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Scuba Diving At The Underwater Museum In Cancun: I Finally Did it!

Clelia Mattana BLOG, DESTINATIONS, LATIN AMERICA, MEXICO, USEFUL GUIDES 26 Comments

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THE UNDERWATER MUSEUM IN CANCUN: A DREAM COME TRUE!


You know those photos or videos that get stuck in your head for weeks, months or even years? Well, I have a few of them in mind and one was THIS:



I can’t even remember when or where I first saw this photo but, half crept out and half fascinated, I was immediately hooked.  I stumbled upon it way before I started my trip in 2012, because I remember still having that annoying voice inside my head, whispering in my ear: “Don’t even bother dreaming about going in there (wherever “there” was)… because is never going to happen”.



Ah, that voice, my best & worst friend for ages, it knew nothing! A bazillions years later here I am, realizing one of my wildest dreams in Mexico! A day I will never forget, for so many reasons.

-Including a funny accident of me semi naked in front of everyone *CRINGE*..more on that below 😉


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Scuba diving among the statues at the Underwater museum!  The little voice in my head has been humiliated more than once, so I guess it’s time for her to shut up for good 🙂


So how I was finally able to realize my dream and wander around these “creepy & beautiful” sculptures underwater?


THE TINGGLY EXPERIENCE <3

You are going to love it!!


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Cancun Underwater Museum Wanders: One of the beautiful pieces of art you can admire when diving: A “Maggiolino” (as we call it in Italy) or a “beetle”, right at the bottom of the ocean. Not something you see every day! Surreal.


Someone once said that experiences are the best gift ever, and I couldn’t agree more! So what if this year for Christmas, instead of the usual boring present you get (or give to someone) a voucher to choose an experience that you – or your loved ones- have dreamed about for a lifetime? Wouldn’t that be super awesome?!

I have known  Tinggly website since they started out, as I remember thinking:  “Wow, finally someone invented a cool thing for once!”

Of course, you can still buy the old safe surprise plane ticket or a great experience to your loved ones, but this website is even better as not only it is hassle free (you just have to buy the voucher) but most importantly, THEY get to choose what they really want!

No more wrong gifts or, even worse, one of those very impersonal envelopes with money saying “buy whatever you like”. I don’t know you, but even if I appreciate every gift that comes my way,  I found this one to be nice, but a bit lazy 🙂




HEY DO YOU WANT TO COOPERATE WITH US? HELL YES!!


So when Tinggly contacted me, asking if I was interested in reviewing their services I thought “Are you kidding me?! Of course I will!”


Yeah, that was pretty much how I reacted 😀


I actually had already bought a gift for a friend from them and I was also super excited for my imminent trip to Mexico so I immediately checked out if they had the Underwater museum in their list: BINGO!


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Curious to see the details of my experience? Click directly on the image!


As soon as I found it and agreed on the date and time with them, I immediately received the confirmation via email, with all the instructions on the activity, contact numbers and more. Everything was super simple and smooth.





THE UNDERWATER MUSEUM EXPERIENCE: WHAT TO EXPECT

Read the photo description as I added some useful info in some of them too.


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Underwater museum statues: It looks like I’m touching them but it is just an optical illusion. Be extra careful as you could ruin the corals that grow in there!


Whether you are a scuba diving fanatic or a beginner, I promise you, this site will remain in your memory for as long as you live. I am prone to panic attacks and even if I’ve been certified ages ago and I have a bit of experience, every time I have an immersion I feel the tension. Not this time. I was so excited to jump into the water and finally fulfill my dream that all I felt that day was joy and peace.

Before I dig a bit more into the experience itself, my emotions and …yuk, my little accident I want to give you a quick overview about what the Underwater Museum (MUSA) is, so that you have a bit of background and once in the water you can simply enjoy the paradisiac views. Below are the most frequent questions and useful info.





1 | WHAT IS EXACTLY THE UNDERWATER MUSEUM (MUSA) IN CANCUN?


Many people – myself included- don’t know much about this weird museum and think that the statues were placed in there only to attract the tourists but the reality, from how the statues were created to why they are there is a lot more fascinating!



This is the description taken from the video, it explains well why the museum was built:


“The Cancun Underwater Museum (MUSA) project began when Jason DeCaires Taylor, an English artist teamed up with Jaime Gonzalez, the director of the National Park and Roberto Diaz, then President of the Nautical Association for Cancun and Isla Mujeres.

