We’ve been to Socorro before, but this time we decided to try our luck during humpback whale season, and we were not disappointed!
Cabo San Lucas, our meeting point, is easy to get to via several airlines. Most of our 14 divers arrived two days early, although that didn’t help Bill, whose dive gear and camera parts bag got mis-tagged and went on its merry way to Costa Rica. Although Continental tried its best, the suitcase arrived at the Los Cabos airport after the Nautilus Explorer had left the dock. Bill was able to borrow gear from the boat and fellow divers, but he wasn’t able to take any pictures, thus leaving it up to Jeanne to capture dynamite photos.
It’s about 45 minutes from the airport to the hotel; we used the taxi service recommended by Nautilus; it was nice having someone waiting for us, and it was a reasonable $15US. They also helped get our luggage from the hotel to the boat and from the boat back to the airport.
We stayed at Tesoro Los Cabos, now part of the Wyndham chain. The hotel is in a great marina-front location, and their included buffet breakfast was excellent. Watch out for the telephone charges, though—what I thought was a $5.00 connection fee to a Mexican toll-free number for Continental ended up costing $85.00US! We spent the evening before boarding the Nautilus watching the Steelers play-off game at a near-by bar with great food and beer. Be careful walking alone, especially at night; one of our group was approached by a local police officer and was shaken down for whatever was in his wallet (luckily not much).
We boarded the boat at 9:00am, were fed a buffet breakfast and then it was a comfortable 24 hour ride out to our first island, San Benedicto. Most of us took precautions against seasickness; a few did not and we didn’t see them much during the ride. Sylvia and Claire made sure we were well fed.
We had time to do 3 dives the first day, four dives the other days. We started off at The Canyon at San Benedicto for our check-out. The crew helped us get weighted before we did a 45 minute dive. Normally they dive San Benedicto, Roca Partida, and Socorro. The Mexican & U.S. Navy were conducting shelling practice, so we were restricted to the first two islands. At the Boiler, the mantas were no-shows for the first two dives, but showed up for our last dive of the day. We moved on to Roca Partido that night, and spent two days there, circling the island one way or the other on our dives. There were whales all around us and the longer we were anchored in one spot, the closer they came, until we were able to go out in the skiffs and actually snorkel with them. There were also dozens of white-tip sharks resting on every available ledge, some resting their heads of one of the many resident green moray eels.
We were back at San Benedicto for the last two days. The first dive no mantas, but once they realized we were back, we were able to play with them every dive. They circled and visited every diver multiple times, allowing everyone to get his fill of these soaring beauties. A pod of dolphins came by, and played with us for over half an hour. We also saw a few hammerheads, Galapagos sharks, silky sharks, and one tiger shark.