17 MUSA Cancun Tips: Planning a Visit to the Underwater Museum in Cancun (Isla Mujeres Underwater Museum)

History Fangirl is turning seven years old in 2022! To make sure all travel guides are up to date, some posts are getting overhauled, which means you may come across posts that are under construction. Note: This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure page for more details.

MUSA Cancun is an underwater museum in Cancun and Isla Mujeres that is on many travelers’ Cancun bucket lists.

It is part of the Cancun-Isla Mujeres marine park and contains more than 500 sculptures, most by the artist Jason Decaires Taylor, that have been placed on the ocean floor. 

The museum was founded to aid the recovery of the natural reef in Cancun, known as the Great Mayan Reef, and also to provide an artificial reef. 

It’s a museum that marries art with the art of conservation.

Here’s what you need to know to plan your visit to MUSA Cancun, from the history of MUSA to information on how to book MUSA tours and dives to what to bring with you for your visit.

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17 MUSA Cancun Tips Planning a Visit to the Underwater Museum in Cancun (Isla Mujeres Underwater Museum)

Good to Know:  this guide to visiting the underwater museum in Cancun comes to us from Sarah Carter, author of the travel blog ASocialNomad.

This post has been edited by Stephanie Craig (the girl in the sidebar). I have added tips from my own trips to Cancun as well as things that travelers (especially those coming from the US) need to know.

In this Article:

My Favorite Travel Booking Sites for 2022 & 2023

These are my favorite companies that I use on my own travels.

Find cheap flights with CheapOair.

Find the best deals on hotels & vacation rentals on Booking.com.

For road trips and ground transportation, rent a car through Discover Cars.

Find the best city tours, day tours, bus tours, & skip-the-line tickets on GetYourGuide and Viator.

Find information and cruise reviews on Cruise Critic.

For packing and travel essentials order via Amazon.

For travel guidebooks to have with you during your trip, I always pick one or two from Rick Steves and Lonely Planet.

Get reliable travel insurance through World Nomads.

Store your luggage safely with Radical Storage.

Book an affordable family or romantic photography session on your trip through Flytographer (Use the code HISTORYFANGIRL for 10% off your first photoshoot).

Where to Stay in Cancun

When I’ve visited Cancun, I’ve stayed both in Cancun proper (in Cancun’s hotel zone), and I’ve also stayed down in Playa Del Carmen and come up to Cancun on day trips.

If you want to do multiple activities in the Cancun area, including visiting MUSA and Isla Mujeres, then you might want to stay in Cancun proper.

See also
The Best Quotes about Cancun, Mexico

It’s also easy to take day trips to other important Yucatan Peninsula sites like Chichen Itza, Tulum, and Holbox from Cancun.

Here are the best places to stay in Cancun for every budget:

Budget Option: The Nomads Enigmatic Hotel, Hostel & Restaurant Bar is a Cancun hostel with rave reviews.

It’s located in central Cancun and has its own pool and communal spaces.

While there are rooms with shared bathrooms, you can also book private rooms with private bathrooms.

Book your stay!

Mid-Range Option: One of the best-reviewed hostels in Cancun, La Villa du Golf à Cancun Hotel Boutique is a twenty-minute walk from the beach.

The villa has beautiful architecture and a secluded pool, making it a magical oasis in the middle of bustling Cancun.

Perfect for those looking for a boutique hotel in Cancun.

Book your stay!

Luxury: If you want to have an all-inclusive hotel experience in Cancun, check into the Moon Palace Cancun.

This is where I stayed on my first trip to Cancun, and the resort is next-level, from the first-class restaurants to the gorgeous pools, to the private plunge pools in some of the rooms.

Book your stay!

MUSA Cancun Tips: What You Need to Know to Plan Your Trip to Underwater Museum in Cancun & Isla Mujeres

Here we go!

What Does MUSA Stand For?

MUSA stands for the Museo Subacuático de Arte, which translates into English as the Underwater Museum of Art.

