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

January, 2011, an Instant Reader Report by Jeanne Downey, PA, US
Top Contributor   (39 reports, with 5 Helpful votes)
Report Number 5924
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
0-25 dives
Where else diving
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, dry  
Water Temp
73   to 74    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
50   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Watch depth for Nitrox. 60 minute time limit.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
1 or 2 
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  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  
Decicated three-tier camera table. Separate charging station. Two large
garbage cans for camera rinsing.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
5 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
2 stars   
5 stars    
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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