SCUBA DIVING MEXICO
Mexico is a popular destination for a variety of reasons; sandy beaches, great food, and an incredible history are a few of the main draws. But, ask any diver and they will tell you that scuba diving Mexico is the real highlight.
From cenotes to the open sea, there are plenty of dive sites and opportunities to explore the underwater world of Mexico.
Whether you are interested in interesting geography, big marine life, or just want to see it all, this guide will highlight the best scuba diving in Mexico, allowing you to get the most of your Mexico diving vacation.
– NOTE: The locations on this list are indeed the best in the country, but are not ranked in any way. The list is random. Number 8 might be just as good as number 1. You decide.
Table of Contents
– THE YUKATAN & CARIBBEAN –
Known more for parties and nightclubs, and luxury beach resorts, the gateway to the Yukatan also has it’s own fair share of decent dive sites you might like to see.
Read our full guide to scuba diving Cancun.
Playa Del Carmen is another very popular Yukatan destination, and it’s highlights must certainly be the beaches and diving. You can both explore lots of cenotes nearby, as well as some dives off-shore.
Read our full guide to scuba diving Playa Del Carmen.
Tulum is a smaller, quieter version of Cancun or Playa, but still with plenty to do. People don’t just love the beaches, the food, and the over-all vibe of Tulum, they flock here just for the amazing cenotes.
Read our full guide to scuba diving Tulum.
Cozumel is a Caribbean island located off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. Its safe streets, beautiful beaches, and friendly people make it a popular spot among tourists, not to mention some sweet ocean dives.
Read our full guide to scuba diving Cozumel.
Merida isn’t even on the coast, and is more known for it’s surrounding Mayan ruins, than for the scuba diving. But a big part of the Mayan world are the various cenotes used in ceremonies, and for us scuba divers that means tons of awesome cave exploring.
Read our full guide to scuba diving Merida.
Similar to Merida, Valladolid is pretty far inland, and not well known for diving. It is the spot to go to see the amazing Chichen Itza pyramid, but few people know that there are lots of great cenotes in the area to explore.
Read our full guide to scuba diving Valladolid.
Mahahual used to be a small, quiet fishing village on the coast, although thanks to a cruise ship port, it has become significantly busier over the past few years. Tourism died off after a hurricane ravaged the coast and cruise ships stopped coming, but the area offers some awesome diving that is much less known or visited.
Read our full guide to scuba diving Mahahual.
About 35km off the coastline near Mahahual is Chinchorro; an atoll reef and nature reserve known for the surrounding shipwrecks, reef and alligators. Mahahual has some nice dive sties, but for those with more time, Chincorro is the real star.
Usually the whale shark tours are for snorkeling, but you can also find dive tours. However you do it, you are probably going to see some amazing giants. Last season we saw about 200 whale sharks in one day!
Xcalak is a tiny town on the peninsula, south of Mahahual, actually closer to Belize then anywhere in Mexico. It is on the same land mass as Ambergris Cay, north of San Pedro, Belize, which also has some great diving.
Read our full guide to scuba diving Xcalak
– THE PACIFIC SIDE –
Socorro island, one of the Revillagigedo Islands, is a small volcanic island 600km off the Pacific coast of Mexico. It’s an incredible spot for diving, best known for the surrounding pelagic life in the area.
Read our full guide to scuba diving Socorro
Puerto Vallarta is a popular vacation spot on the Pacific coast of Mexico. Beautiful beaches, jungles, and hidden waterfalls add to the attraction of this tropical holiday destination. It is also one of the best scuba diving destination in Mexico.
Read our full guide to Puerto Vallarta diving.
A large Peninsula dividing the Pacific Ocean from the Sea of Cortez, the Baja Peninsula offers some fantastic sites for those interested in scuba diving in Mexico. While there are sites up and down the coast, the best sites can be found Los Cabos and nearby Cabos Pulmo.
Read our full guide to Los Cabos diving.
Cabo Pulmo as been a marine reserve since 1995 and has been described as being ‘the most robust marine reserve in the world’.
Isla Guadalupe is a small Volcanic island located 150 miles off the coast of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. It’s famous for one thing only: being one of the top four places in the world to cage dive with great white sharks.
Read our full guide to Scuba Diving Guadalupe Island
Jaques Cousteau called the underwater world around La Paz the aquarium of the world, and once you dive into the Sea of Cortez, you’ll see why. This place is alive with marine creatures of all kinds!
Read our full guide to La Paz diving.
Puerto Escondido is one of the more remote locations on this list, and will take a little bit more overland trekking to get to it.. but not too much. It’ll be worth the trip to get away from the crowds and sit on some nice beaches.
Read our full guide to Puerto Escondido diving.
