Mexico is one of the best dive spots that are easy to get to. It has a wide range of diving options suitable for beginners and professionals alike. In addition, Mexico is a great place for families since it has tons of attractions and activities that are perfect for all ages. Even if you are a non-diver, you can still explore Mexico’s turquoise waters by snorkeling. Either way, you will not miss out on the beauty of the ocean here.
Best Scuba Diving in Mexico
However, for scuba divers, Mexico is definitely the best diving country in Latin America. Just imagine swimming beside protected species along the Sea of Cortez. Or you can dive into the underwater volcano peaks at the Revillagigedo Archipelago to name a few. Aside from that, you can also enjoy the calm and stunning coral reefs in the Caribbean Sea.
Whatever it is that you are looking for when going scuba diving, chances are that you will find them all in Mexico. With such a diverse selection of diving areas, you will want to come back for more. In fact, professional divers always make it a point to go back here. And so will you!
Best Scuba Diving Spots in Mexico
There is no doubt that Mexico is one of the best places to visit for scuba diving. Since it is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, and the Caribbean Sea, there is a diverse selection of dive spots in the country. In fact, here are some of the diving areas that you should consider for your trip.
First on the list is Socorro Island. Considered to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is home to various shark species as well as large pelagics in the Pacific Ocean. This island is part of the Revillagigedo Islands. It is about 240 miles away from Cabo San Lucas on the Baja California Peninsula.
Scuba diving here is not for beginners. This is because deep strong currents including heavy weather tend to batter the walls and pinnacles of the coastline. But if you are willing to travel to reach this island, the trip is going to be worth it. After all, each dive you do here will reveal the thriving life under the sea.
In fact, you’ll see hammerhead sharks and whitetip reef sharks. Also, you’ll spot some marlin, tuna, and wahoo. You might even see humpback whales or whale sharks too. This is also the best spot to swim with the oceanic manta rays, specifically at The Boiler. Make sure that you book a dive tour here if you want a challenging dive.
There are two events on this island that draw experienced divers to its shores. The first one is during the summer months when large numbers of whale sharks appear here. It’s because there is plenty of krill and plankton blooms at Isla Holbox. In fact, you should book one of the dive tours offered here to see them up close.
Even though there are plenty of boat tours during this time, there is a good chance that you’ll see these giants out in the open. Aside from that, you can also go snorkeling offshore to see the whale sharks from a distance. You might even see giant manta rays and eagle rays feeding alongside them. For sure, you will be in awe of the underwater activity here.
Meanwhile, the second event happens during the winter months. In fact, if you are here between January and February, you will see schools of sailfish. They are the biggest attraction in Isla Mujeres. Sailfish migrate from the Gulf of Mexico and then hide in the lee of the Yucatan Peninsula.
Yes, it is possible to snorkel to see them, but diving provides a different experience, especially if this is your first dive. Don’t forget to dive into the Manchones Reef which is one of the highlights of Isla Mujeres.
Riviera Maya Cenotes
There is no doubt that even advanced divers will be in awe when they see the stunning rock formations on Mexico’s cenotes. Most of the cenotes are in the Riviera Maya on the Yucatán Peninsula. In fact, they are part of a freshwater system composed of caverns, caves, and sinkholes that have been attracting divers all over the world. For many, Tulum is one of the best dive areas for exceptional cave diving.
Once you are underwater, just follow the narrow tunnels that are known to curve and twist here and there. These tunnels will suddenly open up to vaulted ceilings where light and shadow play well. Aside from that, the crystal clear water here is filtered enough for sea life to thrive. Pay attention to the warning signs as you transition from caves to caverns. There are some areas that only professional divers can pass through.
If you are wondering which cenote to start with, I suggest that you start with the cenote Dos Ojos. With a depth of up to 27ft, its simple features make it one of the top dive sites for beginner divers as well as pros.
Island of Cozumel
Another popular dive site that you should consider is Cozumel. This island is near Cancun and Playa del Carmen and is easily accessible from these two. What makes this a popular dive site is its barrier reef which is home to plenty of marine life. In fact, this is one of the favorite diving spots Jacques Cousteau.
Divers who visit can enjoy drift dives along the steep but colorful walls. These walls are full of corals, gorgonians, and sponges even where schools of fish call home. In fact, you can find sea turtles, rays, and even the occasional reef and nurse sharks.
The good news is that Cozumel has plenty of diving spots for all levels. For example, the southern end has been a marine reserve for more than 20 years. In its clear shallow waters, it is possible to encounter eagle rays, hawksbill turtles, and schooling jack to name a few.
First-time divers can take diving lessons and then go on a shallow dive here. Even if you are a non-diver, you can still admire the sea life here through snorkeling. You can even use a glass-bottomed boat if you like.
Take note that the dives become deeper and more challenging the more you move to the center of the island. In fact, there are plenty of exciting drop-offs here as well as coral topography worth exploring. You should check dive sites like Palancar Reef which is part of the great Maya barrier reef.
Fancy swimming with great white sharks? Aside from South Africa, Australia, and California, Isla Guadalupe is also a great place to swim with these creatures. In fact, they are the main attraction on this island. Just 150 miles off the west coast of the Baja Peninsula, this island is only accessible by liveaboard.
