The Socorro Islands, located 250 miles off the coast of Mexico, are known for their big pelagic encounters and are a more affordable alternative to Cocos and Galapagos. UK-based tour operator Scuba Tours Worldwide organised an ‘Exclusive Tour’ to Socorro during the month of March to coincide with humpback whale season … and their Dive Guide, David Allison, lead the trip and shares his experiences in this trip report.
Arriving at San Benedicto Island to a dramatic scene of a volcano with lava fields – the backdrop to an ocean where dozens of humpback whales have made a short stop on their migration – is a pretty amazing experience. Whales breaching and tail slapping calves with their mothers; this is just one of the experiences that made this trip so special.
Our first full day’s diving got off to a great start at El Canon with hammerheads galore coming into the cleaning stations, silvertips, silky sharks, Galapagos sharks and whitetips. That’s an incredible variety just for one dive! On top of that, some of the guests were then spoiled by the sighting of a tiger shark swimming by.
We spent two days at Roca Partida – just a rock in the ocean nine hours sailing from San Benedicto. A sea mount, remnant of a volcano, with sheer walls, great visibility and ocean current is again home to many species of shark. We encountered schools of hammerhead, silky sharks, silvertips, galapagos sharks and residential whitetips. We also saw huge yellow fin tuna and large schools of jacks, but I have to say the main highlight was a 5m whaleshark seen on two dives – she was very inquisitive with the divers and by account of the guides should not have been there at this time of the season! Last but not least we were treated to a manta birostris (giant mantas) showing up on our last dive before heading back to San Benedicto.
Giant Mantas at ‘El Boiler’
‘Manta madness’ at El Boiler was unbelievable! Giant manta birostris, amazingly beautiful, are very friendly to divers. It seemed as if they only showed up once we were on the dive site as there was always a 5 to 10 minute wait, then they would show up using our bubbles as a ready made ‘jacuzzi’ and spend the whole dive hanging out with the divers. El Boiler is a great dive site, easy to dive and not only home to the manta but also the odd hammerhead shark, schools of jacks, leather bass and a residential pod of very friendly bottlenose dolphins. We were fortunate enough to play with the dolphins on several occasions. El Boiler was that good we would not only spend the day there but return over another 2 days to get our ‘manta fix’ and some great photos.
More Amazing Diving…
Some other very memorable dive sites were Cabo Pearce and Punta Tosca at Socorro Island. At Cabo Pearce we were again able to play with dolphins, but my favourite was Punta Tosca with schools of hammerheads. I even saw a huge Great hammerhead following two manta rays across a sand and rock bed at the end of one of my dives.
Every diver got to see humpbacks when they were either snorkelling or diving and, although they were brief encounters, they were always memorable. On one occasion one of the groups were out on the pangas trying to get in with the humpbacks (which were being very difficult at the time!) but they all ended up snorkelling with a 4m tiger shark!
At the back of the boat at night on several occasions were dozens of silky sharks. Some of the divers managed to get some ‘up close and personal’ photos.
Our last day’s diving was at San Benedicto, back at El Canon dive site where we started the trip. Again, fabulous hammerheads! We then finished off the trip at El Boiler to say ‘adios’ to the mantas.
Photos: David Allison
Experience the Socorro Islands for yourself…
03 Mar – 13 Mar 2017 * 10 nights aboard Nautilus Belle Amie from £2,533pp
Prices includes accommodation on board Nautilus Belle Amie in a triple stateroom, all meals, soft drinks, snacks and all diving. (Please ask for alternative cabin categories).
18 Jan – 26 Jan 2018 * 8 nights Rocio del Mar from £2,605pp
17 Apr – 25 Apr 2018 * 8 nights Rocio del Mar from £2,605pp
Price includes accommodation on board Rocio del Mar in a twin/double share cabin, all meals, soft drinks and snacks, local beer and wine and all diving.
For more specials and Exclusive Tours from Scuba Tours Worldwide, visit www.scubascuba.com/specials/exclusive-tours.
