There are many diving options around the island and something for all skill levels. In the downtown area you can find a few dive centres to book diving with. The town is small so it seems like there’s one in every corner. The most amazing sites in the area are the Underwater Sculpture Museum and the Cave of Sleeping Sharks.
The Underwater Museum is the largest underwater museum in the world and is home to some incredible sculptures. The site ‘Silent Evolution’ has 400 life-size sculptures, each with their own personality. There’s a three year old boy, a nun, a fisherman, accountant, acrobat and many other interesting characters. When viewed from the surface, they have been placed to look like an eye. The ‘Dream Collector’ has dozens of bottles with real messages from people all over the world, ‘Man on Fire’ is covered in fire coral with a huge figure that is 8 metres deep and ‘The Gardener of Hope’, just 4 metres deep, is a girl on a garden patio surrounded by coral-filled pots. This truly is a dive of a life-time.
The Cave of Sleeping Sharks is a great place to get up close to sharks. Made famous by Jacques Cousteau, the cave has fresh water bubbles coming from it and because of this it seems to puts the sharks to sleep (with their eyes open!) so you can view them uninterrupted. You might see a bull shark, black tip, grey reef or nurse shark. The depth of the site is about 20 metres.
If you enjoy wrecks then there’s the Cañonero Chairel, a navy boat at about 20 metres to explore. You’ll see some guns and can dive through the bathroom and offices, coming across a stingray or two along the way.
The Manchones reef is 800 metres long and suitable for any level with an average depth of 10-12 metres. This site is great for all kinds of reef life and coral, the visibility on the reef is suburb, usually 30 metres so expect to see a lot of stuff. Other reefs include Bandera Reef, Tavos Reef, Media Luna and Punta Negra just to name a few.
There are around 50 dive sites in the immediate area so you could spend a long time exploring the sites. We need to mention many dive sites are shared with Cancun area, due to the proximity of both places. Happy diving!
(by Kelly Luckman)
This stunning island is 12.8 km (8 miles) from Cancun across the Bahia de Mujeres (Bay of Women) and easily accessible by boat from the mainland. 8 km long (5 miles) but only 0.8 km across at its widest point, it’s a great place to relax on the pristine beaches, enjoy some very special diving experiences, shop, fish, there’s something here for everyone.
15 minutes north from downtown Cancun you can catch a ferry from Puerto Juarez to Isla Mujeres. There are two companies: Gran Puerto Cancun or Magana that leave every half an hour and cost 80 pesos one way ($6.50). It only takes about 20 minutes to get there. ADO bus goes from the central bus terminal in Cancun to close to the port (you’ll need to catch another taxi from the bus stop) or you can catch Ruta 13 bus there directly.
If beaches are your thing, it’s best to head to the north and west sides, the rocky east side is extremely dangerous and not for swimming. Playa Norte can have strong currents and children 12 or younger cannot swim without an adult. You can hire kayaks, masks and snorkel or beach chairs if you just want to relax.
Other things to explore are the turtle farm to see big sea turtles, Hacienda Mundaca, Garafon Park or for a special adventure "go and snorkel with the amazing whale sharks"! The season is June to September and to get up close to these gigantic animals is something you’ll never forget.
There is accommodation all over the island and depending on your budget and preference, you’ll find something on the web easily. Downtown (centro) has a great selection of hostels and hotels and it’s the busiest place on the island. You’ll also find all sorts of culinary options in the centre: from fancy restaurants to cafes and local eateries.
This is definitely a wonderful place to spend a few days, or a couple of weeks if you have the time.
(by Kelly Luckman)