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Dive Review of Nautilus Explorer/Hotel Tesoro in
Mexico (Western)/Islas Revillagigedo (Socorro~)

Nautilus Explorer/Hotel Tesoro: "Fantastic trip to Islas Revillagigedo on MV Belle Amie", Apr, 2018,

by Graham McGregor, Kilmacolm, GB (Top Contributor Top Contributor 39 reports with 21 Helpful votes). Report 10244 has 4 Helpful votes.

Photos Submitted with this Report

Click on an image to see an enlarged version and captions

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Islas Revillagigedo (Socorro)

I went from 22 April 2018 with a group of 6 divers from the UK on Nautilus liveaboard Belle Amie out of Cabo San Lucas. We flew in and out of San Jose del Cabo airport. From the UK we came via Dallas and on the return via Los Angeles. Other than the rather painful transits at the US airports the flights went very smoothly.

Nautilus met us by prior arrangement at SJD airport and transferred us to the Tesoro Hotel which is right beside the marina and close to where Belle Amie is docked. We arrived on the Saturday quite late and had booked in to the Tesoro overnight. The rooms were comfortable, large and had a balcony. The buffet restaurant for breakfast was good. We were able to get late checkouts on Sunday until 4pm. Nautilus have a meeting room at the Tesoro Hotel which is staffed all day on the days of arrival/departure for the boat. You can leave your luggage safely there all day while you go out and have a look around Cabo, have a meal etc.

We were transferred by mini-bus from the hotel to the Belle Amie around 8pm on Sunday evening. We were welcomed on board by the crew with a glass of fizz. A light snack was provided. We settled into our cabins and there was a short boat briefing before we set off.
We were sharing 2 people to the most basic cabins, located below the main deck. However, these cabins were comfortable with a large single and separate double bed beside it. There wasn’t a lot of room for storage but it was adequate. The cabins have a separate toilet and was basin and a separate shower. The water throughout the ship, including the taps in the cabins is potable.
We left port at about 10pm on Sunday evening and arrived at our first stop, San Benedicto, at around 4am on the following Tuesday – 30 hour trip. Fortunately, the sea conditions were relatively calm so the trip was reasonably comfortable. On the way, the crew gave various briefings, including the locations we would be visiting.

The food on board was excellent, plentiful and tasty – prepared by two chefs and served by two hostesses. The dining room was OK for a full complement of 32 divers. We had 27 divers on board. The boat is large, with a dining area; comfortable interior area where presentations were given and had the bar which was open until 11.45pm (not that anyone stayed up that late!); spacious sun deck on top with a hot tub and barbeque. There was also a bar area on the sundeck.

Coffee was available in the dining room from about 5.30am. Continental breakfast from 6.30am. Hot breakfast from completion of Dive 1 of the day. You pre-ordered if you wanted eggs or pancakes. Lunch was after Dive 2 of the day and was served buffet style (as were most meals). There was always a choice of hot dishes, usually a vegetarian option plus soup and salad. The hostesses would always cater to specific dietary requirements. Breads and cookies are baked fresh every day by the chefs. Dinner was usually around 7.30pm once all dives had been completed. There were various “theme” meals. The was “Steak night”; “Pasta Night”; “Burger Night”; “Greek Night” etc. The food was varied and really excellent. The hostesses; Chiva and Laurentina were fantastic, getting drinks, clearing away etc.

The crew were the most professional, helpful and friendly of any liveaboard I have ever been on. They were fantastic. There is the captain; the first mate (who also drove the ribs); engineer; 5 divemasters; 2 chefs; 2 hostesses and a videographer.

The boat has three ribs. The dive deck is big and has three large table for cameras, with charging points etc. The kitting up area would be tight if all divers tried to kit up together. Before you arrive, you are asked which category of dive group you want to be included in. There are three categories:
1. “Sharks” – who are experienced, self-sufficient, divers who do not want a divemaster with them. They were always taken first and dropped by the ribs.
2. “Mantas” – who are experienced divers but who would like to have a divemaster with them. The divemaster is pretty light touch but will try and find fauna and will ascend with you if you want.
3. “Dolphins” – who want the customary full divemaster support.
There were a few “sharks”, no “Dolphins” and mostly “Mantas” on our trip. However, we were split into 3 groups of about 7/8 divers. Each group was taken out 15 minutes apart which made it much easier to kit up. Rib entry could be tricky as the ribs drive onto the rear of the boat. Divers go onto the dive deck fully kitted apart from fins which you hand to the divemaster who helps you onto the rib. It isn’t elegant but it was generally fine. Once you are in the rib they hand in your fins and camera gear. Entry at dive sites was roll in unison as a group off the rib. On completion of the dive you approached the rib and handed up your camera gear, then your weights; then the crew took your BCD and tank off you; leaving you to take your fins off and climb up the ladder into the rib. Although the sea was rolling a bit this generally worked well with no incidents. Exiting the ribs to the boat at the end of the dives is essentially the same process in reverse. We had reasonably big waves at some sites but nobody really struggled. We had a wide range of ages – from late twenties to early-seventies. The hostesses greeted returning divers with hot drinks and warm towels.

