Diving Socorro Island

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Socorro Island, Mexico

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Country: Mexico  Area: Mexico

Water Temp: 21 - 28°C (70 - 82°F)

Visibility: 15 - 50m (49 - 164 ft)

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The Socorro Islands are a diver’s paradise offering once in a life time encounters with the oceans largest creatures, and is one of the only places in the world where you can swim with Humpback Whales!

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The Socorro Islands, or the Revillagigedo Archipelago as it is known locally, are 4 volcanic islands; San Benedicto Island, Socorro Island, Roca Partida and Clarion.

These islands are located in the Pacific Ocean about 250 miles southwest of tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula and have a unique ecosystem which attracts large concentrations of pelagic species making them a spectacular spot for marine encounters. This abundance of large marine species has earned the islands the title of the Mexican Galapagos.

The Socorro Islands are a destination that has to be on every diver’s wish list! Close encounters with Mantas and Humpback Whales will be an experience that you will remember for the rest of your lives!

Socorro is not an area to visit for macro life and critters as it is entirely focussed on the large marine encounters.  The underwater topography is made up of boulders and walls, it is not great for coral as it is a cool water destination, but again the large marine encounters take your attention away from these missing points.

Climate & Sea conditions

These trips are only available when the seas are at their calmest from November to the end of May due to the exposed location and weather conditions the rest of the year. The water temperature varies throughout these months from around 28C in the month of November, slowly dropping to 21C by February and then rising back up to 26C by May.

The visibility throughout this time is variable with typically the worse viz in November and December but it does all depend on the weather and currents, but when it’s good it’s crystal clear allowing you to see over 40m.

Marine Conservation

These four islands were uninhabited and virtually unexplored until discovered by Spanish explorers in 1533. Over the subsequent centuries, the islands received very little attention until a scientific exploration of the island in the early 19th century.

Today, the set of islands is now part of a protected biosphere reserve and sanctuary. The islands and marine ecosystem is subject to considerable research and conservation by a variety of conservation organizations and non-profits. The Socorro Island Conservation Fund  and the Guadalupe Island Conservation Fund  both work with the Mexican government to patrol any illegal shark poaching in the region, which is of particular concern.  Liveaboard operators further support the work of the Conservation Fund with financial donations, guest education programs and responsible operations. Manta Ray and Humpback populations are also the subject of intense study and protection. 

 
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Diving

Diving on the Socorro Islands is very challenging with deep sites, strong currents and rough seas usually undertaken without a guide, so the liveaboards are not suitable for beginner divers or non divers.

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. Although this is the top reason most people visit the islands there is much, much more to enjoy.

Humpback Whales

One of the other attractions are the 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!

Diving with Dolphins

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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How to get there

The islands can only be reached by a liveaboard trip as there is no accommodation and on most of the islands there isn’t even a place to get off the boat onto the land.

The liveaboards leave from Cabo San Lucas on the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula and usually take around 24hrs to reach the islands.These crossings can be quite rough, so if you suffer from seasickness make sure you are prepared but divers are rewarded at the end of this long journey by amazing diving! 

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Where to Eat & Drink

The Socorro Islands are reached only by a liveaboard tour since there are no facilities on the islands. Tours organized in Cabo San Lucas will arrange all meals and drinks for the group.

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Other Activities

It is extremely difficult to land on the islands due to their very rocky shores, so this trip is almost entirely confined to the liveaboard.

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Tips

The islands are located 250 miles south of Mexico’s Baja peninsula. It takes roughly 24 hours to reach them while traversing the open ocean. If you suffer from seasickness, medication and precautions are strongly recommended. Reading materials and music is also a nice thing to have for this long crossing.

 These islands are among the best dive sites in the world, so be sure to book well in advance! Availability on the liveaboards is limited, especially during peak seasons.

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Rating 10/10

Majestic Mantas, Dancing Dolpins and Haunting Hammerheads

Socorro Island29 Dec 2016 - 6 Jan 2017 with Nautilus Belle Amie

Just returned from an amazing trip aboard the Nautilus Belle Amie. What a first-class operation! Great crew, wonderful meals and diving that makes me want to go back....soon! The rooms were large, the bathrooms full-size with a shower that had hot water and great water pressure. The beds were comfortable and the room was convenient to the dive deck and sun deck.

The RIBs they used took a minute to figure out getting in and out, although it was a pretty simple procedure. The RIB was brought up on deck to get in over the side and when coming back, gear was handed up from the side and then walked up a stable ladder that was hooked over the side. Not too complicated since we had small swells, may have been a much different deal if we had rough seas.

We were fortunate with perfect weather, water temps 78-80 F and viz 80-100 ft. The crossing was smooth with a few side swells, but it's open ocean not a lake! We dove San Benedicto (El Canon), Socorro (Roca O'Neal), Roca Partida and back to San Benedicto (El Boiler). The Mantas were out in full force, seven on one dive and they were FRIENDLY!! Lots of video footage! We were greeted with clicks and whistles as we dropped into the water at the Boiler - the dolphins were waiting to put on a show! As we descended and got into position, the dolphins lined up in a row "standing" on their tails and then it was like someone turned on the music. In unison they started bobbing their heads and a few were moving their mouths as if singing - - I know, it sounds like I was narc'ed out of my mind, but I have the video! Truly memorable!

If you are thinking about making the trip - - STOP thinking and get it reserved! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!

Adam Cohen

I'm going May 6th - I am psyched out of my mind!!

What is water temp mid June?

I usually use a 3mm in 80 degree water, but get cold if any cooler. Could I get by with a vest over 3mm in Mid June?

socorro = 4 liveaboards thats over a 100 divers per day

Are there too many divers now in this 12 dive site location.

2

Mike Bednarz

0 votes

That kinda sucks! Does it impact the experience a lot.. did you dive there recently to see this?

Question about liveaboard in Socorro

Hello my dear friend divers!

Is there only two liveaboard ships (solmar v, valentina) going to Socorro Island?

I think there`s more liveaboard ship going to there, but I can`t find :(

Janelle Pette

1 vote

Check Blue-o-two or Nautilius Explorer (also some will call it Mexico's Revillagigedo Archipelago) as it includes Socorro.

Claude Himbeault

0 votes

The Nautilus Explorer is one more that you can look at. Super nice.

Arthur

Arthur Portmann

0 votes

There are currently about 10 Liveaboards! operating Socorro island. If you wish you can contact me for more information.

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