Scuba sites in Baja California


Baja California
is famous for its dramatic landscape of boulder
fields, cactus-studded mountains, and nearly 2,000 miles of rugged
coastline. While Baja may be arid and earth-toned above water,
below the surface it transforms into a colorful and biodiverse
ecosystem. Nicknamed the world’s aquarium by Jacques Cousteau,
this region is one of Mexico’s most impressive destinations for
dive travel, yet it’s often overlooked by tourists in favor of
the Yucatán. If you want these stunning sites all to yourself, the
time to visit is now. Diving this good won’t stay a secret for
long.

La Paz — Espiritu Santo and Los Islotes

Dolphins jumping in the water in Baja California

Photo:
Benny Marty
/Shutterstock

If you’re looking for an authentic Mexican experience, La Paz
is a great place to get off the gringo trail. It’s a favorite
destination for Mexican nationals but feels worlds away from the
tourist crowds of Cabo San Lucas. Stroll the Malecon, eat a few
fiery seafood dinners, and check out the local organic market for a
taste of the real Baja California Sur.

Just an hour offshore, the islands Espiritu Santo and Los
Islotes are the gateway to Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. Lucky visitors
might spot orcas, dolphins, and whales on the boat ride out. But,
the real stars of the show here are the region’s super friendly
California sea lions. These underwater acrobats are known for their
playful antics and up-close encounters. Springtime is best for
diving and snorkeling with the curious pups. Underwater
photographers might want to bring a small hand mirror along. Sea
lions love interacting with their own reflections and can really
ham it up for the camera.

From October to May, whale sharks — the biggest fish in the
world — gather in the shallow waters around the bay of La Paz to
feed. These gentle giants eat mostly plankton and are perfectly
safe for divers and snorkelers. Most encounters take place on the
surface where the sharks slowly cruise in search of their next
meal.

Cabo Pulmo National Park

A colorful coral grouper on a healthy tropical coral reef

Photo:
Richard Whitcombe
/Shutterstock

Don’t go to Cabo Pulmo expecting luxury hotels or
all-inclusive resorts. There’s no nightlife, internet access is
spotty, and the drive into town is an adventure. So, it’s a
destination best left to more intrepid travelers. But if you’re
up to the challenge, you won’t be disappointed. Diving in this
national park is some of the best in all of Mexico.

Thanks to decades of protection, Cabo Pulmo National Park has
transformed into a scuba diver’s paradise. Once badly overfished,
these waters are now known for massive schools of snapper and
grouper, mobula rays, sharks, and even the occasional orca. This is
the most extensive coral reef in the Sea of Cortez, so you can
expect plenty of colorful fish and critters, too. Fall and winter
months are best for diving here, especially if you’re hoping to
come face to face with the region’s megafauna. Humpbacks, manta
rays, and bull sharks are the park’s most famous residents.

If you aren’t a certified diver, Cabo Pulmo still has plenty
to offer. There’s excellent snorkeling just offshore and at some
of the dive sites. Guided kayaking tours are another excellent
option for those who prefer to stay topside.

Los Cabos — inshore diving and Gordo banks

Diving with a Mako Shark of Cabo San Lucas Mexico

Photo:
Lukas Walter
/Shutterstock

The twin cities of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo are
classic Mexican resort towns. All-inclusive hotels dot the coast,
and a night out typically includes famous drinking destinations
like the Cabo Wabo
nightclub. But, it isn’t all bad. Los Cabos is a great jumping
off point for some excellent scuba diving, as well as other
watersports like fishing and sailing.

A quick boat ride to famous sites like Land’s End and
Neptune’s finger will take you straight to the center of Cabo’s
underwater adventures. Reef sharks, sea lions, schooling barracuda,
and massive grouper make regular appearances at these dive sites.
But wildlife isn’t the only draw here. Dramatic underwater rock
formations make this one of the most topographically interesting
areas to dive in all of Baja.

If you’re up for the hour-long boat ride, the Gordo banks
submerged seamounts are well worth the trip. During fall months,
these far offshore sites become a magnet for large pelagics like
sharks and rays. While hammerheads, bull sharks, and mobulas make
for the most exciting encounters, massive schools of tuna, snapper,
and jacks also gather here.

Revillagigedo Islands and Guadalupe

Cage diving with great white sharks

Photo:
Stefan Pircher
/Shutterstock

Home to powerful Pacific currents and open ocean conditions,
this diving area isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s only
accessible via liveaboard, and the boat ride takes an entire day.
But visitors who are up to the challenge will be well rewarded.
Because of the remote nature of these sites, advanced scuba
certification and experience are required for all visitors.

At Socorro, don’t dive here expecting to see coral. These
offshore seamounts and pinnacles are known for their dramatic
drop-offs and plummeting walls of solid rock. But what Socorro and
the Revillagigedo
Islands
lack in reef life, they make up for in big fish. This
area is known for one-on-one encounters with whale sharks,
dolphins, and manta rays, as well as a chance to spot silky,
Galapagos, and hammerhead sharks schooling by the hundreds.

Divers come to Guadalupe to see just one thing:
great white sharks
. During the summer and fall months, the
sharks gather here in great numbers. But most divers agree that
you’ll see the most massive females between August and October.
Dives in this region are performed inside of cages, and some
operators use surface-supplied air. You won’t do any swimming on
this trip. Instead, expect plenty of stationary time dedicated to
shark observation and photography.

The post
Scuba diving in Baja California is one of Mexico’s best-kept
secrets
appeared first on Matador Network.

Source: FS – All-Travel destinations-News2
Scuba sites in Baja California