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/