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Bucket List: A Completely Underwater Museum in Mexico

Just a 20-minute ferry ride from Cancun sits a 4.7 mile-long island known as “Isla Mujeres.” And right off the coast of Isla Mujeres is something spectacular: one of the largest underwater art attractions in the world.

The amazing 400 underwater sculptures sit on a relatively shallow ocean floor, so divers, snorkelers, and glass-bottom boat riders can all appreciate the museum’s truly wondrous offerings. You’ll experience a special combo of nature and art, as the sculptures are made from a special coral-friendly cement. Over the years, various aquatic plants and animals have made the museum their official home. That’s a cool place to live if we’ve ever heard one!

So how did these sculptures get down there — and more importantly, why? Turns out that the families that live on Isla Mujeres have been offering up-close-and-personal tours of their famous, beautiful coral reefs for decades. Unfortunately, the tours were a little too good, and so much activity around the reef wasn’t good for the the coral ecosystem.

Obviously, closing Cancún Marine Park didn’t seem like a great option, but they needed a way to divert the divers away from the endangered reef. Eventually, a solution was found: they would build one of the largest underwater art attractions in the world. When tourists and divers shifted their focus to the art, the natural reef system was able to regenerate and grow again. Pretty smart, guys.

Sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor based many of the sculptures on local residents, which now look extra funky with the schools of fish and plant life growing out of them. Imagine swimming past sculptures of a 3-year-old boy, an accountant, or an 85-year-old nun! Take a few laps around a recreation of the Last Supper, check out sleeping 67-year-old Charlie Brown (the only resident to fall asleep during the molding process), and be sure not to miss the purple coral wings growing out of the Phoenix.

This is something you’ve just gotta see to believe. Hop on the ferry, jump into the warm clear waters, pick your favorite statue and enjoy!