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Scuba Diving Mexico (Western)

Including the Sea of Cortez, Baja, Isla Socorro,
Guadalupe Island, Cabo Pulmo, Ixtapa, La Paz, Puerto Vallarta

Diving Mexico (Western) articles, reviews, and reports from Undercurrent

Diving Mexico (Western) Overview

Diving the sea mounts of the Sea of Cortez can yield sea lions and occasional schooling hammerheads, though fishing continues to wipe out the big fish. Still, there's good diving from Cabo Pulmo to San Lucas and even farther north operators are getting to the seamounts. In winter and spring water temperatures can drop to the low 60s. Visibility is lower (25-40 feet), but generally improves to 80 to 100 feet by late summer, when the water warms to the 80s in the Sea of Cortez. From December through May winds kick up the water, which makes diving difficult. Wear a skin or wetsuit for protection from jellyfish. Diving Socorro Island gives you hammerheads and mantas, though it's a long ride from Cabo and there's no guarantee of sharks or good weather. Manta sightings are reliable and they have a reputation for letting divers approach. One can fi nd good accommodations and food at all the dive venues north of Cabo. Farther south, Pacific diving is dulled by low visibility.

Mexico (Western) Seasonal Dive Planner

A one-word description of Sea of Cortez diving: variable. Water temperature and visibility varies dramatically. Two divers returning from the Baja only weeks apart can give such different reports that you have a difficult time believing they've been to the same destination.

In the southern part of the Sea of Cortez, the temperature of the upper 30' of water or so remains warm enough year-round (70° to 80s) to support tropicals and several varieties of hard coral. Below that depth, winter and spring water temperatures in the 50s and 60s freeze out the tropicals. From mid-summer through November, water temperature is 80°F or higher for as deep as sport divers would care to go.

During spring and summer, the surface water temperature rises, of course, but the big change is the lowering of the thermocline. This is a complex and uneven process. During a June visit, the thermocline was at 45-50'. Sometimes the change was gradual or of small magnitude, but on one dive we recorded a plunge of 16 degrees between the surface, at 76°, and a thick layer of 60° planktonic green gloom 50 feet down. Later in the season, the water is 80° all the way past 100'. (We've even recorded 84° water in October.)

Another seasonal variable is the plankton concentration. Sometimes the more plankton-rich waters can be observed as distinct layers and masses. Generally, our June visibility was 30-40'. Later in the summer, it's usually 80-100'.

After the first of December, north winds often make diving difficult because of rough seas. Sport diving effectively ceases until May. By spring the thermocline is high and a 1/4" wetsuit is recommended (some sort of protection from jellyfish is recommended year-round). Tropical storms can occur during summer and fall, just as in the Caribbean. On average, they are most likely from mid-September to mid-October. La Paz and its waters tend to be protected from storm swells by a projection of land on the east and by large islands such as Isla Cerralvo.

It's almost always sunny, but during the winter, night air temperatures can drop down into the mid-fifties. Hottest months are August and September. Whale season is December to March.

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Diving Mexico (Western) Feature Articles and Reader Reports

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Mexico (Western) Dive Reviews

from our Instant Reader Reports
Dive Operation Resort Name Area Reporter Dive Date
Solmar V Review [same] [N/A] Leona M Holaday 2017/11
Fun Azul Review [same] [N/A] Raymond Haddad 2017/11
Fun-Azul MV Valentina Review [same] Sea Of Cortez, La Paz Adam 2017/08
Rocio del Mar Review [same] Sea of Cortez Bogdan Alexandrescu 2017/09
Nautilus Explorer Review Nautilus Belle Amie Guadalupe Ken Kurtis 2017/09
All Reader Reports on Scuba Diving Mexico (Western)
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Diving Mexico (Western) Articles - Land Based

Ambergris, the Red Sea, Raja Ampat, bad briefings, free flowing regulators, overflowing toilets, 9/17
Dominica, Fiji, Belize, Costa Rica, Florida, big animals, no head counts, free flowing regulators, 7/17
Swimming with La Paz Whale Sharks, 2/17
Mozambique, Mexico, Philippines . . ., more on the Thorfinn, and another Bonaire warning, 10/15
Cabo Pulmo: Credit Card Theft and Charming Casitas, 3/14
Cabo Pulmo, Baja California, Mexico, a fish-filled marine preserve for divers who like rustic, 2/14
Husband Sues PADI for Wifes Death from Carbon Monoxide Husband Sues PADI for Wifes Death from Carbon Monoxide -- Publicly Available, 1/14

Available to the Public
Dolphin Dive Center, Loreto, Baja CA, Mexico, dolphins and a mix of marine life in the Sea of Cortez, 2/13
Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, Fiji, Truk. . ., plus unexpected cold water, and a liveaboard to avoid, 8/12
Showdown in Cabo Pulmo, 1/12
Australia, Grand Cayman, Philippines . . ., and when its really the best time to dive in Raja Ampat, 11/11
Mexico, Myanmar, Palau, Roatan, where to see big fish, where to avoid dead reefs and daytrippers, 6/11
Vista Sea Sports, Baja California, Mexico, as fishy as it gets this close to home, 2/10
Cabo Pulmo Beach Resort, Baja California, a pristine dive spot in the Sea of Cortez, 3/08
Vista Sea Sports: Another Good Baja Dive Shop, 3/08
Midriff Islands, Sea of Cortez, Mexico, cool water, abundant marine life, 6/06
Guadalupe Island, Baja Mexico, searching for the great white, 3/06
Club Cantamar Revisited, 1/06
Club Cantamar, La Paz, Baja, Mexico, unique diving close to home, 10/05
Holbox Island, Quintana Roo, Mexico, some big, big surprises, 10/04
Bahia de Los Angeles, Mexico, a ten-hour drive to guaranteed whale sharks, 8/02

