Best Places for Diving in Mexico

Best Places for Diving in Mexico

Mexico is a truly exciting diving destination due to its sheer variety locations, marine life, and its broad range of diving conditions.

  • Dive underwater peaks of volcanoes on UNESCO-listed sites
  • Swim alongside protected species in vast marine reserves
  • Take the plunge in eerily clear waters of submerged cave systems
  • Or enjoy the calm and colorful reefs of the Caribbean

No matter what kind of diver you are, Mexico has something to pique your interest!

Scuba Diving in Socorro (of the Revillagigedo Islands)

diving with dolphins in socorro

The Revillagigedo Islands consists of few volcanic peaks that poke up from an underwater mountain range. Inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2016, the protected (and largely uninhabited) islands lie roughly 250 miles (400km) south of the Baja Peninsula. Situated where the Northeastern Pacific meets currents from the Eastern Pacific, the surrounding waters have a remarkable abundance of large pelagic species, such as giant manta rays, whales, dolphins and at least ten different species of shark.

The island of Socorro is the largest by far and divers often have “Socorro” on their bucket list. It’s considered one of the most beautiful places to dive on the planet.

The Best Dive Sites of Socorro

  • San Benedicto Island: two famous dive sites in San Benedicto island are The Boiler and The Canyon. The Boiler is a cleaning station for manta rays. You can dive on a pinnacle and meet with the curious giant mantas. In both sites you may see many types of sharks, some dolphins and maybe even some humpbacks in their migrating season.

  • Socorro Island: you may stay a day or two diving near Socorro Island as there are a few dive sites to explore: Cabo Pearce, The Aquarium and Punta Tosca. You will meet with more pelagic in this rocky area and you’ll also see some macro in The Aquarium. Remember you can only access San benedicto Island, Roca Partida and Socorro with a liveaboard

  • Roca Partida: another famous island of the archipelago attracting many pelagic species: sharks, mantas, dolphins, and sometimes even whale sharks. You will dive on a big pinnacle that goes all the way down to 60 meters (200 feet), with some caves at around 18 meters depth (60 feet).

Practical Information on Socorro

  • Socorro diving season: November to June

  • Water temperature in Socorro: 23° to 28°C (74° to 83°F)

  • How to get to Socorro:

    • Fly to San Juan Los Cabos (SJD) in Baja California, Mexico
    • Embark on a liveaboard in the evening to arrive at the archipelago the following day

You can only access the islands by boat, so check out our liveaboard to Socorro Island! (8 nights starting from USD$2595)

Scuba Diving in Cabo Pulmo and Bahia de los Angeles (Baja California)

On the East coast of Baja California lies the small village of Cabo Pulmo. Fishing was banned in the nineties and Cabo Pulmo Marine Park is considered one of the most popular ones on the planet for its abundance of fish and species. Listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site, it also has been labeled by Mission Blue, Dr Sylvia Earle’s NGO, a “Hope Spot”. The marine life is so abundant that scuba divers often see massive shoals of pelagic fish, hundreds of passing Mobula rays, sea lions, turtles, whales and sharks.

You can dive from the village of Cabo Pulmo or go on a liveaboard trip from Cabo San Lucas to La Paz and Cabo Pulmo (5 nights starting from USD$2495)

Further up North Baja California lies Bahia de los Angeles. Every summer, more than 200 whale sharks migrate to Bahia de los Angeles. You’ll experience some fantastic dives with sea lions, and also some memorable snorkelling sessions with whale sharks. You can dive in Bahia de los Angeles with a liveaboard (5 nights starting from USD$2495)

The Best Dive Sites of Cabo Pulmo

diving with a school of jackfish in cabo pulmo
  • El Bajo: a colorful half a mile long reef hosting a very rich marine life: giant groupers, turtles, moray eels, huge schools of jack fish or yellow tail snappers. The dive is shallow, with a maximum depth of 18 meters (60 feet). In winter you might see passing by some mobula rays, humpback whales, and whalesharks.

