Diving Cabo San Lucas

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Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

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Country: Mexico  Area: Baja California Sur

Water Temp: 15 - 30°C (59 - 86°F)

Visibility: 3 - 40m (10 - 131 ft)

Depth Range: 5 - 40m (16 - 131 ft)

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The diving is great here, there's no debate, and many sites can be visited year round. Cabo San Lucas has also long been renowned as a playground for the rich and famous and also those looking for sea and spa fun.

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There are big fish to be caught, and Cabo hosts one of the most prestigious Marlin fishing tournaments in the world, with a serious cash purse up for grabs. Tuna, Marlin and plenty of other pelagic species wander the waters off Cabo's shores.

Exclusive spa resorts line the best strips of beach, and attract an international and discerning clientèle. All-inclusive packages are popular with families, couples and friends travelling in groups. Nightclubs, bars and live music venues will keep you entertained into the wee hours of the morning. “El Arco de Cabo San Lucas”, or “Land's End” as it is sometimes called, is a spectacular natural rock formation rising out of the sea. It is Cabo's most famous landmark, and a popular day trip for snorkelling and whale watching.

Enjoying the sea, Credit

Marine Conservation

Cabo residents and dive operators appear to understand that protecting the environment, will help to protect their income and livelihood. In 1973 a National Marine Park was established in the eastern side of the bay off town.

Fascinating! Credit

The diversity and numbers of sea creatures has dramatically increased over the decades, making the dive sites that lie within the park some of the best in the area. The reefs in particular have been especially well-preserved. Between December and April, you may get lucky and catch a glimpse of protected species like Humpback and Grey whales cruising off shore during their annual migration.

Whale Sharks are the biggest fish in the sea and between October and January, your chances are excellent to spot and snorkel alongside these splendid creatures. Don't forget your underwater camera!

Climate

Cabo is located in a semi-arid desert environment that combines majestic mountains with open coastal plains. The water temperature ranges from 21.5 degrees in late winter to a toasty 29.5 towards the end of the summer. Hurricanes can be a concern, especially in late summer and early fall. Cabo suffered serious damage when hurricane Odile hit land on September 14, 2014.

Spinny Lobster, Credit

Other Year round Marine life

Octopus, Moray eels, parrot fish, puffer fish, snappers groupers, nudibranch, angel fish, butterfly fish and etc.

 
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Wildlife Calendar

                   
           
                     
             
                     
             

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The Diving

Cabo's location at the tip of the Baja peninsula allows divers to take advantage of various marine environments and ocean conditions. Off the Pacific coast, you can expect rougher water and strong currents, but excellent opportunities for experienced scuba fans to explore underwater sea mounts. There is a good possibility of schooling Hammerheads, large shoals of jacks and tuna, and a variety of rays may fly by you. Many large Mantas appear to enjoy these waters as much as visiting divers.

A Seahorse in Cabo San Lucas, Credit

Cabo Reserve is home to several great sites that are within a half an hour of the dock. These sites are suitable for divers of all levels as the bay is calm and protected from the open water. Pelican Rock is a favourite site with visiting scuba divers. There are sea cliffs that are home to inquisitive sea lions who are rarely afraid to come and check you and your group out. The unique Sand Falls site showcases an underwater avalanche of sand and debris. The visibility is usually good at these spots, and the currents mild or non-existent.

A 25 minute boat ride takes you further away from the harbour to an area known as The Corridor. There are fascinating rocky reef formations, and schools of rays are often spotted flying above them. Macro fans won't be disappointed by the sites at The Corridor either. Tiny crustaceans and other creatures creep in and out of the corals, and rest on the sea fans. Between December and April migrating Humpback and Grey whales can often be seen on the surface.

Octopus in Cabo San Lucas, Credit

Gordo Banks attracts the big fish. This underwater sea mount is a magnet for pelagic marine creatures in the area. Expect to see schools of large tuna, snappers, jacks and others. Schooling Hammerhead Sharks are the real stars of the show, and if you're lucky, you may catch a glimpse of these awesome creatures patrolling the depths around this mountain submerged in the sea.

Dives at Gordo Banks tend to be fairly deep, and the currents can be strong. Many shops will only take advanced divers who have already demonstrated their skills at other less challenging local sites. It takes at least an hour to get to Gordo Banks. Plan for a full day trip that is seven or more hours in total. This site is perfect for NITROX divers, and some operators will allow you a free “Discover Nitrox” dive when you book an excursion to Gordo Banks.

Dive with these fishes! Credit

A remote, northerly coral reef in the Mexican National Marine Park is where you will find Cabo Pulmo. It takes two hours to drive out to the small village where you will board the boat to get to the sites at Cabo Pulmo. The sites are only a 15 minute or so boat ride from shore. Once there, you'll be dazzled by the array of reef creatures that await. As the area is protected, the reefs are packed with groupers, turtles, eels and rays. These are pleasant, shallow drift dives that are suitable for even novice divers. May to November are the best months to visit this area.

Further north on the east coast is La Paz. Seasonal Whale Shark snorkelling trips are organized by many shops, and are a fantastic way to cozy up next to these gentle giants of the sea. Never attempt to touch, ride, or swim in front of these incredible creatures. The moment they feel harassed, they will dive deep down, and stay out of sight until people have gone away. Swim quietly next to them, and they are remarkably tolerant of the two-legged intruders in their realm.

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How to Get there

Visitors generally arrive at Los Cabos International Airport. Cabo is served by many international and domestic airlines, with frequent direct, daily flights from many major cities. The airport is approximately an hour from the town itself.

