Straddling the rich waters of the Sea of Cortez, the Baja Peninsula is the launching point for some of the most electrifying where divers may be immersed in large flashing shoals of fish

The Gateway to Big Animals Thrills

The Baja Peninsula is the launching point for some of the most electrifying big animal encounters on earth. Boats depart from Cabo San Lucas for cruises to the Socorro Islands, where undersea pinnacles attract giant manta rays, silky sharks, bottlenose dolphins and hammerheads. Divers may be immersed in flashing shoals of jacks and yellowfin tuna, or catch a glimpse of migrating humpback whales. Farther to the north, La Paz is the starting point for trips into the rich waters of the sea of Cortez, where sea lions and seal frolic. Out in the Pacific, Guadalupe Island provides a rare and unforgettable opportunity for cage dives with great white sharks in cerulean blue waters.

Highlights

  • Best for: Experienced divers comfortable with big animals, open water and liveaboard protocols
  • Best season to visit: December to June for Socorro trips; year-round in La Paz, with peak visibility in summer; August to October for Great Whites at Guadalupe
  • Weather: Winter and spring air temperatures in the Socorro islands range from 70 degrees to the low 80s, with frequent sunshine. Similar surface conditions are found at Guadalupe Island in late summer and fall

Baja Information

About Diving in Baja

Access to big animal encounters off Mexico's Pacific coast is by liveaboard. The Soccoro Islands offer little in the way of shallow sites or colorful corals and the emphasis is on the larger marine life that congregates near the rocky slopes and pinnacles that rise from the deep water. Water temperatures drop from the low 80s in November to the mid to low 70s in February, then warm by April. These barren islands are not suited for shore excursions, and some sites may be exposed to swells and currents. Liveaboards move to sheltered leeward shores at night. La Paz serves as the starting point for day and overnight trips to coastal sites and the nearby barrier islands. Shark diving at Guadalupe Island takes place in cages set at shallow depths. Water temperatures at Guadalupe range from the high 50s to the low 70s.

Diving in Baja Tips

Trips to and from the Socorro islands and Guadalupe Island will begin and end with a long boat ride. If inclined to motion sickness, eat light, limit caffeine and alcohol, and relax in your bunk to give yourself time to acclimate to the motion.

Best Places to Dive in Baja

On San Benedicto Island, mantas congregate at the cleaning stations of The Boiler, while The Canyons add sharks to the mix. The soaring red cliffs of Cabo Pearce provide a dramatic backdrop for encounters with playful encounters, while Roca Partida is an open-ocean oasis of life that attracts massive fish shoals and is visited by ten species of sharks. In Cabo, Sand Falls is a local favorite, while the sea mount at Gordo Banks offers exciting blue water diving.

What to Pack for Diving in Baja

A 5mm wetsuit for the Socorro's, with a separate hood, as needed.  For shark diving at Guadalupe Island, a 7mm wetsuit or drysuit is most often paired with a hood and gloves. Shorts and T-shirts are comfortable topside wear but include a light windbreaker to ward off cooler evening sea breezes. Bring favorite reading material or entertainment media for the boat rides to and from.

Specials

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Le Blanc Spa Resort Los Cabos

LOS CABOS - CARDONNA RECOMMENDS includes 5 nights Royale Deluxe Resort View accommodations, breakfast, lunch and dinner daily including premium alcohol, Pelagic Safari - full day trip includes adventure of raw marine exploration, specialized guide, lunch, snacks, beverages, gear, $1,500 resort credit to be used on select tours, golf, spa, dinners and Le Blanc Memories (16% tax to be paid in cash on-island for services rendered), complimentary roundtrip airport transfers from San Jose Los Cabos airport, hotel tax and service charges. Valid 8/25/19-12/23/19. Add $166 per person for travel 4/28/19-8/24/19. Book by 11/30/18.
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From $2,245 per person double occupancy

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Socorro Vortex

SOCORRO ISLANDS - 20% OFF includes 8 nights aboard the Socorro Vortex, diving as scheduled, breakfast, lunch and dinner daily includin snacks and beverages (soft drinks, mixed drinks, beer and wine with dinner, all port fees, fuel surcharges and national park fees. Valid for departures through 12/27/21. Book by 12/31/18.
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From $6,459 per person double diver

