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Dive Review of Cabo Pulmo Beach Resort in
Mexico (Western)/Cabo Pulmo

Cabo Pulmo Beach Resort, Nov, 2011,

by Brent Barnes, OK, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 10 reports with 3 Helpful votes). Report 6326.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving [Unspecified]
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy Seas choppy
Water Temp 76 to 81 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 40 to 60 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Strict limits on dive time generally limited to 40 - 45 minutes
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 2 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 2 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities 4 stars
UW Photo Comments The boats are quite small with no designated room for cameras. No rinse bucket. If multiple divers have large camera set-ups there is simply not room for them in a protected area.

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 3 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling 3 stars
Value for $$ 3 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments This was our first visit to the Baja region, and based on reports I had read about the Cabo Pulmo marine park we were very excited about the diving. We highly prefer to go to dive destinations with great diving, few people and with small numbers of divers on the boat and a quiet atmosphere so chose to stay at the quiet Cabo Pulmo Beach Resort based on previous reports about the resort and operation. In short, there were both many positive and also negative aspects regarding our trip. Overall, we were disappointed with the diving but were intrigued enough regarding several dives that we will likely plan a return visit.
We flew into to Cabo San Lucas. The airport is modern and easy to get through. Renting a car was surpisingly easy. I had made reservations for a small SUV for four days and we were quickly able to get our Jeep from Avis just off the airport grounds through a shuttle. The drive to Cabo Pulmo was 1 1/2 hours and was very easy with little traffic. It was very scenic and the roads were very good. The last six miles or so is gravel but easily passable even with a small car. If you plan on cooking you will need to stop and buy groceries in Cabo San Lucas or in La Ribera, which is the last small town on the way to Cabo Pulmo. There is a VERY small store in Cabo Pulmo which does not even have the basics for cooking. We did no cooking at all and just got a few snacks which we really did not need as the food was plentiful and easily available for meals. You will need an ice cooler if you buy any groceries that need to remain cool as the propane fueled refrigerators do not stay cool and ours had a very bad smell so we elected not to use it at all. We stayed in a Villa Casita which was a very nice 650 square foot palapa roofed casita with a kitchenette, a small dining room and small bedroom with a queen bed. There was also a futon that pulled out into a full sized bed. The casita had a single bathroom also. The casita was very nice and clean. We were very concerned about the lack of air-conditiong and possible loss of electricity at night as the entire village runs on solar power only. We brought battery operated fans but found we really only needed them on one night. We left all the windows with screens open all day and all night and found the breeze to largely cool the casita at night to comfortable temperatures. I suspect in July or August the heat at night may be more of an issue. The resort does have a small number of units with air-conditioning for the hot summer and fall months though those units were sold out when we were there. The casita had its own very small fenced off yard with an outdoor table and barbecue grill and a hammock. There was an upstairs balcony area with a table and chairs also. The casita had a very large covered and enclosed outdoor area in the back which is perfect for divers. It has multiple areas to hang wet gear. The shower for the casita is outside in this enclosed area. While the outdoor shower is beatuiful as it is surrounded by multiple flowering trees overgowing the walls around it, it could be uncomfortably cold at times. The shower was refreshing in the heat of the day, but when showering after sunset or in the morning when the air temperature was in the low 70's and with a brisk breeze it could be uncomfortable. The shower water was warm but not hot. Thus, taking a shower could sometimes be cold.
The diving was overall disappointing, but some of this was likely beyond control. A northener came in with strong winds making the exposed Cabo Pulmo marine park very difficult to dive with the smaller boats. As a result, our first two days we did 4 dives each day in Las Frailes which is a more protected bay about 5 miles south of Cabo Pulmo. Las Frailes is at the fringe of the marine park and we found the diving there to be poor. The only dive of note in Las Frailes was the Sea Lion Colony which is a large protected rock which generally has a large number of sea lions. We dove that site twice and had opportunities for many nice photographs of the sea lions frolicking in the water. The only other site of note was Canyons which was a deeper site in which we did see three white-tip reef sharks. We dove one site, Rincon, four times and there simply was not much to see. We finally decided that if the weather would not allow us to dive in Cabo Pulmo and we would have to dive Las Frailes for a third straight day we would likely skip the dives. There are simply not many sites in Las Frailes and it is good for one full day of diving at best. Fortunately, the winds died down somewhat the third day allowing us to dive in Cabo Pulmo.
