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

Rocio del Mar, Sep, 2014,

by Frederick R. Turoff, PA, US (Top Contributor Top Contributor 30 reports with 13 Helpful votes). Report 7775.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 3 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 4 stars
Comments Rocio del Mar = Mist of the Sea = Sea Mist

It’s a 4 hr trip south from Phoenix to the boat via van with cargo trailer – divers are met at a hotel (if a group) or the airport around noon and depart by 1p for the boat in Puerto Peñasco (=Rocky Point), Mexico (or you can drive there yourself). Our contingent consisted of 18 divers – six from MA, two from PA, two from CA (who had done 6000+ dives between the two of them), one from TX, one from Germany, two from NYC, two from IL and two newlyweds from CA (the hubby of the newlyweds is a divemaster for the operation). One was on his 8th trip on the boat.

Upon arrival in Puerto Peñasco, crew and others helped unload gear and take it to the dive area of boat. We selected rooms and unpacked gear during the ride out of the harbor. At first dinner, divemaster Gil (Gilberto) introduced the crew and told us about procedures. All divers received a large plastic water cup with their name on it and were asked to say what they wanted to see during the trip. We were divided into two groups which alternated starting dives one day to the next, with a 15-minute gap between groups. Our days featured 3 dives with several days adding a night dive. An informative briefing preceded each dive. Dives were done from inflatables (pangas). The dive gear area has a long table for cameras with many 120 v electrical outlets - if all divers were photographers, the table would have been too small, but it served our group well. This area was a bit narrow for a full compliment of divers, but platooning the group gave us ample room to gear up easily. Divers would get geared up in the dive gear area then walk down stairs to the dive deck to board an inflatable (unless one requested to mount the BC-tank rig in the boat, as a passenger with a sore back did). Crew carried fins and cameras down to the boat for us, and helped us on and off the panga. All crew knew our names within a day, and knew our gear. The dive deck has three large dunk tanks, one for cameras, one for masks and one for wet suits. Two warm showers allowed us to warm up if needed or just help clear out salt water.

Rooms have plenty of 120v electrical outlets, 2 beds with bedding and multiple drawers for each passenger. A sink and cabinet is in each room, but the shaving mirror was on another wall rather than over the sink, a minor inconvenience. The shower and toilet were in a small attached room with soap and shampoo dispensers on the shower wall. Doors stuck due to wood expansion, which was remedied once the crew got notice. Since the boat has central air conditioning, all rooms got quite cool, but if the vent was closed, condensation dripped on one of the beds. Rooms were cleaned and beds made daily. There were several areas for guests and crew to mingle. The boat has an upper deck where twice we had a barbeque, and plenty of lounge chairs. The middle deck has a lounge area plus a media room where books, computers and TV can be accessed. Fresh fruit is always out in this room.

Meals were excellent. Chef Poncho did a fine job of feeding us. A continental breakfast is offered at 6a (ahead of first dive at 7) featuring fresh fruit and cereals. Hot chocolate, coffee, tea and various drinks were always available. Breakfast was made to order – eggs, meats, waffles, pancakes, oatmeal, an outstanding vegetarian omelet. Lunches included fish, chicken fajitas, hamburgers, among other offerings. Dinners featured grilled pork chop, lasagna, fish, chicken, shrimp medallions, delicious salads and desserts – the latter included a sumptuous flan that had the consistency of light cheesecake. Wine was available for those who were not doing a night dive along with various other non-alcoholic drinks. The two cookouts offered rib-eye steak and chopped beef tacos as main courses. One passenger had vegetarian meals daily, which were presented with the same pride and appeal as other offerings.

The first day’s dives were delightful at Isla Angel de la Guardia, as the water temp was 85 and vis maybe 30-40 ft. A blue-spotted jawfish demonstrated its mating dance for me. At the end of the second morning dive, playful sea lions romped around us as we did our safety stop in shallow water. During the next dive, we found a seahorse, many basket stars coiled up waiting for nightfall to unfold, plus some mobula rays sailed by. The night dive produced a stunning juvenile Cortez angel and a tiny nudibranch.