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Le Blanc Spa Resort Los Cabos

LOS CABOS - BUILD YOUR OWN PACKAGE includes 5 nights Royale Deluxe Resort View accommodations, breakfast, lunch and dinner daily including premium alcohol, $1,500 resort credit to be used on select tours, golf, spa, dinners and Le Blanc Memories (16% tax to be paid in cash on-island for services rendered), complimentary roundtrip airport transfers from San Jose Los Cabos airport, hotel tax and service charges. Option to add-on Pelagic Safari Snorkel tour.
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From $3,019 per person double occupancy

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Club Cantamar Beach Hotel & Dive Center

LA PAZ - 7-NIGHT DIVE PACKAGE includes standard accommodations, breakfast daily, 5 days of 2-3 dives per day including lunch and drinks, roundtrip airport transfers from La Paz, hotel taxes and service charges.
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From $1,100 per person double occupancy

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Club Cantamar Beach Hotel & Dive Center

LA PAZ - BUILD YOUR OWN PACKAGE includes 7 nights accommodations, breakfast daily, roundtrip airport transfers, hotel tax and service charges. Options to add-on Snorkel Tours with Sea Lions or Whale Sharks.
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From $664 per person double occupancy

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Hotel La Concha Beach Club Resort

BAJA - BUILD YOUR OWN PACKAGE includes 7 nights Superior accommodations, roundtrip airport transfers, hotel tax and service charges. Options to add-on Snorkel Tours with Sea Lions or Whale Sharks.
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From $496 per person double occupancy

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Resorts

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Bahia Hotel and Beach House

BAJA - Located in the historic Medano Beach Distract in the heart of Cabo San Lucas. Traditional botique experience in a chic, modern retreat with world class dining and activities. The Beach House is on picturesque Sea of Cortez with Bar Esquina Restaurant on site.
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Le Blanc Spa Resort Los Cabos

LOS CABOS - A romantic beachfront dream comes to life at Le Blanc Spa & Resort Los Cabos. Take a couple's getaway and bask in a sun-kissed oasis that caters to your every whim with world-class cuisine, top-shelf wine, spirits, and beers, and other posh amenities. Not just for the beach, sun, spa, and delectable dining, but for the memories that live on, long after you depart. This is Le Blanc Spa Resort Los Cabos, an oasis of luxury on the Baja Peninsula. Experience a new frontier of opulence where everything is included and utterly unforgettable.
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Club Cantamar Beach Hotel & Dive Center

LA PAZ - Club Cantamar, located along the coast of the Sea of Cortéz, is the result of 23 years of continued operation and management by the Aguilar family. Today, Club Cantamar features a top notch marina facility and an impressive fleet of dive boats providing easy access to the incredible sites in the Sea of Cortez. The 50-room beach resort was built by divers, for divers - including a recompression chamber on-site, gear lockers, swim-up bar, and great food served in a seaside restaurant, while still having plenty for non divers including Whale Shark encounters, whale watching and snorkeling with Sea Lions.
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Hotel La Concha Beach Club Resort

BAJA - Located just 10 minutes away from downtown La Paz, La Concha Beach Resort has a peaceful and mellow atmosphere in front of the Sea of Cortez. Facilities include beach, swimming pool, restaurant, watersports facility and spa.
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Liveaboards

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Socorro Vortex

The Socorro Vortex will cater to the most sophisticated & demanding divers by offering the finest in luxury liveaboard scuba diving. With only 14 guests onboard, you will receive the highest quality dive experience for the lucky few! Luxury diving is followed by topside elegance plus unmatched and personalized service. Gourmet dining with a complimentary selection of the best Baja California beer and wine, expansive common areas, plus top-of-the-line beds, linens, towels and bath robes will ensure your comfort onboard.
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From $6,960 per person double diver

