Scuba Diving In Isla Mujeres

Last Updated Feb 20, 2024

Isla Mujeres is one of my all-time favorite islands in Mexico – with gorgeous beaches, crystal-clear water, and some of the best hospitality around. That being said, when I think of my favorite things I’ve done in Isla Mujeres, scuba diving must be at the top of the list!

Keep reading to learn why Isla Mujeres is one of the best diving spots in Riviera Maya, Mexico.

Isla Mujeres

1. General Info About Scuba Diving in Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres offers some scuba diving conditions that are hard to replicate in other diving sites. In fact, with its incredible visibility and crystal-clear waters, it’s not a surprise that the island is a hit with scuba divers from around the world. It might be partly because in this part of Mexico, you can enjoy it pretty much year-round, with an average of 300 good diving days annually.

But also, it is because whether you’re an experienced diver or just pondering trying out the experience, Isla Mujeres will not disappoint you. It’s a great place for the ones just learning the ropes as there are a ton of dive sites in shallow waters with minimal currents. Still, advanced divers can have a ton of fun here too.

Diving in Isla Mujeres will impress you with the super colorful marine life that calls these reefs home! From the huge whale sharks to graceful manta rays (and so many gorgeous fish), this is the perfect place to bring that waterproof camera.

One of the more practical reasons is that you can get great scuba diving here for a really affordable cost. This is true for most of Mexico, which means that the island has some pretty stiff competition, but I’d still rank Isla Mujeres as one of my all-time favorite affordable spots in the country. You can expect dives here to cost between $100-200 USD on average depending on the length of the dive and where it’s held.

The number of dive companies you can find here on the island also really surprised me – I expected to find a couple of great dive organizers but ended up coming across more than a dozen! All this variety just shows that there’s a thriving diving scene here, and while trying out some dives here, I met loads of fellow divers from all around the world, which was a ton of fun.

Tickets Isla Mujeres Xcaret Ferry

2. How to Get to Isla Mujeres

First things first.

Isla Mujeres is conveniently located just off the coast of Cancun, making it easily accessible for travelers. To get to Isla Mujeres, just follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Arrive in Cancun: Book a flight to Cancun International Airport (CUN), which is well-connected with major cities in the United States and other countries.
  • Step 2: Get to the City. You can take an ADO public bus from the Airport’s Terminal 2 to a Bus Station in downtown Cancun. From there, you can take a taxi to the ferry from Puerto Juarez, Playa Tortugas or Playa Caracol
  • Step 3: Transfer to Isla Mujeres: From Cancun, you can reach Isla Mujeres by taking a ferry operated by Ultramar from Puerto Juarez or Gran Puerto Cancun. The ferry ride is relatively short, lasting approximately 15-20 minutes. The ferries operate frequently, so you can choose a convenient time for your journey.

The cost is $15.5 per one-way adult ticket and $31 per round trip. Kids pay respectively $11.5 and $23.

Ixchel Goddess in Isla Mujeres

3. When is the Best Time to Go Scuba Diving in Isla Mujeres

One of the (many) reasons why scuba diving in Mexico is so popular among tourists has a lot to do with the gorgeous weather here. The dry season, which runs from November through to April, is generally the most popular time to visit. I also learned that scuba diving visibility at this time can reach up to 100 feet (30 meters), which is a dream come true for divers!

There’s nothing worse than getting all suited up for a great trip out only for it to be ruined by the weather and murky conditions. Going in the dry season gives you the best chances of having an enjoyable trip, plus the lighting (sunshine!) will be great for those photos you’ll be taking!

If you’re planning to visit during the dry season, then I’d highly recommend booking your accommodation in Isla Mujeres and any activities in advance. These months are also the high season for travel, so getting your slot in advance will help you avoid those dreaded price hikes, so you can enjoy your holiday for less.

However, if visiting in the dry season is difficult for you or you’re traveling on a tighter budget, then it’s still totally possible to visit (and go scuba diving) during the rainy season. The summer months bring water temperatures up to around 29 °C (84 °F), so it feels like you’re swimming in a nice relaxing bath!

While rainfall does happen more often at this time of year, I’ve found that it usually happens more in the late afternoon, so I’d recommend booking any dives for the morning to give you the best chances of clear skies. Going in the morning is generally a good rule of thumb for diving, as you’ll likely enjoy milder currents and less wind too!

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4. What can you see when scuba diving in Isla Mujeres?

Under the Isla Mujeres waters, you’ll find a whole bunch of colorful creatures, from the schools of bright marine fish up to the local giants, the peaceful whale sharks that can grow up to 39 feet (12 meters)!

