With so much to see and do in Mexico, deciding where to start can be pretty daunting. Should it be something historical? Perhaps something artistic? There are also the wonders of the natural world to see, and let’s not forget the spectacular underwater world that shimmers and blooms along the reef, just off the coast. The answer is to combine the lot, with a visit to the Cancun Underwater Museum!
An Underwater Art Installation
The Cancun Underwater Museum is the world’s most famous underwater attraction of its kind and draws adventurous spirits in their thousands every year. Built in 2009, the original idea was to build an artificial reef from concrete. Put in the hands of Roberto Diaz Abraham, the idea evolved to become the Cancun Underwater Museum, bringing together dozens of statues to create an underwater art installation, with a beneficial, environmental purpose. English sculptor, Jason deCaires Taylor was hired and he quickly set to work.
Helping the Environment
The majority of the statues in the Cancun Underwater Museum were created with help from the inhabitants of the nearby fishing village, Puerto Morelos. Volunteers were covered in specialist marine cement, and their likenesses were then cast in marine concrete from the resulting moulds. All the materials used in the Cancun Underwater Museum were chosen specifically for their PH-neutral properties, and their abilities to promote the growth of algae and coral. The statues were then weighted and carefully paced in chosen sites, just off the coast of Cancun.
Who’s Who Under the Sea?
It’s not only likenesses of the locals that you’ll find deep in the depths of the Cancun Underwater Museum. Taylor has cast international TV personalities, models, and the occasional politician to, so you can still spot a few famous faces among the 500-strong population of submarine statues!
Taylor is a truly inspired artist, and has created vignettes as part of the undersea world of the Cancun Underwater Museum. Look out for The Bankers (a collection of suited businessmen with their heads in their hands, or even buried in the sand!), the Dream Collector, El Bacab, and the crowds that make up Silent Evolution. You’ll even find a concrete replica of a VW Beetle!
With the ever-changing conditions under the waves, the statues are changing, too. Once covered with a thin film of algae, there are now corals starting to form, providing shelter and food for fish, shellfish, and a kaleidoscope of other marine creatures. As a result, the statues of the Cancun Underwater Museum have taken on a rather eerie quality, reminiscent of the crew of the Black Pearl from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies!
See the Cancun Underwater Museum
There are plenty of ways to see the Cancun Underwater Museum. Perhaps the best way is to scuba dive and go and meet the encrusted inhabitants personally. If you don’t have scuba qualifications, there are various PADI-approved diving schools in the area, where you can train. However, if it all sounds a little too deep for you, you can snorkel over the Cancun Underwater Museum and see the whole installation from above. Alternatively, there are tours in glass-bottomed boats, which pass over the Cancun Underwater Museum and give you a great perspective on one of the world’s weirdest and most wonderful attractions.