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 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.
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:
The cost is $15.5 per one-way adult ticket and $31 per round trip. Kids pay respectively $11.5 and $23.
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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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.
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!
Isla Mujeres boasts numerous dive sites suitable for divers with varying experience levels. Some of the popular ones that I can highly recommend include:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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!