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Dive Review of Solmar V in
Mexico (Western)/Revillagigedos (Socorro) Is.

Solmar V, Mar, 2004,

by Ken Mostello, MA, USA (Reviewer Reviewer 3 reports). Report 961.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Sea of Cortez, Bonaire, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Florida Keys, Southern California, New England
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm, currents
Water Temp 71 to 74 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 30 to 70 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions No deco, 130 ft. maximum. Sit out 24 hours of diving if violated. Buddy diving required, but not strictly enforced. No diving after drinking. No riding or chasing mantas. No night diving.

Mexican law forbids gloves, lights, and knives on dives in Revillagigedos islands.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

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 2 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Cameras only table in dive area with separate storage underneath for camera cases. Dive masters happy to hand cameras to divers after entering water. Ample electrical outlets and compressed air available. No E-6 processing.

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

Accommodations 2 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 1 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments The Revillagigedos Islands (informally know as Soccoro Islands) are located 230 miles south of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. There are 3 small islands in this group (Soccoro, San Benedicto, and Clarion) and Roca Partida, a small rocky pinnacle. The Solmar V is the only live-aboard to dive these islands. A permit is required from the Mexican government to go there, and the boat is required to check in at the naval base on Socorro Island once during each trip. The boat does not typically travel to Clarion Island due to the distance, and diving at Roca Partida is subject to favorable sea conditions. The crossing takes between 22 and 26 hours. Our eight day trip provided time for 19 dives.

The quality of service and professionalism of the crew on the Solmar V is second to none. Beds were made by the steward on all diving days and linens were changed once during the trip.

The dive briefings were sufficiently detailed, and the dive masters eager to help. All were fluent in English. The diving restrictions imposed were not unduly onerous considering the remoteness of the islands. Evacuation to the nearest recompression chamber takes about 24 hours. Night dives were not allowed due to the strong currents and the aggressiveness of the sharks at night.

The food quality was superb, consisting of traditional Mexican cuisine as well as American dishes. The cabin accommodations include private heads and showers and TV/VCR units, but the cabins themselves were tiny and there was very little headroom between the bunks. These accommodations were definitely not for those with claustrophobic tendencies.

The quality of diving in Socorro is variable, and depends greatly on the season, sea conditions and plain dumb luck. The main attractions are large pelagics, including mantas, seven varieties of sharks, including whale sharks, and dolphins and whales. The reefs are all rocky and volcanic with few macro photo subjects, so finding the large marine life is the principal objective of each dive. We were consistently able to find mantas at well known sites like "The Boiler" at San Benedicto. The mantas were large, plentiful, and eager to interact with divers.

White tip sharks could be found in small caves and crevices. There were occasional encounters with Galapagos sharks, yellow-fin tuna, and wahoo, especially at Roca Partida. Schools of scalloped hammerheads were seen at The Canyon at San Benedicto. Silkies were found on a few occasions near the surface.

Humpback whales were sighted many times from the boat but kept there distance from the divers and the pursuing pangas. No whale sharks were seen on this trip.

Socorro diving is not for newly certified divers. Currents are strong at times, and most of the diving is deeper than 90 feet. Manta encounters are usually made in blue water conditions where bouyancy skills are important. Also, the frequent shark encounters, including the occasional tiger shark (not seen on this trip) may not be for everyone. However, for the adventurous diver who wants to see large marine animals a short flight from home, I would strongly recommend Socorro.

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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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