SCUBA Diving Cancun, Mexico

Our family has talked often of trying SCUBA diving, but for some reason things never fully aligned to make it happen.  So, when we spent Christmas in Mexico and the opportunity presented itself, we decided we were going to do it:  as a family, we were SCUBA diving Cancun, Mexico!  Whether you want to scuba Cancun or go scuba diving Isla Mujeres, one of the most fascinating and environmentally low-impact way to do it is to dive MUSA, the underwater museum – I love the idea!

Whether you want to SCUBA Cancun, or go SCUBA diving Isla Mujeres, a really cool – and environmentally low-impact – way to do so is to dive MUSA, the underwater museum.


SCUBA Diving Cancun and Riviera Maya

Both SCUBA diving and snorkeling are immensely popular activities throughout Cancun and the Riviera Maya.  The area boasts excellent underwater visibility, nearing 100 feet. The water temperature is also pretty consistent, from upper 70s to mid-80 degrees throughout the year.

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Another reason for the popularity of this area are the is the Mesoamerican Reef that runs along the Yucatan peninsula, as far as Belize.  This reef is the second largest barrier reef in the world, and the largest in the western hemisphere.  It is also home to scores of species of stony coral, more than 500 species of fish, and many protected or endangered species.

These factors all combine to make the Cancun, Isla Mujeres, and the Riviera Maya an incredibly popular SCUBA and snorkel destination.  Unsurprisingly, this brings thousands upon thousands of tourists in the waters of this area, creating it’s own struggle.  But we’ll get back to that.

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Getting Trained:  SCUBA Cancun Lesson

One of the things that had been a bit of a hang up for us for a long time, was not knowing what it took to get certified as a scuba diver before we could actually dive. We don’t live close to the ocean, so we thought it would cut into a significant portion of vacation for something we were unsure whether we would love.  But, when we were staying at the JW Marriott (See our thorough review here), we found that AquaWorld offered a morning lesson in a diving pool on site at the Marriott, and then we could go directly on a group scuba tour the afternoon of the same day.  Perfect!

(Oh, and spoiler alert, one daughter is talking about wanting to get certified. It was a hit!)

We arrived at the dive pool, and the lesson was only our family and another teen that was taking his time in Cancun to get PADI certified.  Our instructor first familiarized us with the equipment, explaining each piece, how it worked, why it was there, and anything we needed to pay particular attention to.   He was patient, relaxed, and thorough in his instruction, and kindly stopped us if we were pushing forward too quickly, to ensure everyone was fully comfortable with each step before moving on to the next.

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Once we understood basic safety, the equipment, and how breathing and reading our air gauge worked, we got to get in the pool and get geared up.  One by one we were suited up, all of our gear put on us, checked and double checked.  Once we all were in and good to go, we stayed in the pool where we could comfortably stand, and practiced.  First, just going under and breathing.  Then going under, taking out our regulators and putting them back in.  Then going under, tossing our regulators off to the side, and having to recover them.  Each of these steps were done one on one with our instructor as well as as a group, making sure we were all comfortable before proceeding.

These things and other basics were covered, and we proceeded to swim as a group to the deep part of the pool, approximately 20 feet deep.  There, we could swim around underwater, getting comfortable with the gear, and how to move safely around others – all in a place where we could easily kick to the surface if something went sideways.


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SCUBA Diving Cancun’s MUSA Underwater Museum

MUSA, or el Museo Subaquatico de Arte, is a creative solution to the struggle Cancun and the Riviera Maya has faced:  thousands of snorkel/SCUBA tourists bring significant revenue into the area, but also taking a toll on The Great Mesoamerican Reef that draws these very tourists. In response, Mexico’s Environment and Natural Resources Secretariat teamed up with British sculptor, Jason De Caires Taylor.  He created sculptures specifically to have them sunk beneath the surface to become a unique natural reef.  The sculptures are at times thought provoking and nearly mournful, and at other times giggle inducing (try not to when diving!).

Scuba Diving Cancun Mexico, Scuba Cancun, Scuba Diving Isla Mujeres, Diving Isla Mujeres, MUSA

My favorites were The Bankers collection, which shows 4 men in business suits with briefcases kneeling on the ground, heads buried in the sand, ostrich-style.  Another personal favorite is the overweight dude in the recliner chair watching a TV.  These sculptures are scattered through out the waters around Cancun and Isla Mujeres, creating a natural reef environment for sea life that we interlopers can explore without fear of damaging the natural habitat in the area.  Honestly, I think it’s brilliant, and hope other water-activity focused vacation spots will pick up on the idea.

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Aquaworld’s Tour Scuba Diving Isla Mujeres MUSA Underwater Museum

Scuba Diving Cancun Mexico, Scuba Cancun, Scuba Diving Isla Mujeres, Diving Isla Mujeres, MUSA

We had a bit of a scheduling issue, and didn’t realize we’d have only 10-15 minutes between our lesson and our tour, so we wound up sprinting onto our Aquaworld boat to head out on the SCUBA MUSA Tour.  Once on board and en route, masks and fins are distributed and tried on, adjusting for fit as the crew was introduced and we were split into groups for the actual dive.  Small groups of 4 or 5 went down with one one leader/guide, while larger groups, like ours of about 8 people, went down with two guides to ensure everyone was well looked after.