Something had to be done about the damage to the local reef areas. Hurricanes, tropical storms, and mankind were taking their toll on these natural gardens.

The three experts came up with the idea of submerging life-sized statues in order to create an amazing artificial reef area where coral reef could grow and in which marine life and fish could inhabit and breed.

The museum now consists of two ‘salons’ and includes over 460 statues made by Jason and some other local artists”





2 | HOW TO GET TO THE UNDERWATER MUSEUM (MUSA) IN CANCUN?


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One of my favorite screenshots from a shaky video I made with my GoPro. I didn’t want to leave, every piece of art is incredibly fascinating, like this small little house inhabited by colorful fish!


Getting to the Cancun Underwater museum is pretty easy and straightforward. One of the most convenient places to get into a boat and reach the site is located in the “Zona Hotelera”. It is super easy to get there as it’s well connected to Cancun city center, being the place where all the fancy hotels are.

There are different times of the week when you can experience this tour and different hours as well. I went there on the 8:30-morning dive (I had to be there at 7:30 am) from Playa Del Carmen, which is around 1 hour away by bus from Cancun. I had to wake up super early but it was doable and obviously worth it.

To get there, if you are staying in Cancun Town you can either grab a taxi to the Zona Hotelera Km 15+300 in Front of Paradisus Hotel or if you feel “adventurous”, hop on one of the Colectivos, the small buses mostly used by the locals.

A word of advice when using the Collectivos:


The price from the Ado Bus station in Cancun is around 5/15 pesos (0,5/1 USD), have some coins ready for the driver and immediately grab whatever is “grabbable” on the bus. Trust me on this one. You really don’t want to end up sitting on the driver’s or a passenger’s lap. No kidding. I don’t know how exactly this happened to me and, honestly, I don’t want to know! Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you :D.





3 | HOW TO GET READY TO DIVE AT THE UNDERWATER MUSEUM  IN CANCUN

And how I ended up half naked in front of everyone 🙁

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Hello there! 😀 Too bad you can’t see how happy I was! #IputMyClothesOnAgain 😀


Whether you decide to take the 2 hours class before the actual dive or not (I recommend  it if you never did it before) get ready to:


  • Fill in some forms where you declare that you are in good health.
  • Pay the 10$ to enter the protected marine area (it’s a bracelet that lasts for 1 month, in case you are planning on snorkeling/diving again in the area).
  • Rent a swimsuit if you want.
  • If you don’t want to wear a swimsuit, make sure that you either have a strong bikini or a spare one!

FOR THE SHY, CLUMSY LADIES: WHEN IN DOUBT, WEAR A T-SHIRT, POSSIBLY NOT A WHITE ONE, HERE’S WHY 🙂


Me…on the inside.


So there I was, ready for the experience of a lifetime: I filled the forms, paid the fee and decided to rent a swimsuit as I’m usually always cold even at 30 degrees. That was until I realized that I was the only one planning on wearing it. The water is truly super warm in there, so I decided to go mermaid style. I’d be damned!

My bikini was 10 years old and the scuba gear is pretty heavy when they put it on you. Mix the two and you have the perfect recipe for disaster.


The Divemaster was impressed by my ability to perform all the right tricks during the class and decided that I would be the first one to jump. I felt like wonder woman, I stood up, all proud, while listening to the instructor starting the countdown:


“Ready to jump in, Clelia”?

” Yes!”

“Ok, Five, four, three… two….”

“OH SXXT!” (That was me inside my head, not the instructor!)


It all happen very quickly. I felt something breaking and in a split second, I saw all the people on the boat staring at me, weirdly. Another very long second goes by before I realize that the top of my damn bikini evidently couldn’t take all my excitement and miserably fell apart, leaving me shamefully exposed in front of everyone.


Important Disclaimer:


I never, ever go topless, I’m pathologically reserved, as this other article  I wrote a while ago can attest. To let you understand the shame I felt at that moment, pick your WORST fear and imagine it becoming reality.


Yeah even worse than having Jessica Fletcher visiting your town. If you know what I mean.


So now what?? I was standing there, topless, embarrassed, with all these people probably waiting for me to jump into the water like this. I quickly tried to cover the shame as much as I could and with a calm voice  I asked if anyone could give me my backpack. Praise the Lord: I had brought a spare bikini. No, wait…I’m not even religious. Whatever, I was safe!

I can’t even start thinking about how I would have reacted if my bikini had failed me when I was already underwater. What if I didn’t realize that I was diving “mermaid style” until I was up on the boat again?Or even worst, would I have drowned?!

