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

November, 2011, an Instant Reader Report by Brent Barnes, OK, US
Sr. Reviewer   (10 reports, with 3 Helpful votes)
Report Number 6326
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, windy  
Water Temp
76   to 81    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
40   to 60    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Strict limits on dive time generally limited to 40 - 45 minutes  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
1 or 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  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  
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):
3 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
5 stars
Dive Operation
3 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
3 stars    
3 stars   
3 stars    
     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
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