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MUSA – An Underwater Museum Off Isla Mujeres

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We’ve been to plenty of strange museums during our travels around the world. An optical illusion museum in Busan. A bordello museum in Idaho. The Museum of Innocence in Istanbul and a phallological museum in Iceland. But there’s a new contender for the title of most unique: the MUSA, an underwater museum found off the coast of Isla Mujeres.

Manchones Reef Diving Isla Mujuere

The MUSA, or Museo Subacuático de Arte, is the brainchild of Jason DeCaires Taylor, a British artist who was motivated to act after the devastation wreaked by 2008’s Hurricane Wilma. By designing sculptures and placing them on the sandy bottom of the sea, Taylor was fulfilling two purposes. First, he was creating an artificial reef onto which coral would grow and within which sea life might flourish. Second, he was diverting human attention away from the overtaxed natural reef.

Both of these aims have been met. Visiting the museum requires an easy dive of just 8 meters (24 feet), or you can choose to see it from above while snorkeling. The sculptures include a miniature house, a Volkswagen Beetle and a haunting collection of human statues, frozen in time. If you look closely, each person in this group is different, from a pregnant woman to a kneeling priest, and they’re all slowly being claimed by the coral.

Our visit to the MUSA was the first of two dives we made on the same day. The second was to a nearby reef called Manchones. It was another shallow dive, during which we swam along with an incredible array of fish. Our most exciting encounter was with a Stonefish. It was shifting a little as I passed over, otherwise I’d never have spotted it. The fish was so well camouflaged that Jürgen had a hard time seeing it even though I was just a foot away, pointing frantically. I dared not get closer; these are among the most poisonous fish in the world, and a single sting can prove fatal.

Location of the MUSA on our Map
MUSA Museo Subacuático de Arte – Website

My Underwater Camera

More images from the underwater museum:

Manchones Reef Diving Isla Mujuere
Manchones Reef Diving Isla Mujuere
Manchones Reef Diving Isla Mujuere
Manchones Reef Diving Isla Mujuere
Manchones Reef Diving Isla Mujuere
Manchones Reef Diving Isla Mujuere
Manchones Reef Diving Isla Mujuere
Manchones Reef Diving Isla Mujuere
Manchones Reef Diving Isla Mujuere
Manchones Reef Diving Isla Mujuere
Manchones Reef Diving Isla Mujuere
Manchones Reef Diving Isla Mujuere
Manchones Reef Diving Isla Mujuere
Manchones Reef Diving Isla Mujuere
Manchones Reef Diving Isla Mujuere
Manchones Reef Diving Isla Mujuere
Manchones Reef Diving Isla Mujuere
Manchones Reef Diving Isla Mujuere
Manchones Reef Diving Isla Mujuere
Manchones Reef Diving Isla Mujuere
Manchones Reef Diving Isla Mujuere
Manchones Reef Diving Isla Mujuere
Manchones Reef Diving Isla Mujuere
Manchones Reef Diving Isla Mujuere
Manchones Reef Diving Isla Mujuere
Manchones Reef Diving Isla Mujuere

More photos from the Manchones Reef:

Manchones Reef Diving Isla Mujuere
Manchones Reef Diving Isla Mujuere
Manchones Reef Diving Isla Mujuere
Manchones Reef Diving Isla Mujuere
Manchones Reef Diving Isla Mujuere
Manchones Reef Diving Isla Mujuere
Manchones Reef Diving Isla Mujuere
Manchones Reef Diving Isla Mujuere
Manchones Reef Diving Isla Mujuere

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January 11, 2014 at 4:19 pm Comments (9)

Isla Mujeres

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After 24 hours, we’d seen enough of Cancún and made our way to Isla Mujeres, just a half-hour by ferry off the coast. This island of around 12,000 people has made a name for itself as a sort of anti-Cancún. A place to relax, escape the crowds and bask in the simple joy of being on a gorgeous Caribbean island.

Isla Mujeres

Named for the numerous Maya goddess statues which the Spanish found here, Isla Mujeres (Island of the Women) isn’t exactly off the beaten path. In fact, we found it to be even more crowded with tourists than Cancún. But the vibe is totally different. People don’t hang out in their hotels, but at beach bars and cozy downtown cafes. There are fewer drunken frat boys and more dreadlocked rasta boys. Isla Mujeres is just a lot cooler, a lot more relaxed.

The island is small enough to comfortably handle in a couple days, but most visitors stay longer. And plenty end up staying forever. Isla Mujeres is popular with wealthy American expats, which comes with both positive and negative aspects. Better restaurants and services, perhaps, but there’s a palpable sense of pretentiousness. This isn’t Cancún, but you’ll still hear more English than Spanish on Isla Mujeres and, for all the hippy vibe, the best locations and properties are in the hands of rich foreigners. The locals have been shunted off farther south, farther inland.

We spent three nights on the island, which gave us plenty of time to see the highlights. Unfortunately the weather didn’t play along; we had torrential rains and a lot of our sightseeing had to be cut short. But overall, we came away with a positive impression of the tiny island.

Location on our Map

Great Hotels On Isla Mujeres

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January 9, 2014 at 6:43 pm Comments (3)
MUSA - An Underwater Museum Off Isla Mujeres We've been to plenty of strange museums during our travels around the world. An optical illusion museum in Busan. A bordello museum in Idaho. The Museum of Innocence in Istanbul and a phallological museum in Iceland. But there's a new contender for the title of most unique: the MUSA, an underwater museum found off the coast of Isla Mujeres.
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