Last Updated on 24/09/2022 by Alfred
Cancun, Cozumel, and the Riviera Maya are the most well-known destinations on the Yucatan Peninsula.
The sun, the crystal clear sea, the beaches, the resorts, and the region’s nightlife contribute to Mexico’s reputation.
People from all over the world flock to enjoy the beauty and warmth of the Yucatan Peninsula. That said, scuba divers were among the first tourists to take an interest in the area to discover its coral reefs and cenotes.
The scuba diving industry has contributed a lot to Mexico’s tourism development. Today, diving is just one of many activities that attract visitors. But divers from all over the world continue to come and recharge their batteries.
The Yucatan Peninsula offers scuba diving for all levels. It is the perfect place to do your first discovery dive or simply snorkel. Besides, diving certifications, as well as some specializations, can be taken at local dive centers.
This article is a detailed guide to scuba diving and snorkeling in Yucatán, Mexico.
Best Scuba Diving and Snorkeling in Yucatan, Mexico
The best scuba diving sites in Yucatan, Mexico
Looking at all these lists like “top 10 best dives” circulating on the web, you will certainly find more than one that mentions a site on the Yucatan Peninsula. Diving is diverse, and some sites are recognized worldwide for their beauty.
The video below introduces you to one of Mexico’s most beautiful dive sites: the Underwater Art Museum!
We’ve rounded up some of the best dive sites on the Yucatan Peninsula right here:
The MUSA (Museo Subacuático de Arte) was formed in the waters of Cancun, Isla Mujeres, and Punta. It is an underwater museum with more than 500 sculptures on permanent display. MUSA’s human-sized or monumental sculptures make this underwater attraction one of the largest and most ambitious in the world.
The MUSA was built on a sandy bottom, reducing human pressure and damaging the adjacent coral reef. Some sections are ideal for snorkelers, others for glass-bottom boats, and most are for divers.
Santa Rosa Wall
Santa Rosa Wall is a superb drop-off on Cozumel. Many even consider it the most beautiful dive site on Cozumel Island. The Santa Rosa is a reef about 50 feet deep, from which falls this steep wall whose end exceeds recreational scuba diving limits.
There is usually a gentle sea current very close to the wall, which gives an excellent drift dive. The site is not recommended for beginner divers since sea currents are unpredictable and can become very strong.
Paradise Reef is also very close to Cozumel. Located in the Marine Park, this site is shallow, between 25 and 40 feet deep. It is, therefore, very suitable for beginner divers and those who pass their level 1 Open Water Diver. The site is 3 piles of corals separated by sand, and the marine life is dense and diverse.
Besides, it is also one of the best snorkeling sites since the visibility is superb and there are few or no sea currents.
Gran Cenote is located very close to Tulum in the Riviera Maya region. If you had to dive only one cenote, let it be this one! It is easy to access and allows you to discover it by scuba diving, snorkeling, and cave diving.
The Bulk Shark Point
The Bull Shark Point site in Playa Del Carmen allows you to dive with bull sharks. The latter is probably the most dangerous species of shark. They are responsible for most shark attacks and live in fresh and salt water. But, by taking certain precautions and following the instructions, it is possible to dive with them.
Every year, between November and March, female bulldogs come to give birth to their young near Playa del Carmen. Note that diving with bull sharks is controversial since some operators have procedures that go against the interests of sharks and divers, as the case may be. The table below shows you the recommendations of savingoursharks.org when diving with these sharks.
Reviews of scuba diving Yucatán, Mexico
The choice is yours to know how you will dive off the Yucatan Peninsula. Local resorts and dive centers will offer you a wide range of options, whether diving from the shore, on a boat on a day trip or land in the cenotes.
The only option lacking on the Yucatan Peninsula is the liveaboard dive. The sites follow along the coast and are mostly visited by the dive centers of nearby municipalities. Dive cruises are much more popular on Mexico’s Pacific coast, in Baja California. Prices are often cheaper than elsewhere, and it is possible to book without paying.
