The dive site is an artificial reef created by a sunken old cargo ship, which now serves as a home for a variety of marine life. The ship lies in depths between 68 – 100 feet (21 – 30 meters), making it accessible for advanced divers only. The average visibility at the site is around 65 – 82 feet (20 – 25 meters).
Divers can explore the ship’s deck, cabins, and holds and witness the thriving marine life that inhabits the wreck. Schools of tropical fish, octopus, and moray eels are commonly found on the wreck.
The ship’s structure, railings, and other details provide plenty of opportunities for divers to take photographs and videos. The dive site is also a popular spot for night diving, as many species of marine life, including crayfish and octopus, can be spotted at night.
About the Mama Vina cargo shipwreck in Playa del Carmen
Exploring the majestic depths of shipwrecks is a riveting experience, particularly in the Riviera Maya. One such destination is Playa del Carmen’s “Mama Viña”. The old shrimp boat was intentionally sunk in 1995 as a snorkeling and diving site to enrich scuba diving in Playa del Carmen. It now serves as an enchanting habitat for aquatic life. The artificial reef created a vibrant coral carpet on the shipwreck’s surface and teeming schools of silver-colored fish inside Mama Vina’s belly.
Furthermore, on most dives, we can see a green moral eel and barracuda. On occasion, divers spot morays and lobsters. Lobsters are active at night and therefore chances increase during a spectacular night dive.
The dive plan
Located in the Mexican Caribbean, this shipwreck rests nearly intact at a depth of 68 to 100 feet (21 – 30 m) with its bow facing directly into the south-north current.
Divers decent through at times strong currents. As soon as you see the outline of the shrimp boat, you will feel excited. The wreck is fairly small and therefore you have opportunities to circle the Mama Vina.
As you swim around the boat, a strong current will be evident from the back of the vessel toward its bow. Though it may require some extra kicking, pushing through is worth the effort.
At the stern of the boat lies an access point leading into a single room commonly occupied by small fish. When your dive comes to an end, and you begin surfacing, take advantage of what remains from those currents and follow along with them as they naturally guide you up towards shallow depths where schools upon schools of jacks and barracuda often appear in droves.
The dive takes about 40 to 50 minutes in total. The visibility is usually 65 – 82 feet/20 – 25 meters.
Mama Vina shipwreck dive site brief
- Access: From the boat
- Maximum depth: 68 – 100 feet/ 21 – 30 meters
- Visibility: 65 – 82 feet/ 20 – 25 meters
- Dive time: 40 – 50 minutes
- Current: Strong to ripping
- Certification level: Advanced Open Water
- Water temperature: 77F/ 25C
- Type: Wreck dive, drift dive
What certification is required to dive the Playa del Carmen shipwreck?
Divers must obtain the Advanced Open Water certification level. Not only, is this dive a shipwreck, but also a deep dive at 65+ feet (20+ meters). Furthermore, strong currents make this a rather challenging dive spot.
What’s to see at the Mama Vina shipwreck?
The shipwreck is now an artificial reef with coral formations on the surface. Inside the ship’s belly, there are schools of silverfish.
Furthermore, regular sights of turtles, rays, nurse sharks, barracuda, and eels are reported. Occasionally, octopus makes their way to visit Mama Vina, too.
Uncover the mysteries of this shipwreck by submerging into its storied chambers. Consider pairing this dive with a journey to Barracuda/Sabalos Reef, located south of Playa del Carmen—there you will uncover an array of wild caving and coral gardens teeming with moray eels and thousands of fish! Plus, if fortune is on your side, you may even catch a glimpse of our local nurse sharks. I also highly recommend checking out Shark Point to find bull sharks in their natural habitat during the winter months.