In this article, I’m going to walk you what it is like diving in Mexico. You see, scuba diving is one of my favorite activities to do while I am traveling. It is not only fun and exciting, but jam packed with adrenaline.
In addition to that, every dive is always different and never offers the same experience, even when diving in the same spot. Diving is a great way to see a different side of the country you are visiting. One that most people don’t get to see because they are either uncertified or afraid to go.
Scuba diving in Mexico is no different. Because of Mexico’s vast coastline and massive ocean coverage means there is much more to be discovered than in other countries.
You are able to dive with whale sharks, the world’s second largest coral reef, underwater museums as well as having the unique and rare opportunity to dive freshwater cenotes.
With its vast range of diving options, Mexico truly is a bucket list dive destination for any advanced or beginner diver.
So get ready, pack your bags for Mexico and let’s dive into where to scuba in Mexico.
Top 10 places to go Scuba Diving in Mexico
1. Afuera, Isla Mujeres
Have you ever wanted to swim with whale sharks? Then Afuera is where you want to come. Located in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo in the Yucatan Peninsula, Isla Mujeres is an island where the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean sea meet.
It is home to some of the best whale shark diving in the world as it hosts the largest gathering of whale sharks every summer. They are so prevalent, that most dive shops guarantee you will see them. This does tend to attract quite a lot of tourists, not creating the most peaceful experience with the whale sharks. However, you will see them.
Isla Mujeres is easy to access by flying into Cancun and taking a ferry. You can also stay in Cancun as some dive shops will operate from there, but I highly recommend skipping the crowds and staying overnight as diving with whale sharks is one of the best things to do in Isla Mujeres as well as our guide on how to get from Cancun to Isla Mujeres.
Plan on coming in the summer months if you are wanting to dive with whale sharks (May-August)
2. Cancun Underwater Museum
If normal museums bore you, you might want to check out the underwater museum in Cancun. It is a museum like no other as it is all underwater. The Cancun underwater museum is home to over 500 sculptors all under water, with most of the artwork coming from the British Sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor.
The idea of an underwater museum came about in efforts to protect the coral reefs. This way divers would have an opportunity to have alternative sites to dive giving the coral reefs a break and allowing them to heal.
It is a great and unique diving opportunity that you won’t find many other places, and a great spot to enjoy year round.
3. Palancar Reef, Cozumel
The Palancar Reef is part of the MesoAmerican Reef, which is the largest reef in the Western Hemisphere. It stretches over 625 miles and over four countries Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, and of course Mexico.
The Palancar Reef is a special section of the MesoAmerican Reef. It is a national park and a special protected section of the reef. Here you will find over 600 different types of species of fish and 65 different types of coral.
Making it not only a great place to see bright and vibrant coral, but also wildlife. Here you are liking to see sea turtles, eagle rays as well as other sea life. Another great spot that can be enjoyed year round.
If you’re interested in diving in Cozumel, make sure you check out our full guide!
4. Cenotes, Yucatan
One thing that makes scuba diving in Mexico unique and special is not only the abundance and variety of ocean diving all around this adventurous country but also the rare cenotes diving that you can partake in.
Cenotes are ancient freshwater sinkholes that are all over the Yucatan Peninsula. They are popular with the tourists for swimming, relaxing, taking Instagram worthy shots, but most importantly diving.
Because cenotes vary per sinkhole on their freshwater to saltwater ratio, their marine life also varies. However, what makes the cenotes unique and different is not their marine life, but actually their geological formations.
Here you will find stalagmites and stalactites and huge pillars deep within the cenotes. You will also be blown away from the clearness in the water since it is mainly freshwater. Making visibility amazingly good.
Diving in the cenotes is a unique and bucket list dive experience that every diver needs to add to their list. While the Merida cenotes gain a lot of popularity, the cenotes by Playa del Carmen and Tulum Cenotes are the ones that are frequented for diving in Mexico.
5. Bull Shark Diving, Playa Del Carmen
Shark diving is one of my favorite dives I have done. Sharks are amazing and harmless creatures. It is heartbreaking how our society views and treats them.
However, once you dive with them and actually get to see sharks in their true habitat, you can start to better understand them and appreciate them more.
Bull sharks like many other sharks are not aggressive towards humans. So have no fear. Playa del Carmen is a hot spot for Bull shark diving because every year Female Bull sharks return to their shallow waters for breeding. This is mainly due to the fact that they are attracted to the warm waters that they find here.
You won’t be able to find Bull sharks here year round, so if it is a dive that you are wanting to do be sure to visit between November – March when you are more likely to see them.
Heading to Playa del Carmen? Check our our Playa del Carmen Hotel guide to figure out the best areas to stay in.
6. La Paz, Sea of Cortez
Let’s now jump over to the other side of Mexico, in Baja California. It’s not always as popular with the divers, as its waters are better known with the surfers, but that doesn’t make it any less epic.
The water is much colder on the Pacific side, although the Sea of Cortez is the warmest part, mainly because it is more protected. Since the water is cooler, the sea life that you will see will vary from the Caribbean side.
