There’s an incredible underwater art installation some 8 metres below the surface between Cancun and Isla Mujeres. It’s built on what was barren seafloor. Since 2009, this 420 square metre area has housed the Mexican Museo Subacuático de Arte – better known as MUSA. Here’s all you need to know about Scuba Diving MUSA Cancun.
What's in This Article?
- Museo Subacuático de Arte – MUSA History
- MUSA and the Environment
- Where is the MUSA Cancun Underwater Museum ?
- The Salons of MUSA – Underwater Museum Installations and Areas
- Plaza Kukulcan Visitor Centre
- When to Dive Musa
- Non Divers can Dive Musa
- How to Book a Diving Trip to MUSA Cancun
- What to Take to MUSA Cancun
- How Else to Visit Cancun’s Underwater Museum
- Where to Stay to When Scuba Diving MUSA Cancun
- Our Review of Scuba Diving MUSA Cancun
Museo Subacuático de Arte – MUSA History
The underwater art museum, Cancun was founded in 2009, in order to protect local reefs by providing an alternative place to dive. The nearby Manchones Reef was attracting the most damage from divers and snorkelers. MUSA is located in the waters surrounding Cancun, Isla Mujeres and Punta Nizuc.
The original sculptor was an Englishman, Jason deCaires Taylor who had been experimenting with similar underwater art in Grenada. The first four sculptures were located in 2009, with an official opening in November 2010.
By 2013 the underwater museum had 500 concrete sculptures created by Taylor and Mexican artists. The original MUSA permit was for 1,200 underwater sculptures in 10 areas within the Cancun-Isla Mujeres Marine Park. So there’s a lot of expansion possible in the underwater museum.
MUSA and the Environment
The statues of the Museo Subacuático de Arte are created above ground. They’re made of pH-neutral marine concrete in conjunction with the Cancun Nautical Association and the Cancun Marine Park. All the underwater statues for MUSA are cleaned prior to installation to ensure no chemicals contaminate water, reef or marine animals.
The statues also contain holes and were implanted with coral from local damaged reefs. This allows coral to regrow and the marine wildlife to colonize and feed here.
Where is the MUSA Cancun Underwater Museum ?
MUSA is located between 3.5 and 8 metres below the surface in the Cancun Isla Mujeres Marine Park. It’s reachable by dive boat, by snorkel boat or by glass-bottomed boat. You can take a trip to MUSA from Isla Mujeres, Cancun or Playa del Carmen.
The Salons of MUSA – Underwater Museum Installations and Areas
MUSA is divided into areas, which are called Salons. The Salons at MUSA contain different art installations and are situated at different depths. If you’d like to visit a specific salon please confirm it with your tour operator
MUSA Salon Manchones
Salon Manchones is 8 metres deep and is suitable for both divers and snorkelers. There are nearly 500 underwater sculptures in Salon Manchones. The most eery of Taylor’s installations is here.
This is La Evolucion Silenciosa – the Silent Evolution. The Silent Evolution consists of more than 400 life-sized human figures. It’s designed to show how humans see and embrace their surroundings. The detail on the faces is incredible.
Personalities seem to shine through from the statues, even as the environment claims them. The six businessmen with their heads in the sand will make you smile.
This installation took Taylor 18 months and 120 hours of working underwater and used 120 tons of concrete, sand, and gravel, 3,800m of fibreglass, and 400kg of silicone.
It’s here in Salon Manchones that you’ll also find the 100% sized model of a Volkswagen Beetle. It comes complete with marine life families living in and around it.
Your dive leader will likely have fun with the sculpture of the house. Showing the chimney actually works.
MUSA Salon Nizuc
Salon Nizuc is only 3.5 – 4 metres deep and is suitable only for snorkelers. There are 23 sculptures in Salon Nizuc.
Plaza Kukulcan Visitor Centre
If you don’t want to get your feet wet you can take a trip to the Plaza Kukulcan visitor centre. It’s in a mall in the Cancun hotel zone. You’ll find 26 replicas and one original sculpture hosted here.
When to Dive Musa
You can take a scuba diving trip to MUSA setting off in the morning or at lunchtime, depending on the dive company you select. It’s possible to dive year-round in Cancun.
The average water temperature in Cancun is 23C to 26C in the winter and 27C to 29C n the summer. You’ll find the best diving time at MUSA between November and April. There’s less rain and it’s not as hot.
Non Divers can Dive Musa
You don’t need to be an accredited diver to visit MUSA. Many Cancun scuba dive companies will take you on an assisted dive. This means that they’ll give you a short overview of the theory, suit you up. Help you with all the gear and then you’ll have a dive leader or instructor beside you or close to you the whole time you’re underwater.
How to Book a Diving Trip to MUSA Cancun
Most of the dive shops in Cancun and Playa del Carmen will sell you a package to dive MUSA Cancun. The shops in Playa will offer you a rate inclusive of transport. Alternatively, you can take a minivan to the bus station in Cancun and then take the hotel zone bus.
Most dive companies will offer a two tank package and your second dive will be on the Manchones Reef. We found a huge amount of fish life at Manchones.
We arranged our dive package through Solo Buceo. Our dive leader was American, other dive leaders spoke Spanish and Japanese. We booked through their website and then paid cash (US dollars or Mexican peso) on arrival. They’re located at the Hyatt Ziva in the Zona Hoteleria. You can take the hotel zone bus to get there if you don’t have a direct transfer.
What to Take to MUSA Cancun
There are changing facilities at the dive shops. They also rent (or include in the dive rate) a short wetsuit and full dive gear. Take swim gear, a towel and water. Find out how we drink tap water while travelling to save money and the environment. There’s a small store near the Hyatt Ziva to buy snacks and drinks.
Check out our guide to buying the best travel towels
How Else to Visit Cancun’s Underwater Museum
You can also visit the museum on a snorkelling trip. MUSA is divided into zones depending on the depth of the water. One zone is specifically for divers. They’re called “salons”. Another is specifically for snorkelers and is too shallow for divers. A third salon is for both. It’s also possible to visit MUSA in a glass-bottomed boat for non-swimmers.
Where to Stay to When Scuba Diving MUSA Cancun
We stayed in Playa del Carmen and took a minivan to Cancun, hopping on the hotel zone bus from the bus station. It was an easy trip and it’s a very regular route. There are many places to stay in Cancun the hotel zone. Hotel rooms and apartments abound in Cancun and Playa del Carmen. MUSA is also easy to reach from Isla Mujeres.
Our Review of Scuba Diving MUSA Cancun
We thoroughly enjoyed diving MUSA. Although there wasnt a huge variety of marine wildlife for us to see, there was a huge variety of sculptures. MUSA is a unique experience that is benefiting the environment. The cost of your diving or snorkelling MUSA experience also includes a fee to the National Marine Park.
Let us know if you’ve dived MUSA or Manchones Reef and what you thought of it, our next dive experience will be in Cuba, where we’ll be diving the Bay of Pigs!