Ah, Cancun. The sun. The beaches. The shopping. The tequila shots. The drunken college kids on spring break. The massive underwater sculpture park?
Even those familiar with the attractions Cancun offers above sea level will soon to be surprised at what they can find underneath it: a museum.
The project, abstractly named “The Silent Evolution,” is not the first underwater sculpture park some sources claim it to be—that distinction goes to a set of sculptures off the coast of Grenada. However Cancun’s sub-aquatic offering will easily be the world’s largest. By the time it opens to the public—either late 2010 or early 2011—it will contain more than 400 sculptures.
The sculptures that comprise this waterfull exhibit will be placed at a variety of depths. Many will be accessible to snorkelers. Some will be viewable from glass-bottom boats. (We suspect there will be no shortage of local companies offering tours). But the cool way to explore the whole of the sculpture garden is to scuba dive.
The primary purpose of the sculpture garden is environmental. The sculptures are made from a special concrete that’s PH neutral and anti-corrosive. The idea being that the sculptures will eventually form artificial corals and support a variety of marine life. There’s also hope that the touristic value of the underwater sculpture garden will draw people away from the over-visited and severely degraded natural corals of the nearby West Coast National Park.
The concept behind Cancun’s underwater museum is undeniably cool. The artistic value of the sculptures, well, that’s more debatable. Virtually all the sculptures feature life-sized casts of humans. Some are posed in artistic arrangements (like the ring of standing figures in the top photo). But most sculptures resemble stone people in everyday situations: lying asleep, riding a bicycle, typing on a keyboard and so on. The whole thing is like an underwater version of lava-hardened city of Pompeii. To us it’s all very creepy.
Still, the Cancun underwater sculpture park is not the creepiest place we’ve seen in Mexico. That honor goes to the Isla De Las Muñecas—the Island of Dolls.
Where to stay: At the time of writing the Hilton Cancun Golf & Spa Resort had rooms for between an absurdly cheap US$69 and a more-than-reasonable $105 per night. We are also fans of the five-star Le Meridien. As for budget options, there’s no beating the communal feel and and bargain-basement rates of the Hostel Quetzal.
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