  • El Cantil: another shallow dive on a beautiful long reef, with a maximum depth of 15 meters (50 feet). You’ll see beautiful macro in crevices and again some big schools of groupers and snappers. You may sometimes see mantas in season and there is usually some current, making it a fantastic drift dive.

  • Frailes Rock Sea Lion Colony: playful sea lions are always around and it will be a memorable diving experience of your trip to Baja California. It is a good idea to go with non-divers as they will be able to snorkel with them while you dive.

Practical Information on Cabo Pulmo

  • Cabo Pulmo diving season: all year round

  • Water temperature in Cabo Pulmo: between 18°C in winter to 29°C in summer (65° to 85°F)

  • How to get to Cabo Pulmo:

Scuba Diving in Mahahual and Banco Chinchorro (Yucatán)

Even though the small fishing village of Mahahual is a stop for big cruise ships, it’s still an interesting place to scuba dive. Located right off the barrier reef, it hosts more than fifty dive sites with canyons and beautiful coral formations. Typically excellent visibility, the sites from within the reef are usually protected from currents and accessible to beginner divers while outer reef sites, located on the Banco Chinchorro, offer great conditions for more experienced divers. Underwater, you can expect to see some eagle rays, turtles, lobsters, parrot fish, pufferfish, moray eels, nurse sharks.

The Best Dive Sites of Mahahual & Banco Chinchorro

  • El Fajo Viejo: a drift dive for advanced divers. Beautiful coral reefs and a maximum depth of 25 meters (85 feet). You’ll get to see some caves here and there.

  • Los 40 cañones: a dive between 15 and 27 meters (50 to 90 feet) with beautiful soft and hard coral formations.

  • Banco Chinchorro: the outer part of the reef is called “Banco Chinchorro”. With strong changing currents, it nevertheless offers the most beautiful dives. If you’re an experienced diver, talk with your dive shop to go dive there. Xcalak further South is another area with little tourists worth exploring.

Practical Information on Mahahual & Banco Chinchorro

  • Mahahual diving season: all year round

  • Water temperature in Mahahual: 25° to 30°C (77° to 86°F)

  • How to get to Mahahual:

    • From Cancun(CUN) airport, it is a five-hour drive.
    • Alternatively, you may prefer to come from Chetumal airport(CTM), at the border with Belize, and the drive is less than two hours.
    • Take an ADO bus, a taxi or a “collectivo” (shared shuttle).

Scuba Diving the Cenotes (Yucatán)

diving in cenotes in mexico

Scuba diving the cenotes of Mexico is another unique fantastic experience the country offers. Cenotes are a network of sinkholes and tunnels with a mix of fresh and saltwater, offering clear visibility and light coming through the rocks. Anyone with an open water scuba diving certification can dive in the cenotes, providing you go in one that has a minimum of natural light. We recommend you to have a minimum of diving experience, good buoyancy skills and to be comfortable diving in caves.

The Best Dive Sites of the Cenotes

  • Angelita: located south of Tulum, Angelita is a sinkhole with a depth of 60 meters (200 feet), and a mix of salt and freshwater. In the shallows, you will see beautiful stalactites. Its depth makes it a favorite of technical divers. At a depth of 30 meters (100 feet), divers can see an hydrogen sulfide cloud, with trees and branches around creating a surreal picture. Below the cloud, the water is crystal clear again but without sunlight as it is stopped by the cloud.

  • Dos Ojos: north of Tulum, the “Two Eyes” cenote is one of the most famous ones. The area visited comprises two holes connected with a cavern. With a lot of daylight, usually excellent visibility and shallow depth (10 meters or 30 feet), the cenote is accessible to beginner divers and also snorkelers.

  • The Pit: between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, the pit is another favorite of tec divers as it is the deepest one known so far, reaching a maximum depth of 119 meters (391 feet). Get prepared to see some stalactites in the first 30 meters (100 feet), benefit from crystal clear visibility and an hydrogen sulfide cloud. It is often combined with nearby cenote Dos Ojos.

