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Dive Review of Rocio Del Mar in
Mexico (Western)/Socorros Island

Rocio Del Mar: "Excellent Liveaboard to the Socorros", Jan, 2015,

by Brent Barnes, OK, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 10 reports with 6 Helpful votes). Report 8112 has 2 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

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 2 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments [None] I returned from an 8 day trip to the Socorros Islands aboard the Rocio Del Mar and had an excellent experience. The Rocio Del Mar has been extensively written about in previous Undercurrent reports and I found the majority of these to be accurate indicating a very consistent operation. We were fortunate to reserve two spots on an early January trip only a few months in advance which is unusual as the Rocio Del Mar is frequently nearly completely booked a year in advance. All of our questions by email were promptly answered by the Rocio Del Mar’s staff. We flew in to Cabo the day before, which is required by the Rocio Del Mar as boarding is early in the morning. We stayed at the El Encanto Inn which was recommended by the Rocio Del Mar staff. We stayed in a very large 2 bedroom suite and the entire hotel was very nice. I would recommend requesting the pool side area. Free Wi-Fi was available at the El Encanto Inn. The El Encanto Inn is nearby to many restaurants and just a few blocks from the town square. The price from the Cabo airport to the El Encanto Inn was $60 for the two of us and our six pieces of luggage. When I checked in, I requested that they have a taxi ready to pick us up at 7:30 the next morning and the taxi was promptly there and ready for us the following morning. It was a 10 minute ride to the marina where the Rocio Del Mar was waiting and cost $20 for the two of us. Upon arrival to the marina, the staff of the Rocio Del Mar immediately helped with our luggage and got it onto the boat and to our assigned room for us. Within an hour, we began the 26 hour crossing to San Benedicto Island. After we were settled into our rooms, an orientation to the boat was done in the galley and all of the staff were introduced. The Rocio Del Mar is a very functional dive boat and the staff takes great pride in their boat. The 10 rooms are quite small, but typical of dive liveaboard boats. Each room had a private bathroom, and though small I found the bathroom to be more functional that many liveaboards I have been on. The shower is good sized and it is possible to take a shower without getting the toilet and the remainder of the bathroom completely wet. I took a brief shower after every dive and always found there to be sufficient hot water and the water pressure was generally adequate. The Rocio Del Mar has eight cabins on the middle deck which is the same deck the dive platform is on. It has two cabins and a large enclosed media room with an outside covered lounge area on the deck above it. There is a completely open upper deck with lounge chairs that is not covered. We stayed in one of the two cabins on the upper deck (cabins 9 and 10 are there). We did step in and see some of the other cabins and found them to all be about the same size. There are two forward cabins that are a little bit larger and have an odd shaped double bed that would be functional only for couples. Air conditioning is central and individual rooms do not have temperature control, though you have the capability of closing the vent in your room. Interestingly, many people with cabins on the lower deck got extremely cold at night but we found that our cabin on the upper deck would get warm at night. There are two separate thermostats on the boat for the two different levels that the cabins are on and the captain generally keeps them set at 76 degrees. When we got warm at night we would occasionally step outside of our room (as the thermostat was right outside our room) and would turn it down to 73 or 74 and the air would immediately come on and cool our room. All rooms have overhead fans but if you are sleeping in the upper bunk and keep the fan running at all times you must be careful getting in and out of the bunk as you come within inches of the fan. Overall, the boat was very functional. The galley is in the very lower deck with no scenic windows which is different from most boats. However, the rooms in the individual cabins had spectacular windows which could be opened and we often left our window open at night. The Rocio Del Mar does have side stabilizers which assist in minimizing rolling but I would still bring seasickness precautions if you are prone to it. The dive deck was small but the 18 divers on the boat were divided into three groups and dive times were 15 minutes apart for each group so usually only 5 – 7 people were gearing up at a time which worked fine. My only complaint is that the dive tanks are kept higher than usual and you gear up while standing. Getting into the BCD on your tank was a pain at its height, especially if you are under 6 feet tall. For dives, you would put all of your gear on except fins and the crew would take your fins and camera to the panga for you. You would simply walk down to the platform and get on the panga and your fins and camera would be handed to you. All dive sites were a maximum of 5 minutes distance by panga. Once at the site, all divers on the panga did a simultaneous backroll for entry. We dove 4 days on San Benedicto Island, one day at Socorros and one day at Roca Partida. I enjoyed all three islands. Mantas were more common at San Benedicto and Socorros while sharks were more common at Roca Partida. Roca Partida is a wondrous pinnacle right in the