Mid-May to mid-September is the best time of the year to see whale sharks whale sharks near Isla Mujeres. They are completely harmless, using their giant mouths to sift up tiny plankton and small fish. If you get the chance, I really recommend going on a swimming experience with whale sharks, it’s a truly magical experience!

Aside from whale sharks, there's an abundance of marine life to admire in the waters around Isla Mujeres. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the second-largest coral reef system in the world, is a short boat ride away from the island, and it offers incredible biodiversity. The coral formations are stunning, and you'll encounter lots of sponges and a variety of fish species. Keep an eye out for sea turtles, stingrays, and moray eels as you explore these underwater wonders.

Whale Shark in Isla Mujeres

One of the unique attractions for scuba divers around Isla Mujeres is the Museo Subacuático de Arte (MUSA), the Underwater Museum of Art. This underwater sculpture garden features hundreds of life-sized sculptures submerged in the clear waters, providing a surreal experience for divers. MUSA serves as both an art project and a marine conservation effort, as it diverts divers' attention away from delicate natural reefs, helping to preserve the environment.

For a unique and thrilling experience, consider a night dive around Isla Mujeres to witness the nocturnal marine life and bioluminescent wonders of the Caribbean Sea. A one-of-a-kind experience!

5. Popular Dive Sites in Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres boasts numerous dive sites suitable for divers with varying experience levels. Some of the popular ones that I can highly recommend include:

MUSA - Museo Subacuático de Arte:

The contemporary Underwater Museum of Art I mentioned before, is a unique and surreal dive site that features hundreds of submerged sculptures. It's an incredible experience for divers and snorkelers alike, offering a glimpse into the mix of art and marine life. It’s great both for beginner and experienced divers.

Scuba diving in MUSA

Manchones Reef:

A fantastic dive site for beginners. Manchones Reef features shallow depths and calm waters. You'll encounter colorful corals, sea turtles, and a variety of tropical fish. Look out for snappers, parrotfish, angelfish, and spotted trunkfish.

Punta Sur:

This site is known for its strong currents, making it more suitable for advanced divers. The underwater caves and dramatic rock formations provide an exciting backdrop for your dive.

Punta Sur in Isla Mujeres

Cave of the Sleeping Sharks:

As the name suggests, this site is famous for the nurse sharks that rest on the sandy bottom of the cave. It's a thrilling experience for advanced divers.

C-58/C-55 Wreck Dive:

Just off the coast of Cancun, you can explore the C-58 and C-55 Minesweeper ships from World War II, which were intentionally sunk by the Mexican army. These wrecks have become home to a diverse range of marine life, from manta rays to seahorses. A heck of an experience for divers.

6. Diving Certification in Isla Mujeres

If you're not yet a certified diver but dream of exploring the underwater world, Isla Mujeres is an excellent place to get your scuba diving certification.

Many dive shops on the island offer certification courses, including the popular PADI Open Water Diver certification. These courses typically consist of classroom sessions, confined water training, and open water dives to ensure you have the necessary skills and knowledge to dive safely.

7. Diving Safety and Guidelines

Diving safety is of utmost importance, regardless of your experience level, and remember to always dive with a certified and reputable dive operator. Check their credentials and reviews. A sketchy website without comments and social media sites is always a red flag.

Although your diving company will instruct you about the safety rules, it’s good to keep some of them in mind:

  • Listen carefully to dive briefings and follow the instructions of your dive master.
  • Check your equipment before each dive and ensure it's in good working condition.
  • Respect the marine environment. Do not touch or disturb the coral and marine life. The Mesoamerican Reef is one of the most incredible coral places in the world and you can help to keep it this way!
  • Dive within your limits. If you're a beginner, stick to dive sites suitable for your experience level.
  • Stay hydrated, use ecological sunscreen, and wear appropriate dive attire to protect yourself from the sun.
  • Follow the "Leave No Trace" principles and take all your trash and belongings with you.
  • Be aware of local regulations and contribute to marine conservation efforts.

Beaches in Isla Mujeres

8. Who Can Dive at Isla Mujeres?

Are you still wondering if diving in Isla Mujeres is for you? It might seem too easy or too advanced. No way! This island has the diving experience absolutely for everybody! It welcomes divers of various experience levels and ages.

Beginner Divers

I already told you, Isla Mujeres is an excellent destination for those new to scuba diving. Many dive sites feature shallow waters with minimal currents, making it an ideal place for beginners to gain confidence and explore the underwater world.

