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Diver's Guide to the Socorro Islands

A Divers Guide to the Socorro Islands


The Revillagigedo Archipelago is made up of four islands: Socorro, Roca Partida, San Benedicto, and Clarion. Due to the popularity of the largest island, the archipelago is often referred to as the Socorro Islands. All of the islands are volcanic. The islands were declared as a marine reserve and a Mexican national park in 2017. The waters typically reach a low of 68 F (21 C) and a high of 82 F (28 C), and the weather is typically warm and sunny.  



Socorro Island rises abruptly from the sea to 1,050 meters (3,440 feet) in elevation at its summit. The island is the emerged summit of a massive, predominately submarine shield volcano. The island is part of the northern Mathematicians Ridge, a mid-ocean ridge that became largely inactive 3.5 million years ago when activity moved to the East Pacific Rise. All four islands along with the many seamounts on the ridge are post-abandonment alkaline volcanoes. Socorro Island is unusual in that it is the only dominantly silicic peralkaline volcanic island in the Pacific Ocean. It most recently erupted in late January-early February 1993, which was a submarine eruption off the coast from Punta Tosca. An earlier eruption was on May 21, 1951. Earlier eruptions probably occurred in 1905, 1896 and 1848. The island's surface is broken by furrows, small craters, and numerous ravines, and covered in lava domes, lava flows and cinder cones. 



There is a naval station, established in 1957, with a population of 250 staff and families living in a village with a church. The village stands on the western side of Bahia Vargas Lozano, a small cove with a rocky beach, about 800 meters east of Cabo Regla, the southernmost point of the island. The station is served by a dock, a local helipad and Isla Socorro airport, located six kilometers to the north. There is a freshwater spring about 5 km northwest of Cabo Regla, at the shoreline of Ensenada Grayson. This is brackish and sometimes covered by the sea at high tide. In the 1950s, a small freshwater seep was known to exist some 45 meters (49 yards) inland at Bahia Lucio Gallardo Pavon, about 800 meters NW of the naval station. 



The islands are located nearly 400 km (250 miles) from the Baja California peninsula. Due to the isolated location, the only way to visit Socorro is through liveaboard. Most visitors begin their trips by arriving at Los Cabos International Airport in Mexico. Then, divers travel 45 minutes to Cabo San Lucas where they take off on a liveaboard. It usually takes about a day for the liveaboard to arrive at the islands. 

 

The diving season lasts from November to May as that is when the often-rough waters are at their calmest. However, even the calmer waters have strong currents, making this trip best for advanced divers.


                                                    

Although the Socorro’s waters are not filled with the colorful reefs many divers look out for, the marine life more than makes up for it. Manta rays, dolphins, hammerhead sharks, tiger sharks, are just a few of the common sights in these waters. Humpback whales can even be seen on their migration path through the months of January and February, and the dolphins are known for coming into close contact with divers, most commonly from January to March.  





When divers first arrive at the islands, they often begin their scuba adventure at El Fondeadero. This dive site is located in San Benedicto’s shallower waters where there are three pinnacles and sightings of lobster and eels. The famous sightings of humpback whales are east of Socorro island at the Cabo Pearce dive site. Abundant pelagic life can be seen at the isolated Roca Partida dive site. This site is over 80 miles from San Benedicto and has a pinnacle peaking up out of the water. This site is best suited for advanced divers and has over 100 feet of visibility. 

 

When planning your next dive trip, make sure the Socorro Islands are at the top of your list. The close encounters with dolphins, sharks, and manta rays at this location are unmatched, and the humpback whale sightings are one of a kind. 







Rocio del Mar Liveaboard - Socorro Islands - Nov 19-28, 2022

Rocio del Mar Liveaboard 

Socorro Islands 

November 19-28, 2022

Published Rate $3995, Our Rate $3500 PPDO

10 Berths Available

                                 

 **  Get our discounted rate of $3500 USD per person double occupancy  **

The Revillagigedo Islands (also Revillagigedo Archipelago or Islas Revillagigedo) are a group of four volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean, known for their unique ecosystem. The islands are home to many endemic plant and animal species, and are sometimes called Mexico's "little Galapagos".  Socorro island is the most diverse in flora, fauna, and topography.

