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Dive Review of Rocio del Mar in
Mexico (Western)/Sea of Cortez, top to bottom

Rocio del Mar: "Gulf of Cortez(California) not up to hype", Oct, 2014,

by Randall S Preissig, TX, US (Top Contributor Top Contributor 35 reports with 13 Helpful votes). Report 7817.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments First, the good. Dora, who owns the company with her husband, is on most cruises. This undoubtedly helps keep the crew's performance at peak. Her enthusiasm is contagious and she became one of my all-time favorite staff. The food was very good with free beer and wine anytime you wanted (no diving after drinking, of course). Rooms were large with plenty of storage and the AC was way more than adequate. Snacks, drinks, fruit 24 hours in the lounge or dining area. The dive deck was a little crowded, as was the camera table. You walked down to the skiff fully geared unless you requested help which was readily available. Boats of 10 left 15 minutes apart.
The diving started with a bang with a school of 16 mobula making 3 passes by our group on the first dive. The Sea of Cortez has relatively sparse coral spread over mainly volcanic rock. You won't see large coral formations or significant soft coral. We encountered sea lions at several sites and indeed they were the highlight of the trip for most. The Rocio del Mar is slow(8 knots!?) and even with stabilizers hanging far off to the sides, some became seasick. Only 34 dives were offered on our 14 day trip--less than 3 a day(not the "up to 4 dives a day" advertised). Much of this was due to the slow speed. We snorkeled with "teenage" whale sharks 14-22 feet in length at Bahia del Los Angeles. Visibility was so poor that photography was limited and many actually got back in the boats where they were better seen. If the whale shark was 5 feet away you could barely make it out, and the minimum distance to separate you from the shark was 5 feet! If you've never seen a whale shark, this snorkeling would have been fun, but otherwise many of us returned to the boat early. Apparently this isn't unusual--after all the whale sharks go there to feed on the concentrated algae!
We saw schools of fish at a few of the sites, most notably at a wreck site and elsewhre at El Bajo and El Vencedor--over 2000 Big Eye Jacks in one school with huge Dog Snappers and Gulf Groupers waiting to feed on them. But the schools of hammerheads are reportedly(by both repeat visitors and staff) gone due to overfishing. Only a couple of us saw a small group of 7-8, and that only after two full dives drifting in the blue :-( Reports of massive schools of fish and a sea teeming with fish sadly seem to be overblown; many on the trip who had dived here for 15-20 years reported a steady decline, and some said this would be their last trip. Having read glowing reader reports of this trip in UnderCurrent plus a recent article in UnderCurrent on the Rocio del Mar, I perhaps was expecting too much, but I finished the trip disappointed in what I'd seen. Some of this was due to the dive-masters, who made almost no effort to find and show us "critters". Hopefully this should improve as I pointed it out to Dora. To be fair, we did not experience significant currents, and as anyone who has dived in current knows, this often brings in "the stuff" to find shelter. And the water temperature was very warm at 85F, which can keep pelagics deep. But by all reports, sea life has been significantly decreasing. If you have only dived the Caribbean or in cold water, this might be a good change of pace. If you've dived the Western Pacific, the Sea of Cortez will pale by comparison.
Websites Rocio del Mar   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Red Sea, Raja Amphat, Komodo, Thailand, Burma, Sipadan, Tahiti, Palau, Australia, Fiji, Hawaii, Socorro, Cocos, Galapagos, Caymans, Bonaire, Belize, Cozumel, Etc.
Closest Airport Phoenix,AZ and Cabo Getting There The trip is from Puerto Peñasco to San Jose del Cabo (or reverse) and requires a shuttle from Phoenix to Puerto Peñasco. The shuttle costs less than $100 and is comfortable and well-run.

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, choppy, no currents
Water Temp 84-86°F / 29-30°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 5-60 Ft/ 2-18 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Sport diving limits of 100 feet and 50 minutes dive time. I was a little put off by the strict enforcement of the dive time, especially since we did 2 dives on 4 different days.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks > 2
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 2 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Long dive table crowed between racks of wetsuits and traffic lanes. Plenty of charging slots. Dedicated 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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