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Dive Review of Solmar V/n/a in
Mexico (Western)/Socorro Islands

Solmar V/n/a, Apr, 2006,

by Daniel Mann, Ohio, USA . Report 2816.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Over 20 liveaboard trips throughout Caribbean, Mexico, Sea of Cortez, Socorro Islands, Hawaii, Australia, Coral Sea, Bahamas, Turks/Caicos, Florida Keys
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, noCurrents
Water Temp 71 to 75 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 4
Water Visibility 70 to 120 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions 130 ft max depth; surface with >500 psi; stay with divemaster/guide when diving from inflatable; could dive own profile when diving from mother ship
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas Squadrons
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales >2
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics 5 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 Dedicated rinse tank for cameras refilled with fresh water daily. Dedicated camera table had adequate space for all photographers onboard. Suitable recharging stations provided for batteries. Good digital equipment onboard for digital still and video cameras.

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 2 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments The Solmar V is a well-maintained liveaboard based out of Cabo San Lucas. You must make your own arrangements for transportation from the airport to the boat once you arrive at airport (not a big hassle but allow ~1 hr once you clear customs to get to the boat). The open ocean crossing from Cabo to the Socorro Islands takes more than 24 hrs and some passengers were sea sick. Once at the islands, seas were quiet and no one had any problems. Sleeping quarters were typical liveaboard size (adequate bunk beds, small bathroom in each cabin, limited storage so pack light). Food was plentiful and tasty. Crew was helpful and attentive.
Seeing giant manta rays (20 ft wing span) is virtually guaranteed on this trip. Every diver had the opportunity to dive with multiple mantas as well as six different species of sharks on nearly every dive. Several divers had repeated up-close manta encounters when the manta stopped directly above and the diver was able to stroke the manta's underbelly.
The highlight of the trip happened on the last two days at the Roca Partida dive site when a mother humpback whale (~42 ft) and her baby (~15 ft) stayed around the Solmar V for two full days. At the end of each dive, we left our BC/tanks/regs on the inflatable and snorkeled with mother and baby humpback. The mother allowed the baby to surface repeatedly among the snorkelers and at times you literally found yourself looking into the baby whale's eye only 2 feet away. This was an awe inspiring experience that happened four times over the last two days. It is hard to state in words the emotions that you feel when interacting with a sentient being such as a humpback whale but some described this trip as a life-altering experience.
This was my second trip on the Solmar V and while this trip's extraordinary humpback experience cannot be predicted for future Solmar V trips, I would certainly recommend this itinerary to any experienced diver who is looking for "big animal" encounters. Many dives resulted in spotting schools of hammerhead sharks, as well as 5 other species of sharks (white tips, silkies, silver tips, duskies, and Galapagos). We also had several opportunities to enter a rocky cavern and lay beside 5-10 "sleeping" white tip reef sharks (great photos!). Pods of dolphins often made passes through the divers but didn't hang around very long. Huge schools of fish often were dense enough to block out the sun. Macro photo opportunities were also plentiful. Those who enjoy diving at night should be aware that the Socorro Islands area is protected by Mexican regulations that prohibit night diving.
Overall I would give this boat and the Socorro Islands itinerary 4 out of 5 stars.
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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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