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Dive Review of Don Jose (Baja Expeditions) in
Mexico (Western)/Sea of Cortez

June, 2005, an Instant Reader Report by Noel Hall, KY, USA
Report Number 1747
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
65   to 73    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
25   to 75    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
1 or 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  3 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  5 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
4 stars  
Boat Facilities
3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
3 stars  
Rating would be driven by subject available, such as whale sharks, sea
lions, etc.  If you are able to interact with them, of course photography
is fantastic.  If they don't show-up, well....things could get a little
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
2 stars   
4 stars    
I don't feel very long winded tonight, so I will make it short and sweet. 
My friend defined the trip as the "poor man's Galapagos", and I
would agree this might be a fair evaluation.  The "Don Jose"
live-aboard is booked through Baja Expeditions(  This
particular trip was promoted as a "Whale Shark Expedition", in
which a search plane would assist locating whale sharks, and in other
periods we would be diving sites along side the east coast of Baja, near La
Paz, in the Sea of Cortez.  Overall the trip was within the scope of their
advertising, and no one spoke of being disappointed.  We did have good
luck, and were able to swim with a whale shark on two different days, for
extended periods of time. We also had great dives interacting with young
sea lions, which are a lot of fun.  We saw plenty of fish life and
everything looked healthy.  We ran into the largest school of dolphins
anyone had ever seen, perhaps greater than 500.  We did not stop to attempt
to swim with them.  We also saw several large whales, but were unable to
approach them.  We all agreed this was an excellent trip.  It was clear in
the beginning that there was no guarantee we would see whale sharks, or
anything else.  Also the weather might not be co-operative, but it was on
our trip.  I will say that the captain, crew and dive master made every
attempt to make the trip enjoyable.  The dive master, Josie, a Canadian who
spoke four languages, was very professional and qualified.  She was also in
charge of being sure everyone's needs were looked after, and to be sure
everyone was having fun. Divers need to be prepared for changing
conditions, and we found water temperatures ranging from 65 to 75 degrees,
therefore 5-7mm protection is often necessary.  Visability can also change
quickly, from 20/25 feet to 60/70 feet.  We were told the visability is
much greater during the summer.  Of course poor visability is due to
plankton in the water....which brings in the large pelagics.  There can
also be currents and up-welling, therefore this might not be the best
environment for beginning divers.  The boat is in the marina at La Paz, a
city with their own airport, or it is about a 2 1/2 hour drive from the
airport at San Jose del Cabo (Cabo San Lucas).  Cabo has more flights, and
the roundtrip shuttle is about $80.  The drive is easy and scenic.  The Don
Jose (boat) has been around for about 30 years, but is solid and
confortable.  The accommodations are certainly not plush, but we found them
adequate, clean and functionable.  The toilets flushed and nothing smelled
bad, but the cabins and other areas are "basic". The meals are
very adequate, not fancy, but well prepared and filling.  In summary this
is one of those trips that require a good attitude and flexibility, and
allow the crew to make it worth your time.  Oh, and you can save some
money, and just might......get lucky and have a lifetime experience, as we
did !!  Consider flying into Cabo and adding a couple of days to the end of
your trip.  We stayed at the Finisterra Hotel, a sister property to the Los
Arcos Hotel in La Paz.  Opt for the "Palapa Club" rooms for just
a few extra dollars, and enjoy.  Oh my be young again !!

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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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