The Underwater Museum of Cancun
At first, you think the ocean floor is filled with people. They stand in a crowd, hundreds of them, like shoppers at a busy market. You take a deep breath through your snorkel, and dive closer.
You swim up to one of the statues and take in the details. It’s a young woman, incredibly detailed, looking up towards the surface and smiling. Coral polyps blossom from the crevices of her hair, and fish dart through the spaces between her fingers. The sea has already started laying claim here, transforming the art into something new and alive.
Art with a Purpose
The Cancun Underwater Museum, or Museo Subacuático de Arte (MUSA), is an installation of over 500 sculptures beneath the waters of the Cancun National Marine Park. It opened to the public in 2010, and instantly became one of the most popular destinations for adventurous tourists to explore.
The underwater museum started as an idea from Jaime Gonzales Canto, director of the National Marine Park. Canto was concerned that tourists were causing damage to the nearby reefs, particularly Manchones Reef. In order to protect these natural treasures, Canto wanted to give divers an alternative place to visit, one that could better withstand heavy traffic.
The bulk of the museum’s sculptures were created by British artist Jason deCaires Taylor, who has created other underwater artworks off the coasts of Grenada and the Bahamas. The underwater museum in Cancun is the largest of Taylor’s installations, and the largest underwater museum in the world.
A Must-See Destination
The Cancun Underwater Museum is located near Manchones Reef, between the coast of Cancun and Isla Mujeres. It’s reachable by boat, and you’ll have several options for exploration.
Want to visit the underwater museum without getting wet? Schedule a glass-bottom boat tour and relax in comfort while viewing the incredible collection of sculptures. These boat tours are great for visitors of all ages, and give you a unique vantage point from which to view the teeming sea life of the Yucatan.
You’ll travel by boat to the Cancun Underwater Museum, then dive into the water for a closer look at the sculptures! Snorkeling is a beginner-friendly activity that requires very little training, making it a great choice for exploring the museum even if you’ve never put on a mask and snorkel before. Note that some of the sculptures are at significant depth, and may be hard to reach while snorkeling.
If you want to really spend time up close and personal with the sculptures in the underwater museum, your best choice is to strap on the tanks and take a dive! Scuba diving requires training and certification, so you’ll want to do your prep work before booking this tour, although it’s easy to find certification programs in Cancun.
Planning Your Trip
Exploring the underwater museum of Cancun is a one-of-a-kind experience no matter how you approach it. Here are a few options for tours:
Before You Go
MUSA is a popular tourist destination, so it’s a good idea to book your tours in advance. Also keep in mind that snorkeling and diving can be physically-demanding activities that could have you spending significant time in the sun, so plan accordingly!
You Should Also Know…
Most of the museum’s sculptures were created by Jason deCaires Taylor, with additional artwork by Karen Salinas Martinez, Roberto Diaz Abraham, Rodrigo Quiñones Reyes, Salvador Quiroz Ennis, and Elier Amado Gil.
The underwater museum is made up of different art installations, including the 450 lifelike statues titled Silent Evolution.
On shore at the museum, you’ll get a chance to see replicas of the submerged statues in their original state.
Over 100,000 visitors come to MUSA each year.
The installations cover an area of over 420 square meters, and weigh over 200 tons.
Each sculpture is made from marine-safe concrete to promote the growth of algae and coral.
MUSA is located near the Manchones Reef, in the Cancun National Marine Park. As such, it’s an excellent place to see fish, sea turtles, coral, and other ocean life.