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Dive Review of Nautilus Explorer in
Mexico (Western)/Guadalupe Island

August, 2012, an Instant Reader Report by David Hardie, NY, US
Reviewer   (4 reports, with 1 Helpful vote)
Report Number 6633
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Aruba, Bahamas, Belize, Bonaire, BVI, Cayman, Channel Islands, Cozumel,
Florida Keys, Flower Gardens, USVI
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
65   to 65    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
60   to 80    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Dives in the two main cages (at 40 feet) are 45 minutes each.  You can do
3-4 of these per day.  Dives in the surface cages are unlimited.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Tropical Fish
Small Critters
Large Fish
Large Pelagics
  5 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
Camera table seemed to make all the photographers happy.  There was good
sharing of photos, and the crew burned DVDs of a slide show (using guests'
photos) on the last day.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
5 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
3 stars   
5 stars    
This was an unbelievable opportunity to observe great whites up close and
personal in clear water while staying on a first-class liveaboard.

Our trip started at 7pm at a hotel near the San Diego airport.  Paul, one
of the divemasters, gathered the 22 for the bus trip to Ensenada, Mexico. 
We passed through Mexican customs and arrived at the boat around 10pm, with
margaritas to greet us.

The guests were an interesting and international bunch: a professional
videographer from Germany, a music school teacher from Switzerland, a
family of four from Mexico, a firefighter from Canada, a mother and her
23-year-old son from Detroit, a young couple from Peru, two women from New
Jersey, a family of three from California, two graduate students from
California, a bank CEO from California, and three of us from New York.

We were the first trip of the Guadalupe season, and the first after a
three-week refit of the Nautilus Explorer.  Because of the refit, Captain
Al decided to give the crew a full night's sleep before departing for
Guadalupe.  We set off early the next morning, but the delay had no impact
on our three days of diving.

The crossing to Guadalupe takes 21 hours to cover 210+ miles.  We were
accompanied partway by dozens of spinner dolphins who enjoyed riding the
pressure wave off our bow.  The weather for the crossing was cloudy and
much chillier than most of us expected.  Bring a sweatshirt or jacket, even
for a summer trip.

Everything brightened when we got to Guadalupe, which apparently radiates
enough heat to burn off the cloud cover.  (On a satellite map, Guadalupe
looks like a sunny hole in a cloudy donut.)  We anchored in 250 feet of
water, maybe a quarter of a mile from a rocky beach covered with California
sea lions and elephant seals.

Day 1 of diving got off to a slower-than-normal start, as there were some
kinks getting the cages into the water.  But then again, this was the
boat's first Guadalupe trip of the season ... and launching the cages is
quite a production.

By about 10:00, the four very sturdy cages were available.  Two were
lowered from the port and starboard sides, dropping a total of six divers
to 40 feet for 45 minute dives.  (These are scheduled to rotate everyone
evenly.)  Two other cages were stationary off the stern -- with viewing
platforms at 8 feet and 18 feet, respectively.

The first dive produced no white sharks, although a sea lion visited.  For
the second and third dives of the day, we had two sharks cruising within an
arm's length.  We ended the day thinking it couldn't get much better.

But it did get even better: the shark activity increased until we had five
great white sharks on each dive of the third day.  We were also treated to
the antics of a very brave sea lion, who showed off his agility by buzzing
the sharks for hours.  

The accommodations were quite good, even if not truly luxurious.  We would
opt for the 2nd tier of staterooms next time -- the added space in the
top-of-the-line suite was a bit of a waste.

The food was plentiful and quite good. There was a continental breakfast at
7, followed by a cooked-to-order breakfast (Eggs Benedict, French toast,
etc.) at 9:30.  Lunch was at 12:30, always with a delicious soup.  There
were snacks in the afternoon, followed by a very good dinner.  The bar was
stocked with at least a dozen premium beers, and they liquors were all top

The crew was amazing. Al was the captain on this trip, although apparently
the owner (Mike) is sometimes at the helm.  There were four main
divemasters, Paul, Juan, Nelson and Tigre, although Al and first mate Kevin
joined in to make sure the 40-foot cages were always accompanied.  The
hostesses were Carmen and Dana, and you couldn't ask for a happier and
friendlier pair (especially Carmen).  The rest of the crew (and there were
plenty) were always smiling and helpful.

If you go, be aware that the water is around 65 degrees.  You need at least
a 7mm suit, and the smarter folks had semi-dry suits or wore a neoprene
vest underneath.  The videographer wore a dry suit, enabling him to
continue diving while many of us hit the hot tub.

Beyond that, the only gear required is a mask, since you dive without fins,
BC, tank, or even a snorkel.  The hookah system works well for air, and a
weighted harness keeps you from floating around the cage.

The still and video photographers seemed quite happy with the setup, and we
enjoyed reviewing the images each evening.  The crew put together a
"greatest hits" DVD for each of us on the last day.

Three days turned out to be the perfect amount of diving, since there are
only so many ways you can be wowed by multiple great whites that measure
from 10 feet to 16 feet.  (The even larger females arrive later in the
season, which runs from August into November.)

We left Guadalupe at the end of the third day of diving, this time for a
sunnier crossing to Ensenada.  We arrived a little after 1pm the next day,
and were on our way back to San Diego after the Nautilus Explorer was
checked out by Mexican marines and their drug-sniffing dog.

Overall, a great trip that crossed a big item off our personal bucket list.
 We probably won't repeat this same trip, but we are already checking out
Socorro as another high-voltage trip aboard Nautilus Explorer. 
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All Mexico (Western) Dive Reviews and Reports
Diving Guide to Mexico (Western)
Diving Reviews for All Dive Destinations

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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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