Mexico is a country of contrast, with its jungles, volcanoes, deserts, sandy beaches, and lagoons. Each region is incredibly diverse, and there’s something to be seen for every type of traveler. Whether a beach bum, cultural traveler, or adventure-seeker, there’s no denying that Mexico offers so much to take in. And it comes as no surprise that some of the best diving in the world takes place here.
Most scuba divers will recognize Mexico as one of the main diving hubs in the world. It offers both the big pelagics of the Pacific on one coast and the stunning reefs of the Caribbean on the other. Experienced and beginner divers alike can find plenty of spots to admire the underwater world down to where their qualifications allow it.
Sea turtle of Cozumel. Photo by Serge Melki
Diving on the Caribbean side of Mexico is possible year-round. For cenote diving, the best to visit is May through September because these months bring more light into the sinkholes. If you want to spot the whale sharks near Isla Mujeres, June through September is usually the best season.
On the Pacific coast, the best time to visit is usually June through October because of the warmer water temperatures and good visibility. However, it also depends on the region and what you want to see underwater. Socorro Island is best dived November through May when you can travel by liveaboard to the region. This is also the best time to see the whale sharks and manta rays of Puerto Vallarta. On Guadalupe Island, the liveaboard season runs from August to October.
On the Caribbean coast, the water temperatures don’t drop below 25° C/77° F and peak at about 30° C/86° F. On the Pacific coast, the water temperature is lower year-round, with temperatures ranging from 19° C/66° F to 27° C/80° F.
The currents on the Caribbean side are generally none to mild, with calm surface conditions that are perfect for beginner divers. On the Pacific side, there are strong currents and choppy seas, and the area is typically recommended for more experienced divers.
The visibility is usually very good. In the cenotes, it can even exceed 100 meters (330 feet).
The Yucatan Peninsula is a plateau beneath which a system of underwater caves can be found. Some of these caves have collapsed into sinkholes. The cenotes of the Yucatan Peninsula feature both freshwater and saltwater. The visibility is outstanding here, with sunlight peeking through the water, creating an eerie scenery with the backdrop of stalagmites and stalactites. For those interested in cavern and cave diving, Mexico is probably the best destination to learn how to dive these systems.
Cozumel is the largest inhabited island in Mexico and probably the most renowned diving destination in the country. The reef of Cozumel is part of the Great Maya Barrier Reef, the second-largest reef system in the world. The nutrient-rich waters of the island attract a variety of marine species such as eagle rays, nurse sharks, and many tropical reef fish. The area is great for beginners because of the multitude of shallow dive sites, warm waters, good visibility, and calm conditions. Nonetheless, Cozumel is also famous for its drift dives.
The Revillagigedo Islands in the Pacific Ocean is a premier liveaboard scuba diving destination. The archipelago is made up of four islands: Soccoro, Roca Partida, Clarion, and San Benedicto. Like most spots in the Pacific, the area is renowned for the incredible megafauna sightings. The strong currents here make diving suitable for experienced divers.
Whale sharks can be spotted in the months of November and December. Bottlenose dolphins visit the region from January to March. Giant manta rays can be seen here year-round. Humpback whales visit the islands in the winter season and up until April.
Guadalupe Island is famous for being one of the best places in the world to dive with the great white sharks. The population of great white sharks found here is said to be one of the most prolific on Earth. Cage diving with the great white sharks is possible for both beginners and experienced divers, as the cages are either placed just below the surface or lowered further down.