We Mapped the 8 Best Places to Dive in Mexico

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!

The 8 Best Places to Dive in Mexico

Socorro (of the Revillagigedo Islands)

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.

diving with dolphins in socorro

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).

Diving Season

The best time of the year to dive in Socorro is from November to June.

Dive Conditions

  • The water temperature ranges from 23° to 28°C (73° to 82°F)
  • Expect some medium to strong currents
  • Visibility ranges from 10 to 50 meters

How To Get There

  • Fly to San Juan Los Cabos (SJD) in Baja California, Mexico.

  • From there, embark on a liveaboard in the evening to arrive at the archipelago the following day. Socorro is very remote and getting there usually take up to 24 hours on an open sea.

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

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 ...)

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 snorkeling sessions with whale sharks. You can dive in Bahia de los Angeles with a liveaboard (5 nights starting from ...)

The Best Dive Sites of 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 whale sharks.

  • El Barco: a favorite of all divers coming to Cabo Pulmo. You’ll dive on a wreck, famous for the bullsharks that like to cruise there. There’s no bait so you’ll get to see them in their natural environment. You’ll also get to see big schools of pelagic fish.

  • 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.

diving with a school of jackfish in cabo pulmo

Diving Season

You can dive in Cabo Pulmo year round.

Dive Conditions

  • The water temperature ranges from 18° to 29°C (64° to 84°F). Even in summer, expect some thermoclines
  • Currents are little to moderate
  • Visibility is best from August to November. It usually ranges between 10 to 30 meters and changes quickly

How To Get There

  • Fly to San Juan Los Cabos (SJD) in Baja California, Mexico.

  • Rent a four wheel drive to reach the small town of Cabo Pulmo (2-3 hours scenic drive from the Airport). It’s quite an adventure to get there!

  • You can also choose liveaboard trip from Cabo San Lucas to La Paz and Cabo Pulmo (5 nights starting from ...), a relaxing way to reach all these dive areas.

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.

Diving Season

You can dive in Mahahual and Banco Chinchorro year round.

Dive Conditions

  • The water temperature ranges from 25° to 30°C (77° to 86°F)
  • Some currents on some well-known sites
  • Visibility ranges between 10 to 60 meters

How To Get There

  • From Cancun Airport (CUN), 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.

  • From the Airport, take an ADO bus, a taxi or a “collectivo” (shared shuttle).

Scuba Diving the Cenotes (Yucatán)

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.

diving in cenotes in mexico

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.

Diving Season

You can dive in the Cenotes year round. The best light is between May to September.

Dive Conditions

  • The water temperature ranges from 24° to 25°C (75° to 77°F)
  • No strong currents
  • Visibility ranges between a few meters when you’re in an hydrogen sulfide cloud for instance, to 100 meters

How To Get There

  • Fly to Cancun Airport (CUN).

  • From the Airport, you can either drive, take an ADO bus, or a “collectivo” (shared shuttle) to Playa del Carmen or Tulum (1-2 hours).

  • The cenotes are located along the main road, between these two towns, and can easily be reached on a day trip.

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

  • 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.

exploring cozumel island

Diving Season

You can dive in Cozumel year round. Peak season is between April to September.

Dive Conditions

  • The water temperature ranges from 24° to 28°C (75° to 82°F)
  • Some strong currents that are perfect for drift diving
  • Visibility ranges between 10 to 40 meters

How To Get There

  • Fly direct to Cozumel International Airport (CZM).

  • If coming from Cancun Airport (CUN), take a bus or taxi to Playa del Carmen, and then a boat to Cozumel.

  • Ultramar or Winjet go there every hour from 6am to 11pm for just

Scuba Diving on Isla Mujeres and Isla Holbox (Yucatán)

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.

sunset on isla mujeres

The Best Dive Sites of Isla Mujeres & Holbox

  • 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.

holbox island in mexico

Diving Season

You can dive from Isla Mujeres and Holbox year round. Whale sharks come from June to September.

Dive Conditions

  • The water temperature ranges from 26° to 28°C (79° to 82°F)
  • There are hardly any currents
  • Visibility ranges between 30 to 50 meters

How To Get There

  • To go to Isla Mujeres from Cancun International Airport (CUN): take a bus or a taxi to Puerto Juarez, then board the ferry for a short, fifteen-minute crossing. Ultramar goes to Isla Mujeres every hour from 6am to 11pm for just

  • To go to Holbox from Cancun International Airport (CUN), take a bus or a taxi to Chiquila. From there, board a ferry for a 30-minute crossing. The ferry leaves every hour from 6am to 9:30pm and costs

Dive 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 take along a reef-safe sunscreen.

Top 5 Experiences Besides Diving in Mexico

Spend a Few Days Exploring Mexico City

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.

bellas artes palace in mexico

Visit the Colonial Villages of Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende

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.

streets of san miguel de allende in mexico

Discover Oaxaca City and Around

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!

hierve al agua in oaxaca state of mexico

Take Up Surfing on Mexico’s Pacific Coast

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.

sunset on mazunte beach in oaxaca

Visit Ancient Mayan Ruins

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, 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.

chichen itza ruins in mexico

Mexico Entry Requirements

  • Many countries’ residents do not require a visa to stay in Mexico for up to 180 days.
  • Please check the current visa policy that applies for your country.
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