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Isla Mujeres is home to the most reliable whale shark expeditions in the world. It also features colorful corals, fascinating wrecks and a shark cave.


Cenote Diving in Yucatan

With around 6000 cenotes, Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and its extensive subterranean waterways are ideal for experimenting with cavern diving. The popular Cenote Dos Ojos is accessible to most divers.

El Museo Subaquàtico de Arte

The MUSA, located next to Cancun, is an underwater contemporary museum of art consisting of over 500 permanent life-size sculptures from English artist Jason deCaires Taylor.

Mesoamerican Barrier Reef

The second largest barrier reef in the world has its northern point near Isla Mujeres, making this a wonderful location to jump in coral-filled waters.

Whale Sharks in Isla Mujeres

Just off-shore from Cancun, Isla Mujeres sits where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Caribbean. As such, it attracts hundreds of whale sharks every year from June to September.

Cave of the Sleeping Sharks

Made famous by Jacques Cousteau himself, shark cave is an isolated dive site which regularly hosts slow-moving black tip, gray reef, and nurse sharks.

Diving in Isla Mujeres

Quick facts

Diving in Isla Mujeres is suitable to all levels. Many of the sites are shallow reefs with little to no current. For those with an advanced certification, a few deep wrecks await. There are arches, ledges and even a few caves ripe for exploration. If you’re staying in Isla Mujeres for a good length of time, most dive operators are able to arrange trips to the mainland for diving in Cenotes or near Cancun.

Almost all of the dive sites around Isla Mujeres are accessible through a short speedboat ride. Keep in mind that a 16% tax is levied on all diving operations in Mexico.

When to go

Diving in Isla Mujeres is possible year-round. For whale shark encounters, book between June and September. For the best topside conditions, pick December to April.

December to April

There is no bad time to dive the Caribbean. In fact, the water temperatures remain constant year-round and cool only slightly during the winter months, meaning it’s possible to dive approximately 300 days each year.

December to April is considered the best time to visit Mexico and therefore is the most popular time to dive in the Caribbean. These are the months in which you will find a great balance between topside and underwater conditions. Because the winter months constitute high season, you should make sure to book as early as possible in order to secure the best rate.

On average, water temperatures vary between 78 and 82ºF (25 and 28ºC) in Isla Mujeres.

May to November

The best time for clarity of diving is between May and September. These months bring the best visibility as well as the best light to the surrounding caves. This results in better photographs.

Also note that diving in the Caribbean is possible year-round. Simply keep an eye on the forecast during the summer and early fall. These seasons do see the occasional hurricane. When there isn’t a hurricane, the weather during the summer is hot and humid with the occasional rain shower.

June to September in particular is the best season for whale sharks near this island.

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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Where to dive

Beginners should stay at the shallow reefs. Advanced divers can head out to the penetrable shipwrecks and tec divers can explore the area’s caves.

    Snorkeling in Isla Mujeres

    Isla Mujeres is paradise for snorkelers. To begin, the area’s famous whale shark adventures are restricted to snorkeling. There’s no need for a dive certificate to swim with the biggest sharks in the sea. Topside spotters will also have plenty of opportunity to snorkel among beautiful reefs as the area’s visibility almost always ranges from 80-100 feet (24-30 meters).
    The most famous of Isla Mujeres’ dive sites is not actually for diving, but rather for snorkeling with whale sharks. This is a highly protected area that must be accessed with the help of a local operator. Other favorite sites near Isla Mujeres include Manchones Reef, a 2500 ft. (800m) long coral reef; Cave of the Sleeping Sharks, an underwater feature full of groggy bull, black tip, gray reef, and nurse sharks; and Navy Boat Shipwreck (at 70 ft./21m) where you can explore the boat’s bathroom, office and guns. Finally, it’s worthwhile to head to the sea between Cancun and Isla Mujeres. Here you’ll find MUSA, a subaquatic sculpture museum that is perfect for underwater photography.

    What to see

    Chief among the attractions at Isla Mujeres are the world’s biggest shark, the whale shark. These giant yet gentle beasts arrive between June and September every year.

    There are plenty of other reef-dwellers to spot. Abundant schools of snappers, blue tangs, grunts and wrasse flit around colorful elk horn, stag horn and brain corals. Parrotfish, Spotted Trunkfish and Queen Angelfish add to the excitement. Eels and groupers live amongst the wrecks. And further afield, a variety of pelagic species can be seen including Hawksbill Turtles, sailfish, bull sharks, nurse sharks, gray reef sharks and blacktip sharks.


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    Most likely sightingsPossible sightings


    Isla Mujeres (a.k.a. Island of the Women) is a small island located where the Caribbean Sea meets the Gulf of Mexico. Only 8 miles (13 kilometers) off the Yucatan Peninsula, this low-lying island is 4 miles (7 kilometers) long by 2,130 feet (650 meters) wide.

    Historically, Isla Mujeres was the home of the Mayan goddess of fertility. Women made regular pilgrimages to the island in order to offer small dolls to the deity.

    Since the development of Cancun for tourism purposes in the 1970s, Isla Mujeres has represented an easy get away from the hustle and bustle of the nearby city.

    Other attractions

    Isla Mujeres is a major tourist destination. As such, it offers plenty to keep you occupied during non-diving hours. For those interested in marine life, the Turtle Farm is the perfect attraction. This government-sponsored hatchery hosts young sea turtles to view and release events throughout the year. Hacienda Mundaca is another worthwhile attraction. This 19th Century hacienda was built by a pirate known as Fermin Mundaca. If you’re looking for a place to chill out, North Beach, Playa Sol and Playa Sur are the best beaches on the island.

    Getting there

    To reach Isla Mujeres, you must first fly to Cancun International Airport. From Cancun, ferries depart from four different locations. To reach these ferry terminals, you must arrange a private transfer, take the ADO bus or catch a colectivo to Puerto Juarez Ferry Terminal. Most of the island’s attractions can be reached by foot. Taxis, rental scooters and golf carts can also be arranged.


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