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Dive Review of Rocio del Mar in
Mexico (Western)/Sea of Cortez

Rocio del Mar: "Great warm-water diving in the Sea of Cortez from a good boat", Aug, 2015,

by Joel Snyder, AZ, US (Sr. Contributor Sr. Contributor 29 reports with 30 Helpful votes). Report 8341 has 2 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling 4 stars
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments We spent a week aboard the Rocio del Mar doing their Midriff Islands itinerary. The boat leaves around 5PM from Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point) on Saturday, and returns you the following Saturday at 7AM to the same location. Getting to Puerto Penasco from Tucson is incredibly easy; once you get on I-19, you only have to make 5 turns between Tucson and the boat dock. Guarded parking is available for $5/day at the Marina; arrive early to get a shady spot.

We were in room 9; there are 10 rooms, 8 with 2 single beds and 2 (9 and 10) with a double and a single bed. The extra space was very welcome as the rooms are fairly tight. Private bathrooms were attached to all guest rooms with shower, sink, and toilet. Not luxurious by any standard, but with individual A/C and bed, we had no complaints as you don't spend much awake time in your room.

The boat is not new, so there are rough edges and small repairs needed here and there, but it was perfectly serviceable and none of the problems affected us except in minuscule ways (such as the switch on our reading light being broken—as if we had time to read before falling asleep).

The Rocio del Mar can handle about 20 divers, and we were a group of 19, so it was full, but things were not hectic. We took meals in a dining room below with sufficient room for everyone. Above the dive deck was a salon with a fridge with free drinks (soft drinks and Mexican beer) and open living area with couches and chairs. Above was one additional sun deck with a huge built-in BBQ (and the compressors/nitrox membrane). At night, the sun deck was fantastic for watching stars. Two nights the staff set up picnic tables and we ate dinner outside.

The staff is extremely friendly and very professional. They made an effort to learn our names and helped us out with anything and everything we wanted. All of the staff working directly with guests spoke excellent English and there were no language communications problems our week.

Diving follows a standard liveaboard schedule: 6AM "pre-breakfast," 7AM dive, 8:30 breakfast, 10:30 dive, noon lunch, 14:00 dive, snacks. Then, depending on the day, either another dive, followed by dinner, or dinner, followed by a dive. All this interspersed with moving the boat. Overall, we "lost" two dives due to boat moving, but the rest of the time, we were able do four dives a day for the core days of the trip, and 3 a day for the end days. Figure 20-24 dives for 6 days of diving, pretty good considering the distance covered.

Dive deck is tight, but not crowded. A huge center table is reserved for cameras (along with a separate rinse bucket), and tanks are in a U shape around the back dive deck. Divers are broken into groups, and each group goes out on their own inflatable dinghy, separated by a few minutes. Tanks are refilled in place with whips between dives (air or nitrox). A few photographers brought or requested their own Steel 100s, but everyone else had Aluminum 80s, filled to 3100+ each dive. Given time limits (see below), everyone had tons of air.

This trip was Midriff Islands, which means heading south the first night towards Isla Angel de la Guardia, then working your way back north slowly. The two long crossings (first/last nights) had some rough seas—the first night so bad that we lost about 3 hours of sleep—but generally the seas were calm.

Mid-August, the water temperature ranged from 78-84 at surface, with bottom temps (60-100 ft) of 74-80. Most of the time, I logged 78-82 temperatures, easily handled with a 3mm neoprene top I use. We had very little current, just on a couple of dives. Visibility wasn't great—there were immense clouds of fish fry in the water and other gunk limiting to 20-40 feet, 50 feet at best in some sites.

Dives were limited to 60 minutes (day, 50 minutes nite), which ended up being about 64 minutes for most of us. Dive masters invited us to stay with them, but if we separated and surfaced separately, no one said a word. All divers must have an SMB for this reason, and we needed ours 3 times. Jellyfish/stinging things bad at one site, but otherwise uncommon.

Life in the Sea of Cortez is amazingly diverse. Pairs of Cortez and King Angels common; morays, scorpionfish/stonefish, and lobsters everywhere; sea lions at many sites to play with or distract you. Bottom fish including blue-spotted jawfish and giant jawfish were easy to find, along with lots of pike blenny males displaying their characteristic "come and get it" pose for the ladies. No sharks; all fished out years ago. Plenty of blue-and-yellow chromis, sting rays, scissortails, puffers available to watch or take pictures of. We had occasional turtles, and many ghostly sightings of mobulas (large ray filter feeders) overhead.

We voted as a group to skip two dives and go swim with the whale sharks, which is a 4-hour outing (swim until you're exhausted). I can't say how many whale sharks we saw, but at times there were as many as 4 of them within a 100 meter radius, and we were busy the whole time chasing them around a small bay, jumping in the water, and swimming within 2 meters of them. Those are BIG fish.

The diving is good for both novice and experienced divers; many of the divers on our trip had more than 500 dives under their belts and some had come back to this trip multiple times (one guy had been on the boat 14 times!), which gives you an idea of how good it is.
Websites Rocio del Mar   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Asia; Carib; Mexico; Hawaii; Red Sea
Closest Airport Puerto Penasco Getting There Drive from Tucson/Phoenix, or fly in direct. 3 to 4 hours by car from Tucson.

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, surge
Water Temp 78-82°F / 26-28°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 20-50 Ft/ 6-15 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Time limit of 60 minutes for dives; depth limit of 130 feet and strict "no deco" (if you're in deco, you're out for 24 hours)
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Large dedicated camera table and rinse tank.
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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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