Practical Information on the Cenotes

  • Cenotes diving season: all year round, but the best light is between May to September

  • Water temperature in the Cenotes: 24° to 25°C (75 to 77°F)

  • How to get to the Cenotes:

    • Fly to Cancun airport (CUN)
    • Either drive, take an ADO bus, or a “collectivo” (shared shuttle) to Playa del Carmen or Tulum (1-2 hours)

Scuba Diving in Cozumel (Yucatán)

Cozumel is located in front of Playa del Carmen. You can totally combine diving in the cenotes and in Cozumel in the same trip as they are located near to each other. Cozumel is located at the heart of the second largest barrier reef in the world, and just a couple hours drive from Cancun international airport. With shallow reefs, amazing walls and fantastic drift dives, Cozumel offers a perfect mix for both beginner and experienced scuba divers. November to March is the season for bull sharks coming to breed. Non-divers wil also have a good time, indulging in delicious mexican food, and enjoying Cozumel white sandy beaches and crytal clear waters.

The Best Dive Sites of Cozumel

exploring cozumel island
  • Santa Rosa Wall: it is one of the most popular dive site in Cozumel. Best suited for advanced divers, the wall starts at around 15 meters depth (50 feet) and its beautiful topography with swim throughs and overhangs, and is beautiful. With sometimes currents, you can expect to see regularly some eagle rays, groupers, parrotfish and turtles.

  • Palancar Reef: on the southwest side of the island, Palancar reef is 5 km long (3.5 miles). Its many dive sites are perfectly suited for beginner and advanced divers. Palancar horseshoe is a beautiful reef with many coral species, tunnels and caves. It is a favorite of advanced divers who frequently spot there some sharks, turtles, eagle rays and of course, plenty of fish.

  • Barracuda Reef: at the north end of the island, the site has very strong currents. It is only suited for advanced experienced divers. They will drift along eagle rays, nurse sharks, black tip sharks, turtles, leopard rays, and of course, barracudas!

  • Colombia Wall: Colombia Wall is another beautiful wall with moderate currents. You’ll get to see some other giant coral pillars, some caves and tunnels. Lots of fish: damselfish, groupers, surgeon fish, wrasse and turtles are frequently seen.

Practical Information on Cozumel

  • Cozumel diving season: all year round

  • Water temperature in Cozumel: 25° to 28°C (78° to 82°F)

  • How to get to Cozumel:

    • Fly direct to Cozumel International Airport (CZM)
    • or by boat from Playa del Carmen: Ultramar or Winjet go there every hour from 6am to 11pm for just USD $10

Scuba Diving on Isla Mujeres and Isla Holbox (Yucatán)

sunset on isla mujeres

Isla Mujeres is just offshore from Cancun and is famous for the hundreds of whale sharks that come by every year between June to September. Holbox, another island accessible from the small village of Chiquila, is much less developed than Isla Mujeres yet also offers amazing opportunities to swim with the ocean giants. Another famous attraction of Isla Mujeres and Cancun is the “Museo Subacuático de Arte” (MUSA) which exhibits more than 450 sculptures underwater. Started more than 20 years ago, Jason de Caires Taylor - a graduate from the London Institute of Arts and an avid scuba diver - created this gallery that he calls the Silent Evolution.

The Best Dive Sites of Isla Mujeres & Holbox

holbox island in mexico
  • Manchones Reef, Isla Mujeres: a shallow dive on a 800 (half a mile) meter long reef on which you’ll get to see beautiful elk horn, stag horn, brain coral, some wrasse, snappers, parrot-fish and angelfish among others.

  • Holbox: every year, hundreds of whale sharks congregate near Holbox and Isla Mujeres. Holbox is less developed than Isla Mujeres but attracts more and more tourists. Whale sharks can be seen only while snorkeling. If you want to dive from Holbox, the dive shops will likely bring you to Isla Mujeres.

