John Butland from Regaldive has just returned from a fantastic Socorro Islands liveaboard trip with the Nautilus Fleet. John was thrilled to encounter lots of the large marine life that Socorro is famous for and has even said that this was one of his best ever dive trips! This is high praise indeed, as John is a highly experienced diver…
There are times when all of us will realise that we have witnessed something very special indeed. One of those times for me was my recent trip to The Revillagigedo Islands, more often referred to as the Socorro Islands, 250 miles into the Pacific off the west coast of Mexico. These are uninhabited islands (apart from a small Mexican Navy outpost), with no hotels and no airport, so only divers can go there!
After an overnight in a harbourside hotel, I joined the Nautilus Under Sea, my home for the next eight nights. It proved to be a very comfortable boat with a friendly and knowledgeable crew. I was very happy as it had great food too!
The first dive was at The Canyon, at our first island, San Benedicto. We all knew straight away that it was going to be a great week for sharks, as we saw four different species on that first dive – Silkies, Whitetips, a couple of Silvertips and a lone Hammerhead patrolling the reef edge. Not bad for a check dive!
We made a transit to an even more remote location, Roca Partida – a lump of rock sticking out of the ocean. Not much to look at above the water, but its beauty lies beneath. The rock continues almost vertically downwards for about 80 metres, it’s like diving an underwater church spire. After we descended to about 25 metres we got our first glimpse of two huge Manta Rays heading our way; they came in nice and close and demanded our attention for at least 20 minutes of our dive. Luckily for us, we were the only boat at Roca that day. On the second dive we came very close to Whitetips on the ledges, resting in packs of eight or 10. Then, what I’d been waiting for, my first look at a Galapagos Shark… well three actually, circling with a huge school of Jacks.
After an overnight return, we awoke to find ourselves moored at Socorro itself. It’s a lot greener than the previous two islands. It seems incredible to think that today’s dives were the my least favourite of the trip, even though by normal standards we saw loads of great stuff: Hammerheads, Whitetips, Silkies, Octopus, Lobsters, a Stingray and a Manta. But this day was sandwiched between three truly amazing days.
We then moved to a site called Cabo Pearce for four more dives. Here we encountered our first Black Mantas – not as big as they come, but they still looked great gently gliding around us. Also a lone Tiger Shark passed by a couple of times, a lovely sight to see and the talk of the dive deck when we got back on the boat. What can I say about the third dive that day? To give you a clue my dive log starts with “Best Dive Ever!!”. That’s from nearly 500 dives and 15 years of diving. We had two big Mantas interacting with us for 20 mins, a huge Galapagos shark cruising around, lots more Silkies and even a playful Dolphin.
Our last day’s diving was spent back at San Benedicto and at an iconic site, The Boiler. We had four dives there and all were different. We were informed by the dive guides that the Mantas more usually turn up at the first dive on this site, and sure enough, they did. First two large Mantas arrived, and at one point there were four. They moved back and forward between the two groups of divers and spent the whole dive ducking and diving around us. As I’m sure you have heard about the Mantas at Socorro, they seem to love playing in the exhaled bubbles of the divers, just hanging above you, letting the bubbles run over their bellies and wing tips. Often close enough to touch (but we obviously didn’t) and eye to eye, you can’t help wondering what they were thinking.
The last three dives of the trip were pretty spectacular too, with another Manta, two Dolphins, three Hammerheads and a big Tiger Shark on the 2nd and a school of 40+ Hammerheads on the 3rd dive. I had a great bunch of fellow divers from around the world to share this with and we had a lot to talk about and plenty of impressive pictures and video to go through on the trip back to Baja.
Needless to say I’ve hardly stopped thinking and talking about this trip since I got back and among my ramblings to other divers. I will finish by saying “Whatever you do, you have GOT to go to Socorro”.
To find out more, call the Regaldive team on 01353 659999, or visit Socorro Islands Liveaboards.