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10 Things to Do in Cozumel, México (In Addition to Scuba Diving)
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Underwater Tourism: Is the Future of Travel in the Depths?

If you want to see the Chichen Itza pyramid, you must venture into the Mexican jungle; if you want to see the world’s second-largest reef, you must engage in underwater tourism. And many want to.

The first time I engaged in deep-sea tourism, I chose the crystal-clear waters of Cozumel. As a first-time diver, I hoped to find something special, but I never imagined the spectacle I was about to discover. As I ventured onto the reef, I encountered a splendid Cozumel toadfish, a creature I had only seen in photos. Its colorful appearance and the strange protrusions adorning its body made it seem like something out of a dream.

But I saw not just a unique fish; around it, coral columns rose majestically, forming a refuge for an incredible variety of marine life. Eagle rays passed overhead, while a loggerhead turtle, with its presence, added a touch of majesty to the environment. Underwater tourism had completely won me over.

And I’m not alone; the numbers speak for themselves. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves; first, take a look at the table of contents.

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1. What Is Underwater Tourism?

Underwater tourism is the gateway to a universe of wonders beneath the waves, where colorful fish, coral reefs, and fascinating creatures await. Several keys facilitate entry. We can turn the doorknob of scuba diving, snorkeling, or trips in submarines with large windows. Even boat rides with glass bottoms or underwater restaurants can be considered part of deep-sea  tourism, as they allow observation of what lies beneath the waters.

Underwater tourism is a growing industry, with new technologies and services constantly being developed. It turns new destinations into tourist spots and generates thousands of jobs.

According to a study by Mintel, the realm of underwater tourism, predominantly associated with diving, is a sector valued at between 20 and 30 billion dollars, while tourism focused on coral reefs contributes approximately 35.4 billion dollars annually to global tourism figures.

With over 25 million people certified as divers in more than 200 nations, deep-sea tourism encompasses more than just autonomous diving, as other activities have emerged that play a significant role in its growth. Among these activities are snorkeling, shark diving, luxury submarine trips, and even hotels, restaurants, and new forms of submarine tourism.

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2. Types of underwater tourism



Scubanomics estimates that there are around 6 million active divers, in addition to numerous snorkeling enthusiasts, free divers, rebreather divers, and technical divers who explore sunken wrecks, engage in cave diving, or enjoy the company of whales and sea turtles.

Moreover, there is a growing trend of merging underwater tourism with art, as seen in the Cancun Underwater Museum of Art in Mexico, inaugurated in 2010, or the Museum of Underwater Art in Australia (MOUA), which tells the story of the Great Barrier Reef and the challenges it faces. In addition to contemporary attractions, there are underwater archaeological sites in places like the Red Sea or Truk Lagoon, which attract divers interested in exploring ancient submerged cities and historical relics.



Jules Undersea Lodge, located in Key Largo, Florida, is recognized as the pioneer among underwater hotels worldwide. Opened in 1986, this establishment submerges to a depth of 9 meters underwater, offering a unique experience. Visitors have the opportunity to access the hotel through a dive in the Emerald Lagoon or by land.

The Under, Underwater restaurant in Norway was born in 2019, and its menu is based on the flora and fauna of the southern coast of the Nordic country, besides being an observatory of the marine life in the area.

The Undersea Restaurant – Located at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island hotel, offers a 360-degree view of the coral reef and marine life of the Indian Ocean.

These types of establishments are bringing more people closer to the underwater world.


Submarine Tourism and Submersible Rides:

These experiences offer tourists the opportunity to immerse themselves while traveling in submarines with windows or wearing a diver suit with a glass helmet.

Now, a tourist can choose to hike through a reef. Of course, they need to wear protective gear, and a glass helmet, and be connected to the surface by breathing tubes.

Submarine tourism in a transparent submersible may also include visits to historical or archaeological sites.

The problem with these types of experiences is that they tend to be expensive and primarily targeted toward individuals with high purchasing power.

3. The Future Of Submarine Tourism

Although many consider these sophisticated submarines to represent the future of underwater exploration because:

  • They do not require training or previous experience in diving or swimming
  • They operate silently, not disturbing wildlife
  • They run on electric batteries, making them very sustainable.
  • They present the inconvenience of being high-priced.

However, despite the high costs traditionally being a barrier to entry, underwater tourism is experiencing a “democratization,” becoming more accessible to a broader audience. This is partly due to investment in new technologies and the creation of adequate infrastructures.

Undoubtedly, this growth also entails the responsibility of ensuring that the activity develops sustainably, protecting fragile marine ecosystems, and educating new generations about the importance of their conservation.

Nobody would want to engage in underwater tourism to see a garbage dump.

The key to sustainable development of deep-sea tourism lies in the education and empowerment of local communities and governments.

New underwater tourism projects involve integrating environmental education into their experiences, raising awareness about the threats facing the oceans and their inhabitants. Diving and research centers work together to show visitors the effects of climate change, pollution, and overfishing, inspiring them to become guardians of the environment.

In summary, underwater tourism offers a unique opportunity to explore the depths of the ocean and connect with nature. However, it is crucial that this development takes place sustainably, educating tourists about the importance of conservation and working together to protect marine ecosystems for future generations.