Mexico is a dive destination blessed with some of the most thrilling underwater encounters imaginable. For liveaboard divers it is all about the Pacific coast of Mexico, 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.
Socorro in particular has become something of a rite of passage among serious scuba divers with 2 groups forming: those that have already been and those who want to go. Its stunning array of megafauna has earned it the title of 'Mexico's Galapagos'. Guadalupe is considered by many to be finest location in the world for cage diving with great white sharks. Both locations are far out to sea, making liveaboard cruises the best choice and lending diving safaris out here a real sense of adventure.
Above the waves, Mexico is a country that fires the imagination: images of old-style bandidos, sleepy sun-drenched towns, lively fiestas and its own distinct and world-famous cuisine. It is renowned for being the ultimate blend of sunshine, entertainment, culture and natural splendor. Lie back on the golden sands or sip a tequila in a beach bar. Indulge in the archaeological wonders of the Mayan culture. Revel in the carnival atmosphere and shake your booty to vibrant Hispanic music. All this and more packed into one exceptional country. Go now before word gets out and everyone has Mexico in their diving log books.
We recommend liveaboards that operate on Mexico's Pacific Ocean west coast where the country's best diving is located. Being on the doorstep of the United States, it is obviously popular among US based divers, but it is quickly gaining a worldwide following and is easier to get to than you might think. Check out your options:
Given the non-stop action and occasional surge and current, Socorro is not for divers still struggling with their buoyancy. You will need to have some experience to dive here and be comfortable in open water and with a variety of advanced diving conditions.
Availability can be a problem here in Mexico as liveaboards are very popular and are often fully booked early, so plan and make your reservation well in advance of your travel.
When you are in the Sea of Cortez you are never far from land. As such these safaris are appropriate for less experienced scuba divers who want the thrill of Mexican liveaboard diving but without the swirling currents and swells of the open Pacific Ocean. There are very few liveaboard options here so you may only see one or two daytrip boats during your cruise.
You need only to feel comfortable in the water and have a thirst for sharing space at close quarters with these magnificent creatures.
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There are 2 main seasons in Mexico: the rainy season and the dry season. May through October roughly corresponds to the rainy season where there is an increased chance of hurricanes. November through June is the dry season. During this time northerly winds can blow down from the USA, meaning windier weather and choppier waters.
Altitude also plays a part. Generally the coastal regions maintain a balmy warmth all year round, despite the variations between dry and wet seasons. At altitude however, the temperatures can vary much more and can at times be positively chilly.
Mexico is a year round scuba destination although different seasons apply to the locations within the country. You can find more details on our Mexico diving destinations page.
Otherwise the main international airport is Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City. Direct flights arrive here from all over the world, particularly from the Americas. There are also direct flights from European cities like London, Madrid, Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam and even from Tokyo. Other international airports include Tijuana, Cancun, Guadalajara and Monterrey.
We recommend you consider taking out insurance to cover diving and travel activities, including trip cancellation. See our insurance program for a competitive price:
You need a passport valid for at least 6 months beyond your intended stay as well as a return ticket.
US Citizens and citizens of the following countries do not require a visa to visit Mexico: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Island, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Venezuela.
Visitors are permitted to stay for up to 30 days and extensions may be granted when in the country. You may, although it is unlikely, be asked to prove that you have sufficient funds for your visit (US$ 50 per person per day).
You will be asked to complete the Tourist Card, this will be handed to you by the airlines or you can obtain one from the Mexican Immigration upon arrival. This is a 'two part' document. It must be returned to the immigration department upon your departure. Make sure you keep it safe or even make a copy of it. You can apply for an extension on your card for up to 180 days.
If you plan on staying in Mexico before or after your diving safari, then see our affiliated hotel reservation agents hotelscombined.com. Browse their website to find options, use their on-line chat to ask questions, and use your credit card to book:
Every booking made with hotelscombined.com includes a 'Low Price Guarantee' to ensure you always get value for money.
Taking care with your food and drinks in Mexico is normally the key to maintaining good health. Avoiding untreated tap water and fruits that do not require peeling makes sense. You should consult your local doctor before planning a trip to discuss any vaccinations or malaria medication that may be advised. Malaria is present in some rural areas.
The worst that most travelers experience is the dreaded Montezuma's Revenge (diarrhea), named after Moctezuma II (1466-1520 BCE), the Aztec ruler defeated by the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes. His revenge upon future foreign invaders being a bad dose of the runs.
There are several hyperbaric chambers throughout Mexico; at least one in each of Cabo San Lucas, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Tulum and Merida. The tourist spots all have clinics and medical centers and are used to treating foreigners for whom the costs for minor treatments are generally quite inexpensive.
There is no doubt that Mexico has security problems, with battles between drug cartels and the governments, between cartels themselves and organized crime. This violence very rarely filters down to tourists who are not involved in the drug trade. The most dangerous places include Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa and Ciudad Juarez, all of which are close to the US border and very far from anywhere that scuba divers would normally visit.
