Cancun’s Coral Reefs: A Guide To Cancun’s 15 Best Scuba Diving Spots

Scuba diving in Cancun is the ultimate adventure. You can explore hidden coral reefs, get close to marine life, and explore the underwater world.

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Where is the best scuba diving in Cancun?

We’ll look at where you can experience the best scuba diving in Cancun, and what you can expect at these dive sites. Among the most popular sites are our top choices:

  • Cancun Underwater Museum
  • C-58 Wreck Dive
  • Manchones Reef
  • Grampin Reef
  • Manta Valley
  • El Frio
  • Cenote Dos Ojos
  • Isla Mujeres

Whether you want to round out your Cancun getaway with some scuba diving, or if your sole reason for traveling is to find the best dive sites, we’ll uncover the best locations for your scuba diving excursion.

Best Scuba Diving in Cancun

Be sure you consult with a certified scuba instructor if you are just starting out; many dive shops will also be connected with instructors who can teach and certify you. Experienced divers should still always exercise caution and prepare properly for their dive.

Also, be sure to take care around the coral reefs themselves. These formations take years to form, and any damage is irreversible. 

Many reefs are considered national parks, or are under some other form of protection in order to keep them preserved. Swim with care, and be sure not to disturb the wildlife while you explore. You may encounter a dolphin while you’re out there!

Cancun Underwater Museum

The Cancun Underwater Museum is one of Cancun’s most unique scuba diving experiences. It’s a series of dive sites found at three locations: Punta Cancun, Punta Nizuc, and Isla Mujeres.

The Underwater Museum is a series of hundreds of sculptures by Jason deCaires Taylor that have been sunk to create an artificial reef system. This encourages coral reef growth, providing new sources of natural habitat for marine animals.

The Cancun Underwater Museum offers some of the most unique scuba diving in Cancun, and takes you to an underwater world.

C-58 Wreck Dive

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The C-58 wreck drive started its life as a United States naval vessel that saw service during World War II. After it was decommissioned, it was sold to the Mexican Navy, who in turn sunk the vessel and transformed it into an artificial reef.

Your Cancun scuba diving trip should definitely include this stop. You can swim with manta rays and other sea life. 

Scuba divers should be certified for deep diving spots, as this scuba dive site sits on the seabed fairly far out from shore.

Manchones Reef

The Manchones Reef is a system of shallow reefs that make up the national marine park. No trip scuba diving in Cancun would be complete without a quick dive here.

Keep an eye out for nurse sharks on this reef dive, as well as numerous types of reef fish and stingrays. The Underwater Museum also has a couple of sculptures located outside of the main collection here at Manchones, as well as the Cruz de la Bahia and the infamous Ernest Hemingway Desk.

Manchones boasts some of the best scuba diving in Cancun, and is perfect for certified divers who want a relatively easy dive.

Manta Valley

This site gets its name from the swarms of manta rays (of course) that call these shallow reefs home.

However, if you want to scuba dive here with the manta rays, you’ll have to take a boat, since it’s a minimum three-hour journey offshore. That being said, the trip is totally worth it for the experience.

Because it’s so far out, and because it has some pretty strong currents, only advanced divers should attempt this scuba dive. But if you do have the right experience, this opportunity for scuba diving in Cancun will be well worth it.

El Frio

The Ultrafreeze (or El Frio as it’s known locally) boasts some of the best scuba diving in Cancun, although only experienced scuba divers should attempt it. It may not be deep, but you’ll need to proceed with caution.

That being said, wreck dives can be a very rewarding experience. You can get up close and personal with the local marine life, and advanced divers can test their mettle with some of the tougher currents that can be found around here.

Cenote Dos Ojos

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The Yucatan Peninsula has unique geological features called cenotes. These are natural pits and sinkholes found only in this part of the world due to the natural deposits of limestone. 

Some connect to the ocean, while others are completely self-contained.

Find a cenote dive guide the next time you’re in the Riviera Maya, and you’ll be rewarded with a top-notch diving adventure.

