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Diving in Socorro, Mexico – The Ultimate Guide

Socorro  in Pictures

A collection of photos of Socorro both over and underwater.

Often referred to as the ‘Mexican Galapagos’, the Revillagigedo Archipelago, known as Socorro is one of the world’s ultimate dive destinations. It’s also one of my favorite dive spots on the planet. This remote archipelago is home to the most incredible sea life and mainly famous for giant oceanic manta rays and dolphin interactions. Also to be seen here are whale sharks, hammerhead sharks, dolphins, whales, manta rays, schooling fish and large pelagics.

Marine Life in Socorro  

Socorro’s remote location means the marine life here is spectacular. If its big fish and mammals you are after, this is the place to be. On any dive, you could see manta rays. It is one of the few places to see the rare black morph mantas. There is also usually a range of sharks like hammerheads, silkies, oceanic whitetips silver tips, Galapagos sharks, tiger sharks, and whale sharks, dolphins, and even migratory whales such as humpbacks and if you are lucky, even killer whales.

Socorro is also an important breeding location for a number of seabirds.

Dive Conditions in Socorro  

Located in the Pacific Ocean about  600 kilometers (370 mi) off the  West coast of Mexico, Socorro appeals to more experienced scuba divers. The island is part of the northern Mathematicians Ridge, a mid-ocean volcanic ridge inactive for millions of years. The conditions here are difficult with open sea, currents, waves, and cooler water. Socorro is only accessible by liveaboard and it takes 24 hours to get there from the Mexican mainland. Booking is recommended many months in advance as liveaboard places get sold out quickly. Under the water, there are pinnacles, walls with deep drop-offs and volcanic reefs forming a dramatic backdrop to the big fish action.

Best Time to Dive in Socorro 

Socorro is the best between November and May when the surface conditions are better.

Whale sharks season is November and December, while December through February sees humpback whales at the islands.

Water temperatures range from 28 °C (82°F) in November to 25°C( 77°F) in May. Temperatures drop to 21°C ( 70°F) in February. Visibility in the warmer months can exceed 30m (100 ft.) and is dependent on sea conditions. In the cooler season, visibility is generally 10-20m (30 to 70 ft.)

Best Dive Sites in Socorro  

The area known in the diving community as Socorro is actually the Revillagigedo Archipelago which consists of 4 volcanic islands, Socorro island being the largest. The dive sites here are all teeming with incredible creatures. Here are the must-sees.

Socorro Island

The largest island in the archipelago, Socorro Islands boasts a number of breathtaking dive sites. Extending into the current from the east coast of the island is Cabo Pearce. More often than not a pod of dolphins will be playing around here. Scalloped hammerheads and silky sharks often make an appearance as do mantas and, if you are lucky a humpback whale.

Roca O’Neal is known as  Hammerhead Central. This is the place to see walls of hammerheads gliding in the blue. A plateau at 10-12m (33 to 39ft) is the spot to see the smaller critters like lobsters and various small schools of reef fish.

On the west coast of Socorro Island is Punta Tosca, another site for dolphins, humpbacks and your best chance to spot a tiger shark or ten.

Roca Partida

Roca Partida is undoubtedly the best spot in the Revillagigedos Islands and not to be missed. Attracting pelagics like wahoo, marlin, Giant Pacific manta rays, tuna and mackerel and their predators – Oceanic whitetips, scalloped hammerheads, and Galapagos sharks. Whale sharks are also often spotted here in season and few places in the world offer such an array of big marine life.

San Benedicto 

San Benedicto is best known for its manta ray encounters, although that is not all you will see. These curious creatures almost seem to enjoy prolonged interactions with divers at this site. These magnificent animals are a sight to behold on any dive, but here you will get up close and personal. 

The most famous dive site at San Benedicto is The Boiler. True to its name, the sea looks as if it is boiling due to the swell and surf. There is a pinnacle here rising up from 50m (165ft) to 7m (20ft). It is a cleaning station and offers unforgettable encounters with life in the ocean.

On the south side of San Benedicto is The Canyon. This is where the shark action is. Numerous silky sharks, Galapagos sharks, and hammerhead sharks are frequently sighted. The hammerheads often present in vast schools. Lively schools of reef fish inhabit the reefs there is a good chance to spot dolphins. It is a favorite site of photographers.

How to Get to Socorro 

Socorro is accessible by liveaboard only from Cabo San Lucas (or San Jose del Cabo) in the southern Baja Peninsula. Guests fly into Los Cabos International Airport (a.k.a. San Jose del Cabo International Airport) and take a 45-minute drive to Cabo San Lucas where the liveaboards leave from. There are many direct flights from the U.S and Canada. There are also direct flights from many Mexican airports including Mexico City and Tijuana. The journey from the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula takes over 24 hours.

Good to Know

In 2016, the Revillagigedo Archipelago was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in November 2017 it was declared a national park of Mexico and a Marine Reserve.

The islands are uninhabited by humans, but home to many endemic species which is why  they are nicknamed “Mexican Galapagos” 

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