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Best Scuba Diving Sites in Mexico

Updated on September 29, 2010

Dive Sites in Yucatan Peninsula and Cozumel Island

Mexico is home to some of the most underrated places to dive in the Caribbean. The most impressive places to dive are the Yucatan Peninsula and the island of Cozumel. The Yucatan Peninsula sticks out into the Caribbean Sea like a giant thumb into the Gulf of Mexico. This popular region for holidays and sun seekers is also a scuba divers dream. Whilst there are many superb tourist destinations and Mayan ruins onland, under the sea are arguably some of Mexico's finest scenery.

The Yucatan Peninsula is a major diving destination attracting divers from around the world to its superb cave diving and cavern diving. Most of this impressive diving takes place in the area's cenotes, which are a natural phenomenon commonly described as sinkholes. Yucatan has miles of underground passageways in and around these cenotes.

Whilst just 30km away from Cancun to the south east is Mexico's largest island, Cozumel. Known for its jungle and Mayan ruins, it is an island blessed with some incredible beaches and that clear Caribbean water. Because of this it also features some of the best diving and snorkeling in Mexico.

Diving in Mexico

  • Visibility is between 30m to 60 depending on the time of year (clearer in summer)
  • Weather is best described as balmy all year around
  • Best time to go is May to September for calmer seas, whilst cenotes are best November to march.
  • Sea temperature 27 / 28 degrees, around 80 fahrenheit

Diving off Cozumel Island

At this stunning scuba diving spot, you can dive along the reefs of the island's southwest coast. Most of the best diving here is drift diving from a boat. However you can also do numerous shore dives on Cozumel's western coast. Cozumel's shallower areas are also good for snorkeling along Palancar Reef etc.

Palancar Reef

The beautiful reef at Palancar stretches over three miles. There is a superb array of coral and marine life to see whilst scuba diving there. It is definitely one of the best places to dive in Mexico. One of the best dives at this reef is the impressive Palancar Deep. This is a wall with a wide variety of shoaling fish. If you investigate thoroughly you can even see green turtles and eagle ray. The Palancar Shallows offer a varied seascape ranging from 5 metres to 18 metres, and it also features many caves. Here whilst diving you will see sponges and even black corals. The Palancar Caves have corals forming in caves, canyons and buttresses. Due to the darkness take a torch so you can see the true colours of the fish as this is like a night dive. Overall this reef is a great spot to have a good few days of diving.

You can see Turtles amongst other beautiful marine life when diving in Mexico
You can see Turtles amongst other beautiful marine life when diving in Mexico

Yucatan Peninsula Dive Sites

As mentioned before, the Yucatan Penisula is cenote country. This offers a unique diving experience in Mexico. These cenotes are created by the roof of a cavern dropping down to reveal a sinkhole on land. As Yucatan was underwater millions of years ago, this has left some stunning formations for diving.

Cenote Car Wash

This is probably the most popular dive site in the Mexican Yucatan Penisula. The diving here is superb thanks to its clear waters. The best thing about Cenote Car Wash is you do not need a special cave diver PADI qualification. As a vast majority of it is a cavern you can just jump on in as long as you stay with the opening insight. This still leaves you with an incredible place for a diving site. However for those with a Cave diver qualification you are in for a treat as the Car Wash offers tunnels and passages into an impressive cave system, just dont forget your torch!

El Grande Cenote

As you can imagine from the name, this cenote is a massive collapsed cavern. Again the water is impressively clear, and the visibility is huge. In El Grande you will see stalagmites, stalactites and other incredible formations. The cavern connects to other cenotes which makes for fun exploration on every dive at this site.


With the huge number of cheap flights and hotels to Mexico and the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean, it is easy to see why Mexico is a popular diving spot. The Yucatan Peninsula and Cozumel Island offer much cheaper diving than places like the Bahamas, especially as the cost of living whilst there is much cheaper. Whilst its waters are in many ways just as spectacular. Because of this and its proximity to the USA it can get busy at certain times of the year, but you will always have a great time diving in Mexico due to its clear waters, colourful coral life and amazing cenotes.


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