Cenote diving in the Riviera Maya offers some of the best scuba diving in Cancun. You may encounter manta rays on your dive trip, or you can take in the rock formations on a night dive.

Isla Mujeres

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Isla Mujeres is one of the three locations for the Underwater Sculpture Museum, but it is one of the best scuba sites in its own right.

Whale sharks call Isla Mujeres home, and you can see them as the Cave of the Sleeping Sharks. If you’re not into whale sharks, come during the winter to see schools of sailfish in action.

Punta Nizuc

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Punta Nizuc is another site for the Cancun Underwater Museum. It offers plenty of shallow dives that you can tackle on your own if you wanted to skip the snorkeling tours

Just be sure to pack everything you need for the day. 

There’s plenty of public parking, but not much else, since uncrowded dive sites usually mean no restaurants or dive shops. There aren’t even many trees or seaweed on this Cancun beach.

Despite its remote location, you can have some of the best scuba diving and snorkeling of your life here.


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The grottos and cenotes of Xel-Ha are part of a massive reef system. Your trip scuba diving in Cancun can include the entire family here.

There’s plenty to do in and out of the water, including bike riding and kite flying. You can even explore Mayan ruins, if you’re up for the challenge.

Yal-Ku Lagoon

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Yal-Ku Lagoon may be connected to the Caribbean Sea, but the waters here are calm enough that even novice divers and snorkelers can have a good time.

Because it naturally brings a secluded bay to the larger ocean, you can see plenty of large marine life while scuba diving here. And it’s no more than 15 feet deep, which means that these dive sites are perfect for those just starting out with scuba diving.

Akumal Bay

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Akumal Bay is actually three bays: Half Moon Bay, Akumal Bay, and Aventuras Akumal Bay. Scuba diving here includes options for deep dives and shallow dives.

The coral reef system here isn’t too far from the shore, so you can grab your snorkel for a short trip or pack your scuba diving gear for a longer excursion.

Sea turtles, nurse sharks, and much more call Akumal Bay home. If you want to explore a natural paradise on your next snorkeling or scuba diving trip, this location fits the bill.

Puerto Morelos

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Puerto Morelos is a national reef park, home to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. This expansive reef system is the second largest coral reef in the world, and runs the length of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Going on a reef dive on one of the largest barrier reef systems in the world really does offer you the best scuba diving in Cancun – and anywhere else, really.

Explore wondrous coral formations on your dive tour in Puerto Morelos. A dive trip like this makes scuba diving in Cancun a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity you can’t wait to try again and again.

Cozumel Reefs

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There are tons of diving spots off of Playa del Carmen, known the world over for the best dive shops and scuba diving locations. Cozumel is also part of the Mesoamerican reef system.

Coral reefs and marine life come in all shapes and sizes here, so grab a boat from Playa del Carmen and get ready for the perfect day in the water.

Just be sure to watch the coral growth (here and everywhere on our list). Any damage here not only destroys national park property, but also undoes years of coral development and takes out the natural habitat in seconds.

Banderas Reef

If you’re willing to handle some tricky currents, the inland bays at Banderas Reef might be for you.

This site for scuba diving in Cancun is perfect for those that want to really slow down and explore some intricate coral formations.

It’s also a great place for a night dive, as it has some shallow areas with gentler currents and great visibility. 

Diving at night also reveals a whole new ecosystem of marine life, like octopus, eels, and squid.

Grampin Reef

It takes a minimum of 40 to 50 dives to become a certified diver. Taking a day at Grampin Reef is the perfect way to get a manageable dive under your belt.

It’s not very deep, and the currents aren’t very strong. There are also lots of coral sections to explore, and some you can even swim through.

It also gives you the chance to see many different types of fish and rays.

Key Takeaways

  • If you or your party aren’t certified divers, be sure to take an introductory course first.
  • Even an experienced diver should check their diving equipment before each dive.
  • There are plenty of scuba diving sites for those who want to see diverse sea life.
  • Artificial reefs and cave diving offer other exciting Cancun scuba diving experiences.