So let’s look at the bright side: Maybe these 3 seconds of total embarrassment saved my life, who knows 🙂 Anyway, all this rambling is for the shy ladies out there, I know I’m not alone in my weirdness. If you’re like me, make sure that you have a strong bikini, a spare one, and a black t-shirt. Oh, and be the last one to jump of course. Good luck!





4 | THE DIVING EXPERIENCE

Knocking on heaven’s door… even if this one was wide open.

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I renamed this “The magic circle of “fire”. What an oxymoron, being at the bottom of the ocean. But magic is indeed as it’s the first piece of art you can see when diving at the underwater museum. Swimming through the ring is like entering the main door of one of the most spectacular museums you’ll ever see!


The real diving experience lasts around 45 minutes, I strongly suggest you take an underwater camera or a GoPro with you! Depending on the number of people, you will have a divemaster with you at all times, and the dive is not deep at all, around 10, 15 meters max.

There are sculptures that are closer to the surface than others, which allows people who are afraid or can’t dive to snorkel and free dive.





MY FINAL WORDS ON DIVING AT THE UNDERWATER MUSEUM


As far as my emotions and sensations were concerned, It’s super difficult to describe the peace the serenity and joy that being in the water, my natural element, brings me but keep reading to have an idea.


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“This is what Paradise must look like”…


The following is an extract of a chat I had with a friend immediately after the experience, I took notes as I didn’t want to lose these precious words:


“And when I was at the bottom of the ocean, I felt like I truly belonged in there, the sea is the only place where nothing else matters, I am present in the moment, I feel alive, with no worries, no anxiety or problems following me. Nothing but peace in its purest form

Feeling your heart beating slowly with every breath you take, your fluid, slow movements to observe, in awe, the fish and the colorful marine life using the statues as their homes and sanctuaries, is unbelievably fascinating to me.

You should have seen the rays of light, softly touching the statues. I couldn’t resist and I started swimming on my back so that I could look up at the surface and, at that moment, I remember thinking “This is what paradise Must look like”




HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO AN UNDERWATER MUSEUM OR YOU WANT TO GO? LEAVE ME YOUR COMMENTS BELOW, AND REMEMBER: EXPERIENCES LAST A LIFETIME! <3

I put all my effort to write this for you, like it and make me happy!
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Comments 26

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  1. Traveling is always a good thing in life, it fill your souls. I think the idea of gifting your loved ones with experiences is very smart indeed!

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      You have to train in a swimming pool first (so you know how to compensate and see if you truly have ear issues), other than that…it is fabulous!! 🙂

  2. Nice dive! You should also consider a dive with tiger sharks during reproduction season at the end of the year! Many great options to snorquel around: Puerto Morelos, Xpu Ha, Tulum, Sian Ka’an (my favourite!).
    Mexico being a megabiodiversity country (almost 12% of today’s known species) there is always something to spot outhere!
    Ecotourism and low impact activities, that’s what we try to do around!

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      Thaks for the tip Tom! I will definitely look into it, everything that is water related with low impact on the environment is MY thing!

  3. That is super amazing experience! I remember myself snorkeling in Israel and I was super excited, can imagine how this one feels. And those accidents happen to everyone, never mind:) After all, it only makes the whole day even more memorable:))

    Kseniia

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      Indeed it was one of the most incredible experiences ever! Never been to Israel, should be on my list if you say it’s great for snorkeling!

  4. No, I have never experienced underwater museum but I would l would love to have. The way you describe your underwater museum experience is fantastic. I felt like I am watching you while you experiencing each and everything. I still can’t believe how the illusion of sculptures has been made underwater. I had a fun while reading your blog itself, can’t imagine how much fun you would have.

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  5. What an amazing experience! I am intrigued by the idea of buying one for my boyfriend for Valentine’s day 😉 Thanks for sharing it!!

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  6. Hahaha what a great story. I’ve had one or two embarrassing experiences while travelling as well, including the time I got violent diarrhoea whilst trekking in Machu Picchu, where there were NO toilets what so ever. Great share 🙂

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  7. Hi Clelia, That underwater museum photo was beautiful but I would have been terrified swimming between those statues. But who has time to get scared after reading your “unforgettable” moment? 🙂 Nice post. That was a great read!

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      Thanks John! Why would you been terrified? I get it might be a little creepy for someone but when you’re there it’s actually truly fascinating!

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