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Dive Review of Solmar V in
Mexico (Western)

January, 2004, an Instant Reader Report by Brad Bowen, UT, USA
Report Number 1204
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
All over the world.
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, dry  
calm, surge  
Water Temp
80   to 82    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
15   to 150    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
1 or 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  1 stars
Tropical Fish
2 stars  
Small Critters
  1 stars
Large Fish
4 stars  
Large Pelagics
  5 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
4 stars  
Boat Facilities
4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
3 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
1 stars   
5 stars    
Solmar V visits Las Islas Revillagigedos, about 250 miles off the coast of
Cabo San Lucas in the Pacific Ocean. It is a 24 hour trip, both ways with 6
days of diving, for total trip time of 8 days. We visited two islands and
Roca Partida, which means Split Rock. It is literally just a rock about
40 feet high in the middle of nowhere, but has many white tip reef sharks
that are resident, and other pelagics allegedly visit from time to time.
(We were told there were six whale sharks the week before, but I dont know
if Id believe it.) We have been many places-- Fiji, Indonesia, Palau and
Hawaii--in hopes of seeing manta rays. We had a few sightings in all of
those locations, but never for any period of time. We had read about this
trip being guaranteed manta interaction, which is why we went.

Initially we were a little disappointed because only one manta showed up at
the Boiler on our first visit. It stayed for only 15 minutes, but I was
able to pet its belly three times, as it kept swimming directly to me.  No
mantas on the second dive, but when the panga drivers became aware of that
fact, they started driving in circles above us to attract the dolphins. It
worked and we had our first ocean encounters with dolphins, which was very
thrilling.  Got some great photos, with my first photo of dolphins being
an excellent shot that is now framed and on the wall in my office. No
mantas at Roca Partida. Three of us were the last out of the water on one
of the dives at Socorro and got a brief visit from a manta at the very end
of the dive.

The last couple of days were spent back at San Benedicto Island at two dive
site, the Boiler and the Canyon.  The Boiler was disappointing, but with
patience the Canyon turned out to be a fabulous site.  We had multiple,
extended encounters with half a dozen manta rays, which hung around and let
us pet their bellies for the entire dive.  Hammerheads were spotted a few
times, a Tiger Shark once. A dozen or so yellowfin tuna just below the
surface of the ocean. Three small Silky sharks, the largest only four feet
long, follow the boat and are seen on most dives. 

You need to keep an eye on the silkys as they can be aggressive and a
little unpredictable. I always keep my camera housing between me and them.
After one dive we had fifty or so dolphins playing 100 years off the
starboard side of the boat. I snorkeled out to them and the silkys
followed, circling closer and closer, which is just a little unnerving to
me in open water. I was glad the captain had one of the pangas come out to
keep me company, and the driver reassured me the Silkys werent a threat,
and to just bang them on the head with the camera housing if they got too
close. On the last dive one silky got a little too close and tried to bite
my camera housing, so I had to thump it on the head.  (Ive seen literally
thousands of sharks and this was the first that ever exhibited any
aggressive behavior toward me, and it was partially my fault as I tried to
get a close up picture of its eye when it got close.)

We had swordfish for dinner the last night, and the left overs were tied to
a string and everyone had a chance to play with the silkys from the boat
while feeding them the left overs.  I believe that all of the action, plus
the fish oils in the water, did a lot to attract other sharks because the
best dives of the trip were the two the next morning.  On the first dive we
spotted half a dozen hammerheads as we swam toward the canyon. Two
returning divers motioned to us that there were a lot of hammerheads in the
canyon, so we fought against the current and after a bit of a swim were
pleased to find a school of at least 200 hammerheads. The only problem was
depth, as they were between 90 and 140 feet. In all of the excitement, you
really must pay close attention to your depth and buoyancy control. We
couldnt get any closer than about 12 feet as the scuba bubbles scare the
hammerheads.  No hammerheads on the last dive of the trip, but we played
with two manta rays the entire dive.  Spotted several Humpback whales
during the week, and saw tails and spray of a mother and calf. Hardly any
coral or nudibranchs. Topography is completely volcanic. Visibility is
often only good for 20 feet or so, but there were times you could see over 
150 feet, but it was hazy.  Photographers need to know some of the tricks
of the trade. I learned to zoom in on something white to about 18 inches,
get the focus clear, and them lock it in with the focus button. This made
it so that the camera did not go in and out of focus due to the haze
underwater.  Food was o.k. Accommodations a bit cramped, but not terrible.
Everyone enjoyed watching the televisions in the salon. Finding Nemo was a
big hit, and everyone enjoyed watching video of the dives.  This is open
water diving and not for beginners. Be advised you will lose 1 or 2 dives
the day they do the mandatory inspection at Socorro Island--plain stupidity
in my view. Boat owner was on our trip and claims it is the governments
fault as the Navy wont do the inspection at any other time. Overall a 
good trip, but we wont do it again until they get Nitrox. 
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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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