Diving Mexico (Western) Articles - Liveaboards

Belize, Utila, Palau, Komodo, Bonaire, Caribbean whalesharks, missing hammerheads, 6/17
MV Valentina. Sea of Cortez, Baja, Mexico, sea lion diving on a luxury liveaboard, 2/17
Nautilus Belle Amie, Guadalupe Island, Mexico, eye-to-eye with a great white, 1/17
Goodbye Undersea Hunter, Hello Nautilus Undersea, 8/16
Nautilus Explorer, Socorro Islands, Mexico, big animals, little value, 7/15
Avoid New Liveaboards for at Least a Month, 7/15
Belize, Bonaire, Florida, Philippines . . ., and a Cozumel dive shop with a great refund policy, 7/15
The Sea of Cortez, Revisited, 11/14
Rocio del Mar, Sea of Corts, Mexico, sturdy, functional boat in remote, fish-filled waters, 10/14
Baja California, Fiji, Montserrat, pesky politics and squirrely harbormasters, 4/14

Available to the Public
Solmar V, Baja California, Mexico, a 24-hour steam to wild diving at the Socorros, 3/12
Cape Eleuthera, Fiji, Maui, Mexico, two more Baja boats, a new dive shop, and a great night dive, 3/12
Zen and the Art of Cageless Shark Diving, a rejoinder from Amos Nachoum, 11/10
Mexican Great White Risks, dive operators take it to the extreme at Guadalupe Island, 9/10
Rocio del Mar, Sea of Cortez, Mexico, good liveaboard and fish life, with well-trained crew -- and sea lions, 3/10
Other Guadalupe Trips, 3/06
From San Diego to San Benito, Mexico, Spearfishing and scuba aboard the Horizon, 4/01
The Sea of Cortez, By Sea, By Land, The Don Jose and ..., 1/01
Solmar V to San Benedicto & Socorro, It Doesnt Get Much Worse Than This, 4/98
Manta Rendezvous, Off Baja, rays in your face, 6/97
Socorro, South of Cabo, 10/94

Mexico (Western) Dive Reviews

from our Travelin' Divers' Chapbooks

Land Based Dive Resorts in Mexico (Western)

For Members 2017 2016 2015            
For Public 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006
2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997

Mexico (Western) Liveaboards

For Members 2017 2016 2015            
For Public 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006
2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997
Contact Information for Dive Resorts and Liveaboards Worldwide
All Mexico (Western) Diving Reviews -- Instant Reader Reports

Editor's Book Picks for Scuba Diving Mexico (Western)
Including the Sea of Cortez, Baja, Isla Socorro,
Guadalupe Island, Cabo Pulmo, Ixtapa, La Paz, Puerto Vallarta

The books below are my favorites about diving in this part of the world All books are available at a significant discount from; just follow the links. -- BD

An American Underwater Odyssey An American Underwater Odyssey: 50 Dives in 50 States
: by Charles Ballinger.

Underwater Odyssey is the story of a scuba diving safari to every state in America. Tired of touring coral reefs, the author embarks on a year-long quest to discover the incredible assortment of adventure diving found in our nation's backyard. His dogged determination to follow his dreams and explore everything from flooded missile sites to abandoned mines should be an inspiration for any diver. Underwater Odyssey transcends the limits of a dive guide to reveal the broader adventure that diving provides.
Order through us, get Amazon.coms best price and some of the profit will be donated to preserve coral reefs.

Reef Life: A Must Have Guide to Tropical Marine Life Reef Life: A Must Have Guide to Tropical Marine Life
by Brandon Cole and Scott Michael

What? Another fish ID book when you thought Paul Humanns and Ned Deloachs were enough? Yes indeed, and while I rarely say this, Reef Life: A Guide to Tropical Marine Life is a must-have for the library of every traveling diver. And if you only want one ID book, this is it.

Click here to order through Undercurrent and you’ll get Amazon’s best price -- and our profits will go to save coral reefs.

Reef Fish Identification Reef Fish Identification: Baja to Panama
by Paul Humann and Ned Deloach

The latest edition in the popular Paul Humann series of marine life books. The most comprehensive field guide ever compiled for identifying reef fishes from the Gulf of California to the Pacific coast of Panama, including offshore islands. More than 500 photographs of 400 species taken in their natural habitat. The book is dedicated to Baja Legend Alex Kerstitch and includes several of his drawings and photographs. The concise text accompanying each species portrait includes the fish’s common, scientific and family names, size range, description, visually distinctive features, preferred habitat, typical behavior, depth range, and geographical distribution.
Illustrated/Hardcover. 364 pages, price: $27.17.

You might find some other books of interest in our Editor's Book Picks section.

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