Situated just eight miles across the bay from Cancun in the Mexican Caribbean,Isla Mujeres is renowned worldwide for its fabulous diving and snorkeling,which offers easy access to the Great Maya Reef,the second largest reef system on earth. Just another of the many reasons TripAdvisor named Isla Mujeres among the Top 10 Islands in the World last year.
With exceptional visibility that typically ranges between 80-100 feet,there are more than 50 popular dive sites within a 25-mile radius of Isla Mujeres,which translates to mean “Isle of Women.” The warm turquoise blue waters are home to teeming schools of fish,colorful varieties of coral and exciting shipwrecks that are all just waiting to be explored.
Manchones Reef lies just five miles northeast of Cancun and is one of the region’s best dive sites for divers of all skill levels,offering excellent opportunities for underwater photography. The more than 800 meters of reef located here are home to vibrant fields of elk horn,stag and brain coral,as well as multi-hued schools of blue tangs,grunts,snappers and wrasse. Other inhabitants include the large parrotfish,queen angelfish and spotted trunkfish,and depths range from 30-40 feet.
Banderas Reef is situated midway between Cancun and Isla Mujeres,featuring an interesting elongated shape that is topped with elk horn coral and riddled with stunning ledges and overhangs. Here,a 40-foot dive brings adventurers up close with the large schools of barracuda and pompano that call the waters home,while large crabs,spotted moray eels,langosta and angelfish are also commonly seen.
At a depth of 35 feet,Tavos Reef is one of the region’s smaller and more obscure dive sites,offering an intimate experience with unique limestone formations that create intricate crevices and tunnels,some of which are large enough for divers to swim through. Located just east of the southern tip of Isla Mujeres,this site also attracts gray and white-tipped reef sharks.
In addition to the reefs,the various shipwrecks found in the waters around Isla Mujeres are another huge draw for divers. Sites include a navy boat shipwreck at a depth of 70 feet that is every exciting to dive and allows access to the inside of the wreck,where amberjacks and stingrays play hide and seek,along with El Frio,a 100-foot-deep sunken cargo ship that is ideal for advanced divers and located just seven miles offshore,where large moray eel and jewfish,along with turtles and rays,are frequently spotted.
Finally,Cave of the Sleeping Sharks is located just 30 minutes off the coast at a depth of 60-70 feet. The site offers a thrilling chance to explore an underwater room that has intrigued marine biologists worldwide ever since it was discovered in 1969 by local fisherman Carlos Garcia Castilla and subsequently made famous by Jacques Cousteau. Here,divers can get a close up view of bull sharks,black tip sharks,gray reef sharks and nurse sharks,which are attracted to and made groggy by the cave’s freshwater bubbles.
What do you think sounds like the most exciting option from our list?