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Dive Review of Nautilus Explorer in
Mexico (Western)/Revillagigedos Islands

Nautilus Explorer: "Revillagigedos Islands on the Nautilus Explorer", Apr, 2015,

by Carol D Cox, FL, US (Sr. Contributor Sr. Contributor 20 reports with 14 Helpful votes). Report 8182 has 2 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 4 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 1 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Photos (work may still be under progress): [ link]
My group of 8 booked a trip 2 years in advance. The boat sold out which is the norm since the number of dive boats allowed in the islands is limited by the Mexican government.
We were instructed to meet our boat at the API dock but it wasnít there. The main dock was under repairs from the hurricane in September but we were not notified. We happened on the right location by accident when we saw people standing by a gate with dive bags. The boat was moored in the bay, and we were shuttled to it in the RIBs.
Our room was great with plenty of storage space below the two beds. We had a small water closet with sink and toilet, and a separate shower. There were lots of hooks for hanging towels and swimsuits. The bedding was crisp white duvets; the mattress was a bit firm but after diving all day it didnít seem to matter.
Food on board is very good and they accommodate special requests such as gluten-free or vegetarian. I woke up to the aroma of baking bread Ė the breads, desserts, and cookies were fantastic. There was a continental and a hot breakfast each morning. Lunch was buffet style and included large casseroles, tacos, and sandwiches. Dinner was usually served family style with large platters of veggies, grilled salmon, steaks, burgers, stir fry, lasagna, and more.
As we departed Cabo Lucas, we were treated with sightings of sea lions and a great view of El Arco. We were served breakfast before attending the safety briefings. We had the rest of the day to unpack, assemble gear, and get to know the other guests. During the intros, it seemed we had a lot of new crew but my initial worries were proven unfounded. The head divemaster, Liz, did a great job of keeping operations running smoothly, with only a few small hiccups here and there. Julian proved to be an experienced dive guide. Ryan was a bit fresh but he was quickly learning the ropes. Our fellow guests were from Great Britain, Canada, Russia, France, and the US. Liz proved her value even more by speaking fluent French.
Our trip started with relatively calm waters and partly cloudy skies. Even so, I was glad I had my SCOP patch to counteract the effect of the long swells. It took 25 hours to get to San Benedicto. We were welcomed with humpback whales spouting and breaching. Our checkout dive at Fondeadero had disappointing 20-foot vis, but we saw lots of colorful fishes to include Clarion angelfish, barberfish, Moorish idols, and king angelfish. My buddy and I saw a silvertip shark cruise by, while other divers reported several whitetip sharks. The following two dives were at El Canyon. We were told our 40-foot visibility and strong currents, were not the norm for the area. We did manage to see a few hammerhead and white tip sharks, although the hammerheads kept their distance.
The second day of diving, we moved to another side of San Benedicto and did four dives on The Boiler, a pinnacle that rises from 250 feet to within 10 feet of the surface. It was a calm day and our boat was able to moor close to the boiler to dive it from the deck without using the RIBS. Vis opened up to 90-foot. Mantas and whitetip sharks were sited on every dive, along with large schools of dolphins. This was the kind of diving we expected to see on our trip! When the big action slowed down, there were large schools of psychedelic red-tailed triggerfish, Panamic creolefish, and jacks of all sorts. We also saw large lobsters on the reef, and with a little perseverance, I managed some super macro shots of the endemic and colorful Revillagigedos barnacle blennies.
Overnight, the boat moved to Roca Partida. At this point, we experienced our first RIB diving of the trip. We were instructed how to get into the boat with all our dive gear except fins. It was easier than it looked, even with 30 pounds of weight to counteract my new 7 mil wetsuit. The hard part was getting your fins on once in the boat; itís nice if you have a helpful buddy on the opposite side of the RIB.
We had mild currents on the rock, a fair amount of surge, and great 100-foot visibility. I found myself trying to take a photo of resting whitetip sharks, and then being pushed straight towards them by the surge. I think the sharks had seen this before, and they would just move away. There were large pockets all over the reef with whitetip sharks resting and getting cleaned by small Mexican hogfish and juvenile wrasses. Often they were accompanied by large Panamic green morays. We saw a number of Galapagos sharks on our dives, but unfortunately the mantas were absent.
Getting back into the rib was easy if you happened to get the one with the ladder. Otherwise, after handing up all your weights and gear, you grabbed a rope and kicked like crazy until you flopped into the boat like a sea lion. If needed, the RIB driver would help pull you in.
On our second day at Roca Partida, the shark action picked up with many Galapagos, silvertip, whitetip, and silky sharks. The mantas were still nowhere to be seen, so I tried my hand at some close-up photography. One of my favorite subjects were black and white juvenile leather basses hiding in the long-spine sea urchins. I also found a few masked morays in the urchins and hiding in crevices. I photographed Panamic fang blennies and whitespotted boxfish. We were frequently serenaded by humpbacks whales during our dives. They sounded so close I kept looking for them in the distance.
Overnight, the boat moved to Socorro. There were only three dives available on this day because we had to go through an inspection from the Mexican Navy stationed on the island. The navy personnel did an inspection of the boat and then all the guests were called to the salon and roll call was taken with the passports. All went smoothly, and we were allowed to begin our diving at Punta Tosca. We experienced some unusually strong currents there. On one dive, several of us were following a rock ridge. At a point where the ridge dipped, the current swept me straight through separating me from my husband who managed to cling to the rock and work his way down to the bottom. I watched as three other divers got swept through feet first (I wish I had video). We stayed together and tried to find a way back over the ridge to join the rest of the group, but the currents were too strong to even pull ourselves over the rocks. We ended our dive by doing a slow ascent with no safety stop, as we had been instructed to do if swept away by currents. We were a long way from our dive site by the time we surfaced, but our safety sausage was sighted by the one of the RIB drivers in a reasonable amount of time. Although we didnít need them, I was very happy the boat issued Nautilus Lifeline radios to all their guests. My husband had stayed with the other group of divers and had already been picked up. I only saw one manta at this location, and one shark, although I did get plenty of photos of puffers, morays and rays.