Because of the language-translation possibilities and its location in between Cancun and Isla Mujeres, you’ll find people call MUSA by different names, including:

  • Arte MUSA
  • The Cancun Underwater Museum of Art
  • Cancun MUSA
  • Cancun Sculpture Garden
  • Isla Mujeres Underwater Musuem
  • Isla Mujeres Sculpture Garden
  • Isla Mujeres Underwater Statues
  • Mexico Underwater Museum
  • Mexico Underwater Statues
  • MUSA Isla Mujeres
  • MUSA Museo
  • MUSA Subacuatico Cancun
  • Museo Subacuatico Cancun
  • Museum Under the Sea
  • Punta Nizuc Underwater Museum
  • Sculpture Park Cancun
  • Sculpture Park Isla Mujeres
  • Underwater Art Museum Cancun
  • Underwater Cancun Museum
  • Underwater Museum in Cancun Mexico
  • Underwater Museum Isla Mujeres
  • Underwater Museum of Art Cancun
  • Underwater Museum Mexico
  • Underwater Museum Mujeres Island
  • Underwater Sculpture Museum Cancun
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If you book your visit online, you won’t have to worry about this issue.

However, if you decide to arrange your visit with a tour guide in person, don’t worry if they refer to MUSA by a different name.

If you feel there’s miscommunication happening, pull out a picture on your cell phone to confirm you are on the same page.

Mexico - Visiting MUSA Cancun the Underwater Museum in Cancun

A good thing to know in this situation is that MUSA is the only underwater museum in Mexico (as of this writing). There are no Tulum or Cozumel underwater museums.

So even though the way it’s discussed might confuse you, everyone’s referring to the same place!

Understand MUSA History

This incredible underwater art installation is located between 4 and 8 meters below the surface in the waters surrounding Cancun, Isla Mujeres, and Punta Nizuc.

It’s built on what was barren seafloor.

The underwater art museum was founded to protect local coral reefs by providing an alternative place to dive. 

Because this part of the Caribbean Sea is one of the most popular scuba diving and snorkeling destinations in the world, overtourism was wreaking havoc on the natural environment.

The nearby Manchones Reef was attracting the most damage from divers and snorkelers.

The original artist was the British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor who had been experimenting with similar underwater art in Grenada. 

He and Jaime González Cano, the president of the Cancún National Marine Park, began working on the project in 2008. The founders of the museum are Cano and Roberto Díaz Abraham.

The first four sculptures were placed in 2009, with an official opening in November 2010.

By 2013 the underwater museum had 500 concrete sculptures.

While Taylor has created the bulk of the statues (487), additional artwork has been placed by Mexican Artist Karen Salinas Martinez, Mexican Artist Rodrigo Quiñones Reyes, English Artist Jessica Miles, and Colombian artist Nelson Gamboa.

See also
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Other local Mexican artists have also assisted with the project.

The original MUSA permit was for 1,200 underwater sculptures in 10 areas within the Cancun-Isla Mujeres Marine Park.  So there’s a lot of expansion possible in the underwater museum.

How MUSA Affects the Local Environment

The statues of the Museo Subacuático de Arte are created above ground. They’re made of pH-neutral marine concrete in conjunction with the Cancun Nautical Association and the Cancun Marine Park. 

Mexico - Visiting MUSA Cancun the Underwater Museum in Cancun

All the underwater statues for MUSA are cleaned before installation to ensure no chemicals contaminate water, reef, or marine animals.

The statues also contain holes and were implanted with coral from local damaged reefs.  This allows coral to regrow and the marine wildlife to colonize and feed here.

Where is the MUSA Underwater Museum?

It is possible to visit MUSA from Isla Mujeres or Cancun. You can visit MUSA by diving, snorkeling, or by a glass-bottomed boat. 

MUSA is located between 3.5 and 8 meters below the surface in the Cancun National Marine Park. 

Mexico - Visiting MUSA Cancun the Underwater Museum in Cancun

It’s reachable by dive boat, by snorkel boat, or by glass-bottomed boat.  You can take a trip to MUSA from Isla Mujeres, Cancun, Puerto Morelos, or Playa del Carmen.

