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Best Wetsuit Thickness to Scuba Dive in the Riviera Maya?

wetsuit thickness
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When packing to come on a scuba diving vacation to Mexico, many people can worry about what wetsuit thickness will be best for the water here. The answer may not be as simple as you’d expect, and in this blog, we will alleviate your concerns and make sure you are prepared for a warm dive.     

Wetsuit Thickness Guide For Scuba Diving in Mexico

There’s absolutely nothing worse than being on a wonderful dive and then having to end it early because you are feeling cold! Although, the old adage goes – ‘Anyone can call a dive, at any time, for any reason,’ being cold is something you can be prepared for and can take steps not to happen. 

Many divers can feel confused about what wetsuit thickness to bring with them on a dive trip in the Riviera Maya

Do I need a 3mm wetsuit? A thicker 5mm? Or you may have seen people diving in only rashguards, and wonder if that is an option too!

Check out our top picks for wetsuits for women in 2023 if you’re interested in getting your own!

In all honesty, it depends greatly on the season, the amount of diving you’ll do, and where you are doing most of your dives (either ocean or cenotes)

Let’s take a look at the info!

What Wetsuit Thickness Do I Need for Scuba Diving?

So, there is no simple answer to this question, unfortunately. As every person is different, it is impossible to give a one-size-fits-all solution to wetsuit thickness. 

But we can let you know the variables that can affect which wetsuit would suit your needs best:


The first consideration is WHEN in the year you’ll be diving. If you are visiting Playa del Carmen in the summer, the ocean temperature is a balmy 30-31°C, which is warm enough to dive just in a rashguard for most people. 

Whereas in the winter,  ocean temperatures can drop as low as 27°C (and at times it has been recorded as even lower!) This doesn’t seem like such a drop, for prolonged and repetitive diving it can make a big difference. 

Repetitive Diving

We just mentioned repetitive diving, but what do we mean by this? Basically, nearly all dives by operators in Playa del Carmen are two tanks, meaning you get 2 dives, with a surface interval between them. It may be that for one dive you’d be okay to brave the cooler water with a thinner wetsuit (or no wetsuit at all) but during the second dive may be when you feel the cold more easily. 

For dive trips where you plan to dive on repeated days, then this chill can often be felt even more, so a wetsuit would be recommended.


For cenotes you might prefer a thicker wetsuit.

Surface Interval

Even if the water is warm, the weather and surface temperature can also make a big difference. It may be that the water is actually warmer than the air outside (with any wind chill factors that can contribute to the cold!)

Often when ocean diving, the wetsuit is needed more for the surface interval between the dives, rather than during the dives themselves. Bear this in mind too.

Dive Location

In the Riviera Maya, you have the option to dive in both the ocean and in cenotes. While the ocean temperature fluctuates, as mentioned earlier. The cenotes tend to stick at around 26°C all year round. 

If you’re planning on diving cenotes then you’ll definitely need a thicker wetsuit. 

Body Type 

Everyone has a different body type. It’s said that the slimmer you are, the more likely you are to need more insulation to keep warm when diving. There are also age factors and personal comfort that can affect you. 

Only YOU truly know how warm and cold you will feel, and it’s better to be more comfortable than too cold!


We have a variety of 3mm and 5mm wetsuits for our divers.

Do You NEED A Wetsuit To Dive In The Caribbean?

Lots of people contact us asking, ‘Can you scuba dive without a wetsuit?’ 

Firstly, there is no obligation to wear a wetsuit on most dives in the Riviera Maya. The only time when wetsuits are obligatory is during bull shark season when going on a shark observation dive. In that instance, a BLACK wetsuit is required (or as dark as possible – check with your dive operator if you are unsure).

Many people are more tolerant to heat and cold, and may find that just their swimwear and a rashguard are sufficient. We would recommend a wetsuit for any wreck and cenote dive though.

Check out our top picks for wetsuits for women in 2023 if you’re interested in getting your own!

What Is The Warmest Wetsuit Thickness For Scuba Diving?

Most scuba wetsuits come in three thicknesses, 3mm, 5mm, and 7mm.  The thicker the wetsuit is, the more insulation it provides to keep you warm. 

It’s generally best to wear a 3mm in the summer, and a 5mm for winter diving or for cenote diving. You can always ‘add’ a little extra warmth by wearing a hooded vest and dive leggings under your suit (and these can also help you to put your wetsuit on in the first place!)

In Mexico, you’ll unlikely need a 7mm (unless you are like DivePoint Instructor Chrissy who wears a 7mm even in the summer!) if you are here for vacation diving. 

Saying that, if you are coming for many days of cave exploration, a 7mm, or even a drysuit might be preferable for those long cave hours.


What About a Shortie Wetsuit?

A shortie wetsuit is a name for a wetsuit that usually has shorter sleeves and cuts off about the knees. It gives you insulation around your core, but leaves your arms and legs free.

Some people prefer this type of wetsuit for some warmth, but remember, that a long wetsuit also protects you from scratches and scrapes too.


Some people dive in a shortie, and Chrissy has 2 full suits!

Do Wetsuits Help You Float?

Yes! Depending on your wetsuit it will affect your buoyancy. A thicker wetsuit makes you more buoyant, and you will need more weight for diving to maintain a perfect trim. 

New wetsuits, especially, are extra buoyant and you may need even more weight than anticipated during your first few dives with a newer wetsuit.

Do You Wear Anything Under A Wetsuit? 

It’s always best to wear swimwear underneath a wetsuit. This is because there aren’t really many places to change, and swimwear allows you to keep your modesty in front of a boat full of divers! 

Even saying that, it’s still worth wearing swimsuits that are supportive and comfortable, rather than a ‘fashion’ bikini with fancy ties and barely-there fabric, as you don’t want to unzip a suit and find out your swimsuit isn’t covering you anymore!

Men can also find it more comfortable to wear a tighter speedo style short or swimsuit, as they don’t ‘bunch up’ as much when pulling the wetsuit over the top. 

Other Reasons to Wear a Wetsuit

As well as keeping you warm, wetsuits also provide you with protection from any irritants that you may come across during the dive. There can be types of coral, fish, and jellyfish (some of them microscopic) that can be found in the oceans, which could cause a nasty sting or irritation on your skin.  

This is also true when diving into a wreck. Although it’s hoped your buoyancy is good enough not to bash into things, a wetsuit will help keep you from scraping your exposed skin on any protruding surfaces or objects.

Do I Need To Have My Own Wetsuit? 

Not at all! When you dive with DivePoint, you have the option of bringing your own equipment or renting equipment from us. 

We have a range of ladies, mens, and unisex wetsuits available in all different sizes to rent for your dives. Most of our suits are either 3mm or 5mm, and we will bring the one we think will fit your needs the best during your dive day. 

If you’re thinking of getting your own wetsuit, check out our ‘Best Wetsuits for Women’ post for our top picks!


We hope you liked this blog post on ‘Wetsuit Thickness Guide for Playa del Carmen’. 

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