Shimmering in the liquid blue light just off idyllic Isla Mujeres, Mexico, is a remarkable work of art unlike any you’ve ever seen: Jason deCaires Taylor's La Evolución Silenciosa. The marvelously detailed piece, hidden just beneath the Caribbean, includes more than 400 life-sized human figures, alive with lobsters, urchins, eels, and all kinds of colorful fish, for whom the underwater sculpture is truly intended.
The unique “museum” is part of the National Marine Park of Isla Mujeres, an undersea monument easily accessible to divers and snorkelers on day trips from Cancún. The marine-grade cement pieces were specifically designed and placed to form a permanent coral reef, helping to replace what mankind has destroyed. Installed between four and eight meters (13 and 26 feet) deep, in three waves, the first group of sculptures—Hombre en Llamas (Man on Fire), La Jardinera de la Esperanza (The Gardener of Hope), and El Coleccionista de los Sueños Perdidos (The Archive of Lost Dreams)—has already been colonized by fire and other corals, as well as the endangered wildlife that call them home.
The long-suffering, natural Manchones Reef that the marine park was set aside to protect simply needed some relief from the endless crowds of sunscreen slathered visitors, and in a popular tourist destination like Cancún, this is hard to come by. But Taylor’s fantastic project is leagues ahead of other conservation initiatives, and tackles the problem by luring tour groups away from the fragile mother reef with an attraction fit for Neptune’s palace, rather than simply asking them to tread lightly.
The final installation of Taylor’s fantastic sculpture garden, “Currents of Change,” was inaugurated in December 2010, and is now open to the public. You must have a registered guide to visit the Museo Subaquático de Arte, which can be enjoyed from glass-bottomed boats or as part of various snorkeling and diving tours, including those offered here at Viator.