How to Visit MUSA Cancun

You can visit MUSA from the area around Cancun Isla Mujeres Marine park. There are three main ways to visit: diving, snorkeling, or viewing from above from a glass-bottom boat tour.

Which way is best for you? It depends on your comfort levels with diving and snorkeling.

When selecting your tour, it’s easier to research ahead of time. Once you are there, you can feel a lot of pressure to sign up with companies without being able to look at any reviews.

Pre-book your trip to ensure you get a spot and can read the reviews ahead of time. I’ve been on wonderful tours in Cancun, and I’ve also been on some disappointing tours.

See also
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If you are not staying in Cancun, you can find trips that leave from Riviera Maya.

Pro Tip: If you do book ahead of time, read the company’s cancellation policy in case your plans change during your trip.

You should also note if the tour has hotel pick up available, and, if so when the company needs the location of your hotel to make the arrangements.

The Salons of MUSA – Underwater Museum Installations and Areas

Although there are three ways to visit, how you visit determines which area of the museum you will get to see. 

MUSA is divided into three areas, which are called Salons. MUSA’s Salons contain different art installations and are situated at different depths. 

Pro Tip: If you’d like to visit a specific salon please confirm it with your tour operator

MUSA Salon Manchones

Salon Manchones is 8 meters deep and is suitable for both divers and snorkelers. There are nearly 500 underwater sculptures in Salon Manchones.  The eeriest of Taylor’s installations are here.

Mexico - Visiting MUSA Cancun the Underwater Museum in Cancun

This is La Evolucion Silenciosa – the Silent Evolution.   The Silent Evolution consists of more than 400 life-sized sculptures of human figures. 

It’s designed to show how humans see and embrace their surroundings.  The detail on the faces is incredible.

Mexico - Visiting MUSA Cancun the Underwater Museum in Cancun

Personalities seem to shine through from the statues, even as the environment claims them. 

The Banker, which features six businessmen with their heads in the sand, will make you smile.

Mexico - Visiting MUSA Cancun the Underwater Museum in Cancun

This installation took Taylor 18 months and 120 hours of working underwater and used 120 tons of concrete, sand, and gravel, 3,800m of fiberglass, and 400kg of silicone.

It’s here in Salon Manchones that you’ll also find the 100% sized model of a Volkswagen Beetle called Anthropocene. It comes complete with marine life families living in and around it.

Mexico - Visiting MUSA Cancun the Underwater Museum in Cancun

Your dive leader will likely have fun with the sculpture of the house, showing how the chimney actually works!

Mexico - Visiting MUSA Cancun the Underwater Museum in Cancun

MUSA Salon Nizuc

Salon Nizuc is only 3.5 – 4 meters deep and is suitable only for snorkelers. There are 23 sculptures in Salon Nizuc.

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Punta Sam

Punta Sam is just 3.5 meters deep of clear waters and is ideal for snorkeling. Statues here are by Cuban artist Elier Amado Gil.

This is a great place to snorkel to see sea turtles.

Plaza Kukulcan Visitor Centre

If you don’t want to get your feet wet you can take a trip to the Plaza Kukulcan visitor center. It’s in a mall in the Cancun hotel zone

You’ll find 26 replicas and one original sculpture hosted here.

When to Dive MUSA Cancun

You can take a scuba diving trip to MUSA setting off in the morning or at lunchtime, depending on the dive company you select. 

You can dive MUSA year-round.

The average water temperature in Cancun is 23C to 26C in the winter and 27C to 29C in the summer. 

You’ll find the best diving time at MUSA between November and April.  There’s less rain and it’s not as hot.

Mexico - Visiting MUSA Cancun the Underwater Museum in Cancun

Non Divers can Dive Musa

You don’t need to be an accredited diver to visit MUSA. Many Cancun scuba dive companies will take beginners on an assisted dive. 

This means that they’ll give you a short overview of the theory and suit you up. 

Besides helping you with all the gear, they’ll provide a dive leader or instructor who will stay beside you or close to you the whole time you’re underwater.

If you don’t have your PADI Certification, look for companies that have beginner dives or assisted diving tours. Make sure that the dive you sign up for does not require certification.

