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Manchones spot is home to a coral reef and one of the three galleries of the MUSA, Cancun’s famous underwater museum. The museum, which has nearly 500 sculptures, is worth a detour, but the snorkeling experience can be disappointing due to the depth (25ft/8m on average), the compulsory wearing of a floating vest and the overcrowding of the spot.

The Silent Evolution sculptures, MUSA
The Silent Evolution, created by Jason deCaires Taylor, represents 400 life-sized sculptures of people.

How to go snorkeling at Manchones Reef and Underwater Museum

The Manchones Gallery of the MUSA is located about 1km southwest of Isla Mujeres. There are dozens of half-day or day tours to go snorkeling there, mostly departing from Cancun and Isla Mujeres.

Tours often include other activities or services (buffet, open bar, etc.). Prices start at around $40 for a half-day snorkeling tour.

MUSA snorkeling map, Isla Mujeres

Water entrance for snorkeling the MUSA & Manchones Reef

You will enter the water from your boat. Wearing a life jacket is compulsory on this spot, which is protected by a National Park. Some tours also ask participants to hold on to a rope attached to the back of the boat, during the whole snorkeling session.

MUSA & Manchones Reef snorkeling exploration tips

This spot is made up of two adjacent areas:

1 / A MUSA gallery, called “Salon Machones” (Manchones Gallery), which has nearly 470 underwater sculptures (↕6-8m).

It is the largest of the museum’s three galleries. Among the most iconic sculptures in this gallery are The Silent Evolution, which is a collection of over 400 life-size human sculptures.

Anthropocene, which is a sculpture depicting a Volkswagen Beetle car with a man curled up on the windshield. Lastly, is Bacab, a more abstract installation appearing almost like a turtle from the top. Each statue creates habitat areas for marine life to colonize, and attracts many fish and invertebrates around.

Volkswagen Beetle sculpure at Isla Mujeres MUSA
Anthropocene is a life-size Volkswagen Beetle with many little holes in the windows, that acts as attractive homes to lobsters and other crustaceans.

2 / A pretty deep natural coral reef (↕4-6m), known as Manchones Reef. The reef is mostly in good condition, with healthy elkhorn coral, fire corals, and gorgonians.

Grunt, groupers, angelfish, and parrotfish are some of the most commonly spotted species on the reef, but you’ll have to observe them from the surface. Closer to the surface, many yellowtail snappers, bar jack, and Bermuda chubs are seen swimming around snorkelers.

Manchones coral reef, Isla Mujeres
Manchones reef hosts nice elkhorn coral.

Restaurants and accommodation nearby

Most boat trips include snacks, refreshments and/or meals (breakfast or lunch depending on the time of the tour). Find out what the tour includes when you book.


MAP Spot

These spots are accessible to anyone with basic snorkeling skills, and feeling comfortable in the water and with his snorkeling gear. You will enter the water from the shore (beach, pontoon, ladder, rocks) or from a boat. The water height in the sea entrance area is reasonable, but you will not necessarily be within your depth. Moderate currents can occur in the area, even when the sea conditions are good. The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas of the spot does not exceed 200 meters.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.