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Dive Review of Nautilus Explorer in
Mexico (Western)/Socorro

Nautilus Explorer, Jan, 2011,

by Jeanne Downey, PA, US (Top Contributor Top Contributor 39 reports with 6 Helpful votes). Report 5924.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 0-25 dives
Where else diving [Unspecified]
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm
Water Temp 73 to 74 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 7
Water Visibility 50 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Watch depth for Nitrox. 60 minute time limit.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas Squadrons
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales > 2
Corals 1 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics 5 stars

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Decicated three-tier camera table. Separate charging station. Two large garbage cans for camera rinsing.

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Weve been to Socorro before, but this time we decided to try our luck during humpback whale season, and we were not disappointed!
Cabo San Lucas, our meeting point, is easy to get to via several airlines. Most of our 14 divers arrived two days early, although that didnt help my husband, whose dive gear and camera parts bag got mis-tagged and went on its merry way to Costa Rica. Although Continental tried its best, the suitcase arrived at the Los Cabos airport after the Nautilus Explorer had left the dock. He was able to borrow gear from the boat but was unable to take photos. Always double-check luggage tags!
Its about 45 minutes from the airport to the hotel; we used the taxi service recommended by Nautilus; it was nice having someone waiting for us, and it was a reasonable $15US. They also helped get our luggage from the hotel to the boat and from the boat back to the airport.
We stayed at Tesoro Los Cabos, now part of the Wyndham chain. The hotel is in a great marina-front location, and their included buffet breakfast was excellent. Watch out for the telephone charges, thoughwhat I thought was a $5.00 connection fee to a Mexican toll-free number for Continental ended up costing $85.00US! Be careful walking alone, especially at night; one of our group was approached by a local police officer and was shaken down for whatever was in his wallet (luckily not much).
We boarded the boat at 9:00am, were fed a buffet breakfast and then it was a comfortable 24 hour ride out to our first island, San Benedicto. Most of us took precautions against seasickness; a few did not and we didnt see them much during the ride. Hostesses Sylvia and Claire made sure we were well fed.
We had time to do 3 dives the first day, four dives the other days. We started off at The Canyon at San Benedicto for our check-out. The crew helped us get weighted before we did a 45 minute dive. Normally they dive San Benedicto, Roca Partida, and Socorro. The Mexican & U.S. Navy were conducting shelling practice, so we were restricted to the first two islands. At the Boiler, the mantas were no-shows for the first two dives, but showed up for our last dive of the day. We moved on to Roca Partido that night, and spent two days there, circling the island one way or the other on our dives. There were whales all around us and the longer we were anchored in one spot, the closer they came, until we were able to go out in the skiffs and actually snorkel with them. There were also dozens of white-tip sharks resting on every available ledge, some resting their heads of one of the many resident green moray eels.
We were back at San Benedicto for the last two days. The first dive no mantas, but once they realized we were back, we were able to play with them every dive. They circled and visited every diver multiple times, allowing everyone to get his fill of these soaring beauties. A pod of dolphins came by, and played with us for over half an hour. We also saw a few hammerheads, Galapagos sharks, silky sharks, and one tiger shark.
The Nautilus Explorer is a comfortable boat. There are 3 cabins on the hot tub deck, and the rest are below the main deck. Our room had a double bed with shelves underneath, a sink with more shelves below, separate commode and shower areas, and a storage alcove for luggage. Other cabins had side-by-side single beds with storage below and separate shower and sink/commode areas. The toasty hot tub was popular after the 73 degree dives. Above the hot tub deck is the sundeck, good for sunning and whale and star watching.
Each diver had an assigned spot on the dive deck. Tanks were refilled after each dive, and there was open-air storage under each tank area. Nitrox was available for a reasonable charge and either 80 cu ft aluminum or heavier high capacity steel tanks ($32 for the trip, donated to conservation efforts). The boats large aluminum skiff is stored in the middle of the dive deck, so a large portion of it is sloped; except for travel time with the skiff in place, theres plenty of room. The two rubber inflatables are used most of the time.
Also on the main deck are the roomy lounge, small bar, and dining area. All meals are served buffet style, starting with a 7am pre-breakfast of hot oatmeal, muffins or scones, cold cereal, coffee, juice, and toast. After the first dive, a made-to-order breakfast of eggs, pancakes, or French toast, along with everything left over from the pre-breakfast, plus a couple of additional dishes, such as sausage, is served at 9:30. After the second dive at 11am, lunch is served, which might include salad and a couple of different entrees, or two types of sandwiches, soup, and warm cookies. Between dives three and four at 2pm and 4:30pm scrumptious snacks are served. Cocktail hour starts around 6:00pm and dinner is served at 7:30pm. Dinners always included a salad, usually homemade bread, two or three entrée choices, vegetable, and dessert. And after every dive Sylvia or Claire were on hand with drinks, fruit, and snacks. Coffee, tea, and cocoa were always available, as well as any leftover snacks or breakfast muffins. Soda, beer, wine, and mixed drinks were extra. The food was very good to excellent, especially the soups.
But the reason we came this time of year was the whales, and my expectations were more than exceeded. We saw many breeches, tail and fin slaps, listened to whales on several dives, sounds ranging from elephant bellows to cat meows to wistful tunes. One afternoon many of us skipped a dive, jumped in the inflatables and spent almost two hours snorkeling with the whales. One group of three, Baby, mother, and escort, were especially cooperative. I had the amazing gift of swimming beside them for almost five minutes; at one point they got ahead, then circled back to me! The sunburn was so worth it!
The Nautilus Explorer is a great boat, the crew is excellent, and we never went hungry. This trip is already on our repeat list.
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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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