Our first dive in Cabo Pulmo was Mario's Reef which also was a huge disappointment. Reportedly, it is a deep area in a sand patch with not much to see but a couple of weeks prior the divemasters had been able to attract up to 8 bull sharks by taking platic bottles underwater and crunching them. We dropped in over nothing but sand and crunched bottles but no sharks came. There is literally nothing else to see at all except the sand, there is a small nearby reef but we never got to it and literally saw nothing but sand with some starfish for the entire dive. To that point, the entire dive trip had been a major disappointment, but the last two dives ended with a bang and were superb. Our final two dives were at El Bajo de Los Moros which is one of the more famous sites at Cabo Pulmo. The site was stunning for its large amount of big fish. Most notably, there was an enormous school of thousands of large jacks which were quite friendly and would allow you to easily penetrate into the school. I have dove the famous Dirty Rock in Cocos Island which has an enormmous school of jacks that is slightly larger than the one here, but the school at this site in Cabo Pulmo was much friendlier and would allow you to enter into their swirling school formations for incredible photographs. In addition to the jacks, there were large schools of hundreds of rainbow runners and also hundreds of large snappers. There were also many large grouper and many guineafowl puffers. This site was far and away the fishiest site I have ever dove and reportedly it is like that almost all the time. We did not get to do any other sites inside the Cabo Pulmo marine park. Based off of our last two dives of the trip, we are interested in returning to see if the other sites in Cabo Pulmo are so good. Again, we would not be interested in diving Las Frailes again after doing 8 dives there.
We dove with the Cabo Pulmo Beach Resort dive shop and there were many positives and negatives regarding their operation. On the positive side, all of the divemasters were friendly and helpful and enthusiastic. They meet at the dive shop at 9 AM, though your first dive will not actually begin until after 10 AM so there are no early morning dives and the operation is very laid back. On the negative side, I had not read anything about strict dive time limits in previous reports but we had very strict time limits on our dives with limits of 40 or 45 minutes. By law, you must dive with a divemaster in the park and they want the entire group to descend and ascend together. We had multiple dives of 40 minutes and one that was 29 minutes and multiple dives in which we had to ascend with over 1,500 PSI still in our tank. One divemaster, Isaac, was almost mechanical in that once the dive time hit 37 minutes he was banging on his tank signaling everyone to ascend for the 3 minute safety stop even if everyone had large amounts of air left or were actively engaged in photos of something special. Other divemasters gave a few minutes leeway but the restricted dive times and finishing dives with over 1500 PSI were annoying. Nitrox is offered, but based off of our experience of dives being extremely limited to 40 minutes there would not be much reason to pay the extra for nitrox. Entries from the boat were done as simultaneous back-rolls by all divers as the boats are so small that if only one side entered at a time the boat would risk turning over due to weight shifting. Entry back on to the boat was extremely annoying to me. Because the boats were so small, everyone was required to ascend to the surface at the same time and then one-by-one each diver would have to hand up their camera, weight belt, fins and BCD. However, nobody was allowed to get back on the boat until ALL divers had done this and the captain and divemaster had switched over tanks for the second dive. This is not a big deal in calm water, but this process could take up to 10 minutes if there were a full 6 - 7 divers and if the water was very choppy it could make for very uncomfortable time bobbing on the surface in waves and surge waiting to board back on the boat. To make it worse, no side or tag lines were thrown for divers who had already handed up their BCDs to hold on to. Per the operation, the boats are too small to go through the process of changing tanks with the divers back on the boat. My answer to this is that the operation needs to either get larger and more stable boats or limit their boats to four divers or so. Also, on our last 2-tank afternoon dive the second dive was simply cancelled due to the increasing wind and waves. This was fine, but we were not offered any discount on our cost for a 2-tank dive though in fairness I never approached the shop about cutting the cost or pushed the issue. Finally, the boats are quite small and they advertise six divers maximum but we had several days in which we had seven divers with every diver having large camera equipment. There simply was not space and it was very crowded and made for some tense moments of cameras nearly being stepped on. The size of the boats are more geared to four divers. No rinse buckets or protected areas for large cameras were available.
Finally, the food at the Coral Reef at Cabo Pulmo Beach Resort was very good and reasonably priced. Lunches were $7 - $9 with a soft drink. The dive shop has implemented a nice process for divers doing morning and afternoon dives in which you can pre-order your lunch before you leave in the morning and they will have it ready for you when you return. For dinners, I would highly recommend eating at Nancy's next door though it is more pricey with an appetizer, entree and desert likely being $25 - $30 altogether. Tito's was excellent for mexican seafood and cheaper than Nancy's.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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