Scuba Diving Revillagigedo Archipelago – Socorro
MANTAS are claimed to be the fame for Socorro Islands! But there are more..These islands are a spectacular magnet for the large ocean pelagic animals. Sometimes called “Mexico’s Little Galapagos”or “Mexican Galapagos”.
The Revillagigedo Archipelago, more commonly called Socorro is located in the eastern Pacific Ocean approximately 250 miles south of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico – at the tip of the Baja Peninsula. These islands have been compared to the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador or Cocos Island in Costa Rica because of the big animal encounters they provide. The Revillagigedo Islands consist of 4 islands: San Benedicto Island, SocorroIsland, Roca Partida and Clarion.
SCUBA DIVING SOCORRO
This is an excellent dive destination for large pelagics due to the open ocean nature of the islands, which sometimes include currents and choppy conditions. The underwater topography consists of rocky outcroppings, boulders and some walls. There is not much in the way of coral as this is a cooler water destination. This destination can only be dived by a live aboard dive vessel.
HIGHLIGHT DIVE SITES
San Benedicto – There are 2 favorite dive sites here,” The Boiler” and “The Canyon”.
- The Boiler – A large pinnacle rises to about 20 feet from the surface, so you can’t see it from topside. The surf and swell running across the top sometimes making the water look like its boiling. The pinnacle is small enough to swim around during one dive and its very majestic looking from all angles. The bottom is at around 160′. This area is a popular cleaning station for the giant Pacific Manta. They gather here to be cleaned by the Clarion Angelfish.
- The Canyon – “El Canyon” is on the south end of the island. divers have spotted schooling hammerhead sharks, Galapagos sharks, silky sharks, duskies, white tips, dolphins and even an occasional humpback whale or whale shark.
Isla Socorro – Home to the Mexican Naval Station, Socorro Island lies about 30 miles south of San Benedicto. The island is about 10 miles across and is surrounded by exciting dive sites such as Cabo Pearce, The Aquarium, Roca O’Neil and Punta Tosca. Dolphins, hammerheads, mantas and other sharks are commonly spotted here.
Roca Partida – Roca Partida is a little rock out in the middle of nowhere. Part of the Revillagigedo Islands, it lies about 70 miles west of Socorro and 85 miles from San Benedicto Island. The tiny pinnacle jets up from hundreds of feet of water. Topside the two points make a comfortable home to the booby birds and gulls who have made their way here. Underwater it is a magnet to giant manta rays, whale sharks, schools of hammerheads, dolphins, white tips, Galapagos sharks, humpback whales, large schools of jacks and tuna, and of course, scuba divers. The pinnacle is small enough that its possible to swim around it several times during one dive. Other times the current and surge can be strong making this more difficult. Its not a difficult dive, but like in open water, divers must always be aware of their depth and bottom time.
Isla Clarion – About 240 miles west of Socorro lies another body of land, the second largest in the Revillagigedo Islands. Formerly named Santa Rosa, it was renamed Clarion Island after the American brig “Clarión” in the early 1800s. The Clarion Angelfish is named after Clarion Island but is seen all around Revillagigedos. As a juvenile it has bright blue bands that fade away as the fish matures. It is generally considered to be an endemic species to the Revillagigedos archipelago. Adults are commonly seen cleaning parasites from the giant manta rays.
DIVE SEASON: Between November through May when the weather and sea are calmer.
VISIBILITY: It is vary depending upon weather conditions. 200 feet is possible, but so is 30 feet. A reasonable average is 80 – 100 feet.
WATER TEMPERATURE: You should prepare for water temperatures in the area of 70-82F (21-28C) .
WEATHER: The warm season lasts from mid June to mid September with an average daily high temperature above 89°F (32C). The cold season lasts from early December to mid February with an average daily high temperature below 83°F (28C).
SKILL LEVELS: You should consider this trip to be an intermediate to advanced diver trip.
DIVE ACCESS: This destination can only be dived by a live aboard dive vessel. The crossing from Los Cabos San Lucas to the Socorro Islands takes approximately 26-28 hrs. It is open sea, please be prepared in case of rough seas.
MARINE LIFE: Manta Rays, many different species of sharks, occasionally humpback whales, vast schools of Pacific pelagic fishes.
Mantas are the Socorro’s islands claim to fame; these graceful giants are the most majestic creatures in the ocean and can grow up almost 8m wide. They can be seen in most of the dive sites around the area, one of the best at San Benedicto Island called “The Boiler”. This is a popular cleaning station for mantas and it usually will only take a matter of minutes for one to turn up.
The manta of this area are very friendly and curious about divers so will interact will you and get very close! They tend to swim around you and are genuinely thought to enjoy the interaction with divers and will hang around the whole time you are there. This exhilarating experience can’t fail to put a smile on any divers face, and is worth the long journey in itself.
Humpback Whales that visit the Socorro’s during the cooler months of late Jan to early April and can get up to 1200 in number in the surrounding waters. These are frequently spotted on the surface and some lucky divers may even get the chance to swim with them underwater! Although this isn’t guaranteed the encounters are increasing every year and even if you don’t see these gentle giants whilst diving, you are made aware of their presence by the whale song that you can hear on almost every dive……so enjoy the music!
Sharks, If that wasn’t enough many species of Sharks are frequently seen such as Silky, Galapagos, Hammerhead, Whitetip and Silvertip, Reef and occasionally if lucky even some Tiger sharks.
Dolphins are also seen around the islands and can be most frequently sighted from January to March with your best chance to swim and dive with them around Socorro Island. These dolphins over the last few years have started to imitate the Mantas and will also interact and imitate the divers, some have even been known to hang on the line with divers on their safety stops.
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