Scuba diving Cancun: the 5 best sites not to be missed

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Scuba Diving Cancun is one of our best dive sites in the world

Cancun is synonymous with good weather, sun and vacations, especially for North American tourists. It is also famous for scuba diving, and a scuba diving trip to Cancun is a must for almost any North American based scuba diver.

You can dive into Cancun all year round, and although there is a hurricane season that runs from July to October, the most likely bad weather is in September and October. High season and the busiest time of year to visit and dive in Cancun is winter from November to April each year.

One thing to remember about scuba diving in Cancun is that the water isn’t the warmest during peak season averaging 24C/76F. A good 3/5 mm wetsuit is therefore recommended. This is especially if you plan to do multiple dives over multiple days, which is very easy to do since Cancun has some great dive sites.

The underwater museum

If you ask anyone about scuba diving in Cancun, the first thing they’ll probably say is the Underwater Museum. The Underwater Museum (MUSA) includes a large number of 500 statues, of which 487 are the work of sculptor Jason deCaires, and the rest are the work of 5 Mexican artists.

The Underwater Museum (MUSA) is divided into three locations, with only one from Punta Nizuc, only one from Isla Mujeres and only one from Punta Cancun. All sites are offshore, so you can only visit the museum by boat, whether you want to dive or snorkel at either site.

The main artifact is The Silent Evolution, which includes 400 statutes describing human interaction with nature in its positive and negative aspects. The piece focuses on the devastating effects we can have on corals and how we must learn to live with nature.

While the current phase of the museum was completed in 2013, more are planned. Organizers plan to place an additional 1,200 statues in ten different destinations around Cancun over the next few years.

Manchones Reef

Manchones Reef is one of the best diving and snorkeling sites, and a scuba diving trip to Cancun wouldn’t be complete without a dip at Manchones Reef. The site is part of the national marine park and is located in the south of the island.

Manchones Reef is a relatively shallow site with an average depth of between 26 and 32 feet / ~8 and 10 meters and is 800 meters / 2,625 feet long. The site is incredibly rich with massive biodiversity including brain, staghorn and elk corals. Besides corals, there are lobsters, crabs, angelfish, nurse sharks and stingrays. Shallow and rich, the site is ideal for photographers who want to take excellent pictures of marine life.

If the sea life hasn’t impressed you enough, then there’s art to grab your attention. The site houses two sculptures from the Underwater Museum (MUSA), “Man on Fire” and “Ernest Hemingway’s Office”.

C-58 Wreck Diving

A former United States Navy minesweeper who served in World War II and was previously known as USS Harlequin. After being sold to the Mexican Navy in 1962, she was reassigned and renamed several times, eventually becoming General Anaya.

The wreck was sunk in May 2000 to serve as an artificial reef. The ship is split into two halves and rests on the seabed at a depth of 85 feet / 26 meters. Over the years, the wreck has become home to a rich and diverse marine life. The wreck is home to groupers, barracuda and the occasional manta ray can be seen passing by.

One thing to keep in mind is that eagle rays can be found in substantial numbers on the wreck in winter. Meetings with up to 30 or 40 people are well documented and a fantastic experience. So don’t forget, on your next scuba diving trip to Cancun, to check out the C58 wreck.

The Ultrafreeze Wreck – El Frio

One of the most famous dive sites in Cancun is the wreck dive, commonly known as El Frio. The wreck, whose real name is Ultrafreeze, is 110 meters long and lies in 29 meters of water. The wreck was towed to its destination and sunk in 1979 after catching fire and being destroyed beyond repair.

After more than 40 years in the ocean, the wreck is home to rich marine life. While diving in El Frio, it is common to encounter turtles, groupers, barracudas and even passing manta rays. The secret to the site’s rich life is the strong currents in the area, which make it a particularly difficult dive for inexperienced divers, especially when descending and ascending the line of fire.

Exploring the wreck is a fascinating experience, especially considering that Hurricane Andrew split it in half in 1992, creating an L-shaped wreck. Both parts are easily accessible and remain upright, creating opportunities interesting explorations through the holds and the ship as a whole. Due to the depth of the wreck, with most of the diving being done below 20m/80ft, it is only recommended for advanced divers and is an ideal nitrox dive.

Scuba Diving Cancun Secret Manta Valley

A scuba diving cancun the trip wouldn’t be complete without a dive or two in the Manta Valley. Getting to the dive site requires a quick climb as it takes around 3-4 hours to get there by boat. But it will be worth it once you get to the manta cleaning station.

The dive site is a seamount that rises to a depth of 21m/75ft, and the best time to visit the site is at the end of the fall season when the mantas are most abundant. Diving on the site is one thing and one thing only! Mantas and more mantas. On a typical dive, you will descend and simply enjoy being in the company of giants.

The site has strong currents and challenging conditions, and although it is well within reach for open water divers, experience matters when visiting. Most local operations will require you to have a minimum of 40-50 dives before taking you on. Additionally, the site is best dived with Nitrox, especially since the Secret Manta Valley tends to be a two-dive trip. If you are going to scuba dive in Cancun, the best advice you can get is don’t miss the manta valley if you have the training and experience!

Click here for more of the world’s best dive sites

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Our Top Dive Sites of the World guide is brought to you by Suunto. We recommend using a Suunto dive computer scuba diving or snorkeling at one of these dive sites. Suunto is the world’s leading designer and manufacturer of dive computers providing dive instruments for recreational, technical and freediving. You can learn more about Suunto.com.

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