The second day’s dives on the other side of Isla Angel de la Guardia were disappointing, as the vis dropped to 10-15 ft and the water temp dropped a bit (perhaps a result of the storm that swept up the Sea the week before). Still we found a giant jawfish, electric ray, many angels and some smaller stuff like sailfin blennies. It was decided to cancel the third dive and move the boat to another site in hopes of better conditions. On the way, we were treated to spotting a finback whale but it didn’t heed our telepathic requests to come closer. Divemaster Gil tried to jig up Humboldt squid that evening over deep water, but none were found this first time.

Day three was at San Pedro Martir, a large island with two satellite islands, where we did four dives. Vis had improved but water temp was down to 80-82. Thermoclines and currents changed temp during most dives. Sea lions played with us on the first two dives, giving all a thrill and providing ample opportunity for photos and videos. Dive 3 had no sea lions, but yielded our first close encounter with a large green turtle. Mobula rays stayed too distant to see clearly. Dive four saw us start in cooler water running one way, but at the end of the dive a warm current going the other way brought us back to our starting point. Several jawfish and one flatworm highlighted that dive for me. I saw no nudibranchs all day although others saw a few.

We stayed at that island the fourth day, with a plan of four dives. Water temp went up a bit from the previous day to our delight. On the first two we had playful sea lions again, and schools of blue angels although the vis was maybe 30 feet. The third dive began with calm water and poor vis – 15 feet or so. Two mobulas passed us during the dive, which started with a current that moved us around the small island that is nearest the big one. Vis dropped to 15 feet and the current took some of our group out to sea, where they were picked up by our panga driver. The rest of us stayed close to the island wall to finish our shortened dive, as the sea had picked up due to a nearby storm. With waves, current and bad vis our night dive was cancelled and planned for the next day. We motored away from the storm to our next destination that evening.

We awoke in Bahia de los Angeles, with a plan of four dives. Vis was down, so macro photography was the choice for photographers. We found another nudibranch (relatively few seen this trip) plus many fish including fearless puffers that swam right up to cameras. The second dive had more puffers and a beautiful purple and gold nudibranch. The third dive produced a giant jawfish plus a colony of smaller jawfish and the biggest scorpionfish I’ve seen, appearing maybe 18 inches long. Our night dive started in current which only increased and took us on a ride that caused the divemaster to abort the dive – with vis at maybe 15 feet it was a sound decision. That night Gil again jigged for Humboldt squid, this time with success 3 of 5 tries. It was quite impressive to see these magnificent predators up close. The largest was over 4 feet long and each flashed reddish to white and back while on the dive deck. After a short time, each was returned to the sea to resume hunting.

Our last day featured snorkeling with the whale sharks in Bahia de los Angeles, with the help of local operators whom we had to use due to government rules. After nearly an hour of cruising around the bay with unmet anticipation, the action began and we swam with numerous whale sharks, ranging in size from 15-25 feet. One either befriended a group or found an ideal area of plankton to exploit as it stayed with the group, swimming slower than the other sharks, so the group interacted for perhaps 5 minutes. Vis was poor in the bay due to plankton so unless you saw the shark approaching on the surface or was directed by the topside crew, you couldn’t know for sure if the shark would appear in front of you, but most likely it did when merely 5 feet away. None seemed bothered by us and we followed rules as best we could – stay 3+ feet from the head and 10+ from the tail. If the shark chose to approach closer, it gave a much better look at this magnificent creature. I was sad to note one had a fishing lure stuck in it back, but I decided against removing it as the shark swam faster than I could and I had no tools with me. We were all elated from this excellent morning of 2+ hours of swimming with the whale sharks. One question I have - these were the only sharks I saw during the week – where were others?

Once we were all back on the Rocio del Mar, we started the sad duty of washing gear and packing for our trip home. It took about 14 hours to motor back to Puerto Peñasco. With warm air and the heat from the engine room wafting over the dive area, gear dried well. We had a final meeting late that afternoon to pay bills and give feedback. This was the last trip of the season to the Midriff Islands, with the next three trips devoted to a cruise through the entire Sea of Cortez, to be followed by months of trips to the Revillagigedos Islands. The crew and owners run a fine operation and an excellent boat.
Websites Rocio del Mar   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Caribbean, Southern Sea of Cortez, Coco, Revillagigedos, Red Sea, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Micronesia
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm, currents
Water Temp 80-85°F / 27-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 10-60 Ft/ 3-18 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Keep dives to around 1 hour
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Camera table on boat suited the divers who were photographers as well. Had more brought cameras, it would have been tight. Plenty of charging stations. 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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