middle of nowhere that goes straight down for over 300 feet underwater and attracts many large animals. Dive times were set at 50 minutes and we really could not have extended them much longer as they were all in the 60 – 110 foot range. Nitrox was provided for $120 per week and almost all dove nitrox and we were scheduled for 3 – 4 dives per day. Night diving is not allowed by the Mexican government. We did have one day where BOTH compressors went down and the crew made arrangements with the Solmar to fill our tanks but due to the time constraints of taking all of our tanks by panga to the Solmar (another dive boat which was at the same island with us) to get them filled we only did 2 dives instead of the four dives scheduled that day. One of the compressors was fixed by that night so it did not affect our diving the rest of the trip. We did get in 18 dives in six days at the three islands. All of the diving was fantastic. Manta rays were seen on 18 of the 18 dives, with prolonged encounters of 20 minutes or more on 16 of the 18 dives. The mantas in the Socorros are simply magical. They are very large and seem to seek out encounters with divers. On the diving, you simply drop to a cleaning station area and wait. The mantas will generally show and then make multiple slow passes over the divers often times hovering above them. We would see at least one manta on each dive, but often would have 3 – 4 at a time including chevron and black mantas. I came away with incredible photos of mantas and have never experienced such close encounters other than the manta night diving at Kona in Hawaii. In addition to the mantas, we did see a good number of scalloped hammerhead sharks including brief glimpses of schools of up to 20 – 30 of them, galapagos sharks, silvertip sharks and silky sharks. We did see one large tiger shark at the Canyon at San Benedicto. Humpback whales arrive from mid-January to April with February and March being peak whale season. We were a little early for them, but saw several whales from the surface at San Benedicto and Roca Partida but never saw them underwater. On two days, we had vibrant whale songs and whale communication throughout all of our dives which were easily heard underwater. We were told by our panga diver that the whales were within 60 – 100 yards of us but we never saw them underwater. My takeaway from diving the Socorros was that it is the most consistent place I have ever dove for big animals. I have dove at Cocos Island previously and while some of my dives there were more breathtaking with large animals there were also a few dives at Cocos that were quiet with few animals seen. At Socorros, every dive had big animal encounters with no “dud” dives during the entire dive. I do not know if this is routine but it was the most consistent diving for large animal I have ever seen. Again, even the best places for big animal encounters cannot provide great manta encounters on 18 of 18 dives over a six day span! Finally, I cannot complete a report on the Rocio Del Mar without mentioning chef Pancho who was incredible. Food was excellent and varied throughout the trip. The entire crew was outstanding and very service oriented. Last, in the “wish I knew before I went category”, note that any underwater lights (other than strobes and camera lights) are illegal and gloves are illegal in the Socorros Islands as per the Mexican government. Don’t bring any dive lights. However, I would bring at least a single glove. The diving is often in heavy current and at times we would struggle to hold on to volcanic rock at cleaning stations for extended periods. The crew recommended “unofficially” that you take a glove on each dive in your BCD pocket and once underwater put it on and use it for hanging on to rocks. Then, take it off before coming out of the water. I left my gloves at home so wish I had known that. In short, I would have no hesitation in diving on the Rocio Del Mar again and consider the Socorros Islands to be one of the most reliable destinations for big animal encounters and would highly encourage any divers who seek big animal encounters, especially with mantas, to dive the Socorros Islands.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Cocos Island, Bahamas, California, Big Island, Saba, St. Eustatius, Curacao, St. Croix, Cozumel, Little Cayman, Grand Cayman, Cabo, Florida Keys, West Palm Beach, Belize, Dominica
Closest Airport Cabo Getting There Fly into Cabo

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, cloudy Seas choppy, currents
Water Temp 74-76°F / 23-24°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 30-80 Ft/ 9-24 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Maximum of 130 feet depth, 50 minutes in length. Staying with your small group was highly encouraged due to potential for strong currents but not absolutely necessary
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas Squadrons
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 2 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 1 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 Incredible photography opportunities for large animals. A large camera table is on the dive deck with multiple charging stations and several air guns for blowing your camera housing dry. A large camera rinse barrel is on the dive deck. Crew takes excellent care of your cameras.
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Report currently has 2 Helpful votes

Subscriber's Comments

By Randall S Preissig in TX, US at Oct 06, 2015 19:18 EST  
Excellent and accurate report. Thank you.
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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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