Divers faulk here for the pelagic sea life, which is different from the bright colorful fish and freshwater cenotes we have been talking about.
La Paz is home to 850 different marine life species. Here you can find everything from hammerhead sharks, humpback whales, and even seahorses. There is something for everyone here.
Due to its migrant location the sea life varies widely over the months of the year, so if you plan on diving here a certain time of year be sure to do your research to know what you will likely see.
7. Socorro Island
Have you ever wanted to do a liveaboard diving trip? Then this is the spot. Socorro Island is an epic diving destination in Mexico, but the only way to access it is through a liveaboard.
This is another pelagic diver’s paradise. Dive with wild dolphins, whale sharks, hammerheads, and some of the friendliest Manta Rays around.
Socorro Island is an epic dive destination. However, it is a seasonal spot and only accessible from November – May. This is mainly due to the weather.
It is located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean about 395 miles from Puerto Vallarta, which is why it can only be accessed by live about . However, it is an epic spot to have a unique secluded dive experience.
Editor’s Note: Considered Liveaboard Diving in Mexico? Check out these once in a lifetime trips!
8. Xcalak, MesoAmerican Reef
Back to the MesoAmerican Reef, but this time in a different location. To the southernmost point of Mexico. Since the reef is so large there are many different spots to dive, each giving its own and unique experience.
The reef is a wildly diverse and connected ecosystem made up of not only protected coral reefs, but mangroves, rivers, and lagoons.
In Xcalack you have the unique opportunity to dive with manatees, as well as dolphins, manta rays, turtles, sharks, and more.
What makes this place special and unique is truly watching the manatees swim around you, they are so prevalent here that it is hard to have a dive without seeing one.
Also, it is home to massive tarpon fish. Large schools of massive tarpon fish swim all around you, making your dive feel prehistoric. If you are brave enough they even have dives where you can get up close and personal with a crocodile.
This is a place that is off the beaten path in Mexico, and not as popular with the tourists. So if you prefer to avoid crowds and see what Mexico is truly like, add this to your bucket list.
9. Guadalupe Island
Guadalupe Island offers a unique and rare experience that allows you to get up close and personal with great white sharks, which is all within the safety of a cage.
Australia and South Africa might be more well known for their great white shark encounters, but Guadalupe Island Liveaboards are actually a better spot to see them. This is mainly due to the fact that here you will find calmer waters, so if you get seasick like me you don’t have to worry.
You are almost guaranteed to see a great white during your dive as well. They have over 365 tagged and registered great whites, so your chances of seeing one are very likely.
Guadalupe is a small and remote island located off Baja California, the only way to access it is by liveaboard. This not only keeps this dive site more reserved but also keeps the novice divers away. It is a great dive site for those divers who really appreciate sharks.
10. Cabo Pulmo
Located on the southernmost part of Baja California sits Cabo Pulmo, an isolated and much forgotten dive location in Mexico. However, that doesn’t mean that it is any less special than any of the other spots previously mentioned.
Cabo Pulmo is a tiny remote village that draws divers in due to its protected coral reef located in the Pacific Ocean in Baja California. It is a prime example to see what we should be doing to protect our oceans.
Cabo Pulmo is keeping the tourists out and putting its ecosystem first. It has continually refused big hotels from coming in here, as it doesn’t want the pollution they create.
This is a great spot for divers wanting to escape the crowds, but not wanting to do a live aboard.
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What you need to know before Scuba Diving in Mexico
Mexico is a great spot to plan your next dive vacation. It is a vastly large country with many different and unique dive destinations that you can explore. Which is why myself and many other divers continue to return here.
Before planning a dive trip to Mexico be sure to do your research and plan ahead. Knowing what time of year it is and what dive sites will be better, can help you showing up expecting to see whale sharks when it is not whale shark season.
Check out this Mexico travel guide for awesome tips on where to stay and what to do!
Personally, I always like booking most of my dives ahead of time as well. This will help me ensure that I build a good relationship with the dive center before I arrive on my holiday.
They can help to ensure that I am booking the right dive sites and that I won’t forget to bring anything important for my trip. Not only that, but they are also a great resource for local information and tips.
Scuba Diving in Mexico is fun. It is a bucket list county that every diver needs to add to their list. Besides all the amazing dives sites you have to choose from, Mexico is a county that is full of mouthwatering food, epic people, and enriched culture.
Every trip to Mexico leaves me wanting to see more of this beautiful country. Trust me when I say, you will be happy you made the trip
We spent a year eating our weight in tacos and traveling all over Mexico!
Check out our full Mexico travel guide where we share our expert tips on the best things to do, eat, and more.
Planning a Trip to Mexico? Read these Guides:
- The 10 Best Beaches in Mexico You Have to Visit
- Diving in Cozumel: A Guide to This Underwater Mecca
- 13 Marvelous Mayan Ruins in Mexico You Have to Visit (2022)