Clarify exactly how much time there will be between your SCUBA lesson and the departure of your SCUBA Cancun MUSA Tour – so you don’t wind up sprinting there without any cash like we did!!

The dive itself was in approximately 30 feet of water, and as a group we slowly descended, giving our bodies time to adjust.  Once on the bottom, we were double checked to make sure everything was working properly, and then we set off on a slow tour through several different sets of statues.  We were able to touch and swim in and around some of them.  We also had a photographer diving with us who took a ton of pictures throughout the time, of course making them available for purchase later (shared with permission here).

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If you are doing this for the first time, is do not be afraid to speak up.  If anything seems not 100% while getting your mask & flippers fitted, ask for help fixing it.  If you start to descend and, like me, find that your mask is leaking, let your guides know right away!  I thought I would just let it go and push through, but it got deeply annoying over time.  No fault of Aquaworld, and I would still SCUBA again want time, I would just speak up and make sure my mask is better!  (My friend over at Dive.In has since told me about the These Full Face Masks for diving – and I think I’ll be wanting to try that out next time!)

Being 30 feet down and weaving in and out of the sculptures was an exceptional experience.  Seeing my daughters take to it like fish, swimming side by side, pointing out various sites, and posing for the photographer was extraordinary.

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The dive itself was about 30 minutes long, and at the end of the time we slowly ascended as a group.  At the surface we bobbed in the water a few minutes until our boat slid in to pick us up, and we were helped into the boat and out of our equipment.  Our girls were raving about it.  Immediately, they were lobbying to get PADI certified the next time we take a similar trip.  I think, just maybe, Mom and Dad can be talked into that.


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Do You Want to Try SCUBA Diving Cancun?

If you want to check out a SCUBA lesson while in Cancun, it can be arranged through Aquaworld Here.


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Cancun, Mexico:  A family SCUBA lesson and dive of MUSA, the underwater museum around Cancun & Isla Mujeres.  Scuba Diving Cancun Mexico | Scuba Cancun | Scuba Diving Isla Mujeres | MUSA | #SCUBA #Cancun #IslaMujeres #SCUBACancun #SCUBAIslaMujeres #MUSA #SCUBAMUSA

22 thoughts on “SCUBA Diving Cancun, Mexico

    1. Actually, our instructor said you don’t really need to swim to SCUBA!! I know, counterintuitive, right? But, you have flippers, and an air tank. If you can kick, you can do it. And even when you come to the surface, they immediately inflate your tank straps, so you just hang there and Float until your boat comes!

  1. Such a little dream for me… Diving in Cancun ! Under the sea, down where it’s wetter, you find coral reefs teeming with life, MUSA, lots of fish, plants, and beautiful colours… It is so beautiful ! Definitely on my bucket list.

  2. This looks like so much fun! Also, “This reef is the second largest barrier reef in the world, and the largest in the western hemisphere. ” I never knew that! It’s also cool that there is an underwater museum. How long did it take to get trained for the diving?

    1. It only took us a bit over an hour to be trained to go on the escorted Scuba MUSA trip. That is not enough time to be trained for solo, or two scuba as a family without an instructor, but it was enough to go down for that tour. Enough to give us a taste of it, and leave our kids wanting more!

  3. I’m kinda afraid of Scuba because I don’t think that being under water for long periods is for me. I love swimming, and snorkeling I’ve done in Mexico and Israel, but scuba is still not on my Radar. Looks like you had wonderful dives and experienced something I still haven’t had the courage to.

  4. Oh, this is where the Underwater Museum is. I’ve seen pictures but not sure where. It’s good that you could do the diving after one lesson. I would like to dive, but I don’t think I can do it with the minor claustrophobia I have.

  5. Wow! scuba diving is one of my favourites! The Scuba diving at Cancun seems so wonderful. The Underwater museum is a unique concept. But the statues look quite gloomy. Now Cancun is definitely on my bucket list.

  6. Looks like an amazing place to dive!

    A leaky mask, FYI, is not necessarily a mask problem. Next time inhale through your nose to remove air from inside the mask, and then ambient pressure will seal the mask to your face. As you descend, the air will compress, so you will allow air into your mask via your nose to avoid mask squeeze.

    Your instructor should be able to show you how to press along the top of the mask, tilt your head back, and exhale through your nose to clear water. You learn this during mask removal and recovery exercises during Open Water Diver certification.

    And, the mask could be broken. Can’t rule out that possibility.

    I kind of like a slight leak. Every time I clear water I am preventing mask squeeze. If you look that up on the Internet, it looks terrible. Just imagine the air compressing in your mask and a vacuum-like effect on your face and eyes. I’d rather have an occasional tickle of water on my nose than bulging eyes.

    Also, make sure to tilt your head back to clear your mask. If you are upright, a forceful nasal exhale can propel you upward a few meters.

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