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Dive Review of Dolphin Divers/Desert Inn, Loreto in
Mexico (Western)/Baja California Sur

August, 2009, an Instant Reader Report by Paddy Ryan, CO, USA
Reviewer   (4 reports)
Report Number 5118
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
Over 1000 dives
Where else diving
Belize, Cozumel, Indonesia, Niue, Samoa, New Zealand, Solomon Islands,
Fiji, Australia, Bahamas, Washington, Cook Islands
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, dry  
Water Temp
68   to 82    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
30   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Once our divemaster was confident we were competent divers the experienced
divers were pretty much free to dive their own profiles.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
1 or 2 
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  1 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  4 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
5 stars  
Shore Facilities  
5 stars  
Camera housing were treated with respect and typically were placed on
cushions on the floor of the boat near the boat driver.

There were no rinse facilities on board but really, how important is this?
I've never had a camera flood because of o-ring damage from salt crystals
and I seriously question whether the situation really arises. A good rinse
in the swimming pool followed by the shower took away residual salt.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
5 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
4 stars   
5 stars    
I drove down from Denver, Colorado. This was a 3-day drive. Once we cleared
Ensenada, traffic density dropped off and the drive was fabulous. There is
some wonderful stuff to be seen here ... Boojum trees, giant cardon cacti
and elephant trees. Stay at the Desert Inn at Catavina to break the drive.
We stayed at the Desert Inn in Loreto on arrival. Most of our group flew in
on Air Alaska from LAX.

The diving was fabulous. We didn't actually see mantas but we did snorkel
with hundreds, if not thousands of Mobula rays. Males regularly leaped out
of the water. Sometimes so many were doing this that it sounded like
popcorn popping in the microwave. Our divemaster, Rafael, was marvelous, he
was always willing to allow us to snorkel with mobulas, dolphins or pilot
whales on the way to the dive sites. It didn't bother him that this pushed
out the time he got back to the dive shop.

We almost always encountered dolphins on our way to dive sites and they
cavorted around the boat with us for minutes at a time. Twice, big pods of
pilot whales altered course to come and check us out. Once we got within
six feet of them (or at least they came to within six feet of us!). Frigate
birds and brown pelicans were everywhere and we also saw blue-footed
boobies from the Galapagos. At times it felt like we were in a Discovery
Channel documentary.

Don't expect coral reefs here, this is the Sea of Cortez, they don't exist.
Do expect an exotic mixture of tropical and temperate fish species hanging
around massive, algal encrusted boulders. Don't let this description put
you off. There is as much biomass here as any tropical reef and many more
wonderful seastars of many different species. There are spectacular little
guys, like the signal blennies I photographed
( or the huge fine-spotted
jawfish with a mouth full of eggs. One of my favorites was the giant
hawkfish which grows to nearly 18 inches!

Cortez angelfishes are common and we once saw a feeding frenzy of King
angels ... quite the sight. Turtles, lobsters, zebra morays, giant damsels
and octopuses on almost every dive helped round out a truly amazing dive

The contrast between the sere desert landscapes and the overwhelming
fecundity of the Sea of Cortez has to be experienced yourself. I can't put
it into words (but you can check out some of my pictures at

Our Humboldt squid dive was a bust. We got to see a squid that was
successfully jigged and released but then a school of pilot whales came
along and scared the squid into diving deep. 

I can't praise Rafael enough either. He runs the dive operation for Bruce
and Susan, expatriate American owners, who weren't there when we were. He
works incredibly long hours for relatively small recompense. I would love
to see him start his own dive operation.

He is also a wonderful underwater photographer ... producing great work
with minimal equipment. To give you an indication of how I feel about
Rafael and his potential ... I gave him my Canon 20D macro setup complete
with Ikelite housing, port, Substrobe 125, charger, sync cord, flash card
... the works. If any of you visiting have any spare lenses or ports that
you could contribute, that would be wonderful.

Loreto is a beautiful little town. The food was fabulous (the ceviche is to
die for) and the margaritas strong. Go and check out the Super Burro for
the best local food. The Mediterranean Restaurant was pretty good too with
superb photos on the wall.

Loreto got hit hard by a hurricane this year. Power and water went out for
an extended period. Bizarre North American concerns about swine flu and
drug murders have impacted visitors to this sleepy hollow. Loreto needs our
business ... 

You should do this trip before you die. It's amazing.
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