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Dive Review of Solmar V in
Mexico (Western)/Islas Revillagigedas

April, 2009, an Instant Reader Report by Don Acheson, MD, USA
Reviewer   (4 reports)
Report Number 5297
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
Over 1000 dives
Where else diving
Caribbean, western and south Pacific, Red Sea, Indian Ocean, ...
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, windy, dry  
calm, choppy, surge  
Water Temp
72   to 74    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
40   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
1 or 2 
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  1 stars
Tropical Fish
2 stars  
Small Critters
Large Fish
5 stars  
Large Pelagics
  4 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
Boat Facilities
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars    
1 stars   
4 stars    
Four fellow dive club members ventured to Cabo San Lucas to board the
Solmar V for a week of diving around the Islas Revillagigedas - an
archipelago of three islands 250 nautical miles south-southwest of Cabo. 
Theyre about a 24 hour cruise from Cabo San Lucas.  The trip out was easy;
the trip back, rough.

The archipelago consists of San Benedicto and Socorro Islands and Roca
Partida - two volcanic islands close to one another and a small rock, about
60 miles away, abruptly protruding above a the oceans surface.  The
latter, that tiny scrap of stone dropping precipitously to the bottom,
offered an amazingly range of big animals - white tip reef sharks in
amazing numbers; schooling scalloped hammerheads, a few silkies, silver
tips, and Galapagos sharks; schools of big jacks; some tuna; manta rays;
and, of course, the smaller fish closer to the base of the food pyramid
upon which the larger fish feed.  As if that wasnt enough, a number of
humpback whales were in the area, often in a group of three - mother, calf,
and escort .  Some divers spotted them underwater while on scuba, others
while snorkeling. 

We boarded the Solmar V on Saturday afternoon and arrived at the San
Benedicto Sunday afternoon in time for checkout dive.  Three or four per
day diving began on Monday morning around the same island, followed by a
move to Socorro Island for a day, then two days at Roca Partida, and a last
day at San Benedicto.  The weather favored us.  Roca Partida offers no
shelter from the winds and seas for the Solmar V and its divers, so every
trip doesnt venture there.  Water temps were in the low 70's.  Although we
enjoyed good weather, every dive featured a lot of surge - not a problem
away from the rocks, but definitely something to consider when close.  I
tried finding small stuff (which must be there) on a few dives, but it was
too difficult.  Macro photography?  Forget it!

Diving took place both off the Solmar V and its two RIBs (Rigid-hulled
Inflatable Boats), called pangas.  The big boat has a spacious dive deck
with ample room for 25 divers (including divemasters) and their equipment,
including cameras, and a very nice dive platform and ladder.  However, the
pangas were crowded.  We needed to use them only at Roca Partida, although
both were in the water for every dive.  The drill when diving from them
consists of the divemasters loading BCs, tanks and regulators first,
followed by divers with their fins, masks, and cameras.  Fins, BC's, and
tanks were donned at the dive site and everyone, perched on the sides of
the RIB, backrolled together - on the count of three - into the water.  At
Roca Partida, the divemasters insisted on every one staying with their
group.  At the other dive sites, we were free to buddy up and roam about on
our own.

With 22 divers and crew, the Solmar V is a bit crowded.  In the lounge,
four tables seat 16 and the remaining 6 divers had to seat themselves on
eight bar stools around four tiny tables.  The cabins are provided with
their own small toilet and shower and up/down bunks except for the most
forward cabin which had bunks on either side of the hull.  My cabin mate
got excited about being assigned this cabin since it appeared, on the
boats deck plan, to be far more spacious than the others, but that was
deceptive.  The hull seriously intruded on the apparent spaciousness;
getting in and out of my bunk was a stretch for this old man. 

Meals were very good.  Breakfast consisted of coffee, juice, toast, fresh
fruit and cold cereal for the early risers and eggs and bacon, ham or
sausage for those willing to wait until the designated breakfast time. 
Lunch often began with tasty soup and always included an appetizing entree.
 Dinner was substantial.  Snacks were served between dives.  Beer and wine
were included in the price of the trip with the usual proviso that an
alcoholic drink meant the end of ones diving for that day.  Complimentary
margaritas were usually offered after the last dive of the day. 

The Solmar V practices whale chasing with their pangas, a practice of which
I dont partake or approve.  While it certainly must be exciting to see a
whale underwater, I worry about the potential for injury to a whale or to a
diver or snorkeler.  Propellers are the obvious risk to the whale.  To
humans in the water with them, theyre huge animals, albeit without a
reputation for violence.  But accidents can happen.  On one chase, which I
observed from the deck of the Solmar V, one of the adult whales elevated
its tail and slapped the waters surface vigorously a few times - perhaps
in warning, perhaps not.  In any case, a snorkeler underneath that tail
most likely would have been seriously injured - and there were many
snorkelers in the water near those whales at that time.

Cabo San Lucas, once a sleepy fishing village, is now resort and timeshare
city.  The international airport is about a 30 minute drive away in San
Jose del Cabo and connects to several US gateways, so getting there and
back is easy.  

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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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