It is impressive to see big objects underwater as wrecks. It is even more impressive to see how nature slowly but surely takes over. Not to mention how corals populate every viable spot for growth.
In some of the shipwrecks around Isla Mujeres, is possible to penetrate and swim through the hull. Admittedly, it is a strange feeling, flying through the corridors and empty cargo bays of a shipwreck. It is not until you get back outside the wreck that you can appreciate how long it has been sitting on the ocean floor.
First Shipwreck Dive
There is nothing quite as exciting as wreck diving for the first time! When you descend to the wreck, you can begin to make out the silhouette of the wreck. It is not until you are close enough that you realize how truly massive they are.
Then, look up and see numerous Spotted Eagle Rays soaring above you. Occasionally you peer into the hatch of the shipwreck and look into the eyes of the deep sea creatures who reside within.
Diving in a shipwreck is a fascinating experience. There is a kind of aura that surrounds these dive sites. It creates an interesting mystery factor, full of surprising life and adventurous spirit.
Sounds like an epic dive plan? Or just another day diving off the coast of Isla Mujeres?
Coral usually grows on the bright side of the wreck. It takes the higher ground to be able to feed on the constant supply of water and nutrients.
You can observe that corals differ greatly depending on the part of the wreck they settle in. For example, fire coral and hard corals settle on the side of the wreck were the current is generally stronger. Which leaves the less current struck areas to house more of the soft corals like sponges and fans
Inside the wreck however, there is not much coral. It is usually so clean due to the lack of light.
Wrecks are important fish aggregators. They increment the biomass of the site and more importantly, they create shelter for many species.
Most Common Shipwrecks Around Isla Mujeres & Cancun
The C-58 Gunboat Shipwreck
There are several wrecks around Isla Mujeres & Cancun. Every single one has particular characteristics, from great depth to good visibility or level of difficulty. Certainly, the wrecks located just off the coast of Cancun really stand out from the rest because of their size and history.
The C- 58 is probably the most popular wreck on the area. This wreck is also just a short ride from Isla Mujeres or Cancun, which makes it a convenient dive spot!
The C-55 Mine Sweeper Shipwreck
The C-55 wreck has an incredible layout, it is divided into four pieces. It feels almost like an underwater amusement park! The engine lays in the middle and has an impressive marine life catalog.
Most of our surprise encounters with giant turtles, dolphins and reef sharks happen around the C-55 Shipwreck!
The Ultrafreeze Shipwreck
Also known as El Frio, the Ultrafreeze Shipwreck is the wreck furthest east on the Caribbean side of Isla Mujeres. It is an interesting shipwreck because it is the oldest and it is close to the deep ocean drop off. It offers a wide array from marine life.
Divers have spotted giant sea turtles, grouper, big mantas and other very large fish. The site is popular among researchers and underwater photographers.
The Chairel Shipwreck
The Chariel Shipwreck was a car ferry that sunk around 1999. After it sunk, it flipped on its hull. Now the wreck sits upside down. It is reported that the boat functioned for some time as a restaurant in the early 90s.
Currently, the wreck is dominated by Lion Fish. It is a great place to see Barracudas, Sea Cucumbers, French Angel Fish, Groupers and Snappers.
The Hondureño Shipwreck
Just off the back side of the Island, we have another shipwreck. It is located 2 short miles from the North Beach of Isla Mujeres. A quick 25 minute boat ride and you will arrive at the wreck of a 50ft steel shrimp boat. The Hondureño tried to outrun one of the greatest hurricanes that the island has ever known.
Hondureño sank battling the waves of Hurricane Gilbert that hit the Island in 1988. What remains has become home to Snappers, Nurse Sharks and Parrot Fish.