Click to reveal site search

Liveaboard Report: Nautilus Fleet

Whales, sharks, dolphins manta rays, billfish, sea lions and more! This is the promise of underwater adventure that makes Nautilus Fleet the go-to choice for big animal liveaboard diving. With a fleet of modern vessels based in Baja California, Nautilus is ideally positioned to conduct trips into the eastern Pacific marine life hotspot of the Socoros Islands, as well as seasonal forays to the great white shark mecca of Guadalupe Island and marine life encounters in the waters of the Sea of Cortez.

Learn more about Diving in Baja.

MEET THE FLEET
Nautilus operates a fleet of premium dive liveaboards operating in the waters of the Eastern Pacific and the Sea of Cortez. These steel-hulled ships are stabilized for comfort in open ocean conditions, built to commercial standards in US and Canada shipyards, and meet the exact American Bureau of Shipping standards for structural integrity and safety. Captains and crew hold professional maritime credentials and are trained for emergency response, first aid and security awareness.

 

The flagship of the fleet is the Nautilus Explorer. Launched in 2000, the Explorer was originally designed to support diving operations in the demanding waters of Western Canada and Alaska, and became the world's first SOLAS safety-certified dive boat. The ship subsequently moved to Mexican waters and underwent a complete refit in 2018, which included a lengthening to 132 feet to create an extra-large stern dive deck with an extended water-level platform.

Nautilus Explorer
Nautilus Explorer

With a crew of ten, the Explorer can accommodate up to 16 guests in 13 cabins and suites. The boat's dining and lounge areas provide panoramic ocean views. There is a large camera room, onboard hot tub and a fully-stocked bar for post-dive relaxation. Like all boats in the fleet, the Explorer provides onboard internet access and satellite phone services, supports technical diving activities and is rebreather friendly.

 

Launched in 2015, the Nautilus Belle Amie is an oceangoing liveaboard designed specifically for diving in the Socorro Islands and white-shark trips to Guadalupe Island. This three-deck state-of-the-art vessel can accommodate larger dive groups, as it offers a choice of 17 spacious staterooms and upper-deck suites with hotel-like comforts and large view windows. Onboard amenities include a full-length upper sundeck, stocked bar and freshwater hot tub, and the boat is stabilized for passenger comfort.  At the stern, the extended water-level dive platform provides easy water and boat entries and exits and serves as a secure staging area for cage diving operations.

Nautilus Belle Amie
Nautilus Belle Amie

The Nautilus UnderSea has a storied history as an expedition dive ship. Built to serve as a submarine tender for the Perry Oceanographic Institute, it was later used for expeditionary filming operations and brought a generation of divers to Cocos Island. Nautilus Dive Adventures acquired the ship in 2021 and undertook a keel-up restoration and update that included extending the hull, reconfiguring the upper decks and adding an active stabilization system. Today, the UnderSea carries up to 19 divers in 9 ensuite staterooms and suites that include one three-passenger stateroom and an ADA-compatible stateroom adjacent to the dive deck.

Nautilus UnderSea
Nautilus UnderSea

The fourth member of the Nautilus Fleet was originally commissioned as private luxury yacht. In 2018 the Gallant Lady was acquired by - Nautilus Dive Adventures and reconfigured as an upscale dive liveaboard, accommodating just 12 divers in 6 spacious suites while maintaining yacht-style interior amenities in the guest lounge and dining salon. The vessel's powerful engines and hydraulic stabilizing systems deliver an ideal combination of speed and comfort. The Gallant Lady is fully ocean-capable and ISM safety certified, but typically cruises the calmer waters of the Sea of Cortez and is available for private charters.

Nautilus Gallant Lady
Nautilus Gallant Lady

SOCORRO: WHERE THE BIG FISH SWIM
The uninhabited islands of San Benedicto, Socorro, and Roca Partida are a trip of oceanic oases in the Eastern Pacific that attract all manner of A-list pelagic species. In the surrounding waters, divers can meet up to ten species of sharks, including schooling hammerheads, oceanic white tips, and whale sharks. Playful dolphin pods are common, whales make seasonal appearances, sea lions circle and huge schools of fish converge on underwater outcroppings.

Giant oceanic manta rays congregate at cleaning stations in the waters around the Socorros Islands.
Giant oceanic manta rays congregate at cleaning stations in the waters around the Socorros Islands.

The biggest stars of the show in the Socorros are the manta rays that glide in by the dozens from open water to converge on cleaning stations. These rays are big – with wingspans that can measure 20 feet. But what truly sets this destination apart from other manta ray hotspots around the world is the willingness of the animals to interact with humans. Often, it is the rays who initiate the meeting by circling in for a closer look to make contact and holding positions mere feet away.

GREAT WHITE CENTRAL
In recent years, Mexico's Isla Guadalupe has gained a reputation as the best place in the world to encounter great white sharks. Between the months of July and November, the sharks show up by the hundreds, and Nautilus Fleet divemasters have reported sightings of more than 40 individual animals in a single day. Sheer numbers alone make this a must-do adventure for shark enthusiasts, but there's more. Unlike other destinations where cold or dark waters limit viewing opportunities and open-water swells make for challenging conditions, Guadalupe delivers stellar water clarity, and interactions take place in calm seas close to the island's shores, with water temperatures in the high 60s or low 70s.

Exceptional water clarity makes for exciting great white shark encounters around Guadalupe Island.
Exceptional water clarity makes for exciting great white shark encounters around Guadalupe Island.

The boats of Nautilus Fleet make seasonal sailings to Guadalupe from the port of Ensenada. All shark encounters take place in custom-built cages with surface-supplied air and attentive crew support. With more than a decade of experience and a perfect safety record, the Nautilus crews are able to provide the most memorable and productive great white shark encounters in the business.

DIVING INTO THE WORLD'S AQUARIUM
Dive pioneer Jacques Cousteau is widely credited with naming the Sea of Cortez as “The World's Aquarium.” And it's a fitting title, as these waters offer a diverse and sometimes exciting range of underwater experiences. Fish watchers have a field day in the coastal waters of the Cabo Pulmo Marine Preserve, home to some 6000-plus species of marine life. Other favorites include Los Islotes for snorkeling encounters with playful sea lions, and the Bay of La Paz for swims with up to a population of more than 100 whale sharks.

Gregarious sea lions greet divers and snorkelers in the Sea of Cortez.
Gregarious sea lions greet divers and snorkelers in the Sea of Cortez.

At many sites, dolphins, turtles, sharks and massive schools of  big eye jacks are almost guaranteed. Trips into blue water add the excitement of billfish sightings and hammerhead shark migrations, plus humpback, fin and blue whales on a seasonal basis. One of the region's most unforgettable spectacles takes place when flocks of mobula rays numbering into the tens of thousands are hunted by pods of orcas. Trips aboard the Nautilus Gallant Lady puts divers and snorkelers in the thick of the action.

 

Are you ready for some big animal excitement with Nautilus Fleet? Caradonna's agents work closely with the fleet to help you create an ideal itinerary and can also handle all details of travel and transfer.

Top
#

caradonna