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Mexico Liveaboard Diving

Explore the Amazing Pacific Coastline

...Good for: Large animals, visibility, photography, advanced divers...
...Not so good for: Non-diver activities, beginners, small animals (except The Sea of Cortez), wrecks...

Mexico is an extraordinary country in many ways, not least its location. Connecting the USA to Central America, it is blessed with a huge amount of coastline and is flanked on both sides by water. To the east is the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, to the west the huge expanse of the Pacific Ocean and the long narrow inlet that is the Sea of Cortez.

Tourists have been coming to Mexico for years thanks to its golden beaches, fascinating Mayan history and the laid-back charm of its people. Nowadays ever more liveaboard divers are realizing that Mexico promises such a variety of incredible underwater experiences that it can take its rightful place at the table of world-class scuba diving destinations.

A sailfish closes in on a baitball at Socorro Island on the Pacific Coast - photo courtesy of Erick Higuera

Mexico is a dive destination blessed with some of the most thrilling underwater encounters imaginable. When it comes to liveaboard diving, it is all about Mexico's Pacific coast, home to places such as Socorro Island, Guadalupe and the Sea of Cortez. Simply mentioning these locations conjures images of schools of sharks, enormous whales, huge manta rays and other stunning marine megafauna.

Few other places around the world can boast such vast marine riches and it is no wonder that the limited number of spaces on the liveaboard cruises fill up early, so we advise you to book well in advance.

The Mexican Cruise Destinations

Socorro Island

Socorro is part of a Mexican archipelago called The Revillagigedos, 4 small islands over 250 miles (400 km) south-west of Cabo San Lucas on the tip of the Baja California peninsula. The 4 islands are Socorro, Roca Partida, San Benedicto and Clarion. The term 'Socorro' is often used collectively to refer to all 4 islands.

A lot of the diving here typically involves finding a suitable spot to nestle in and watch the parade of creatures go by. Sharks are in abundance. You can expect to see large schools of hammerhead sharks plus silvertip sharks and, less frequently, silky sharks and Galapagos sharks.

One of the main features of liveaboard diving at Socorro is the chance to watch enormous pacific mantas in big numbers being cleaned by clarion angelfish. At sites like El Boiler, divers gaze wide-eyed with wonder at this amazing spectacle, which is a photographer's wet dream. You might also see dolphins swooping around some of the massive pinnacles that also typify the scuba diving here, such as Roca Partida. If you are lucky, maybe even a humpback whale will show up!

Sometimes referred to as 'Mexico's Galapagos', Socorro is even preferred to the legendary Galapagos by many divers in the know. For more detailed information, visit our Socorro Islands website section.

Guadalupe Island

Visiting Guadalupe Island is all about cage diving with the great white sharks. This is for both divers and non-divers since both surface cages (air hoses) and submersible cages (scuba tanks) are in use. Fins are not necessary as you won't be doing much swimming around with the great whites!

The excellent visibility here is what really sets Guadalupe apart from other great white shark locations and means your camera will be full of clear and stunning images. For more detailed information, visit our Guadalupe Island website section.

The Sea of Cortez

If the Baja peninsula is "nearly an island" then the Sea of Cortez is nearly a lagoon. It is a very long narrow stretch of water with a relatively small opening at the tip of the peninsula. These rich waters are considered among the most bio-diverse in the world and offer diving with both large and small. The large can include schooling hammerhead sharks at various sites including El Lavadero and wonderful sea lion encounters throughout the Sea of Cortez at places like El Arroyo.

This region of Mexico also promises sightings of whale sharks and many different types of whale. You can also see leatherback sea turtles, many types of angelfish, plus seahorses and all manner of smaller reef fish. Unlike Guadalupe and Socorro, there is beautiful reef scenery here and a wide array of smaller marine species, as evidenced by the nudibranch lovers' favorite dive site, La Vela.

Many endemic creatures thrive in the Sea of Cortez including the endangered porpoise sub-species, the vaquita. Migratory creatures are also common and include whales of the humpback, California gray and killer varieties. It is estimated that 30% of the world's cetacean species are found in this stretch of water that has been called 'The Aquarium of the World'. For more detailed information, visit our Sea of Cortez website section.

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Diving Season

There is always somewhere to dive on Mexico's pacific coastline and indeed The Sea of Cortez is considered a year round destination for land-based diving charters. Otherwise your timing will need to be guided by the tour schedules of the Mexico liveaboards operating here.

As such Socorro is normally said to be best between the months of November and May, when the surface conditions are good. Guadalupe shark cage diving is from August through October, and The Sea of Cortez from August through November.

Socorro water temperatures range from 82°F (28°C) in November to 77°F (25°C) in May, dipping to 70°F (21°C) in February. Whale sharks are most commonly seen in November and December, while December through February sees humpback whales at the islands.

The Sea of Cortez liveaboard season runs from August through November when the water temperatures are around the 80°F (27°C) mark. September and October are the best times for hammerhead shark sightings here.

The Guadalupe diving season is from August through October, when sea temperatures are 66 to 72°F (19-22°C) and visibility is good.

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Where is Mexico and How to Get There

Below you will find our maps of Mexico and the world. More information on: how to get to Mexico.

Map of Mexico (click to enlarge in a new window) Map of the world (click to enlarge in a new window)

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Reef Summary

Depth: 33 - >130ft (10 - >40m)
Visibility: 65 - 130ft (20 - 40m)
Currents: Can be strong
Surface Conditions: Can be choppy further from shore
Water temperature: 66 - 86°F (19 - 30°C)
Experience level: Intermediate - advanced
Number of dive sites: >50
Recommended length of stay: 2 weeks

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Useful References

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