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Nautilus Under Sea

Many divers know this classic ship from her previous life as the Undersea Hunter of Cocos Island and IMAX fame. With massive upgrades including stretching by 20 feet, a new superstructure, an enclosed dive deck and host of other improvements, it is hard to recognize the original ship. The special feature of the Under Sea is intimate group size of just 18 divers combined with Nautilus spaciousness and comfort and a huge dive deck and water level platform. It is important to note that the ship was launched in 1968 and she is not as new and contemporary as the other Nautilus Fleet Liveaboards.
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From $3,095 per person double diver

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Solmar V

This luxury liveaboard provides optimal diving year-round visiting the fabled Socorro Islands, Sea of Cortez and Guadalupe Island where divers experience some of the best animal encounter on the planet while being pampered by a friendly and professional staff. Click below for more information on 4-night Guadeloupe Island Great White Shark Itineraries. Contact us for current availability as these trips do sell out quickly. See separate listing for 8- night Socorro Itineraries.
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From $3,590 per person double diver

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Nautilus Explorer

This luxury liveaboard specializes in pampering small groups of divers on diving expeditions to some of the most exciting big animal destinations on Earth. Experiences include cage encounters with great white sharks for both divers and non divers in clear blue water of Guadalupe Island and intimate encounters with giant mantas of Socorro Island. Longer itineraries include the Sea of Cortez for encounters with sea lions or whale sharks. Click below for more information on 5-night Great White Guadelupe Itineraries. These trips sell out quickly so contact us to confirm current availability. See separate listing for 8-night Socorro itineraries.
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From $3,095 per person double diver

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Solmar V

This luxury liveaboard provides optimal diving year-round visiting the fabled Socorro Islands, Sea of Cortez and Guadalupe Island where divers experience some of the best animal encounter on the planet while being pampered by a friendly and professional staff. Click below for more information on 8-night Socorro departures and contact us for current availability as these trips do sell out quickly. See separate listing for Guadalupe Island Great White Shark departures.
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From $3,599 per person double diver

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Nautilus Explorer

This luxury liveaboard specializes in pampering small groups of divers on diving expeditions to some of the most exciting big animal destinations on Earth. Experiences include cage encounters with great white sharks for both divers and non divers in clear blue water of Guadalupe Island and intimate encounters with giant mantas of Socorro Island. Longer itineraries include the Sea of Cortez for encounters with sea lions or whale sharks. Click below for more information on 8-night Socorro departures. These trips sell out quickly so contact us to confirm current availability. See separate listing for Guadalupe Island Great White Shark departures.
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From $2,895 per person double diver

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Nautilus Belle Amie

The Nautilus Belle Amie offers itineraries to two of the world's best destinations for diving with big animals - the Socorro Islands for diving with giant mantas and whale sharks, and Guadalupe Island for cage encounters with great white sharks for divers and non divers. Click below for more information on 8-night Socorro departures. These trips sell out quickly so contact us to confirm current availability. See separate listing for Guadalupe Island Great White Shark departures.
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From $2,895 per person double diver

