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 😉
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!!
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!
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.
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?
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 🙁
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”?
“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.
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.
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.
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”