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Mexico Liveaboard Diving

Explore the Amazing Pacific Coastline

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.

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

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 realising 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.

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 can boast such vast marine riches so it is no wonder that the limited liveaboard spaces fill up early, so book well in advance.

Socorro Island

Socorro is part of a Mexican archipelago called The Revillagigedos, 4 small islands over 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.

Visit our Mexico diving safaris section to explore your options for: Socorro liveaboards.

Guadalupe Island

Mexico liveaboard diving at Guadalupe Island with great white sharks - photo courtesy of Seascape

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.

Visit our Mexico diving cruises section to explore your options for: Guadalupe liveaboards.

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 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' favourite 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.

Explore your options for: Sea of Cortez liveaboards.

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 dived between the months of November and May, when the surface conditions are good. Guadalupe shark cage diving is from August to October, and The Sea of Cortez from August to November.

Socorro water temperatures range from 28°C in November to 25°C in May, dipping to 21°C in February. Whale sharks are most commonly seen in November and December, whilst December to February sees humpback whales at the islands.

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

The Guadalupe diving season is from August to October, when sea temperatures are 19-22°C and visibility is good.

Reef Summary

Great for: Large animals, visibility, photography, advanced divers
Not so great for: Non-diver activities, beginners, small animals (except The Sea of Cortez), wrecks
Depth: 10 - >40m
Visibility: 20 - 40m
Currents: Can be strong
Surface Conditions: Can be choppy further from shore
Water temperature: 19 - 30°C
Experience level: Intermediate - advanced
Number of dive sites: >50
Recommended length of stay: 2 weeks

Useful References

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