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Dive Review of Dolphin Divers/Desert Inn, Loreto in
Mexico (Western)/Baja California Sur

Dolphin Divers/Desert Inn, Loreto, Aug, 2009,

by Paddy Ryan, CO, USA (Reviewer Reviewer 5 reports with 2 Helpful votes). Report 5118.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments I drove down from Denver, Colorado. This was a 3-day drive. Once we cleared Ensenada, traffic density dropped off and the drive was fabulous. There is some wonderful stuff to be seen here ... Boojum trees, giant cardon cacti and elephant trees. Stay at the Desert Inn at Catavina to break the drive. We stayed at the Desert Inn in Loreto on arrival. Most of our group flew in on Air Alaska from LAX.

The diving was fabulous. We didn't actually see mantas but we did snorkel with hundreds, if not thousands of Mobula rays. Males regularly leaped out of the water. Sometimes so many were doing this that it sounded like popcorn popping in the microwave. Our divemaster, Rafael, was marvelous, he was always willing to allow us to snorkel with mobulas, dolphins or pilot whales on the way to the dive sites. It didn't bother him that this pushed out the time he got back to the dive shop.

We almost always encountered dolphins on our way to dive sites and they cavorted around the boat with us for minutes at a time. Twice, big pods of pilot whales altered course to come and check us out. Once we got within six feet of them (or at least they came to within six feet of us!). Frigate birds and brown pelicans were everywhere and we also saw blue-footed boobies from the Galapagos. At times it felt like we were in a Discovery Channel documentary.

Don't expect coral reefs here, this is the Sea of Cortez, they don't exist. Do expect an exotic mixture of tropical and temperate fish species hanging around massive, algal encrusted boulders. Don't let this description put you off. There is as much biomass here as any tropical reef and many more wonderful seastars of many different species. There are spectacular little guys, like the signal blennies I photographed ( or the huge fine-spotted jawfish with a mouth full of eggs. One of my favorites was the giant hawkfish which grows to nearly 18 inches!

Cortez angelfishes are common and we once saw a feeding frenzy of King angels ... quite the sight. Turtles, lobsters, zebra morays, giant damsels and octopuses on almost every dive helped round out a truly amazing dive experience.

The contrast between the sere desert landscapes and the overwhelming fecundity of the Sea of Cortez has to be experienced yourself. I can't put it into words (but you can check out some of my pictures at

Our Humboldt squid dive was a bust. We got to see a squid that was successfully jigged and released but then a school of pilot whales came along and scared the squid into diving deep.

I can't praise Rafael enough either. He runs the dive operation for Bruce and Susan, expatriate American owners, who weren't there when we were. He works incredibly long hours for relatively small recompense. I would love to see him start his own dive operation.

He is also a wonderful underwater photographer ... producing great work with minimal equipment. To give you an indication of how I feel about Rafael and his potential ... I gave him my Canon 20D macro setup complete with Ikelite housing, port, Substrobe 125, charger, sync cord, flash card ... the works. If any of you visiting have any spare lenses or ports that you could contribute, that would be wonderful.

Loreto is a beautiful little town. The food was fabulous (the ceviche is to die for) and the margaritas strong. Go and check out the Super Burro for the best local food. The Mediterranean Restaurant was pretty good too with superb photos on the wall.

Loreto got hit hard by a hurricane this year. Power and water went out for an extended period. Bizarre North American concerns about swine flu and drug murders have impacted visitors to this sleepy hollow. Loreto needs our business ...

You should do this trip before you die. It's amazing.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Belize, Cozumel, Indonesia, Niue, Samoa, New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Australia, Bahamas, Washington, Cook Islands
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm
Water Temp 68-82°F / 20-28°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 30-100 Ft/ 9-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Once our divemaster was confident we were competent divers the experienced divers were pretty much free to dive their own profiles.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas Squadrons
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales > 2
Corals 1 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities 5 stars
UW Photo Comments Camera housing were treated with respect and typically were placed on cushions on the floor of the boat near the boat driver.

There were no rinse facilities on board but really, how important is this? I've never had a camera flood because of o-ring damage from salt crystals and I seriously question whether the situation really arises. A good rinse in the swimming pool followed by the shower took away residual salt.
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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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