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  • Cancun Underwater Museum – the world’s first underwater sculpture park

    I’m sure that everyone who is interested in diving (as well as those interested in modern art) have already heard of this museum, but I think that such an interesting place deserved a mention on our blog. So here’s the story: back in 2009, about a hundred statues made by Jason de Caires Taylor, a young but famous artist, were placed underwater off the coast of Isla de Mujeres and Cancun, on the premises of the Cancun National Marine Park.

    This idea has never been put in practice before, and needless to say, it attracted a lot of attention, even from people who are not necessarily into scuba diving. Today, more than 400 underwater sculptures can be admired in this innovative park, and if you haven not dived before, now it’s time to learn how.

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    Jason De Caires Taylor’s style incorporates both modern and ancient elements, and sometimes the park feels like the ancient relics of a long lost civilization. Mayan art, especially, was an obvious inspiration, but the occasional edgy piece will remind you that you are still living in the 21st century after all. You can see for instance the modern man watching TV from a couch as well as ancient looking people sculptures resembling the victims of the Pompeii catastrophe or a Mayan ruin.

    The most interesting fact about his sculptures is that they are not simply inanimate objects, but on the contrary, they sustain life. They were designed so as to make use of propagated corals on the structures, and thus they become artificial coral reefs.

    Most of Taylor’s sculptures represent humans, and the dark shapes of the cement people look stunning against the background of the dark sea bottom. It is like a surreal, underwater version of the terracotta army, in a modern edition. What you can see on our pictures is just a fragment of the amazing collection of hundreds of statues.

    Most of the sculptures (especially the first to be placed underwater) are already covered in corals, and his human figures seem like they were sculpted out of coral, and not cement.

    Natural benefits of the Underwater Museum

    Obviously, this is very beneficial for the environment, especially since natural reefs are more and more endangered by overfishing and pollution. Now there’s an environmentally friendly alternative to scuba diving in areas where the natural corral is becoming damaged by the many people visiting the underwater realm. You would not believe how many corals have found a home in the underwater sculpture park in the 6 years of its existence, it already looks as nearly as inhabited as a century old wrecked ship.

    And the more people choose to visit and dive to the Underwater Museum, the less people will go to natural reefs. Thus the so endangered natural reefs get less exposure and less ‘human’ pollution as well. Plus the cement used for the sculptures id PH neutral so it is even better for the algae and corals to grow on. It is actually better for their growth than a wrecked ship.

    Of course, despite its beauty and usefulness (it’s a park that actually manages to combine art and environmentalist elements), some people are not comfortable with what they perceive as a rather unsettling atmosphere (it has been compared with the ruins of Pompeii, only underwater). But if you want to see something different than the usual underwater life as see in other scuba diving destinations, this park will definitely show you a something you’ve never seen before.

    The three locations of the Underwater Museum

    The Museum has three locations in total. The first and largest is near the coast of Isla Mujeres, on the Manchones reef with not less than 477 beautiful and interesting sculptures. The second one is at Punta Nizuc and has got 23 sculptures so far. The third location is on land, at the Plaza Kukalcan mall and it has for 26 statues, some are originals and some are replicas of their underwater siblings.

    Naturally, the most popular way to visit the Museum and its sculptures is by diving. But the sculptures are not in deep water so if you would rather not go underwater, you can also see them from a boat. It is not the real first hand experience, but is a lot cheaper.

    Tickets and visiting the Underwater Museum

    The most common way to book a ticket to the Cancun Underwater Museum – also called MUSA – is with Aquaworld. At this moment, in March 2015, one ticket costs $45 for adults and it is $22.50 for children. Tours start daily from 11:30 AM local time and you should note that you will have to pay about 15% tax for every booking you make.

    An alternative to Aquaworld could be to go diving to and near the MUSA with Scorpiodivers. They have very good reviews and according to many reviews, their services and personnel are really good and worth a try as well. Some other companies are also available for different prices and with different schedules, you should take a good look around before you book a dive with any of them.

    The Cancun Underwater Museum is among the most interesting and unique attractions in the world. This man made wonder is a must if you are traveling to Cancun or the area and if you like some underwater fun. If you are in Cancun and plan to book a dive to MUSA, you should also check the weather forecast for your preferred date. Bad weather can ruin your perfect dive not even mentioning that you will not be able to take nice pictures.

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