sharks, any time will work!
How to get to Isla Mujeres from Cancun?
There is no commercial airport on the island itself. Therefore the easiest way to get to Isla Mujeres is to first fly into nearby Cancun. From Cancun airport, it is about a half an hour taxi ride to the ferry port, where the boat to Isla Mujeres leaves. Ultramar ferries depart from the terminal at Puerto Juarez leave every hour, on the hour, starting at 7am. The last ferry back from Isla Mujeres to Cancun is 10pm. So it is actually possible to just do a day trip from Cancun to Isla Mujeres. The boat ride itself takes around half an hour. A return journey costs 300MXN for a round trip. You should always buy a return ticket, as you can use it on any boat, and you have to come back to the mainland at some point!
How much will the diving cost?
Every dive centre’s price will differ slightly. However, I always strongly advise people not to choose a dive operator solely on price! The full open water course tends to cost between 400 and 500 USD in Isla Mujeres. For those who just want a taster, you could also do a Discover Scuba dive, for around 130-160 USD. Certified divers will find that a 2 tank dive will cost 90-110 USD.
Can I dive MUSA underwater museum from Cancun?
Cancun, with its hotel zone and airport, is very popular with tourists. Many people come to Mexico and only stay in Cancun. If you are staying only in Cancun for your trip you can still dive MUSA. The underwater museum is off the coast of Isla Mujeres, but on the side closets to Cancun! This means, you can take a dive trip to see MUSA from Cancun. Prices are very similar to what they are in Isla Mujeres. The boat journey may take slightly longer from Cancun, but no more than 45 minutes I would guess. I personally just prefer the vibe of Isla Mujeres. You can also stay longer and do some of the deeper dives or wrecks around the island.
Got any questions about MUSA or even Isla Mujeres in general? Ask me in the comments!