Alternatively, if you want to become a certified diver, you can get your certification while in Cancun.

Sign up for PADI Certification!

Marine Life that You Can See at MUSA

Besides the statues and coral life, you can also see schools of fish, sea turtles, and eels. Some tours include whale shark encounters as part of the trip as well.

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How to Book a Diving Trip to MUSA Cancun

Most dive companies will offer a two-tank package and your second dive will be on the Manchones Reef.  We found a huge amount of fish life at Manchones.

You can also find companies that just take you to MUSA for one dive.

Mexico - Visiting MUSA Cancun the Underwater Museum in Cancun

You need to make sure you book a dive that includes the number of dives you want to do and is appropriate for your level. You can also look for trips that include transportation and refreshments.

See multiple MUSA diving tours to compare.

What is the Cancun Underwater Museum Price (Underwater Museum Tour Prices)

There is a fee for every visitor that goes to the museum, but you will most likely only pay this to your tour company and they will pay this fee on your behalf.

Most tours are paid for in either Mexican pesos or USD. If you pay online, you will most likely pay in your home currency. If you pay once you arrive, you will pay in either pesos or USD. Most tour companies accept both.

While you can pay with credit cards online and for many local tour companies, bring cash for your tip. A good rule for a tip is 10% of your total tour cost.

The actual price you will pay for your museum tour depends on which type of trip you are going to go on. Glass-bottomed boat tours and snorkeling tend to be much less expensive than scuba diving prices.

Click here to see current Cancun diving prices.

Mexico - Visiting MUSA Cancun the Underwater Museum in Cancun

Visiting MUSA without a Tour

No, you need to go with an official MUSA tour operator.

What to Take to MUSA Cancun

Regardless of which kind of tour you’re going on, you will want to bring a lot of the same stuff with you.

There are changing facilities at the dive shops to change into your bathing suit and put on a diving suit if you will need one.

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Otherwise, you can wear your bathing suit and a cover-up if you’re only going to be on a boat or snorkeling.

The dive shops rent (or include in the dive rate) a short wetsuit and full dive gear or snorkel gear. They will also provide life vests to wear on the boats.

If you don’t want to use rented snorkel gear, you can bring your own snorkel and mask.

Besides wearing or taking your swim gear, you will want a full-sized travel towel and a water bottle

While many trips will have small refreshments for when you are done with the tour, like fruit, you can bring your own snacks just in case you find you want more.

Finally, make sure to bring reef-safe sunscreen.

You can also bring a dry bag for your stuff when you go on a boat. You can get a larger one to use for a group. Otherwise, I use small ones with lanyards to hold my cell phone, money, and credit cards.

Finally, bring some cash for your tips as well as any surprise fees that come up.

Good to Know: If you’ve never gone snorkeling or diving before, you might be surprised at how tired you will feel after. Sunscreen and snacks make all the difference in the world.

Tips for Photographing MUSA Underwater

If you don’t have a camera that’s safe for taking pictures underwater, you can either buy one for your trip ahead of time or rent one for the day.

Check that your dive shop has one available to rent before going this route, and you will need to have a way to save the pictures once you’re done.

Belize - Ambergris Caye - Snorkeling

Don’t buy a camera in Mexico – the taxes to take it home with you can be shockingly high!

A Go Pro is one of the most popular underwater cameras you can find, and they last for years. This is what I use for my underwater photography.

See also
23 Best Souvenirs from Mexico City: Gifts for Yourself and Your Loved Ones!

Get a Go Pro for your trip!

Want fabulous Mexico vacation photos? You can book a Private Vacation Photo Session for your trip to Cancun or Riviera Maya. Use the code HistoryFangirl for 10% off your first session.

Visiting MUSA with Kids

If you want to visit MUSA on a family vacation to Cancun, you will need to make sure you visit on tours that accept children.

Check with your tour company to see if they will allow children to snorkel and what their age cutoffs are.

Never book a tour in Mexico before you double-check their rules for children since you might end up not being refunded if your child isn’t allowed to go.