Most resorts can arrange for direct hotel transfers. Taxis and car rentals are also available. If you are up for an adventure, and looking to save some cash, consider the local buses. Most are under $5 and take you directly from airport terminal to town.

School of Surgeon Fish, Credit

 

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Where to Eat & Drink

There is almost as much happening in Cabo above sea level, as there is below. Gourmet restaurants can be found at the resorts and in the town itself. Riu, Wyndham and many other all-inclusive resorts are well-represented in Cabo San Lucas and on nearby beaches. The resorts are home to nightclubs, bars, and lounges. Naturally, fresh seafood and Mexican cuisine is showcased at many restaurants, but there are vegetarian, French, Italian and even sushi bars if you find that you have fallen victim to an exotic craving.

Moray Eel, Credit

The Happy Ending Cantina is a lively restaurant and bar that attracts an equally vivacious clientèle. Miguel at The Monkey Business Bar scores top marks when it comes to mixing the most magnificent margaritas. It's a tiny place, usually packed, and it's tucked away down near the pier. Expect a potent, tequila-packed punch with fresh squeezed lime. In Mexico, as they say, the tequila is usually cheaper than the mix!

 

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Other Activities

Fishing is a big draw in Cabo and there are many competitions for Marlin, Yellowfin Tuna and other big game fish. Surfing along the Pacific beaches is popular as is para-sailing. Take some time away from the beach to explore the desert on a guided horse back ride across the scenic plains. Eco-adventure packages are a great way to be educated and entertained  during your stay in the beautiful Baja environment.

Ready to dive, Credit

Some resorts are home to world class golf courses, and superb spas and retreats. Yoga and Pilates classes are organized at many properties, and some even have Mexican cooking or dance classes available. Even if you are not registered at the resort, it may be possible to book services at their spa, take in a round of golf, or participate in other programs. Check directly with the front desk for the most up to date information.

Family Friendly

Activities of all kinds are available at the resorts in Cabo. The majority of the properties are very family-friendly, and have organized kids activities and programs for teens. Most hotels can help arrange for babysitting services so Mum and Dad can take time for a romantic beach front candle light dinner. Many dive shops have introduction to diving classes for kids, and there are plenty of awesome opportunities to snorkel in the sheltered waters of the Marine Park. Resorts often have “Banana Boat” rides, jet-skis and other motorized water sports available for their guests.

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Tips

Divers in Cabo enjoy the best visibility and warmer waters when they visit between August and November. The majority of the sites that are in the Marine Park are sheltered and are accessible year-round. October to January is Whale Shark season and Baja is one of the few places that you are virtually guaranteed a sighting. Snorkel excursions are available near La Paz, north east of Cabo. Always be respectful of the sharks (many are juveniles) and never try to touch or (God forbid) ride the creatures. Swim alongside quietly, and they will be remarkably tolerant of the human paparazzi that stalks them.

Waiting for someone, Credit

As with most of Mexico, taxi fares, and anything purchased at a market or stall is subject to some degree of haggling when it comes to price. Don't be afraid to shop around and compare costs. Cabo San Lucas is regarded as one of the safest spots in Mexico. That said, take the usual precautions when you are out amongst the crowds. Leave the flashy jewellery in your room safe (or better yet at home) and keep your cash close to you. Women out alone in the evening may receive unwanted attention from hungry young Mexican males. It is most certainly annoying, but violent crime targeting  tourists is rare.

This one's a little shy, Credit

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Diving in Baja End of June

Hi,

I am planning to be at Baja around the end of June, what's the general condition going to be like around that time? From looking at the Wildlife Calendar it does seem that Cabo is a better diving destination than La Paz, is going to La Paz even worth it?

Thanks!

Claudia Kane

0 votes

I thought the way that you are thinking now but I will tell you my experience: I just came back from Los Cabos and we scuba dived in there 3 tanks, in La Paz and in Cabo Pulmo; long story short, I will never go to scuba dive in Los Cabos again, it´s not a place for scuba diving, Cabo Pulmo is a "must", schools of fish you will never see in other parts of the world, and La Paz was great, we scuba dived an played with the sea lions, we saw lots of dolphins, sea horses and marine life, the best of all is that is like this all year round with a plus that in some seasons you can see whales and shark whales. Hope this works for you!

Rating 9/10

Gateway Dive

Cabo San Lucas11 Jun 2016 - 11 Jun 2016 with Manta Scuba Diving

this was my first diving experience and it got me hooked. We did 2 dives at around 40' each. We saw a grumpy moray eel, White Tip Reef Shark, Parrot Fish, lots of rays and guitar fish, and some interesting Seals. It was fantastic.

Dreams of experiencing some big fish!

Hallo. Me and my boyfriend are going to Baja California Sur tomorrow and are there for 1-2 weeks. I have just got my dive license and he snorkels. We are both eager to experience hammerheads, eagle rays and of course whale sharks. Does anybody know if it's possible to see any of those things by snorkeling? And are there any advises on where to go in Cabo San Lucas? Or any good dive companies?

Mange thanks / Signe!

Claudia Kane

0 votes

Yes, you can see whale sharks by snorkeling...

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Mark Anderson

0 votes

I got my open water cert w/ Manta divers. They took good care of me. I stayed at Siesta Suites which I also highly recommend.

dolphins1

Andy Chilson

0 votes

Scuba diving in Cabo, its one of the most beautiful experience that any one can have. Scuba diving in Cabo its a must for nature lovers. Private tours its. Website:https://cabodivetrek.com

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