Certified Divers

Experienced divers will find plenty of intriguing dive sites to explore around Isla Mujeres. The island offers reef dives, wreck dives, drift dives, and more. Some dive sites may have stronger currents, providing exciting experiences for advanced divers. Don't forget to bring your certification card to participate in more advanced dives.

Children and Junior Divers

Yes, you got it right. Kids can dive too!

While the minimum age for full scuba certification is typically 15, children as young as 10 years old can start diving in Mexico. But even younger kids, 8+ can be introduced to scuba diving. Young divers aged 10 to 14 can engage in Discovery Dives or obtain a PADI Junior Open Water certification, allowing them to dive under the supervision of an adult. The depth limitations for junior divers vary with age, offering safe and enjoyable experiences. Check for example this website to see how it works.

Family Divers

As older kids can dive, Isla Mujeres is a family-friendly destination. Parents and children with appropriate certifications can explore the underwater wonders of the Mexican Caribbean side by side, creating memorable family adventures.

Senior Divers

Age is not a barrier to scuba diving. Many seniors enjoy diving well into their golden years. However, divers with pre-existing medical conditions should ensure they are fit to dive and may need a doctor's evaluation to participate in scuba activities. Dive operators on Isla Mujeres prioritize safety and will provide guidance to make diving accessible to divers of various ages.

Catamaran in Isla Mujeres

9. Where to Stay in Isla Mujeres

If you decide to have a diving vacation in Isla Mujeres, you should book your accommodation early on, especially in the dry season. Of course, you can always stay in Cancun and come on a ferry, but to truly enjoy everything on the island, I recommend you stay at least a couple of nights.

Isla Mujeres offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences. It’s a small island but you can still get some variety:

  • Playa Norte: This beautiful beach area is a favorite among tourists, with plenty of beachfront resorts, restaurants, and water activities. It's known for its stunning sunsets.
  • Isla Mujeres Town: The town center offers a variety of hotels, hostels, and vacation rentals. It provides easy access to local shops, restaurants, and the island's vibrant culture.
  • Punta Sur: If you prefer a quieter and more secluded atmosphere, Punta Sur is a great choice. It's away from the busier tourist areas and offers a peaceful retreat.
  • Sac Bajo: Located on the eastern side of the island, Sac Bajo is known for its calm beaches and beautiful lagoon views. It's an excellent option if you want to escape the crowds.
  • Privately Owned Villas and Vacation Rentals: There are numerous private villas and vacation rentals available, which are ideal for families or groups. You can find cheap Airbnbs and luxurious properties with stunning ocean views.

No matter where you choose to stay, you'll always be within reach of the island's dive shops, restaurants, and attractions. It's a very small island, so getting around is easy, whether by golf cart, bicycle, or taxi.

10. Additional Activities in Isla Mujeres

While scuba diving is a highlight of any visit to Isla Mujeres, the island offers a variety of other activities to enjoy before or after the dives. So if you know there’s life beyond diving, you must try these activities in Isla Mujeres:

  • Snorkeling: If you're not a certified diver, snorkeling is an excellent way to explore the vibrant underwater world. Many tour operators offer snorkeling trips to the same beautiful dive sites.
  • Beach Relaxation: Isla Mujeres boasts stunning beaches like Playa Norte, perfect for sunbathing and swimming.
  • Golf Cart Adventures: Rent a golf cart and explore the island at your own pace, visiting Punta Sur, the Turtle Farm, and more.
  • Dolphin Discovery: Interact with dolphins and enjoy a unique experience at Dolphin Discovery Isla Mujeres.
  • Island Hopping: Take a boat tour to nearby islands like Contoy and Holbox for more exploration. Don’t forget to check this article about the RivieraMaya islands!
  • Visit Garrafon Natural Reef Park: This eco-park offers zip-lining, kayaking, snorkeling, and incredible views.
  • Enjoy Local Cuisine: Savor delicious Mexican and international cuisine at the island's restaurants and beachfront eateries.

Tickets to Garrafon Park in Isla Mujeres

Ready to Book Your Diving Vacation in Isla Mujeres?

You know it now. Isla Mujeres is a scuba diving paradise in the heart of the Mexican Caribbean.

With its clear waters, diverse marine life, and captivating dive sites like MUSA and wreck dives, to say nothing of the natural reefs, it's a must-visit destination for divers of all levels. Whether you're a beginner looking to take your first time or an experienced diver seeking new underwater adventures, Isla Mujeres offers an unforgettable scuba diving experience.

So, gear up, dive in, and discover the enchanting underwater world of Isla Mujeres. Your scuba diving adventure awaits in this Mexican island paradise!

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