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Laura Storm / Alamy Stock Photo
Laura Storm / Alamy Stock Photo

The underwater museum in Cancun

Unique sculpture garden

Anyone who loves to travel has a bucket list. And although we have been to many places, the editors at iFly KLM Magazine also have one. Our reporter, Iris van den Broek, sets out to one of the items on our list: the MUSA underwater museum in Cancun.

Dive on in!

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10:30 am

Cancun Scuba Divers at Playa Tortugas

I am heading to Playa Tortugas because that’s where the Cancun Scuba Center is located. It is one of the best diving schools in the area. Today, owner Juan Carlos is taking me to the underwater museum. MUSA was founded in 2009 and already displays more than 500 sculptures on the ocean floor.

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11:00 am

Training in the pool

The best part about MUSA is that I don’t need a diving certificate to dive here. But I do need some basic skills, so I start out with an hour of training in the pool. It feels a bit strange to wade into a pool with a weight belt and a few heavy tanks of oxygen, but once underwater I feel weightless, and it just seems to go naturally.

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1:30 pm

And now the real work: the ocean!

Now that I know what to do (and especially what not to do) underwater, I am ready to go. I walk across the beach to where the Cancun Scuba Center’s boat is moored. We (myself and five other enthusiasts) sail roughly 30 minutes towards Isla Mujeres. Along the way, Juan Carlos makes everyone check their gear one more time: safety first!

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"The overgrown sculptures exude an air of mystique"

2:30 pm

Down to the museum

By now we are bobbing right above MUSA. I sit on the edge of the boat, hold onto my mask and mouthpiece and let myself roll backwards into the water. Assisted by Juan Carlos I descend to the to the bottom. At first I have no idea where I am, but then I turn around and spot three life-sized statues behind me. Wow! We are definitely in the right place.

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2:40 pm

Floating in a sculpture garden

This truly is impressive. Juan Carlos signals for me to follow him. Together we float over dozens of sculptures that exude an air of mystique. Due to a big storm the week before my dive, the water is a little bit murky. But plenty of sunrays still reach the ocean floor.

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2:50 pm

Nothing like it!

This is by far the most unique, active and fun museum I have ever visited. The silence underwater is soothing and creates a serene atmosphere. I do miss the signs providing information about the artwork, but those would most likely be overgrown with algae making them illegible.

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3:00 pm

Face-to-face with a Volkswagen Beetle

Every set of sculptures has its own name. The large group of sculptures we just swam over is called Silent Evolution. A more sober exhibit is the Anthropocene: a life-sized Volkswagen Beetle with a small person curled up on the windshield. Even underwater, art doesn’t always make sense, but it is definitely intriguing.

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3:10 pm

Living garden

The mission of MUSA is to improve marine life and the reefs around Cancun in a natural way. And it certainly works: the sculptures are overgrown with algae, plants and coral, and have become home to dozens of species of fish. The Beetle has holes in the windows so that fish can swim through and the interior of the car features habitats for lobsters.

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The Dream Collector

Collects and saves dreams as a message in a bottle.

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3:20 pm

Time to surface

By now we have been underwater for about 50 minutes. Juan Carlos signals for me to check my oxygen gauge: there is only 500 psi left. That means it’s time to slowly return to the surface. He lets up a special balloon to warn any boats of surfacing divers. I take one final glance at the sculpture garden before I find myself back at the boat again.

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4:15 pm

Back on shore

We sail back to Playa Tortugas in the late afternoon sun. Our wetsuits are hung up to dry, and I thank Juan Carlos and his team for a fantastic experience. MUSA is a truly unique museum that I can highly recommend to divers of all levels.


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