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Dive Review of Rocio del Mar in
Mexico (Western)/Midriff Islands

Rocio del Mar: "My Kingdom for a Little Visability", Jul, 2016,

by Craig Gibson, TX, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 9 reports with 3 Helpful votes). Report 9186 has 1 Helpful vote.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 3 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 3 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments The best part of the trip is that it is a short drive from the Southwest. We drove from El Paso, TX (home) to Puerto Penasco where we spent the night and messed around the next day until boarding time at 4:00. If I did it again I would have spent the night in Tucson, AZ and driven down after lunch. If you like to party and shop for tourist stuff you might like spending more time here. I guess I've been there and done that too many times already. Also, I found the cost of American style lodging to be kind of expensive and stayed the night at Hotel Baja, but wouldn't recommend it (not even Motel 6 level).

We boarded the boat at 4:00 and grabbed a dive station. This is important as about 1/3 of them are designed in a standing configuration. You basically have a section on a partition to hang your equipment and get suited up in a standing position. The rest of the stations are normal seats with a space underneath to stow your gear. However, about half of these get completely covered by wetsuits.

Only a few of the cabins have a double bed and the rest have two bunks. In the regular cabins you better forget about having some special time with your spouse, unless both are truly gifted. We were told that the boat was designed and built by Mexicans for Mexicans and that Americans may find it a little tight. This was great advice. The bunks were normal size, but everything else seemed about 10% smaller than other boats I have been on. I'm just under 6 foot, but found the room and bathroom uncomfortable. The really odd thing was a small ceiling fan in each cabin. After almost gashing my head the first time I dismounted from the top bunk, the fan got turned off.

The individual A/C units seemed to cool well, but ours put out a significant amount of moisture. The carpet and linens always felt wet and I got a nasty cough. We finally started propping the door open so it could dry out during the day.

The food was good (I have had better and much worse), but the dining room is on the lower deck (below the water level). I assume this was done to reduce the amount of rocking, but it just felt weird with no windows. Americans should be careful going down the stairs as a nice head bump is generally on the menu as well. There is a small coffee/snack station here that is open from about 6 AM until after dinner. I had to be patient most mornings for that first cup of coffee. Most other boats seem to be offering 24 hour self service anymore, but this is Mexico.

The divers are divided into two groups and they have two small dive boats that take each group to the dive sites. The divers suit up and get on the boats and the crew will hand out your fins (cameras are handed down after you are in the water). There are always some folks that need to don their gear on the boat and for some reason this seemed to take a lot of time. It generally takes more time to get the folks on the boat than to travel to the sites (typically 5 or 10 minutes). Entry is done with an easy back roll. To get back on the boat you remove/hand up your weights, then remove/hand up your BCD/tank, take fins off and climb on up. Everything was pretty normal.

Now the diving was a different story. We were on the first trip of the season for this area, and I believe they started a few weeks early. The water temp was in the 60's and at least one dive was in the 50's. Don't know about you, but I am from the land of triple digits and I found this to be extremely cold. My wife is happy to wear a skin in 76 degree water, but I need a 3 mil at 82 degrees. I wore a 5 mil with a vest, my wife bounced around between 3 mill and 5 mill, but she is still going through the "change" (I swear I saw steam coming off her after one entry).

I really believe the dive sites are really nice, but there was such a healthy crop of krill that we could only see about 15 feet on most of the dives. There was one dive on the last day of diving that really showed some promise, but I still need more than 30 to 40 feet of viz to fully appreciate the site.

Several of the sites included interaction with sea lions which is always fun, but even this got old after a while. The really cold site had a number of large jaw fish that burrow down into the sand. We waited on the sea floor for about 15 minutes (at 58 degrees) to see one come out. Yes, it was worth the wait, but I still have no feeling in two of my fingers...

I few of the folks saw a sea horse, but I never did. I did see several mobulas which is basically a pygmy manta and found only in Baja (so we were told). However, the biggest claim to fame here was the nudibranchs. The place was literally crawling with them (ha). I lost count of the different species there were so many. Evidently, this was the time of year to see these little guys. One of the divemasters emailed us about a month later and said they were all but gone, but the water was much warmer and clearer.

On the drive back to Puerto Penasco we stopped off to do some whale shark snorkeling. I have done this in a couple of other locations on the Caribbean side, but this was a bit different. It took almost an hour to find these guys, but once we found the right spot we hit the mother lode. You could follow one until you came across another and then follow that one back to the boat. Or you could just sit in the water and watch. I believe this one activity made the trip worth it for me.

The service was great, but I doubt that I would go back, at least not in July. The cost of the liveaboard was the same as the Belize Aggressor, but not nearly as nice. Also, the diving here did not even come close to Belize. However, it was much cheaper and easier to get there, but I prefer the warmer, clearer places so I can concentrate on complaining about all of other divers that just don't have the sense to do everything that way I do it. And don't forget about the retired Colonels that do it better than you, it just never ends...
Websites Rocio del Mar   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Australia, Belize, Bonaire, Dominica, Fiji, Galapagos, Hawaii, Honduras, Malaysia, Maui, Mexico-Caribean, Mexico-Baja, Palau, Philippines, TX, FL, NC, NM
Closest Airport Getting There Drive south from Tucson, AZ

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 58-68°F / 14-20°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 10-30 Ft/ 3-9 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions A divemaster stayed in the water with the group, but if you weren't in the front of the group you would lose him in the krill. Mostly they just want you to make it back to the boat.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments The viz was just too poor for me to enjoy my big rig so I ended up taking the GoPro from my wife and had a great time.
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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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