I never thought I would visit Cancun in my life. For many reasons, there are thousands of places I’d rather explore than the American Spring Break destination. But one thing in Cancun had always caught my attention: The MUSA. Diving Cancun Underwater Museum had been on my dream bucket list for a while.
So when we had to transit via Cancun for our friends’ wedding, I made sure we had time to check it out. Read on to learn from my experience and get useful tips to plan your visit (including Cancun Underwater Museum price).
Should you put the Cancun Underwater Museum (the MUSA) on your bucket list?
If you’re in Cancun: go for it!
You can snorkel there or scuba dive. Even if you’re not certified for scuba diving, you will be able to try this experience (click here for more info*). Whether you’re snorkeling or diving will impact the price for your visit to Cancun Underwater Museum.
The dive is easy, and it’s fun to see something very different than usual – whether we’re talking about scuba diving or visiting a museum. I found the 450 life-size statues quite impressive to look at with all the expressions on the faces. There’s no noise and communication is limited underwater. Hence, the way I looked at the objects down there was very different from the usual approach I’d have in a museum. These conditions, combined with the reduced visibility and colours underwater, create an eery atmosphere.
Your underwater pics don’t look that good? Check out my tips for beginners to take underwater photos that aren’t blue!
Also, don’t forget to look inside the New Beetle sculpture. There was a large group of beautiful fish, including a huge porcupinefish, my personal favourite!
But I was disappointed the experience wasn’t more than a dive. To be honest, there are a few things I regret about the MUSA. I’ll get back to it later.
Are you covered for scuba diving by your travel insurance? It’s worth double-checking. If not, I recommend DAN (Divers Alert Network) for those who dive regularly. WorldNomads* and Covermore* also make it easy to add adventurous activities like scuba diving to your plan.
If you plan to travel to Cancun just to visit the MUSA Underwater Museum: wait!
They obtained a permit to sink 1,200 structures in 10 different areas. At the moment, only three galleries exist: Manchones (8-meter deep so better for scuba diving), Punta Nizuc and Punta Sam (both good for snorkelling as it’s only 4-meter deep). Half of the sculptures are yet to be featured in the museum!
Also, the first statues were sunk a few years ago, in 2009. It means they aren’t in the perfect state as per the image you may have in your head. But the coral has just started to grow so it isn’t amazing yet. Marine life isn’t as abundant as you could wish.
The many things I loved about the MUSA Diving Experience
First, it’s an eco-project ran by a non-profit organisation. By attracting tourists to the sunken statues, it provides relief to the coral reef near Cancun – one of the most visited stretches of water in the world. The art pieces were created with the objective of growing a new reef. They are made of a material on which corals can grow and have holes, so it’s easy for marine life to conquer the place.
Responsible travel tip: Corals are fragile so be extra careful with your fins when you’re snorkeling or diving on a coral reef and don’t touch them. Also try to limit the use of unnatural products, such as sunscreen. To protect your body from the sun, there’s nothing better than a long sleeve top. If you do want to use sunscreen, choose one that’s not damaging the coral reefs.
Second, I love the creativity behind the project and how the author of the concept Jason deCaires Taylor showed a brilliant example of multi-potentiality, combining his love for arts and scuba diving.
But the MUSA concept is not perfect.
What I regretted about the MUSA Diving Experience
First, most of the sculptures in the underwater museum are from Jason deCaires Taylor, the British sculptor at the origin of the idea.
As we’re in Mexico where the culture is a strong asset, I hope the future ones will be mostly done by local artists and provide a cultural experience in relation to the destination. I only learnt after the dive that the models from the statues were part of a local fishing village. Our guide didn’t have any information about the art down there. We had to make our own research to learn more about it. In a museum, you usually have some explanations, and that was missing in the MUSA. When I did a snorkeling trail in Noumea or in Port Cros, there were some signs to explain what we were looking at – so it would be possible to somehow add this feature.
I was also surprised that there was no education about reef conservation and climate change during our tour.
This concept could be a great way to spread the word about the difficulties that coral reefs are facing worldwide. Unfortunately, and despite our curiosity to learn more about the places we visit, our guide was there just to show us the way.
Responsible travel tip: Coral reefs are extremely important but in danger worldwide. Changing your habits can help the efforts to protect them. For example, you can reduce your use of plastic, ban single-use items, pick up rubbish so they don’t end in waterways… And spread the word!
During the dive, I was surprised by the distance between the sculptures.
We had to swim quite a lot in areas where there wasn’t so much to see – which isn’t the best use of your time while diving. I mean, that’s how it is at some sites, and I accept it. But I would expect a not-so-natural place to avoid this. Let’s hope there’s a good reason behind this, maybe in prevision of higher traffic or for coral development?
What’s Cancun Underwater Museum price?
Cancun Underwater Museum price varies depending on the activity you want to do there (snorkeling or diving). It will also change according to the gallery you want to visit and, of course, the operator you choose.
A double dive at the MUSA Cancun Underwater Museum from Cancun will cost you around US$90 with the equipment. We were quoted almost the same price to do a single dive. That’s the price to visit Manchones, one of the three galleries of Cancun Underwater Museum. If you’re not a certified diver, you can do two dives for less than US$140 (click here to book online*). Or it’s around $72 for a snorkeling tour (click here to book online*).
The other galleries if Cancun Underwater Museum are for snorkelling only. I am unsure if they can be accessed via the beach (see map and comments below). It costs around US$66 for a private boat trip to Punta Nizuc from Cancun (click here to book online*). Punta Sam is the newest gallery and does not have many sculptures yet. It’s only a few hundred metres away from the shore, which will please those who are subject to seasickness. I found a tour going there for $US70 (click here to view) on its way to three other snorkeling sites.
When you’re planning your budget for diving or snorkeling MUSA Cancun Underwater Museum, consider the extra fees for boat docking that are often excluded from the displayed price to visit Cancun Underwater Museum.
Have you dived or snorkeled the MUSA? Please share your experience and tips in the comments below!
Where is the MUSA Cancun Underwater Museum?
The MUSA Cancun Underwater Museum has been imagined as a museum with several galleries. The galleries are not close to each other. So you’ll need to organise different trips if you want to visit them all.
I have only dived the Machones Reef near Isla Mujeres via a boat trip from Cancun.
I didn’t go to the snorkeling sites – I’d love to read your feedback if you have been there. From my research, some sculptures are close to the beach in Punta Nizuc. But I read the beach was private, and access was by boat only. But it may have changed. The new gallery in Punta Sam seems to be only 200 metres from the shore. Of course, it is necessary to get local advice before entering the water in case there is any danger or currents. However, it seems this reef can be snorkeled from the beach.
If you’re visiting Cancun and love diving and snorkelling, don’t miss the unique opportunity to dive or snorkel in the cenotes in Tulum or Playa del Carmen!