Of course nowhere is immune to trouble and Acapulco, a tourist destination, (also nowhere near where we recommend diving) has had its share of bad press too. The Mexican government makes considerable efforts to protect tourists, and major holiday destinations such as Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Cabo San Lucas have historically not seen anything like the levels of drug-related violence, as the northern border regions. Being educated about where the risks lie in your travels should quell any apprehension about visiting Mexico and experiencing the country's world-class cuisine, rich culture and majestic nature.
ATMs are best avoided unless inside a bank. It's safest to always carry some cash on you for times when you won't be able to use a credit card, and you should exchange your currency before you go. Unless you're vacationing at the beach or hanging out at a resort, wear pants and sensible shoes so you don't stick out as a 'foreigner'. Don't carry your camera around your neck. Also, avoid wearing or traveling with expensive-looking jewelry or watches and don't flash your smart phone around too much.
The usual advice applies to visiting Mexico, including avoiding badly lit areas and walking alone. If you are going to be taking tours off the beaten track then you should be sure to do so with a qualified guide.
Geographically, Mexico is located in North America, bordered by the United States to the north, Belize and Guatemala to its south, the Gulf of Mexico to its east and the North Pacific Ocean to its west. As such it is a blend of old world and new, a bridge between continents and a nation rich in its own cultural heritage.
It is a large and diverse country with an enormous array of tourism activities. Many visitors flock here for the beaches, the watersports and the spring break style party atmosphere which exists in many of the coastal towns. However, there is much more to Mexico as a tourist destination.
The country is peppered with ruins from the ancient Mayan civilization such as Chichen Itza and the town of Tulum. Others come for the natural wonders such as the world-famous Cenotes or the underground caves of the Rio Secreto. From fun seaside frolics in places like Cancun and Acapulco, to the architectural wonders of the many Mayan ruins, Mexico has something for travelers of every age, budget and interest.
If you are in the country primarily for the purposes of joining a Mexican liveaboard, then it is likely your sightseeing will take place on the Baja Peninsula. The Cabo area is one of those where watersports and nightlife are among the attractions. However, you can also venture into the desert, even on an ATV tour. You can go hiking and climbing at Land's End or mountain biking into the East Cape back country. More sedate activities include pottering around the historic village of Santiago and visiting its hot and cold springs. Other nearby towns worth visiting include Todos Santos, with its market, art shops and artisanal crafts.
If you pass through Ensenada you can visit La Bufadora, the only marine geyser in North America, and travel the wine route where 90% of Mexico's wine comes from. If you are joining a liveaboard dive charter that operates out of the port of Puerto Penasco you may have time to visit the volcanic crater of El Pinacate. If you have an interest in engines, you might be excited to know that outside the town is a bit of a mecca for 4WD vehicles and ATV tours.
Mexico is the same as United States Central Time (-6 GMT).
Power is 120/240 volts AC, 60 Hz - the same voltage as in the USA. Most electrical plugs in Mexico, including the liveaboard boats, have 2 flat prongs (US style). Some have a third, circular prong and these require adapters for most sockets.
High speed internet is now widely available in Mexico, except in the more rural areas. You are likely to find plenty of bars and cafes with WiFi services, often free of charge. A number of stand-alone WiFi services are available, which may be especially useful if you are traveling or don't have access to a land-based high speed internet connection.
Mexico's postal service can be used for letters, postcards, greetings cards. A letter or postcard will take about a week to get to the US/Canada, and between 1 and 2 weeks to make its way back to Europe or Australia. There are 'Oficinas de Correos' in most towns and every city in Mexico.
The international dialing code for Mexico is +52. To make an international call from Mexico, dial 00, then the international dialing code for the country you wish to call, followed by the area code and local number.
Tipping and bargaining
It is customary in Mexico to tip in return for good service. Look out for signs telling you that service charge is included in the price of hotels and certain tours. In such cases no further tipping is expected. However, it is worth keeping small denominations of pesos to hand for small favors like hotel porter assistance.
Formal clothing is not really necessary for people on vacation in Mexico. Choose lightweight, cool airy clothing such as breathable dri-fit sports shirts. Short skirts are a no-no for most travelers (except spring-break college girls when they want to cover up). Most tourists keep bathing suits for the beach and pool only (except spring breakers who consider it a must-wear all-day uniform). Protection from the strong sun is highly advisable: Slip (t-shirt), slop (sun cream), slap (hat), and wrap (polarized sunglasses).
Adhering to the usual good practices when on vacation should be enough to allow you to avoid any unfortunate experiences with crime. Do not flash you wallet, phone or bling around and you will not alert any watching malfeasants that you are a good target. If you can manage to avoid drug dealers and prostitutes during your time in Mexico, you are less likely to run into trouble.