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Dive Review of Solmar V in
Mexico (Western)/Islas Revillagigedo

Solmar V, Jun, 2014,

by Sean Bruner, AZ, US (Contributor Contributor 16 reports with 2 Helpful votes). Report 7627.

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 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling 5 stars
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments This is our third trip to the Revillagigedo Islands aboard the Solmar V, so we obviously have had good experiences on the boat. Our last trip was five years ago and our first was three years before that, so it had been a while, but the captain, one of the panga drivers and two of the dive masters were the same we have had on all three trips. That says something about the company and its employees. This was by far the best of the three trips, one of the best wed been on anywhere.
The boat left the harbor at Cabo San Lucas and headed out for the 24 hour crossing to the islands. The seas were calm even though a hurricane had passed through the week before, forcing the boat to scuttle the trip to the Islands and do a trip in the Sea of Cortez instead. We arrived at Isla San Benedicto the next afternoon in time for our check-out dive. Plenty of fish and interesting creatures, although not the big stuff we had come to see.
The next day, we dove the famous El Boiler for four dives. No mantas on the first dive, but some shark action, mostly white tips. The rock wall of the Boiler is always an interesting diversion when there are no mantas around, covered with hundreds, maybe thousands, of lobster, free swimming giant green moray eels, octopus and all kinds of fish, especially jacks, trigger fish, mero, porgy and puffer fish. The mantas showed up on the second dive and stayed the rest of the day. The next day, we headed to Roca Partida, arriving in the early morning. The Nautilus Explorer also arrived at the same time, but the boats coordinated so that the divers from both boats were not in the water at the same time.
Our first day consisted of diving with many sharks - silky, Galapagos, silver tip, a few hammerhead and many, many white tip. There was a school of bonito that had silkys shooting in and out and coming close to the divers. Very exciting. Being older, I tended to be in the back of our group. On day two, while everyone was looking into the blue to see the bonitos, I turned towards the rock and saw a whale shark swimming right next to me! I swam along side. Its amazing how difficult it is to keep up with a whale shark even though it looks like they are barely moving. For the rest of that day and the next two days, we had whale sharks on every dive, for a total of five different whale sharks, eight dives in a row. They also came by the boat, out of curiosity, and we snorkeled with them between dives. Everyone got plenty of whale shark pictures and videos.
After four days at Roca, we headed to Socorro for four dives at Cabo Pearce. Erick Higuera, the head dive master, is also a marine biologist studying mantas, so he takes pictures of each one and documents it in order to count how many mantas are at the Islands. He counted 32 different mantas during those four dives.
Our final day diving was back at Isla San Benedicto. The morning dive was at El Cañon, a deep dive where hammerheads are often seen when the current is running strongly. A few divers in the other group were excited at seeing a passing tiger shark, and everyone saw a hammerhead or two, but mostly it wasnt happening. Back to the Boiler for the last three dives. More mantas and close encounters with dolphins, then off to Cabo San Lucas.
The food was better than I had remembered it from the past two times. Full breakfast with much fresh fruit, hot soup followed by main dish for lunch, salad and main dish for dinner, all tastefully prepared. Dessert at both lunch and dinner, and afternoon snacks. L and I are not vegetarians, but we found it a little heavy on meat. We were asked at check-in if we had any dietary restrictions, however, so a request for vegetarian meals would surely be honored.
The knock on the Solmar is the cabins, which are the smallest of any I have experienced on any live-aboard. Its really just a spider hole, and the en suite bathroom is pitiful. We dont come to sleep or stay in the cabin, however. The sun deck is also small, but at least there is one. The salon is comfortable with a large tv with hundreds of movies and documentaries and music. Erick gave a presentation on mantas which was very informative and Alexandra, a Mexican grad student working on an advanced degree in marine biology, gave a presentation on shark identification.
There are other boats with larger state rooms which now go to Revillagigedo, but the Solmar was the first and has a reputation for safety, which is important when diving in open ocean. Erick was L and my dive master for this trip and he was constantly checking to make sure we were okay. When we were picked up by the pangas, they were always right there and we never felt worried wed have to spend a long time at the surface waiting.
I would highly recommend this trip. Compared to Los Cocos or Galapagos, Islas Revillagigedo offers easier diving, a less expensive price and its more convenient to get to Los Cabos than to Costa Rica or Ecuador. There are no guarantees when doing pelagic diving, and we certainly got more than we bargained for this trip, but mantas and some sharks are standard for this trip.
Websites Solmar V   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Palau, Fiji, Galapagos, Cozumel, Bonaire, Hawaii
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather dry Seas calm, surge
Water Temp 79-82°F / 26-28°C Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 25-100 Ft/ 8-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions 60 minute dives, not strictly enforced.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas Squadrons
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks > 2
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 1 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 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments
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Subscriber's Comments

By Garyin AB, CA at Jun 18, 2014 13:18 EST  
That was painful to read as we were on the Nautilus Explorer the week before and the entire trip was cancelled due to Hurricane Amanada. The Sea of Cortez is not comparable to Soccoro - at least one of us got lucky :-)
By philip nicozisisin FL, US at Jun 21, 2014 23:59 EST  
Great review, very helpful. 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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