Visiting MUSA with Toddlers

Families visiting MUSA with toddlers need to stick to glass-bottomed boat tours that allow children.

Make sure they accept toddlers before you book your tour.

Our Review of Scuba Diving MUSA Cancun

We thoroughly enjoyed diving MUSA. 

Although there wasn’t a huge variety of marine wildlife for us to see, there was a huge variety of sculptures. 

MUSA is a unique experience that is benefiting the environment.  The cost of your diving or snorkeling MUSA experience also includes a fee to the National Marine Park.

Let us know if you’ve dived MUSA or Manchones Reef and what you thought of it!

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions about MUSA CANCUN

These are the most common questions people ask about visiting MUSA.

What is Musa Cancun

MUSA is an underwater museum or sculpture park, created as an artificial reef and alternative dive site in 2009 to regenerated the reef and marine life in the Cancun-Isla Mujeres Marine Park.

Do you have to be a diver to visit MUSA?

No, it is not necessary to be a diver to visit MUSA.  You can also visit by snorkeling or even by glass-bottomed boat.

If you want to dive MUSA do you need to be certified?

No.  You do not need PADI certification to dive MUSA, you can visit MUSA diving without any certification.

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Where can you visit MUSA from?

You can visit MUSA from Isla Mujeres, or Cancun.  Further trips are available to MUSA from Playa del Carmen.  You can also arrange to visit MUSA from Cozumel.

How Deep is the underwater museum in Cancun?

The water depth at MUSA is between 4 meters and 8 meters.

How long does it take to see the underwater museum in Cancun?

Since you will be on a guided tour, the time is up to your tour company. You can check this time before you book your tour.

5 Things to Pack for Your Trip to Mexico

Lonely Planet Mexico and Lonely Planet Cancun, Cozumel, & the Yucatan are available as a paper copy or in a Kindle edition. You typically won’t find major guidebooks once you land, so get yours ahead of time.

I used both of these to plan my last trip to the Yucatan, and I read them cover to cover!

Mosquito Repellant is the single most important thing you’ll want on you as soon as dusk hits. Have enough to at least get through the first night if you’re packing light.

Full-Sized Travel Towel Unless your accommodations provide them, you will want to bring your own. I always bring my own towel to Mexico.

This is the best travel towel in the world. It’s pretty enough for the beach, large enough that you forget it’s a microfibre towel, and quick-drying, which is crucial in super humid parts of Mexico.

A Go Pro for underwater and action photography. Why go all the way to Mexico and not be able to capture some of the most exciting parts of your trip?

A Dry Bag for your stuff when you go on a boat or to the beach. You can get a larger one to use for a group or if you plan on taking a larger camera.

Otherwise, I use small ones with lanyards to hold my cell phone, money, and credit cards so I could take them with me swimming when traveling solo.

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You might also want a separate waterproof holder for your passport. I’ve seen people who weren’t allowed to board their flights home because their passports got water damaged.

Before Your Trip to Mexico – Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!

Make sure you have a valid Travel Insurance Policy because accidents happen on the road.

I use World Nomads on my last trip to Mexico, and I happily recommend them.

It’s especially important to get travel insurance if you’ll be enjoying water activities, spending time on beaches, or in towns and cities where petty theft occurs.

I have been a paying customer of World Nomads as far back as 2016, and I happily recommend them.  

If you get sick, injured, or have your stuff stolen, you’ll be happy to have the ability to pay for your medical bills or replace what’s stolen or broken.

Get a Travel Insurance quote for your trip!

Make sure you have a valid Travel Insurance Policy because accidents happen on the road.

It’s especially important to get travel insurance if you’ll be enjoying water activities, spending time on beaches, or in towns and cities where petty theft occurs.

I have been a paying customer of World Nomads as far back as 2016, and I happily recommend them.  

If you get sick, injured, or have your stuff stolen, you’ll be happy to have the ability to pay for your medical bills or replace what’s stolen or broken.

Get a Travel Insurance quote for your trip!

Pin This Guide to Planning Your Trip to MUSA Cancun for Your Trip to Mexico!

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