Aside from that, most of the boats that travel here specialize in shark-cage diving. Isla Guadalupe can be reached from San Diego or from Ensanada. The trips here usually last 3 days. The best time to visit Guadalupe Island is from August to October. In fact, this is the great white shark season on the island. During the early months, you will spot male great whites converging in this area. Later on, the bigger females will arrive to mate.
Aside from these massive animals, there are other sea creatures to keep your eyes on. Among these are sea lions, Guadalupe seals, as well as schools of mackerel. This is among the only places where you will find them.
Meanwhile, La Paz is one of the best dive sites in Mexico with good reason. After all, one of its main attractions is the whale sharks that migrate here from October to November. This coincides with the abundance of plankton blooms. Time your trip here around these months to be able to swim alongside these gentle giants. Aside from that, it is possible to visit the hammerhead shark nursery on La Paz Bay. The local government and private entities are protecting these sharks ever since their numbers started to go down.
Also, you will spot Mobula rays, dolphins, tuna, and marlin in the waters. On the other hand, if you are looking for a unique experience, I recommend that you head to Isla Los Islotes. Dive into the waters and watch playful sea lions swim around you. You can enjoy the show on land too if you like. Aside from that, you can go snorkeling here instead of diving whichever you prefer. The water temperature here from October to November is around 24 to 28 degrees Celsius. Trust me when I say that you are going to have a great experience here.
Chinchorro Banks is part of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve which is just 5 hours away from Cancun. This hidden gem is actually part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef which is the second-largest barrier reef in the western hemisphere. Only a handful of divers know about the pristine habitats as well as the unique biodiversity here. You can only do diving in the banks from the mainland. If you want to explore further then take a 30 to 60-minute speedboat ride from Majahual or Costa Maya will take you to one of the best diving areas in the northern hemisphere.
Dive and explore the shipwrecks here or follow the drift dives if you like. The calm and clear waters provide excellent visibility even when you are just snorkeling instead of diving. Even the shipwreck Forty Canons still looks amazing even from the surface. Aside from that, if you are feeling brave, you can attempt to get closer to the American saltwater crocodiles.
Cabo San Lucas and Cabo Pulmo
Located 40 miles apart on the southern portion of the Baja California Peninsula, you have Cabo San Lucas and Cabo Pulmo. Both provide a wide range of tropical reefs as well as pelagic species. In fact, you’ll find them where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean. Meanwhile, the sheltered San Lucas Bay is the perfect place to go diving among rocky reefs and corridors. In fact, Chileno Bay as well as Santa Maria is full of tropical fish, lobsters, and more.
Aside from that, head to Cabo Pulmo which is a protected National Marine Park. It covers 27 square miles of the northernmost hard coral reef in North America. The shallow reefs here are worth exploring since they are home to macro and even tropical fish too. Whale sharks, Mobula rays, and others can be spotted in the open water.
Puerto Vallarta is one of the top diving spots that you will find along Mexico’s Pacific Coast. This is not surprising since it is home to some of the wildest sea creatures you’ll come across in the open sea. For example, there are giant moray eels in El Morro while massive rays swim around Marietas Islands. Aside from that, El Chimo plays host to humpback whales between April to October.
If you are looking for a unique dive experience, then Cancun is not a bad place to visit. There are plenty of dive spots here that are fit for all levels. In fact, the mainland itself is home to several cenotes where you can go snorkeling, diving, or free diving if you prefer. Bring your diving gear to avoid renting equipment in one of the dive shops nearby.
For those who are wondering where to head first, I recommend the underwater museum or MUSA. Here you will find around 400 hundred life-size sculptures created by Jason deCaires Taylor as part of an artificial reef. Get up close to these sculptures when you dive or see them from the surface. I find seeing these sculptures a bit surreal but amazing especially when you see them up close.
Traveling to Mexico City!
Traveling to Mexico City soon? Then you should consider adding scuba diving to your things to do on your trip. From the capital, you can make your way to various diving spots like Playa del Carmen. Here you will find bull sharks in the shallow reefs from November to March. You can also find several dive spots in San Jose del Cabo. Among these are the North Wall, Gordo Banks, and Neptune’s Finger. The best way to explore these diving spots is to book with a dive operator.
There is no doubt that Mexico is an amazing place for divers. In fact, many say that scuba diving here is the best along the Riviera Maya and the coastal areas. After all, this is where the Yucatan Peninsula meets the calm, warm waters of the Caribbean Sea. The list above should give you an idea of why beginner and professional scuba divers love to explore Mexico. From stunning rock and coral formations to exploring an underwater museum, it’s impossible to get bored here.
Indeed, Mexico is a beautiful place for tourists of all ages. In fact, it is perfect for divers and non-divers alike. After all, there are other activities that can be done here on top of exploring the waters. You can bring your family to explore Mayan ruins such as Chichen Itza and Tulum. Of course, the pristine white sand beaches here are a must. Don’t forget to taste the local cuisine here. This is definitely one of the best things that you can do here!