Quintana Roo Diving
For an idyllic mix of ancient Mayan ruins, beautiful sandy beaches and world-class dive experiences, try the Quintana Roo region. As well as abundant caves and wrecks, you can dive the second largest barrier reef in the world and surround yourself with whale sharks and bull sharks.
Cancun is ideal for combining your best dives with ancient Mayan ruins and stunning wildlife encounters above and below water. Dive in to discover the famous MUSA underwater museum of art, incredible cenote diving and Isla Mujeres’ numerous whale sharks.
Famous for its protected reefs and astounding marine biodiversity, Cozumel is a diving mecca. There’s something for every diver, including easy drift dives, drop-offs and plunging walls. Surround yourself with over 500 fish species, plus turtles, schooling barracuda, rays and macro treasures whilst you dive there.
Isla Mujeres is renowned as a breeding ground for huge aggregations of whale sharks every summer, yet also offers deep wreck and cave dives plus shallow reefs for easy diving. Go there to meet the whale sharks and explore the second largest barrier reef system in the world.
With some of the most diverse diving in the world, Playa del Carmen is a scuba diver’s paradise offering caves, wrecks, sharks, reefs and spectacular diving at Cozumel Island. Discover some of the 10,000 crystal-clear cenotes found there, or head to the ocean for reef and bull shark encounters.
Off the beaten path and a gateway to the second largest barrier reef system in the world, Puerto Aventuras offers easy shallow reef dives and dramatic deep walls. As well as numerous prized macro critters and reef fish, you’ll find abundant sea turtles and occasional bull sharks passing you by.
With easy shore and boat access to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, Puerto Morelos is not to be missed for reefs teeming with colourful life, laidback diving and fantastic water visibility. Deeper wrecks, cenotes full of stalagmites and bull shark action provide thrills for adventurous divers too.
Discover Banco Chinchorro Atoll’s vibrant coral reefs and impressive shipwrecks or enjoy drift, wall and reef diving opportunities at Xcalak; a small and perfectly situated Mexican dive destination. Canyon reef formations with huge nesting groupers and majestic chambers lit by sunlight from above will take your breath away.
Diving in Quintana Roo
Quintana Roo is one of Mexico’s 31 states and is located on the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula, adjacent to the Caribbean Sea. It contains many cities that are tourist hotspots as well as scuba diving destinations: Cancún, Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, Akumal, Tulum, and the islands of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres. These coastal destinations are popular among tourists from all over the world due to their year-round warm weather, beautiful sandy beaches, alluring ruins of the ancient Mayan civilization, and terrestrial and marine biodiversity.
Quintana Roo arguably has some of the most diverse diving of anywhere in the world. It is a great place to visit to take advantage of the abundant cave-, wreck-, shark-, and reef-diving opportunities, not to mention diving through an underwater sculpture museum. These dives are never more than a short drive or boat ride away and are best enjoyed and appreciated by diving with Quintana Roo’s many local dive shops and/or resorts. Because of the proximity and accessibility of these dive sites to the coast, liveaboard dive boats are not common in this region.
The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the second-largest barrier reef in the world, runs parallel to the coastline of the Yucatán Peninsula. Its splendor is especially well-known near the island of Cozumel, which is located 10km offshore from Playa del Carmen. The Arrecifes de Cozumel (Cozumel Reefs) National Marine Park is home to protected species such as the Cozumel splendid toadfish, green, hawksbill, and loggerhead sea turtles, the queen conch, and black coral. Divers can also expect to see lobsters, octopus, angelfish, parrotfish, snapper, eagle rays, moray eels, and seahorses. In the summer, whale shark sightings are common near the island of Isla Mujeres, and during the winter months, bull sharks can be spotted near Playa del Carmen.
Quintana Roo also hosts a complex system of about 10,000 cenotes! Cenotes are exposed, collapsed underwater caves that are part of an underground interconnected cave system. Cenotes boast great visibility and stunning geological features.
Best places to dive
Quintana Roo offers a diverse set of diving opportunities; there is something that will excite everyone in your dive party. “El Museo Subacuático de Arte”, or MUSA, is an underwater contemporary museum of art located just offshore of Cancún that is made up of over 500 life-sized sculptures. By acting as a surface upon which corals can colonize, the sculptures of MUSA are a symbol of marine conservation, coral restoration, and environmental consciousness.
The reef system near the island of Isla Mujeres is part of a National Marine Park and is home to sea turtles, lobsters, stingrays, angelfish, and other tropical fish. Isla Mujeres is also where whale sharks migrate every winter, providing adventurous divers with the opportunity to have intimate encounters with these gentle giants.
The best-known cenote dive site in Quintana Roo and arguably all of Mexico is “Cenote Dos Ojos” (“Two Eyes”). This site, which is located 100km south of Cancún in between the cities of Akumal and Tulum, consists of a pair of crystal clear cenotes that look like two eyes staring into the earth. These cenotes have spectacular visibility (up to 40m!); the natural light that streams through the water column and illuminates the stalagmite and stalactite features of the cave makes this site a photographer’s dream.
Cozumel’s many dive sites (over thirty!) fit the needs of all experience levels, from beginner to tec diver. “Palancar Reef” consists of thousands of different coral species that form in large clusters and extends for about 5.5km. This reef is inhabited by yellow head wrasse, angelfish, parrotfish, butterflyfish, and damselfish. The relatively weak current makes this site a popular one for novice divers and photographers.
Just south of Tulum is the protected Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. By diving with an operator that has the correct permits, divers can explore the incredible “Banco Chinchorro” site in the reserve. Here, divers will come across nine different shipwrecks that have since turned into vibrant artificial reefs.