The islands lie 250 miles off Baja Mexico's southern shore. When embarking on a trip to the Socorro Islands; possible destinations on the itinerary are San Benedicto, Socorro, Roca Partida and Clarion Islands.

These islands are a spectacular magnet for the largest ocean pelagic animals in the world. Schooling Hammerhead sharks, Tiger sharks, dolphins, silky sharks, Galapagos sharks, clouds of jacks and barracuda, tuna, wahoo, oceanic white tips sharks, whale sharks and mantas.

Day 1 - Board the boat at 5pm / Dinner is served at 7pm / Boat departs shortly thereafter

Day 2 - At Sea

Day 3 - San Benedicto - 4 dives scheduled

Day 4 - Roca Partida - 3 dives scheduled

Day 5 - Roca Partida - 3 dives scheduled

Day 6 - Socorro Island - 3 dives scheduled (check in with naval station)

Day 7 - Socorro Island - 4 dives scheduled

Day 8 - San Benedicto - 4 dives scheduled - at the end of the day we will start our return to San Jose del Cabo

Day 9 - At Sea

Day 10 - Arrive at San Jose del Cabo in the early morning hours - disembark at 8:30am

                               

"Great trip to Socorro Islands with Rocio Del Mar. Awesome big animal encounters, the best in the world. Saw 6 types of sharks! The boat and dive crew are unbelievable! Crew is like family, sharing in all the work with a smile. The food is the best of the 8 Liveaboards we have been on."  - John M.


                                                                     

Six Awesome Liveaboard Destinations

Six Awesome Liveaboard Destinations

 

Liveaboards provide a one-of-a-kind experience for travelers looking to fully submerge themselves into a diving adventure. Guests are able to spend a week (or more!) filling their days with diving and their nights watching the sunset across the open water. Liveaboards can provide all of the same luxuries as a typical on land resort such as spa treatments, snorkeling, gourmet meals, and excursions. Here are our picks of some of the six best destinations for a liveaboard vacation.


1) Galápagos Islands - Ecuador


                                          


The Galapagos Islands are scattered across the equator and have warm weather year-round. While diving in the Pacific waters surrounding the islands is great all year, December to May is the warmest season with the calmest waters and highest visibility. Divers during this season most often see hammerhead sharks and manta rays. July to November is ideal for more advanced divers hoping for more intense, choppier waters. Although the ocean is generally a bit colder during this season, it is known for nutrient-rich water that attracts all kinds of sea life, specifically whale sharks. Diving in the Galapagos is done on liveaboards from tenders or Zodiacs, and guests are able to have a unique experience living out on the open waters. 


2) Socorro Island - Mexico


                                              

Socorro Island is the largest island in the Revillagigedo Archipelago and is famous for its vibrant wildlife, both on and off the shore. The volcanic island does not have an airport, making it a popular spot for liveaboards. The diving season lasts from November to May as that is when the water is at its calmest. Throughout this season, divers often get to see hammerhead sharks, manta rays, whale sharks, and humpback whales. From January to March, there are even frequent sightings of bottlenose dolphins. In addition to these, sightings of silky sharks, Galapagos sharks, whitetip reef sharks, and silvertip sharks are possible as well. Getting to the Socorros requires an open ocean crossing about 22 hours from Cabo San Lucas, Baja California.


3) Raja Ampat - Indonesia


                                      


Located off the coast of Bird’s Head Peninsula in West Papua, Raja Ampat is an Indonesian archipelago that is known for its extensive biodiversity. The islands form part of the Coral Triangle — an area known as a home to 76% of known coral species. In Raja Ampat’s waters, there is countless marine life and stunning coral reefs to see. The most popular sights include manta rays, reef sharks, walking sharks, turtles, nudibranchs, and so much more. Diving in Raja Ampat is ideal from October to April as it has the driest weather with calm seas that make for smooth liveaboard sailing. The clear waters consistently have a visibility of 80-100 ft all year long, which is perfect for spotting even the smallest of critters. 


