The first time I traveled by ferry to Isla Mujeres back in 1993, I was floored by the different colors of blue, ranging from a whitish blue, to bright teal, intense turquoise to a deep, royal blue in the water between Cancun and Isla Mujeres.
Years later, my college roommate and his wife visited and I knew I had to take them to Isla. “My God, Andrew, look at that water,” were the first words that he said when he saw it.
The body of water is called the Bahia de Mujeres, and it seems that every second you travel in it the colors change…it’s a natural underwater colored light show.
But Why Is It?
This is what we’ll attempt to explore here and offer up these reasons…
Why Blue? Why not Red or Green or Purple?
Water molecules, by nature, absorb reds, greens, oranges, and yellows, but reflect and refract a blue color. When sunlight hits the ocean, some of the light is reflected back directly but most of it penetrates the ocean surface and interacts with the water molecules that it encounters.
The red, orange, yellow, and green wavelengths of light are absorbed so that the remaining light we see is composed of the shorter wavelength blues. The quality and color of light hitting the water affects this equation as well, so what happens above also enters into the discussion. Science.
In deep water, there is no reflection off the sea floor because most of the sun’s rays are absorbed by the water itself on the way down. This is why oceans can be so very dark. Varying depths of water can account for color differences.
All About the Base…the Sea floor
As the water depth decreases and the light is able to penetrate all the way to the bottom, the makeup of the floor becomes a factor in determining water color. For example, the white Caribbean sand (you know, that powdery white stuff you find on the beaches here?) and coral reefs reflect light differently than the fine sands found in oceans, lakes or rivers.
These differences in absorption and reflection affect visibility as well as color. Fortunately, the waters in the Bahia de Mujeres have fabulous visibility.
Light in the water can also be absorbed by things suspended or floating in the water. Microorganisms living in the water also consume light. Particles and organisms found in the water, like phytoplankton, for example, contain chlorophyll that absorbs red and blue light and reflects green.
If a high concentration exists in one area, the water will take on a green hue. The more there are, the greener the water will appear.
Considering the fact that our area is a feeding ground for whale sharks and other plankton-feeding fish, this theory can hold some water. Pun intended.
These factors—quality of light from above, depth, floor makeup, and life in the water interact to produce whatever color we happen to see. The same principles apply to other bodies of water, like lakes, craters, and rivers. It’s all about what’s above, in and under the water.
No matter the science, if there is something we can all agree on it’s that the water between Cancun and Isla is indeed special, and it’s not to be missed while on holiday to our area.
The absolute best way to live these unbelievably beautiful different colors of turquoise is by being right there on the water itself. And there is no better way than being on the water than by spending a day on it on the Moana.
The Moana is a 40-foot long Fountaine Pajot sailing catamaran loaded with all the bells and whistles you need to spend some quality time out on the water with friends and family. Owner Patrick Jouault, with an extensive background in catering and fine wines, will pamper you and your guests. He knows EXACTLY where to see the most beautiful water in the Bahia.
Find out how easy and affordable it is to charter a day trip out on the Moana and the adventures you and yours can enjoy aboard. E-mail this beautiful Cancun catamaran directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (52) 998 734 8568 today.
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Salud… and enjoy the blue waters of the Mexican Caribbean! Remember, you’re on Vacation!