From far, they rest on the seabed like an army of quiet terra cotta soldiers, as if ready to strike. You take a closer look and realise they are far from stoic warriors, but figures of normal beings like you and me. Some with folded arms, some wearing smirks on their faces, and some are chilling out in front of their TV.
There are over 400 of such sculptures underwater off the coast of Isla de Mujeres in Cancún, Mexico. Each sculpture and figure was molded from actual people from Cancún. Part of a collective art piece called “The Silent Evolution”, this one-of-a-kind art endeavour is part of the protected Cancún National Marine Park.
Just off the Caribbean Sea and lying in the north-east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula, Cancún is a city rich in culture, adventure, history, and of course this unique underwater museum. The Cancún Marine Park is a tourist hotspot. Its stretch of waters is treaded upon by almost a million visitors each year. Watersports enthusiasts can dive in its crystalline waters of the Mexican Caribbean to explore the underwater world. Snorkeling and sportfishing are other activities to indulge in as well. In fact, you can even charter your own sailboat that comes with crew and equipment for a day of adventure out in the open sea.
Cancún Underwater Musuem
Created by Mexico-based Briton Jason deCaires Taylor, this submerged Caribbean art installation covers over 400 square meters, making it one of the world’s largest underwater attractions in the world. The idea was surfaced to address a more functional concern, rather than just satisfying a whimsical want. Because of the immense popularity of the marine park, local reefs were severely stressed by marine pollution, warming waters and overfishing. The project’s aim is to draw crowds from the natural reefs to the unusual sight of the sculptures. This way, Cancún’s natural reefs can have a chance to breathe and recharge.
Tip: most people think that the underwater museum is huge and devote one full day to dive or snorkel at the museum, but don’t. The area is not very big, and you can be done in a few hours. How clear the sculptures are also depends on the day’s visibility.
Most people are misguided when they visit the museum. They expect to be able to spend some time admiring each figure, and went home disappointed that they were not able to do so. But these are people haboring over-expectations. The fascination of the museum is how seemingly normal people are frozen in a moment taken from everyday life and spread out beneath the calming aquamarine waters of the Caribbean. Surrealism is the wow factor here, not the study of the craftsmanship of the sculptor.
With that in mind, you’re all set for an underwater trip to visit how locals in Cancún live.
Aquaworld offers services that bring you to the museum. If you’re a diver, they offer diving tours, and if you’re not, Aquaworld has snorkelling tours too.