4) Tubbataha Reef - Philippines


                                      

Tubbataha Reef is a protected marine park in the Philippines’ Sula Sea. It is known for being a nesting ground for green sea turtles and is made up of a northern atoll, southern atoll, and the Jessie Beazley Reef.  Visitors can only explore the clear waters from a liveaboard as it is located over 10 hours away from land. The diving season takes place from mid-March to mid-June as that is when the water is at its calmest and clearest with a visibility of up to 114 feet. The reef is known for its vast biodiversity as it is reported to have over 1,200 species — 181 of which are threatened.


5) Solomon Islands - Oceania Pacific

                                        


Diving in the Solomon Islands is perfect for visitors hoping for a more private, secluded experience with untouched reefs. There are nearly a thousand islands in the archipelago, and almost all of them are uninhabited. The water temperature is consistently in the low to high 80s, making it comfortable to dive in year-round. However, January through April is monsoon season, which brings the greatest amounts of wind and rain that could disrupt diving. What makes the Solomon Islands so unique is that their waters hold a time capsule that sends divers back to World War II with its numerous plane and shipwrecks at various depths. In addition to these one-of-a-kind wrecks, divers can also explore reefs, walls, slopes, pinnacles, and more. Visitors can choose to spend their time in the Solomon Islands on a liveaboard or from a resort on land.


6) Chuuk Lagoon - Micronesia


                                       


Chuuk Lagoon is a mountainous island that was once a former Japanese naval base during the second world war. The island’s history has been kept alive in its own waters with its array of sunken treasure, submerged ships teeming with marine life, and even human remains. Divers in the Lagoon’s Pacific waters get to explore part of this history, and often even find artifacts such as ammunition or guns. The wrecks vary in their depth, making them accessible for just about any level of diver. The temperature is consistently warm year-round; however, December to April is ideal due to the lack of rainfall and wind during this season. 

Photographing Giant Mantas - Socorro Islands, Mexico

Photographing the World’s Friendliest Mantas


Article by Brandi Mueller ( www.brandiunderwater.com )

 

As far as amazing underwater encounters go, diving with manta rays is one of the best. These spaceship-looking animals can look almost scary at first glance with their wingspans averaging eight to twelve feet (some documented to be over thirty feet), but as they glide smoothly over the top of a diver exhaling bubbles, it’s easy to see they are really beautiful, gentle creatures. 


                                 

In spite of their massive size, mantas eat plankton, the itty bitty animals we hardly even notice in the water. They use cephalic fins, paddle-like appendages on both sides of their mouth, to funnel in water (and food). Often when they do this they swim in giant loops through the water column, like beautiful acrobatic dancers dressed in black and white. 

 

With mostly black back, the undersides of mantas are a pattern of black and white unique and individual to each animal like a fingerprint. There are two types of mantas, black mantas which are mostly black with only a little white on their bellies and chevron mantas which have two white marks on their top side and much more white on their bellies. Images of the manta’s ventral sides have been used to identify and track mantas.

 

While mantas live in many of our favorite diving locations, including tropical to subtropical waters, we usually only see them if we get really lucky. But around the Revillagigedo Archipelago (known as the Socorro Islands) offshore of Baja, Mexico, divers are almost guaranteed manta sightings, and not just fleeting fly-bys. Known as the world’s friendliest mantas, those residing around Socorro seem to willingly interact with divers, spending entire dives just swimming from diver to diver, making eye contact, and checking the humans out.

 

The area also has cleaning stations where the mantas get a bit of a spa treatment. Clarion angelfish, cleaner wrasse, and other fish come in to clean the parasites and dead skin off the mantas. This symbiotic relationship helps both parties: the manta gets a good bath and the fish get dinner. For some reason these mantas also seem to enjoy the bubbles divers give off, perhaps it feels like a massage or tickles a bit? The mantas seem to swim right into the bubbles overtop a diver.


                                   

Tips for Photographing Mantas

·       Just Breath – The mantas seem to like the massage-like feeling of diver’s exhaled bubbles and they will come around and swim right over top of divers. I almost felt like some manta even seem to take turns with us, visiting each of us, so we all got to see them (maybe they were seeing whose bubbles were best.) So just by exhaling, you can get up-close and personal to take images of these beautiful animals.

·       Don’t Chase – Like any animals, if something seems to be chasing them, they run (or swim) away. Just stay in one spot and wait for the mantas to come to you. Sometimes strong swimming divers can even chase a manta off and it won’t come back for the rest of the dive.