There was a large rinse tank for cameras. There were two rinse buckets for wetsuits etc. There was a bucket for mask rinsing.

Our diving itinerary was as follows:

Dive Day 1: San Benedicto; The Canyon We had all 4 dives on the Canyon as two other boats were on the other main site, The Boiler. This wasn’t a problem as all the dives were great.
On the check dive we saw schooling hammerheads (about 40 of them) and the first of many Giant Pacific Mantas. We saw many Whitetips (as we did on every one of our 19 dives); large Galapagos Sharks; Silvertips; Silkies.

Dive Days 2 and 3: Roca Partida. We had 8 dives at Roca, with no other dive boats on the second day (and only one on the first day). We saw individual hammerheads on several dives but no more schools. We saw Giant Pacific Mantas; large Galapagos Sharks; Silvertips; Silkies; huge tuna; wahoo; massive schools of Cottonmouth Jack and Bonito. I would say that all the fish we saw were at the large end of size for their species! We saw a Humpback Whale from the boat between dives.

Dive Day 4: Socorro Island; we had 3 dives and a night snorkel with Silky Sharks. Socorro was great but possibly number 3 of the locations we dived. That said we saw mantas and sharks.

Dive Day 5; San Benedicto; The Boiler. We had all 4 dives on the Boiler with no other boats All the dives were great. On the first dive of the day we had multiple, very friendly, Giant Pacific Mantas, who came very close and played in our bubbles. We also had a small pod of 4 dolphins hang around with us for about 10 minutes. Once again, we saw many Whitetips; large Galapagos Sharks; Silvertips; and Silkies. We also saw a Tiger Shark on one of the dives. One group saw a pod of False Killer Whales.
It wasn’t all about the big stuff. There were many free-swimming Moray Eels and some of the biggest Lobsters I have ever seen. However, I would leave your macro lens at home.
Visibility varied. It was mostly around 20 to 25m but was sometimes better. Currents weren't particularly strong although they did sometimes limit where we could go at Roca Partida. That said there were plenty of sheltered areas.

A couple of divers had brought drones as had the videographer. Some of the aerial shots of the islands and over the boat were spectacular.

Nitrox is available and you are encouraged to use it, although it costs extra. Only one diver on our trip didn’t. The fills are consistently in the Nitrox32 to 34 range. This is fine as there is no real need to go particularly deep. 12 ltr standard tanks are provided, although 15 ltr steel tanks are also available. The water temperature ranged from 23C to 27C and probably averaged 24C. The advice was to dive in a 5mm full suit and hood and most people did exactly that. However, I wore a 3mm fullsuit, with a 3/5 vest/hood and I was fine. One of my group wore two 5mm fullsuits and a hood! This isn't a location for inexperienced divers.

Extras included Nitrox and larger tank rental. There is a Marine Park fee of USD65 payable only in cash. Everything else can be paid for by card.

I cannot recommend this boat and the trip to Islas Revillagigedo highly enough!
I suspect what we saw was fairly average for the trip but was still spectacular. Any trip that has schooling hammerheads on the check dive has to be pretty special.
Websites Nautilus Explorer   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Galapagos; Palau; Sipadan; Truk; Malapascua; Komodo; Ticao Island; Maldives; Red Sea; Caribbean; Cuba; Hawaii; Florida; Cozumel; Spain, Seychelles, Mauritius, Oman, GBR
Closest Airport San Jose del Cabo (SJD) Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy Seas choppy, surge
Water Temp 23-27°C / 73-81°F Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 20-25 M / 66-82 Ft

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions [Unspecified]
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas Squadrons
Dolphins 1 or 2 Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales 1 or 2
Corals N/A Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics 5 stars

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Large camera tables on the dive deck with charging points.
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Report currently has 4 Helpful votes

Subscriber's Comments

By Bruce Weiner in NY, US at May 04, 2018 15:24 EST  
I was on this trip with Graham and everything he said is absolutely true. The finest boat and crew I have ever experienced. Diving was wonderful. Great big animal experience. I can recommend the Belle Amie without any reservations.
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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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