Cancun is best known for its beaches and nightlife – but is there anything else beyond the 5-star resorts and world-class clubs? What to do in Cancun if you want to stay active on your holiday? Well, we decided to go to the museum! But this one was not a classical with paintings hanging on white walls and where you need to stay quiet. The Underwater Museum Cancun is the home of past, present and future. A place that was created by people taking care of the ocean’s future… Are you interested? Then keep reading to get all information on the Punta Nizuc snorkeling trip that allows you to explore a different world under the sea!
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What is the Underwater Museum Cancun?
MUSA Cancun -Museo Subacuático de Arte- was founded in 2009 with the purpose of creating artificial reefs to attract marine life and like this, new dive and snorkel sites. Today the Underwater Museum Cancun consists of more than 500 life-sized statues in the ocean featuring masterpieces from the famous English sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor whose sculptures can be found in several places all over the world including the underwater museum in Lanzarote too.
MUSA is now a top-rated Cancun attraction. The underwater statues are important for the environment and for the economy too. The Cancun Underwater Museum helps the recovery of the natural reefs as it draws visitors away to this alternative site as well as benefits the community by attracting tourists. The sculptures are fixed to the seabed, made of a special material that promotes coral life to turn the area into an artificial reef.
Where are the underwater statues?
MUSA is a long-term project with a permit to sink 1200 sculptures under the sea in 10 different areas around Cancun creating artificial reef systems. So far, 3 galleries have been developed at the following locations:
Machones: first gallery, maximum depth 8 m/26ft, snorkeling + diving possible, located off the coast of Isla Mujeres
Punta Nizuc: maximum depth 4-5 m/13-16ft, best for snorkeling, located at the southern tip of Cancun’s hotel zone
Punta Sam: depth 3.5 m/11.4ft, snorkeling, newest gallery, so far few sculptures only
Although the Machones gallery is the best-known thanks to the worldwide-famous Silent Evolution installation that features 400 human-sized figures, we found that it is too deep for snorkeling, therefore not so enjoyable. Punta Sam is shallow, but there are only 2 installations at the moment. To cut it short, for snorkeling Punta Nizuc is the best choice that has many different underwater statues to see at relatively shallow water.
Punta Nizuc snorkeling
There is not much information available about Punta Nizuc snorkeling options on the internet. Even locally, most tour operators offer the main Isla Mujeres snorkel trip that includes a stop at the MUSA Machones if you ask them about snorkeling in the Underwater Museum (some of them don’t even know where is the Nizuc gallery). A few years ago, Punta Nizuc was available from the shore for free but it is not anymore since the beach became a private. We found only one tour to takes you directly to the Nizuc gallery which is the Aquaworld Cancun Paradise Snorkel Trip.
Aquaworld Punta Nizuc snorkel trip
If you decide to go snorkeling in Punta Nizuc, you can book the trip in advance online, or locally in bigger hotels or via tour agent, but it is not necessary. We just walked into the Aquaworld and signed up for the next departure.
Price: 47 USD + 10 USD marine park/dock fee for adults, half price for kids
Included: snorkel equipment with life vest, guided tour, soft drinks plus beer
Departures: from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm from Aquaworld Marina
The boat will take you through the mangrove lagoon to Aquaworld’s floating platform next to Punta Nizuc reef where the Aquaworld’s staff will give you a life vest and so you are ready to start the guided snorkel trip! You will start with a swim over the corals then continue your way to the underwater statues.
(Normally we don’t like guided tours, we prefer exploring reefs ourselves, but in this case, we were happy to have a guide! The visibility was very bad, sometimes we could not even see the sea bottom, so without our guide we did not manage to find all the sculptures!)
Underwater statues to see in Punta Nizuc
The sculptures you will see vary depending on the conditions, on the tour you take. The most famous one you will see for sure: Understanding installation is only 1.8 m deep, you will see it easily from the surface even if the visibility is bad.
The rest of the underwater statutes can be found deeper and it is tricky to find them if the water is not clear. The visibility is the best between May and July, when the sea is usually calm.
The following sculptures can be found in the gallery: (See them in the video below or in the Gallery):
- Reclamation (5 m)
- Gardener (3.5 m)
- Time Bomb Fuse (4.5 m)
- Time Bomb Mine (4.5 m)
- Inertia (5 m)
- Holy Man (5 m)
- No Title (5 m)
- Threshold (5 m)
- Underwater Musa (5 m)
- Void (5 m)
There are some more statues deeper that can be seen if you join the Underwater Museum glass bottom boat trip or go scuba diving.
The Nizuc Reef
I must say that the statues are the main attraction not the corals in Punta Nizuc, however, beginner snorkelers might find also the reef enjoyable. You can see some smaller coral formations, hard corals and sea fans, but generally, the inner small reef (where the Paradise trip takes you to snorkel) is not in a good condition with little life around. To see vibrant, colorful coral reefs, we recommend snorkeling in Puerto Morelos or discovering Tulum snorkel spots!