To see more of Dave’s photos from this trip, click through to the Scuba Tours Worldwide Pinterest page: www.pinterest.com/scubascuba/daves-socorro-trip-report/
Frontline workers honoured with free dive trip to Yap
The remote island of Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia is among the few places in the world that remains free of Covid-19 thanks to its ocean border and a strict travel ban that has kept its residents safe.
Nonetheless, Yap has been affected, too. As one of the world’s premier, award-winning destinations for divers, this paradisiacal location in the western Pacific Ocean has had no outside visitors to its rich shores and reef for nearly a year. But while there may be no virus, the island hasn’t been cut off from the economic impact experienced around the globe.
That didn’t stop Bill Acker, CEO and founder of the Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers, from doing something, though.
Last March, soon after the island went into lockdown, Bill began to realize the effect of the virus on daily life beyond the island. “Yes, we are closed, have no divers, had to send our employees home and prepare for difficult times,” he said. “But we’re lucky in that we have, for the most part, avoided the human suffering and death this pandemic has caused.”
Thinking about the problems faced by his family business, they paled when he compared them to those endured by the healthcare workers who have been fighting selflessly around the clock for months on end for the well-being and lives of others.
“One evening, while checking the news online, I saw pictures of frontline workers who were tending to desperately ill and dying people when families and friends could not be with their loved ones. It was heartbreaking,” he added.
The next day, a meeting was held with the resort’s staff and Bill invited suggestions for ways they could do something to honor healthcare workers. The result was the idea to award twenty divers who are working on the frontline to save other’s lives during this pandemic while risking their own, with a free week at the resort.
Divers around the world who had been guests at Manta Ray Bay in the past were invited to submit the names of candidates for the award by December 31, 2020. “We received nominations for 126 individuals from as far away as Germany, the U.S., Australia and Canada,” he said. “It was not easy choosing the winners but our committee of staff members took on the job and selected the 20 finalists.”
“While trying to choose the people to reward for their hard work during this Covid-19 crisis,” Bill added, “by reading the nominations we saw that every one of the nominees was doing things above and beyond the call of duty. Sadly, we don’t have the finances to offer over 100 free weeks in Yap, but we do want to recognize the contributions all of them are making to our world. So, we are offering the rest of the nominees a free week of diving in Yap which includes room, hotel tax, airport transfers, breakfast, diving and Wi-Fi. The only requirement is that they travel with at least three other people and stay in two rooms or more.”
“We do not yet know when Yap will open its borders,” said Bill, “but when it does, we will welcome these important guests to Yap to relax and dive with the manta rays and the other beautiful denizens of the ocean surrounding our island home. They are the true heroes of this devastating, historic time and we look forward to honoring them with a well-deserved dive vacation.”
Watch out for our exclusive trip report from a healthcare worker from the UK who is one of the 20 to have been awarded this amazing dive trip!
For more information on Manta Ray Bay and Yap Divers visit their website by clicking here.
Dream Dive Locker Build Out. Part I: Demolition (Watch Video)
It’s finally here! Time to start building the greatest dive locker the world has ever seen! Part I: Demolition! #dreamdivelocker
This is the first of a series of videos showing the evolution of building out my dream dive locker. My dream dive locker needs to be dive gear drying and storage, dry storage, workshop, office, editing suite, You Tube studio and classroom. That’s a lot of functions for a small space!
The first step is planning out the space and demolishing the laminate flooring. Then I taped up the walls to get a feel for the space. We have a lot of work to do!
But finally we will have a purpose built space to house all of our dive equipment! Subscribe to our channel to follow our progress!
Thanks for watching, Team!
Subscribe here: http://bit.ly/DiversReady
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This is the perfect start to your 2021 diving season… and at an incredible lead-in price of just £885 per person.
Jump on board the latest addition to the Emperor fleet and enjoy diving the famous sites of the Red Sea with this fantastic special offer. This itinerary takes in the wonderful South & St Johns from 26 February – 05 March 2021.
Subject to availability – limited flight seats at this price so don't delay!
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