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Dive Review of Cabo Pulmo Diving in
Mexico (Western)/Cabo Pulmo

Cabo Pulmo Diving: "The other Cabo", Oct, 2018,

by Richard J Back, WA, US ( 2 reports). Report 10544.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations N/A Food N/A
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 2 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 3 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Mention diving in Mexico and Cozumel usually is the first location to come to mind. The Sea of Cortez has some amazing diving, usually overlooked by many divers due to the logistics. Limited flights to Loreto and La Paz have a big impact on diving there so many donít realize what they are missing. Having visited both for diving and been blown away by the beauty above and below the water, 5 years ago we set our sights on the crown jewel, Cabo Pulmo, for a one day visit to scout for a future trip. Drivable from Los Cabos (approx. 2 hrs.), we journeyed from San Jose del Cabo and chose Cabo Pulmo Diving for a 2 dive visit. The first dive was the best we had experienced in the Sea of Cortez and the second lasted 3 minutes as we hovered at 25 ft., above at least 8 very active, very edgy bull sharks. The dive ended with our guide Pilu suddenly appearing in my mask with wide-open eyes signaling to surface. A bit short, but it was definitely the right call. Having been assured that the sharks hadnít been seen in 2 months after reports of them being aggressively ďcuriousĒ, my wife wasnít as pleased with their reappearance as I was. To call their behavior that day ďaggressively curiousĒ would be generous.
Though we visit San Jose del Cabo regularly, it took us 5 years to make the return trip. We planned to dive 2 days, driving roundtrip both days. Arrangements were made via email with Pilu at Cabo Pulmo Diving. October is a perfect time for diving the Sea of Cortez, the water is warm and the strong winds from the north usually begin in early November. Over the summer the region had received large amounts of rain, turning the desert into a virtual jungle of green. Just before our visit, Hurricane Rosa made a drive by visit offshore from Baja California Sur over the Pacific, bringing some increased surf and clouds to the area, but not affecting travel.
Driving from Cabo San Lucas or San Jose del Cabo, you will end up on a 2 lane highway just north of the Los Cabos airport. The road is usually in good condition, but in addition to the usual slow vehicles, it offers many opportunities to interact with free roaming cattle. With mega-resorts planned for the East Cape, traffic in the future could get really interesting. After 35-40 minutes you will see the turn off for La Ribera. Depending on recent weather, you can experience washouts and/or flooding on the road. At La Ribera (50 km, 31 mi from the airport), the road leads southeast 26 km to Cabo Pulmo, paved until the last 10 km. At this point there are moments when an SUV seems like a better idea, but in 3 tries in a VW Jetta, I havenít had a problem-take your time. It is also very subject to bad weather-check in advance of driving if there have been any recent storms. Arriving in Cabo Pulmo, you will continue follow the dirt road to the left, arriving at Cabo Pulmo Diving on your left, just a couple hundred feet from the Palapa restaurant, the beach, and National Marine Park building.
When we checked in, they seemed surprised to see us-apparently we were never put on the schedule, despite 2 confirming emails. A last minute walk-up was added to the boat and we didnít have a spot. After some scrambling, another boat was arranged and the walk-up diver was added to ours. The first boat requested sharks, and my wife made sure we didnít (much to the disappointment of the diver added to our boat). The facilities are very basic-besides the office, a dark bathroom with a bucket to flush, a gear area with a rinse tank, and not much else. Though gear is available for rental, we brought our own, requiring only tanks (aluminum 80s) and weights (weight belts or loose weights). Diving is done in pangas. Gear is loaded in the boat at the shop and divers load by boat ladder at the beach, then boat and trailer is backed into the water.
Our two dives just happened to be the same two sites as our first visit 5 years earlier, in reverse order. The first site, El Vencedor, was the site of our short-lived bull shark encounter. The plan was a max of 40 minutes or 700 psi, plus a 3 minute safety stop. There isnít much left of the sunken trawler, mainly scattered parts providing cover on a sandy bottom for schools of fish. Max depth was 50 feet with a square profile, and water temperature was 86, making a 3/2mm wetsuit a perfect choice. Visibility was ranging from maybe 20 feet down to 15 by the end of the dive. My guess was the increased swell from the recent Hurricane Rosa had impacted the vis. Within 2 minutes, the first unrequested bull shark appeared out of the haze, followed by another for a quick swim by, then both disappeared back into the haze. That set the pattern for the dive. We circled repeatedly through the wreckage, and so did the bull sharks, eventually totaling 5. The best moment was the 6 footer that passed by just out of armís range. Even that close, they seemed to be as relaxed as much as sharks can be-none of the hyper back and forth swimming of our first experience. Dive 2 followed a quick 40 minute surface interval, dropping us on their flagship coral reef, El Bajo. The plan was to spend half the dive on the reef, then go out over the sand into the giant school of jacks, 40 minutes or 700 psi and a 3 minute safety stop. The reef is really nice-clouds of fish, schools of pufferfish, a lone giant grouper, fans, coral, nooks and cracks to explore-and we were lead over it in a non-stop swim. We occasionally stopped to explore just long enough to watch our guide and other diver start to disappear in the 40 foot vis, making me glad I didnít bother to bring a camera. After maybe 15 to 20 minutes of the swim over the reef, we were out over the sand for the remainder of the dive, looking for the school of jacks that were never found. The dive, despite the flagship reef, was basically a 37 minute march through the Sea of Cortez. On the surface our guide checked our remaining air and asked if we wanted to get in the boat to find the school, then drop back in. My wife opted out and after a 20 minute search, we dropped back in on the school. Against a sand bottom, the giant school is definitely a signature sight of the Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park. The next 13 minutes of blue water, hovering at 30 feet, surrounded by the huge school, was the most relaxing part of the dive day. Shortly after we found ourselves back at the shop were our gear was rinsed while we settled our bill. We also found out, much to our humor, that the boat of divers in search of a shark encounter didn't see one. A real negative at the end was discovering that the Palapa restaurant was closed while doing some remodeling. Early October is the slow season in BCS and of the handful of restaurants in Cabo Pulmo, only two were open.
Based on the mix-up at check-in and the somewhat rushed dives in a world class diving location, we decided that a second day of diving wasnít in the cards and cancelled. If you are thinking of a trip, Cabo Pulmo is definitely worthy of consideration, even if only for snorkeling or just hanging at the beach. Keep an eye on the weather, research your choice of dive operator and ask many questions about their policies concerning the dives, communicate often checking road conditions, and definitely confirm your arrival and diving within a day of traveling there. For a day trip from Los Cabos, it is definitely worth the effort. For multiple days, my suggestion is making arrangements for lodging in Cabo Pulmo.
Websites Cabo Pulmo Diving   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving British Columbia, Washington state, Sea of Cortez, Hawaii, Fiji
Closest Airport Los Cabos Getting There Drive

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, no currents
Water Temp 86-°F / 30-°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 15-40 Ft/ 5-12 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions 40 min max bottom time
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available?

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 2 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics N/A

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

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]
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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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