·       Go Fisheye – The mantas are big and they get close. Use your widest, wide-angle lens. Nothing is worse than cutting off a wingtip in an image because the manta was too big and too close to you! For compact camera users, invest in a wet-mount wide-angle lens.

·       Get Settings Ready – The mantas will usually make a similar pattern over divers again and again. Do a few test shots if you can and have your settings and strobes ready to catch the moment you want. And if you missed it, set it up again and usually you just have to wait a little bit before the manta comes back and swims over again.

·       Shoot in Different Directions – I like to stay at the edge of the dive group so that I can shoot into the crowd and get images with divers and then also turn a bit and get shots with the mantas but without divers in the shot. It’s nice to have a variety.

·       Look behind you – Often the mantas are coming into the cleaning station area from the blue and you won’t see them until they’ve passed over you. Always keep an eye out all around.

·       Get Creative – Diving with the Socorro mantas is a rare opportunity where you can expect to have a lot of time and chances to take photos of your subject. Once you have a ton of shots making images in the style you usually do, try something different. Play with your camera settings, adjust your strobe positioning (even turn them off and take some ambient light photos) and strength, take some video. You may not like all the images that come out, but you may get some amazing shots!

 

Diving Socorro is not just about mantas either! Divers are likely to see sharks of many species including piles of white tips, hammerheads, silvertips, Galapagos, and while it’s not actually a shark, some lucky visitors may see a whale shark or two. Almost as friendly as the mantas are the dolphins and the islands themselves make for great images too! Socorro should be on every manta-lover and diver’s bucket list. It will not disappoint!


                                 

These photos are from a trip Brandi took on the Nautilus Belle Amie to the Socorro Islands December 5-12, 2020. You can book thrips with Liquid Diving Adventures to the Socorro Islands as well as many other amazing destinations worldwide.


Socorro Islands - Mexico - Only by Liveaboard!

Socorro Islands - Mexico - Only by Liveaboard!

Mexico’s Revillagigedo Islands are synonymous with liveaboards and big-animal encounters. The archipelago lies about 300 miles off the southern tip of Baja California, requiring a 22-hour transit from Cabo San Lucas.



Four uninhabited volcanic islands make up the Revillagigedos: Socorro, Clarion, San Benedicto, and Roca Partida. They raise up from sea level from 100 to 3,800 feet out of the water from the seafloor, creating exceptional walls, pinnacles and sheer drop-offs that act as cleaning and feeding stations for oceanic mantas and half a dozen shark species, including mass aggregations of scalloped hammerheads.

 

Revillagigedos is an oasis in the middle of the eastern Pacific. The four islands sit at the convergence of the cool California Current flowing from the north and the warmer North Equatorial Current, creating an ideal spot for nutrients to rise from the deep and attract passing pelagics. This makes Revilla a hotspot for manta rays, humpback whales, whale sharks, dolphins, hammerheads, Galapagos sharks—nearly every variety of hungry traveler.



The Revillagigedos are part of a unique chain with amazing undersea volcanic mounds. Because of the remote nature, there’s just not a lot of pressure on the sites.

 

Cabo Pierce, the Aquarium, and El Canyon dive sites offer the chance to see just about any big animals you can imagine—humpback whales, pacific bottlenose dolphins, whale sharks, the list goes on.

 

Because these are important waterways for endangered megafauna, the islands were deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2016, and a year later were established as the Revillagigedo National Park. Even though they’re remote, they’re patrolled by the local government to prevent illegal fishing.

 

Because the archipelago is a national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site, certain protective measures are in place. Night diving, solo diving, and diving in the blue are not offered for safety reasons. Also, reef hooks, knives, dive lights not connected to cameras, and gloves are not permitted. In order to manage the number of divers on each site, liveaboards coordinate the timing of their dives. Because of this, if there are several boats at a site, they may limit the number of dives per day to three. The park has a set limit on the number of liveaboards that can visit, but flexibility is key in these parts.