Practical Information on Isla Mujeres/Holbox

  • Isla Mujeres/Holbox diving season: all year round, but whale sharks come from June to September

  • Water temperature in Isla Mujeres/Holbox: 26° to 28°C (79° to 82°F)

  • How to get to Isla Mujeres:

    • Fly to Cancun International Airport(CUN)
    • Take a bus or a taxi to Puerto Juarez
    • Board the ferry for a short, fifteen-minute crossing. Ultramar goes to Isla Mujeres every hour from 6am to 11pm for just USD $8.
  • How to get to Holbox:

    • Fly to Cancun International Airport(CUN)
    • Take a bus or a taxi to Chiquila
    • Board a ferry for a 30-minute crossing. The ferry leaves every hour from 6am to 9:30pm and costs USD $5.

Diving Safety Recommendations

We always recommend to have your own dive gear, well maintained, you’ll be safer and more comfortable. Light and compact dive gear is particularly suited for travels. For safety reasons, always bring with you a surface marker buoy, and know how to use it. We also recommend you to have a Nautilus Lifeline, a GPS that could save your life if taken by currents. They can be really strong in the Revillagigedo Archipelago or Socorro, and Cozumel. Finally, remember to always use a reef-safe sunscreen

Top 5 Experiences Besides Diving in Mexico

Spend a Few Days Exploring Mexico City

bellas artes palace in mexico

Mexico City has a beautiful historical center and relaxed neighborhoods to stay in, such as La Condesa or La Roma. Explore the capital on a open-air “Touribus” - it will traverse Reforma Avenue and around the historical center, in which you’ll see the beautiful Bellas Artes and the main square(called the “Zocalo”). Soak up some culture by visiting the house of Frida Kahlo in Coyoacán - a beautiful borough south of the city. At night, check out the “Lucha Libre” fight in the Arena Mexico. Don’t forget to try the delicious street tacos or, for a sit-down experience, try the “taquerías” in El Kaliman or el Tizoncito in Condesa district. La Roma neighborhood also hosts many trendy cocktail bars and restaurants.

Visit the Colonial Villages of Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende

streets of san miguel de allende in mexico

A few hours drive from Mexico city are the beautiful colonial villages of Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende. Both are near each other and you can easily spend a few days roaming around. Walk Guanajuato colorful streets and its famous Callejón del Beso (Alley of the Kiss). In San Miguel de Allende, do not miss the neo-Gothic church Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel, on the main square.

Discover Oaxaca City and Around

hierve al agua in oaxaca state of mexico

Oaxaca is the gastronomic capital of Mexico - you can spend a few hours visiting its markets and tasting all sorts of delicious dishes, such as El Mole. The region is also known for its agave plantations and mescal distilleries which offer delectable tastings. The city itself is a sight to behold, with perfectly restored colonial houses and architecture such as the Church of Santo Domingo or the Palacio de Gobernio. Outside Oaxaca city, soak in the incredible “Hierve el Agua”: set of rock formations that create natural “infinity pools” of warm water with a breathtaking backdrop of mountains. Bring your swimsuit!

Take Up Surfing on Mexico’s Pacific Coast

sunset on mazunte beach in oaxaca

The coast from Puerto Escondido to Mazunte is a classic destination for surfers all over the world. Puerto Escondido is for serious surfers while smaller beaches and more protected bays are better for beginners. Mazunte is a beautiful small beach on a bay with simple accommodations and spectacular sunsets over the water.

Visit Ancient Mayan Ruins

chichen itza ruins in mexico

North of Mexico City, the famous Teotihuacán pyramids of the sun and the moon can be visited on a full-packed day trip. Further south in Mexico, you can visit Palenque (near San Cristobal de las Casas) - a formidable Mayan temple set in the middle of a jungle chock-full with Howler monkeys. In the same area, go to Bonampak which is also quite impressive, but lesser-known and less-crowded! To the east, on the Yucatan Peninsula, can not do not miss the famous Chichen Itza ruins (even though they’re often crowded). Last but not least, for us lovers of the sea, there’s the amazing ruins of Tulum overlooking it’s clear Caribbean waters.

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