Mexico is a scuba diver’s paradise, boasting over 9,330 km of coastline, crystal clear waters, and exquisite reefs teeming with marine life.
Lapped by the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea, Mexico is home to an array of exceptional underwater environments.
Mexico’s cities have incredible spots that cater to various water sports. You could be an ocean-lover looking for vibrant, shallow reefs to explore or an advanced diver wanting an exhilarating cenote dive.
While there are so many from which to choose, here are my top 5 sites for scuba diving in Mexico.
Let’s dive right in!
Top 5 Places to Scuba Dive in Mexico
5. Puerto Vallarta — Best for Wild Creatures
If you want to get close to the ocean’s wildest creatures, scuba diving in Puerto Vallarta is a must! This diving spot is known for close encounters with whale sharks, dolphins, giant mantas, and schools of jacks.
Curious creatures like damselfish, nurse sharks, and puffer fish may accompany your dives. You can also swim with loggerhead, green, and hawksbill turtles. If you’re lucky, you’ll see seahorses and octopi, the masters of disguise, hiding in the walls and crevices of drop-offs.
Cruise along impressive reefs, pinnacles, plateaus, and drop-offs teeming with undersea creatures. Dive into deeper waters for caves, shipwrecks, and underwater mountain ranges.
Best Time to Dive in Puerto Vallarta
The best time to go scuba diving in Puerto Vallarta is from November to May, during the dry season. During this time, the water is generally calm and clear, and the visibility is good for optimal diving conditions.
From December to March, humpback whales migrate to the area. Divers can see these majestic creatures up close during the winter months.
4. Guadalupe Island — Best for Cage Diving with Great White Sharks
Have you ever seen a great white shark in the wild? Situated off the coast of Baja, Guadalupe Island is one of the few places in the world where you can dive with great white sharks.
Diving off Guadalupe Island allows you to cage dive with these giants and see them up close. Visibility often goes beyond 30 meters, making the adrenaline-filled encounter even more spine-tingling. Around 270 great white sharks visit Guadalupe Island each year, so you’re bound to see a few of them lurking around!
During surface intervals, you may also spot playful fur and elephant seals, attracting sharks to the island. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned diver, cage diving at Guadalupe is an awe-inspiring experience you shouldn’t miss!
Best Time to Dive Guadalupe Island
The best time to go cage diving with great white sharks on Guadalupe Island is from August to November. These months are when the sharks are most active, so you’re more likely to have multiple encounters during your dive.
During this time, the water is usually calm and clear, providing excellent visibility for divers. The water temperature is also comfortable for diving, ranging from 18°C to 21°C.
Plan your visit between August and September if you want to see younger male sharks in action. During this period, these sharks are known to be very active and often crowd around the cages in a boisterous manner.
If you want to see giant sharks, plan your visit for October or November. The massive creatures are more prevalent in the waters around Guadalupe Island during these months.
3. Socorro Islands — Best for Large Pelagics
What the heck are pelagics, you ask? Well, they're the fish you find in a specific area of the water. You'll find pelagics living away from the shore and not super deep near the floor of the body of water.
Socorro Island is the perfect diving destination if you’re a fan of pelagic marine life. This remote island is home to fascinating species, including some of the world’s friendliest giant manta rays.
During your dive, expect to see these magnificent creatures swimming alongside you, sometimes less than a meter away!
You can also enjoy once-in-a-lifetime experiences with wild bottlenose dolphins. Unlike many dolphins who swim away from divers, these friendly creatures often seek human companionship to play and have fun.
Witness the incredible sight of humpback whales breaching the water’s surface. You may also observe seven species of sharks, including the majestic whale shark, while nestled among the boulders.
The diving conditions in Socorro Island can be challenging due to strong currents, so I’d say it’s suitable for advanced divers only.
Best Time to Dive Socorro Island
The best time to dive at Socorro Island is from November to May, when the water is clearest and the visibility is at its best. The only way to get to the island is by liveaboard, which only operates when the sea is calm.
You can expect mostly sunny weather during this time, with occasional showers providing relief. Water temperatures range from 28ºC in November to 21ºC in February, then back up to 25ºC in May.
These months offer the most magnificent displays of Socorro Island diving. It’s when whale sharks, Pacific manta rays, and thousands of humpbacks come to breed and give birth. The best time to see bottlenose dolphins is from January to March.
You’ll see a variety of shark species throughout the season. The vast plankton blooms that attract pelagic species can sometimes affect visibility, but the incredible encounters are worth it.
2. Sea of Cortez — Best for Diving with Sea Lions and Whale Sharks
Scuba diving in the Sea of Cortez is a must if you love sea lions! Off the island of Espíritu Santo is a colony of sea lions that loves to play. Diving with them is an experience not to be missed!
Named the ‘world’s greatest aquarium’ by Jacques Cousteau, the Sea of Cortez is an underwater paradise home to a wealth of marine life. Located between the Baja California Peninsula and Mexico’s mainland, the Sea of Cortez’s unique geography creates a scuba diving haven.
You can expect warm, clear waters and plenty of marine life. Encounter schools of colorful fish, playful sea lions, and giant manta rays. Swim with whale sharks, sea turtles, or even humpback whales!
Best Time to Dive the Sea of Cortez
The best time to dive the Sea of Cortez is from June to November when the waters are warm and visibility is generally reasonable. During this time, the water temperature ranges from 25.6°C to 30°C, making it comfortable for divers to stay in the water for more extended periods.
This period also coincides with the whale shark season, which runs from October to February. Diving with these gentle giants can be an incredible experience and is popular among divers visiting the Sea of Cortez.
During the summer, the Sea of Cortez can experience hurricane activity, so consider this when planning your trip.
1. Yucatan Peninsula — Best for Cenotes
Home to the second-largest barrier reef in the world, the Yucatan Peninsula boasts some of the best reef diving on the planet.
Divers can also explore cavernous tunnel systems, coral-encrusted shipwrecks, and sparkling blue cenotes.
These unique underwater caves and sinkholes offer a one-of-a-kind diving experience. Some of the most popular cenote dives include the Dos Ojos system in Cancún, Chak Mool, and Cenote Angelita.
Other dive sites include Cozumel, with its crystal-clear waters, healthy coral reefs, and abundant marine life.
Then there’s Playa del Carmen, the gateway Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. Explore stunning coral formations and enjoy encounters with marine life, such as nurse sharks, sea turtles, and moray eels.
Best Time to Dive the Yucatan Peninsula
The best time to dive along the Yucatan Peninsula is November to April. During this time, the weather is dry, and the visibility is excellent. Water temperatures range from 25.6°C to 27.8°C, which is comfortable for diving in a wetsuit.
The summer can be hot and humid from May to October, with occasional rain showers and possible hurricanes. While diving is still possible, plankton blooms may reduce visibility, and the water temperature may be warmer.
Dive In With Pilot!
Home to gin-clear waters, colorful coral reefs, and diverse marine life, Mexico boasts some of the best scuba diving in the world. With warm waters and excellent visibility, Mexico’s underwater kingdoms offer unforgettable experiences.
Ready to grab your scuba diving gear and dive into the waters around Mexico? Book a hostel in Mexico and start planning your trip withPilot!