Scuba Diving in Mexico

From the Caribbean to the Pacific, Mexico offers a range of coasts, topographies and marine life for divers to explore. Whether you’re looking to play with sea lions or swim with Great White Sharks, Mexico is the place to do it. Numerous cenotes make for exciting cave dives, while white sand beaches and turquoise waters delight beachgoers.

GETTING THERE

  • If you’re visiting from the U.S. (or most other countries), you will need a passport in order to enter Mexico.

  • Mexico’s main airport is the Mexico City International Airport (MEX), officially the Aeropuerto Internacional Benito Juárez

  • Uber is available in most tourist hubs in Mexico, including Mexico City, where the main airport is located. Buses, rental cars and taxis are also readily available.

    • Keep in mind, travel by public bus in Mexico can be difficult if you do not speak Spanish. It should also be noted that car rentals in Mexico tend to be very expensive. Your best bets are Ubers or taxis.

Cave diving in Mexico

 

GOOD TO KNOW

  • Mexico is a North American country located between the United States and Central America

  • Time zone: Central Standard Time is the most widely used, but there are three additional time zones used across the country.

  • Primary language: Spanish

  • Currency: Mexican Peso; however, many tourist areas also accept U.S. dollars and credit cards.

    • Sometimes U.S. dollars are accepted at a lower rate than the exchange rate. It’s always best to bring pesos with you.

  • Phone and internet: Phone service is available from U.S. phone carriers, like AT&T (just be sure to check with your carrier on roaming rates first). Many hotels and cafes offer WiFi. The international calling code is +52.

  • Voltage: 127 V (similar to that of the U.S. and Canada).

  • Hurricane season in Mexico runs from June to November, peaking from August to October.

  • As of April 2019, there is a Level 2 Travel Advisory for Mexico. Check travel.state.gov for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

    • A Level 2 travel advisory means you should exercise increased caution in this area.

DIVE CONDITIONS

  • The water temperature in Mexico ranges from 72 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • When to Go

    • You can scuba dive in Mexico year round.

    • The best time to dive in Mexico is from March to August.

    • Peak season for tourism is from November to April.

  • What You’ll See

    • Divers can expect to see a vast array of marine life, including sharks, rays, turtles, dolphins, seals, seahorses and a variety of fish. Some lucky divers may even sight a manatee!

Snorkeling in Mexico

BEST SCUBA DIVING SITES IN MEXICO

There’s no shortage of exciting dive sites in Mexico, but your dive plans will be heavily dependent on which coast you’re visiting. The Yucatan & Caribbean boast locations such as Cancun, Cozumel, and Playa Del Carmen, while the Pacific side offers Puerto Vallarta, La Paz, Guadalupe Island and more.

MUSA UNDERWATER MUSEUM, CANCUN

30 minutes off the coast of Cancun you’ll find this dive site, which is home to 500+ purpose-sunk, life-size statues. The underwater museum sits at just 30ft, making it a great spot for beginners. It was opened to the public in 2010 in an effort to reduce the impact of the hundreds of thousands of divers flocking to Mexico each year to see the reefs. While there aren’t many corals yet, schools of colorful fish can often be spotted darting around the artwork! One of our favorite statues? A sunken house with a chimney. (Fun Fact: You can place your regulator below the chimney to make it look like smoke is escaping from it.)

PALANCAR GARDENS, COZUMEL

Off the coast of Cozumel, on the north end of the Palancar Reef, you’ll find this teeming dive site. The large caverns and colorful corals give divers a magical underwater experience. Not to mention, the presence of turtles, nurse sharks, angelfish, damselfish and the occasional eagle ray. This spot tends to be crystal clear, with moderate currents. With a depth of 30ft – 80ft, it can be enjoyed by all diving levels.

CENOTE TAJMA HA, PLAYA DEL CARMEN

Mexico is famous among divers for its abundance of cenotes, or caves. One of the most stunning is the Cenote Tajma Ha, located about 20 minutes from Playa Del Carmen. The exploration of the vast caverns at this site is the main draw for scuba divers. You’ll see plenty of stalagmites and stalactites, plus intriguing fossils lining the walls of the caves. The Points of Light Room offers divers a gorgeous view of light beams coming through cracks and holes in the caves, creating a breathtaking view. Although the depth is only 45 feet, this dive is reserved for intermediate to advanced divers, due to its saw-like profile.

LOS ISLOTES, LA PAZ

A 45 minute boat ride from La Paz brings you to this dive site, home to hundreds of California brown sea lions. The most exciting part about these sea lions is that they love interacting with divers! The pups are especially curious, getting very up close and personal with divers. You can also expect to see the giant arched rock topography the site is known for, plus yellow surgeonfish, seahorses, angelfish and golden cup corals. At 25ft – 50ft, this spot is a beginner’s dream!

DIVING WITH GREAT WHITES, GUADALUPE ISLAND

We had to mention this one. If you’ve been looking for an adrenaline rush, cage diving with great white sharks may be just the trick. Although there isn’t much coral or other marine life to speak of at these sites, this is one of the top destinations in the world for diving with Great Whites!

 

BEST SNORKELING IN MEXICO

MUSA UNDERWATER MUSEUM, CANCUN

Although this site was listed in the dive section, it’s important to note that you can also snorkel here. The bird’s eye view of the sculptures lends a new perspective to the artwork.

LOS ISLOTES, LA PAZ

Again, this site was listed in the dive section, but the opportunity to swim with sea lions is too good to pass up. The juveniles don’t just interact with divers, they also swim right up to snorkelers, gaping at them with wide eyes and playful attitudes.

AKUMAL BAY

In Riviera Maya, just 15 miles north of Tulum, you’ll find this popular snorkeling spot. Stingrays and turtles love to feed here, making it the perfect site for a marine life run-in. Akumal Bay is a favorite of all levels or snorkelers, as well as non-snorkelers, due to its white sand beaches and swaying palm trees.

 

UNIQUE THINGS TO DO IN MEXICO

CHICHEN ITZA

This ancient Mayan city has recently been named one of the 7 Wonders of the World. It’s home to the breathtaking Kukulkan pyramid, El Castillo, which sits at 78 ft tall. Chichen Itza also offers 16 more sites for visitors to behold, making it a great day trip if you’re in the Yucatan region.

DAY OF THE DEAD

If you’ve seen Disney’s Coco, you’ll understand the draw of this festive holiday. This lively celebration, dating back thousands of years, is held annually in order to honor the dead. You’ll enjoy parades, music, costumes and mini fiestas everywhere, but the best place to experience it is Mexico City. This year, the Day of the Dead will be from October 31, 2019 to November 2, 2019.