Veracruz is a major port city in the Gulf of Mexico. It belongs to the Mexican state of the same name. It serves as a gateway for you to enjoy and explore the beauty that the Gulf of Mexico has to offer. The port area in itself greets you with a vibrant atmosphere, which is a glimpse of what this city has to offer its guests.
Read our full guide to Veracruz diving.
MEXICO TRAVEL INFO
Mexico is a nation located between the U.S. and Central America. The total area is1, 972,550 km2 (761,610 sq mi) and the population is 119,530,753. The mountains are high and rugged, high plateaus, and low coastal plains. To the Pacific coast lies the spectacular beaches and in Yucatan Peninsula is where the jungle Mayan archaeological sites.
Capital city of Mexico: Mexico City
Best times to visit Mexico: The best time to visit Mexico is between December and April where there is no rain and the weather is cool.
Visa requirements for Mexico: Visa is not required for citizens of the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and most EU countries for less than 180 days as tourists. A passport is still required.
Currency of Mexico: Peso (MXN) is the currency of Mexico.
Official Language of Mexico: None at federal level but Spanish is the national language.
UNESCO World Heritage sites in Mexico
There are 34 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Mexico and 22 on their tentative list.
See the full list and descriptions of UNESCO sites in Mexico HERE.
BEST TIME FOR DIVING
Mexico as a whole has agreeable diving conditions year round. However, if you have your heart set on a certain destination, or want to increase your chance of seeing sharks, whale sharks, or whales, then you need to plan ahead of time.
As indicated in the sections above, the remote islands of Revillagigedo and Isla Guadalupe are only accessible during certain months of the year.
Whale shark season is from May-July, bull shark season runs from November through March, and humpback whale season takes place from January to April.
If you are planning on diving the Cenotes, consider visiting during the summer months (May and September) for the best lighting.
For general diving, the best time around the Sea of Cortez is June- November. On the Caribbean side, July and August tend to be the best months in terms of visibility, though peak season is December through March.
Still undecided about where to visit? Let us help a little more. Here are some suggestions based on questions we’ve gotten from readers:
-What sites are easiest to get to, and closest to Cancun, for a short visit?
Probably the best ocean diving in the Yukatan, is around Cozumel, which you can easily get to the island from Cancun. You can read above on how to get to Cozumel, but its pretty easy, and most people prefer to stay here rather than Cancun.
Cozumel is definitely close enough to Cancun for just a weekend trip, and Playa Del Carmen is even closer, and still has a few good dive sites. Especially if you are wanting to also get in some cenotes.
-What are the best dive sites for wrecks?
There really isn’t too many locations with noteable wrecks in Mexico, but there are a few in Cozumel you can explore. Some are purpose-sunk to create reef, and some are not.
-What are the best sites to combine around Yukatan?
Let me assume you have 5-7 days to do lots of diving, and give you the ultimate Yukatan itinerary. Of course you can mix it up any other way you want.
– Fly into Cancun early, and get a room for a night. If you are really early you can dive the same day, otherwise just dive on day 2. The only really good site is the Underwater Museum, so make sure to get that in while in town. You can’t do it on your last day since you’ll be flying.
– On day 2 or 3, take a bus or rental car down to Playa Del Carmen, then a ferry to Cozumel, and stay 2-3 nights. Dive the best sites for a couple days, and see the sites.
-After Cozumel head back over to Playa, then take a car or bus down to Tulum. Stay in Tulum for the rest of your trip, exploring countless cenotes, eating good food and hanging on the beach.
Don’t worry about the cenotes that are closer to Playa Del Carmen, as your dive center will take you to those as well if you ask. They are not far.
With this itinerary there really isn’t very much travel time, and you will be able to see a ton of sites on land, and dive the best locations. If you want to take the last day off of diving and take a trip to see Chichen Itza, you can do that from Tulum, then spend your last night back in Cancun. Easy trip.
-Where are locations that also have amazing beaches?
Pretty much all of them! The best beaches in Yukatan would be Cancun, Tulum, Playa and Cozumel, but don’t forget Mahahual, which is the least crowded of them all.
On the other side, you’ll get plenty of beach time in Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos, and if you want to get more remote, head to Puerto Escondito, south of Oaxaca and Acapulco.
Be sure to check out our guide to the top beaches in Mexico.
-Is traveling/diving in Mexico safe?
In a nut shell, yes. The places listed above are very touristy with Americans, and crime is low. I’ve never had any problems in any of the locations, and in fact feel safer than in most big US cities.
That said, we also have to advise the normal amount of caution and use of common sense, and realize that you are not in your home country, that you are a guest, and to be respectful and mindful of laws and traditions. Then you will be fine.
WHERE TO STAY
As for finding accommodations, it really depends on the specific location. Some locations like Cancun and the Tulum have unlimited options, while others there are much fewer.
For each individual location you can click the guides above for information on where to stay at each place, but if you need to find a hotel at the best rate in Mexico City or somewhere not listed above, CLICK HERE