You will find mostly all-inclusive hotels and large condominium towers in the Cancun area. As for Cozumel, it is an island with a more relaxed atmosphere, with smaller hotels. Diving on Cozumel is excellent, especially for drift diving and falling wall diving lovers.
The Riviera Maya is a mix of both. You will find all types of accommodation, but above all, the best cenotes in the area! Everywhere along the Riviera Maya, you will find cenotes and even lagoons with transparent water to explore!
Prices of dives in Riviera Maya & Yucatan Peninsula
Diving in the Yucatan Peninsula area varies depending on the location. Here is still an overview of the average price of dives for Riviera Maya:
A snorkeling excursion in the cenotes: +/- 60€ (75$US)
A snorkeling excursion (+/- 3h by boat): +/- 40€ (50$US)
Baptism / Discover SCUBA diving : +/- 80€ (100$US)
2 Open Water dives: +/- 70€ (85$US)
2 Advanced dives / Cozumel / Cenotes / Bull sharks : +/- 125€ (150$US)
Price Level 1 / Padi Open Water Course: +/- 330€ (400$US)*
Price Level 2 / Padi Open Water Advanced Course: +/- 250€ (300$US)*
Price Course Level 3 / Rescue Diver : +/- 415€ (500$US)*
Divemaster course: +/- 700€ (850$US)*
We advise you not to look only for the lowest rate but choose your dive center according to where you feel best. Sometimes it makes sense to pay a little more and be in better conditions!
Best time to dive in Yucatán, Mexico
The section on travel advice will inform you more about the best time to visit the Yucatan Peninsula in terms of general tourism.
As for the best time to dive near the Yucatan Peninsula, here are the main points:
Whale sharks are mainly present between June and September.
Between November and March, it’s the season for bull sharks.
The visibility and temperature of the water vary very little during the year.
The cenotes are ideal to dive at all times, and no need for a boat ride on a sometimes hectic sea to get there!
The Caribbean Sea, off the coast of Mexico, is the perfect place to learn to dive. Most resorts are affiliated with a local operator or have a dive center. You can do your dives in the pool on site, then in a clear sea with calm and crystal clear water.
Discover SCUBA is also very popular for those who are not certified but want to try diving. Alternatively, for certified divers, a cavern diving specialization is a great idea to be able to explore the cenotes more deeply! The drift diver and deep diver specializations are also popular in Mexico.
Scuba diving conditions
Offshore visibility ranges from 12 meters/40 feet in winter to 27 meters/90 feet in summer. The farther you are from the beach, the less seasonal difference there will be in visibility.
The dive sites of Cozumel have exceptional visibility of 100 feet and more all year round.
At the level of cenotes and caverns, visibility is correlated with your vision’s quality! Then, the water temperature varies between 25-28°C/77-82°F in winter and 27-29°C/81-85°F during the summer months.
Snorkeling in Yucatán, Mexico
The crystal clear and warm waters of the Riviera Maya and the shallow coral reefs in the background are superb snorkeling destinations. Plus, the many cenotes are, at the very least, among the best snorkeling sites in Mexico!
Underwater fauna: Fish and Coral
Divers can expect a good density of marine life at most sites, and sea turtles are common everywhere.
Dolphins are known to follow boats, so a lot of luck to meet them during your outings at sea! Also, various sharks and rays are frequently seen during drop-off dives.
If you are planning to go on a trip to Yucatán, Mexico, I advise you to invest in good travel insurance that also covers scuba diving. You never know what can happen, and good insurance can get you out of difficult situations.
All in all, the Yucatan Peninsula has been attracting divers since the very beginning of the recreational diving industry. Divers come back over time because diving is still as interesting and diverse as ever.
Now Mexico is one of the most famous tourist destinations. You can not only dive but also indulge in several other activities during your vacation!
We hope the content “Best Scuba Diving and Snorkeling in Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico” was helpful to you.