Diving in Socorro Island & Revillagigedos Archipelago – All You Need to Know Before You Go
Socorro Island, officially called Revillagigedo National Park, is a remote island archipelago that emerges from the abyssal depths off the Mexican coast in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. This underwater paradise, also called “Mexican Galapagos”, is abundant in big marine life and you are sure to have an unforgettable dream-like experience! Read on to learn more.
Where exactly are the Socorro Islands located?
The island is volcanic in origin and is located about 250 miles off the coast of Cabo San Lucas, the extreme tip of the Baja California peninsula. A point where two nutrient-rich ocean currents meet, making the archipelago a unique intersection for species from different areas. There’s, even more, to be excited about. Here’s more on what marine life you can see when diving in Socorro, curated by our marine biologist Olimpia.
The Revillagigedo Archipelago is composed of three main islands and an islet: Socorro, the largest island where the Evermann volcano is located, San Benedico, famous for the giant manta rays that gather in groups from November to May, Roca Partida, the tip of a submerged volcano, and Clarion the furthest one from the coast. You can see them on the Revillagigedo islands map above.
The cruise to the remote Socorro archipelago takes place among these islands of volcanic origin where the greatest spectacle is provided by the sea. The sea offers volcanic landscapes, arches and an abundance of pelagic fish, many varieties of sharks (more than 28 species… that we know of) and wahoo attracted to these waters by the high presence of nourishment.
In this underwater paradise, also called “Mexican Galapagos” for the quality of the diving, unforgettable encounters can be made thanks to the constant presence of giant manta rays, whales (including humpback whales), hammerhead and many other sharks. Encounters with giant turtles and occasionally tiger sharks are possible.
How to get to Revillagigedo Islands?
The best way to reach Socorro is to get to San Jose del Cabo, from here you will reach the port of Cabo San Lucas (about 30km). The Revillagigedo Islands are accessible only by sea and uninhabited; the only way to visit Socorro is by cruise. The ship departs from Cabo San Lucas and generally stays about a week around this island. It takes about 24 hours to reach this remote destination from the mainland. Quite a lot right? But it’s the reason why visiting is worth it, and why we have decided to schedule an expedition there.
The most important diving spots in the Revillagigedo Archipelago are:
Roca Partida – A spur of volcanic rock completely covered with seagull guano and gannets, it is the top of a submerged volcano that emerges solitary from the open ocean. It features clear vertical walls that plunge into the blue at prohibitive depths. In the course of a dive you will be able to get around the entire pinnacle unless you are distracted by the presence of manta rays or sharks. These dives are certainly one of the absolute best in this entire area.
Socorro – Because of the strong currents, only a few coral species can live here and they belong almost exclusively to the hard coral group. Since the Archipelago is part of many different animals’ migratory routes, pelagic fish are numerous and diverse.
Cabo Pearce – The dive site of Cabo Pearce is located on the east side of Socorro Island and is easily identifiable by a protruding finger-shaped rock. During the dinghy ride to the dive site, it’s common to come across groups of dolphins.
El Fondeadero – The dive site called El Fondeadero consists of three large pinnacles full of lobsters, eels and reef sharks. Average to excellent visibility.
El Cañon – Encounters with giant manta rays, dolphins and Galapagos sharks in addition to hammerhead sharks are possible in this dive site. In the period between January and March, encounters with humpback whales are frequent.
What certification is required to dive in Socorro Island?
It is important to note that diving on Socorro Island should not be attempted by novice divers; therefore, the minimum certification required is Advanced Open Water Diver or equivalent. The currents are strong and unpredictable. But it’s also this strong current that attracts the rich pelagic life. Dives are mostly characterized by rocky structures and huge walls. The depth range goes from 10 to 30 meters, but most of the dives will be below 25 meters. As for the visibility, it varies depending on the dive site, season and current. In general, Roca Partida has the best visibility (almost around 100 feet).
Best time of the year to dive in Socorro Islands
The season to dive in Socorro Islands is from late October to May, since the only way to access the islands is via liveaboards that avoid navigating during summer when hurricane season is happening.
The water temperature in Revillagigedo Archipelago during November and December is about 82ºF (28ºC). From January to April it drops to 69ºF (21ºC) and then rises again up to 68ºF (25ºC) in May. The weather is usually sunny during this period with occasional rains to keep things cool.
Silky sharks, Galapagos sharks, white tips and silver tips are around throughout the season. Plankton blooms that attract these pelagics can reduce visibility, but the breathtaking encounters are worth the trade-off.
What should I pack to dive in Socorro?
We strongly advise you to bring a suit with the right thickness in order to avoid cold dives! Socorro Island surely isn’t known for its warm waters, so it’s better to bring at least a 5mm wetsuit and a neoprene hood. Make sure you also bring strong, comfortable fins for when you hit Socorro’s strong currents.
You might also consider some seasickness tablets. It’s a long journey to get to Revillagigedo Islands, with a 24-hour cruise to cross the ocean. Even with smooth sailing, it’s better not to be taken off guard by motion sickness!
Diving in Socorro Island: what can I find?
Socorro Island offers the opportunity to dive and interact with the world’s friendliest giant manta rays (Mobula birostris), which measure 5-6 meters on average and up to 9 meters! These giant mantas should not be confused with the smaller, more common mobula species, which is much more common in the world.
Also, during the cruise, dolphins are also very likely to be seen approaching divers and interacting with them. Galapagos sharks, silky sharks, hammerhead sharks, whitetip reef sharks and silvertip sharks are also sighted. Whale sharks are usually seen early and late in the season.
Do you want to dive with whale sharks? July to December offers a great chance for whale shark encounters in the Socorro Islands.
Is it really worth diving in Revillagigedo Islands?
Socorro Island is often compared to the Galapagos and Cocos because of the abundance of large marine animals; humpback whales, hammerhead sharks, sharks, dolphins, tuna, oceanic mantas, jacks, marlins and wahoo.
No two dives in Socorro are ever exactly alike. Whether it is a game of acrobatics with dolphins or a respectful approach to humpback whales or simply being mesmerized by a group of manta rays surrounding you, you are sure to have an unforgettable dream-like experience!
If you want to experience a once-in-a-lifetime diving trip to Socorro Island in the Revillagigedo National Park, you can join our first-ever scientific expedition. You will encounter the unique wildlife of the Revillagigedos Archipelago, in the company of the marine biologist and shark behavior specialist – Olimpia and the owner of Koox Adventures: Chucho: expert tech and cave diver. Get ready for Shark & Manta Identification & Research, tech and gas management courses, lots of fun, 8 days aboard, and 6 days of diving.
For any questions: Feel free to contact Olimpia – our marine biologist & shark behavior expert👇🏼
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