My favorite part of this location was the close proximity of humpback whales. We were even able to do a quick snorkel with a mother and baby with their male escort. Although the experience only lasted a few seconds, it is one I will never forget. And to top it off, we did a night snorkel with silky sharks behind our boat. I donít know who had the most fun, the snorkelers in the water, or the guests who watch the action from the safety of the boat.
We moved on to a site called Cabo Pearce. On the first dive, we went out deep to look for Mantas. We found a few, but not enough to make the long swim through current worthwhile. So on the second dive, one of my buddies and I opted to dive in the cove behind the boat. It featured a vertical stone wall and a bottom strewn with large boulders. We had a wonderful time chasing damselfish, blennies, and small triplefins with our cameras, and my buddy even found a tiger reef eel. The dive was made perfect by a manta that joined us for the duration of our surface stop. In the protection of the cove we experienced a little surge, but it was calm enough that we could swim both ways along the wall and our surface swim back to the boat was easier than flopping into a RIB.
Unlike most dive boats to this area, the Nautilus Explorer did a night dive at a location called the Aquarium. I love night diving, but it turned out to be anti-climatic. I saw very few of the night creatures I would expect to see, such as shrimp and squid. We did see several large lobsters crawling around the reef, I found some colorful red crabs in the clumps of coral, and managed to get photos of sleeping parrotfishes and creolefish. Our most interesting encounter was an octopus.
After dinner, the boat motored back to San Benedicto. They put us back in El Canyon hoping for better visibility this time, but unless you were very deep, we could only see a hazy 20 feet. We did a second dive there and the visibility had gotten surprisingly better, and a school of hammerhead sharks made a brief appearance.
Once again the boat moved to The Boiler, and this time it was boiling because we had much larger waves than before. Getting from the boat and into the RIB had become a real challenge. As my RIB pulled away from the ship it was almost tossed vertical. Another diver and I were thrown into the center of the boat, but luckily we survived without injuring ourselves or our camera gear. It turned out to be worth the effort. Shortly after we started our dive, we were joined by 6 mantas that flew over, under, and beside all the divers. There were acrobatics as mantas did back loops, or they went straight up and then spiraled down below. The mantas came within touching distance, sometimes stopping right next to a diver. On our last dive, this was all repeated again, with some of the mantas even joining us during our safety stop. What a wonderful way to end our diving!
Here are just a few more notes about the trip. First of all, do not attempt this trip if you are not in fairly good condition. Although a few dives can be done from the back of the boat, there is a lot of climbing in and out of ribs, and only one has a ladder. They will provide you the RIB with the ladder if you need it, but you may be waiting for a while on the surface. Although we were fortunate to have several days of ďcalmĒ weather, we also had a couple of days of 6 to 8 foot swells. It can be tricky to get from the ship and into a RIB while wearing a BCD, tank, and enough weight for a 7 mil wetsuit. After one dive, we spent a half hour holding onto a mooring line in very strong current; the RIBs needed to pick up the folks that didnít make it to the mooring line first, before they drifted out to sea.
This is a location for experienced divers that can keep a cool head. As I stated above, I got swept over a ridge by a strong current Ė when the next diver came through she looked a bit worried, but calmed down right away when I swam to her and told her we would stay together. This could have ended in a panic situation for many divers. A solo diver got into trouble when he had problems with the swells and currents and his gear malfunctioned. We experienced strong down currents that you could not swim up against, but had to counteract by putting air in your BC.
I did have one issue with their policy concerning rental regulators. After four days of diving, my regulator free-flowed. I was able to use a rental regulator, but they would not let me pop out their console computer and pop in mine. This seems like an odd policy because their computer would have started me off as a new diver and you do want to do that after repetitive dives. Fortunately I dive with a backup wrist computer so I ended up using it the last couple of days.
Websites Nautilus Explorer   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Caribbean, Bahamas, Florida, Turkey, Palau, Truk
Closest Airport San Jose del Cabo Getting There Via Atlanta

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, surge, currents
Water Temp 73-78°F / 23-26°C Wetsuit Thickness 7
Water Visibility 20-100 Ft/ 6-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile ?
Enforced diving restrictions Back to the boat with 500 psi
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments The one rinse bin could barely hold my husband's wide-angle rig so he usually waited until everyone else was done rinsing their gear. Camera table was just big enough if gear that wasn't currently in use was stowed on the lower table. We have a lot of rechargeable gear, so we brought a pigtail allowing us to use the shelf above the camera table for charging. The battery area would have been too small otherwise. There is another camera area upstairs, but not good if carrying big gear.
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Report currently has 2 Helpful votes

Subscriber's Comments

By MICHAEL ZAGACHIN in MA, US at Apr 23, 2015 18:10 EST  
Carol, Thanks for great report. And btw, you photography is fantastic. Planning on Socorro trip at the end of the year (warmer water, thiner wetsuit) Michael
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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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