Find out why the island’s dive sites top the list of the nation’s best
Known for its diving, Isla Mujeres boasts amazing visibility at depths of 80 to 100 feet. With over 50 dive sites from which to choose, the island is a prime destination of novice and seasoned scuba divers alike. Among the dozens of sites, several rise to the very top of the “Best of” list.
Considered by many to be one of the best sites for all experience levels, Manchones Reef is also popular among photographers. With over 800 meters of coral reef, elk horn, stag horn, and brain coral, its undersea beauty is staggering. Schools of local fish, including blue tangs, wrasse, grunts, and snappers, enchant divers with vibrant explosion of color. Larger queen angel and parrot fish enhance the visual impact of the dive. With depths ranging from 30-40 feet, Manchones Reef is also home to Cruz de la Bahia (the Cross of the Bay).
Navy Boat Shipwreck
This is an exciting experience that allows divers to explore the inside of a sunken ship. Passing authentic guns and exploring the bathrooms and office, divers are often surprised by stingrays and amberjacks that emerge for a game of “hide and seek.”
Cave of Sleeping Sharks
Discovered by Carlos Garcia Castilla, this cave provides an isolated but invigorating dive. Castilla was a local fisherman who free dove to the cave to seek out hiding sharks. He found them within, sleeping with their eyes open. The cave was made famous by Jacques Cousteau, and is still home to a variety of sharks. Since the sharks are sleeping, getting a close-up view is no problem. Common varieties include black tip, gray, reef, and nurse sharks. The cave resides at a depth of 60-70 feet.
A long coral reef topped with elk horn is found midway between Cancun and Isla Mujeres. A 40 foot dive, the Bandera Reef is home to schools of barracuda and pompano as well as large crab, spotted moray eel, langosta, and angel fish.
Tavos’ unique limestone formations have created intricate crevices and tunnels. Some of these are large enough for a diver to swim through. A bit of an obscure dive site, it’s also unique in that it attracts gray and white tip reef sharks, which also enjoy swimming through the arches. This dive site lies at 35 feet.
A 30 – 40 foot dive, Media Luna is located on the Caribbean side of Isla Mujeres. This reef has beautiful coral, and many arches and ledges that are home to sea anemone, spiny sea urchins, and langosta.
70 feet below the surface, the shrimp boat shipwreck Hondureno sank in 1988 in the wake of hurricane Gilbert. Home to a variety of sea life, including Green Moray eels, nurse sharks, and lobster, there’s no telling what life forms await discovery in these depths.
There are many more exciting dives to experience while in Isla Mujeres. Tourists can find snorkel teams and dive boats all along the beaches and docks of the island. Regardless of your experience level, you’re sure to find a tour that will delight and enlighten you.
Tours begin very early in the morning, leaving the island at 7 or 8 AM. The tour runs for much of the day, with most boats returning to the dock around 2 or 3 PM. The price of the tour includes the use of life jackets, snorkel gear, sandwiches, snacks, and a lunch buffet upon arrival back at the port. Snorkelers swim two at a time with a supervised guide.