Travel is an amazing experience, even if you stay at your resort, but what makes your time extraordinary is discovering the wondrous phenomena of an area. MUSA (Museo Subacuático de Arte) is one of those magical finds that can define your vacation and expand your horizons. This underwater art museum is a testament to human ingenuity, creativity and the mark we leave for future generations.
More than 750,000 people visit the Cancun-Isla Mujeres Marine Park every year severely taxing the natural environment and changing the seascape. So in 2009, Roberto Díaz Abraham, once the President of the Cancun Nautical Association and Jaime González Cano, Director of the National Marine Park created a plan to draw people to the waters surrounding Punta Nizuc, Isla Mujeres and Cancun. This would help to spare the overly visited coral reef systems and give tourists an equally stunning experience.
They then searched out Jason deCaires Taylor, an English sculptor, to get the project started. As it gained momentum, other sculptors such as Karen Salinas Martinez, Roberto Diaz Abraham, Rodrigo Quiñones Reyes, Salvador Quiroz Ennis and Eller Amando Gil joined the project. As of today there are more than 500, life sized sculptures affixed to the bottom of the sea, weighing over 200 tons and covering 420 square meters of barren sea floor.
Not only did this project aim to protect the natural reef systems, it was also an ambitious marriage of art and environmental science. Each structure was created with specific materials to encourage coral growth and increase biomass creating new homes for marine life. It is now one of the largest underwater art museums in the world, and new ecosystems have been forming throughout the Caribbean waters.
MUSA is comprised of three different art exhibits, Salon Manchones off the coast of Isla Mujeres, Salon Nizuc at the southernmost point of Cancun’s hotel district and Salon Punta Sam in Punta Sam, Cancun. The sculptures’ locations were chosen for the greatest access to a wide variety of travelers. Not everyone is licensed to scuba dive, so they made sure there were many ways to view these mammoth works of art.
For those who do love to strap on a tank and head to the deep waters, Salon Manchones is for you. This is the largest installation, and it is 8 meters deep. There are fourteen different sites to visit here ranging in size from a singular work of art to many individual sculptures creating impactful scenes. To see this epic salon, you will need to go deep, but you don’t need to be certified. There are scuba diving tours that include a 90-minute training to guide you through the basics and get you underwater for your first dive!
Salon Nizuc has haunting images only four meters deep that are accessible in three different ways, via snorkeling, staying dry in a glass bottom boat or taking the jungle tour in your own two-person swift boat through the Nichupté Lagoon ending at Punta Nizuc where you will be given ample time to snorkel around the exhibit.
Lastly is the Salon Punta Sam, only 3.5 meters deep and only viewable by snorkeling!
On your next trip to Cancun, take some time to explore the modern day Atlantis for an unforgettable experience.