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Diving in Baja

The 700-mile-long Baja Peninsula separates the Pacific Ocean from the Sea of Cortez, creating a nautical crossroads at Cabo San Lucas, its southernmost point. These fish-rich waters have much to offer divers and fishermen, but even greater things await to the south. Some 230 miles from Cabo lies the Revillagigedo Archipelago, a group of uninhabited rock islands which included Socorro, Clarion, San Benedicto and Roca Partida. These islands are sometimes called the Socorro's because it is easier to pronounce. But, no matter what you call it, this is one of the world’s hot spots for big animals and giant manta encounters in open water. Mantas can be seen at a majority of dive sites around the area, with one of the best being a cleaning station at San Benedicto Island where mantas show up for grooming with predictable regularity. The undersea landscape of the islands presents a series of volcanic slopes, steps and ridges near the shoreline, along with offshore pinnacles. Visibility often ranges between 30 and 60 feet, but can sometimes reach 100. In addition to mantas, these remote islands also attract passing pelagics, including large pods of dolphin, schools of jacks and yellowfin tuna and a variety of whales that includes humpbacks, false killers and pilot whales, plus a showcase of sharks that includes white tips, silver tips, silkies, hammerheads, Galapagos, threshers, and occasionally tigers. Closer to Cabo San Lucas there’s underwater opportunities for all levels of divers. Sites just five minutes from the harbor feature encounters with curious sea lions, schools of Moorish idols, giant moray eels and sea turtles. Top sites include Land’s End, Sand Falls, and Neptune’s Finger. Further out is Gordo Banks, a seamount about 8 miles from shore that delivers schooling hammerheads, whale sharks, mobula and manta rays, dolphin and bait balls pursued by marlin. The Sea of Cortez plunges to depths of more that 14,000 feet and is one of the richest and most active seas in the world. Gray whales migrate to the San Felipe area to calve, and whale sharks make the sea a regular haunt. At the marine reserve of Cabo Pulmo, you’ll find large schools of fish and legions of eels, while islands such as Espiritu Santo near La Paz are home to playful colonies of seals and giant sea lion rookeries. On the Pacific side of the peninsula, not far from the US border, the small volcanic profile of Guadalupe Island sits 150 miles offshore. Here divers are provided a rare chance to view great white sharks in clear oceanic waters, and more than 170 individual sharks have been known to visit the area.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements

Entry Requirements: All U.S. citizens are required to present a valid passport. Visas are not required for stays of less than 180 days.

Exit Requirements: All persons leaving Baja, pay a Government Departure Tax of approximately USD $45, which should be included in your International ticket.

Immunizations

Vaccinations are not required for entry into Mexico. Check with your doctor and the Centers for Disease Control on recommended vaccinations for travel at Health Information for Travelers to Mexico.

Culture and Customs

There are two distinctly contrasting social facets to the Baja Peninsula—one traditional, the other international. Most visitors know the vacation pleasures of the cape, where sun worship and nightly celebrations set the tone, and the party never stops. This is one of North America's favorite getaway destinations, home to every manner of indulgence and recreation. But venture beyond the cantinas and shops of Cabo San Lucas, and the posh resorts and golf courses of San Jose Del Cabo and you will discover a very different side of this sunny land. Here. the traditional culture of Baja is shaped by the region's remoteness, arid landscape and ties to the sea. These factors have forged a people who mix proud self-reliance with a spirit of cooperation and generosity. Here, in coastal cities such as La Paz and quite fishing towns, strangers quickly become amigos, the small details of life are celebrated each day, and even hardships are met with a smile and a shrug. Glimpses of this lifestyle are revealed with a walk along the Malecon in La Paz. Here, families gather in the evening to enjoy cool sea breezes, which may carry the sounds of music from the town bandstand and the scent of fresh-grilled fish or lobster offered from a street vendor’s cart.

Electricity, Phone and Internet Access

Electricity in Mexico is 120 volts, 60 cycles, no adapter will be needed for U.S. visitors. The country code or Mexico is 52. Check with your mobile provider for long distance plans and costs. Internet service is available at many hotels, restaurants and shops.

Water Quality

Most restaurants and bars in tourist locations use purified water. Outside of resorts, be cautious with ice in drinks or vegetables which have been washed in tap water. Bottled water is available for purchase and is recommended for drinking and brushing your teeth.

Language & Currency

Spanish is the official language of Mexico, but English is widely spoken in the populated areas. The local currency is the Mexican Peso (MXN). Merchants and businesses are no longer allowed to change U.S. dollars to pesos. That may be done at a currency exchange office. U.S. Credit Cards are widely accepted for purchases in stores and restaurants.

Time

Baja is on Mountain Time and observes Daylight Savings Time. Baja is 7 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (-7 GMT during Mountain Standard Time or MST) and 6 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (-6 GMT during Mountain Daylight Time or MDT).

Location, Size and Population

Baja is the northernmost and westernmost of the 31 states of Mexico. It has an area of over 27,000 square miles or approximately 3.5% of the total land mass of Mexico. The mainland portion of the state has the Pacific Ocean to the west, California to the north and the Gulf of California to the East.

The population of Baja is 3.32 Million (2015).