Nautilus Belle Amie - LAST MINUTE - Socorros Nov 2, 2020 - $1795

Nautilus Belle Amie

LAST MINUTE DEAL 

Socorro Islands for 9 Days  8 Nights 

Departs Nov 2, 2020 - $1795 PPDO

2 Remaining Cabins


Nautilus is giving up on the Guadalupe Island Park officials for this year. For months they have been telling us to standby, we can expect good news within the week on the opening of our favorite great white shark destination. But the good news never comes. We say “screw it”. Let’s go diving. Nautilus is repositioning their boats to Cabo San Lucas and let’s get out to Socorro and start diving. The incredibly friendly giant mantas and dolphins as well as 10 species of shark are waiting. Water temps are in the low to mid 80’s. The diving is going to rock!!!

This discounted rate is for Stateroom accommodations, meals, and as many as four dives per day. Get this deal fast $1795 per person shared cabin occupancy. Rate does not include 5% tax or $65 Port Fee.

Nautilus Belle Amie - Socorro Islands - December 20-28, 2022

Nautilus Belle Amie

Christmas in the Socorro Islands

NEW DATES   December 20-28, 2022   NEW DATES

* *  8 Cabins Available  * * 


Christmas with the sharks at Socorro Island on the Belle Ami! 

 

This adventure will take you to the Revillagigedo Archipelago in Mexico. Socorro Island along with Roca Partida, San Benedicto, and Clarión are all amazing spots for scuba diving. These four islands are commonly referred to the Socorro Islands or simply "Socorro". 

 

Socorro is all about amazing interaction with giant mantas. No other mantas in the world behave like this. We don't know why but we love it… and the mantas clearly love us back. November and December boast the warmest water temps of the year in the low 80's. Aside from the usual interaction with mantas, dolphins and 10 kinds of sharks, this is the best time of year to see whale sharks in blue water and often excellent visibility.

 

This trip is both camera friendly and rebreather friendly!


The Belle Amie is a luxurious, stable vessel custom built for divers to the same SOLAS standards as the largest ocean-going cruise ships. With over 25 years-experience in liveaboard diving, this crew has a pretty good idea of when and how to get you in the water for the best possible diving experiences off Baja California, Mexico.


Our unique adventure package offers 9 days, 8-nights accommodation on the fabulous Nautilus Belle Ami liveaboard where we will visit the Socorro Islands. Over five full dive days you will be able to experience some of our favourite sites such as El Canyon, the Boiler, Red Rocks, Roca Partida, Cabo Pearse, Punta Tosca and Roca Oneal. We know that many of our guests want the option of as many dives as possible and we strive to offer an average of 4 dives a day other than the day that we do our mandatory check-in at the local navy base when you will likely have the option of 3 dives plus our world-famous silky shark night snorkel. Note that weather conditions, Mother Ocean or crowding by some of our competitors may limit some diving. This adventure may include some challenging dive conditions and may not be suitable for novice experience level divers.

 

This adventure includes single cabin, stateroom or superior cabin accommodation, 3 meals a day (plus snacks, water, coffee, espresso, tea, hot chocolate), nitrox for certified divers, unlimited diving with the dive day built around four daily dives.


Our Christmas Gift to you - FREE nitrox ($100) and a $200 airfare credit

 

Cost: Single Cabin - $4,325 per person single cabin occupancy including taxes 

          Stateroom Cabin - $3,460 per person double occupancy including taxes

          Superior Cabin - $3,985 per person double occupancy including taxes

Dive Socorro & Save 20% - Quino El Guardian - Baja California

Dive the Socorro Islands & Save 20%

* * * Quino El Guardian Liveaboard * * * 

Baja California, Mexico

Contact Us for Discounted Rates Today...!!

1-866.690.3483 Toll Free

Dive the
 Archipièlago de Revillagigedo

Quino el Guardian
December 6-15, 2019
Only $2640!

Regularly $3300, you'll dive with giant pacific manta rays, 7-species of sharks (including schooling hammerheads), and playful bottlenose dolphins. And December is whale shark season!

Price includes 10 days/9 nights and 
6 days of diving aboard Quino el Guardian Liveaboard with the best crew in the industry, taxes, port fees, meals, beverages, tanks, weights, and complimentary beer and wine. The only things not included are:

$28 park fee
$120 Nitrox (if you want it)
Transfers to and from the boat
Crew gratuity

Boat departs and returns to San Jose del Cabo
Subject to availability
Cannot be combined with any other offer

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