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Scuba Diving the Sea of Cortez

Scuba Diving the Sea of Cortez

December 1–10, 2023

  • LGBTQ-friendly, liveaboard dive trip
  • Southern Sea of Cortez
  • Aboard 90-foot Quino el Guardian
  • Ten days total, 8 diving days, approximately four dives each day
  • Air tanks and weights provided
  • Three meals each day, plus snacks
  • Local beer and wine after diving for the day
  • Includes ground transfer from San José del Cabo International Airport, limited availability
  • Base price of $3,500
  • Nitrox available to those certified to use it, at no extra cost

Highlights

Come to Baja California Sur December 1—10, 2023 for an amazing 10-day LGBTQ-friendly dive trip on the beautiful 90-foot liveaboard, Quino el Guardian.

We’ll see the best of what the southern Sea of Cortez, also known as the Sea of Cortés or Gulf of California, has to offer. We’ll explore sunken ships, swim with sea lions, look for orcas, and see more spectacular tropical fish than we can count. Finding giant hammerhead sharks? Diving with giant schools of mobula rays, at night? This is the trip for you!

We will donate part of the proceeds from this trip to two important non-profit organizations. Héroes del Mar works to create the next generation of conservationists by providing education and opportunities to the children of small Mexican fishing communities. Repair the Sea combines ocean conservation and spiritual values to protect and preserve the marine environment. On this trip we will work with Repair the Sea staff on a conservation project and our guests will have the opportunity to participate as citizen scientists.

Orcas in the Sea of Cortez
Orcas in the Sea of Cortez. Photo: Christine/Adobe Stock

The places

Best diving in the southern Sea of Cortez
Isla Los Islotes

Imagine diving with friendly, playful, California sea lions. It’s a much different experience from watching them haul out on the rocks in Santa Cruz or at Pier 39 in San Francisco. Here, you’ll get to know these huge, graceful, acrobatic marine mammals up close, in the water.

California sea lions in the Sea of Cortez, Baja California Sur
California sea lions in the Sea of Cortez. Photo: Andrea Izzotti/Adobe Stock
El Bajo Seamount

Three underwater mountains rise up from the sea floor, their peaks reaching about 50 to 80 feet below the surface. El Bajo is best known for its large schools of giant, prehistoric-looking, hammerhead sharks.

Isla Espiritu Santo

This island is the most prominent land feature of Espiritu Santo Archipelago National Park, rising to more than 1,800 feet above sea level and with an area of more than 30 square miles. Besides its diving opportunities, the island also offers incredible hiking to view birds and other wildlife, gorgeous empty beaches, luxury glamping, and even multi-day kayak trips.

Until the 1990s Espiritu Santo was under tremendous pressure from commercial real estate developers with plans underway to build a casino resort right on the island. Conservationists and eco-adventurers got involved and by 1994 the area was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. In 2000, Mexico designated the islands of the Gulf of California a flora and fauna protection area and UNESCO followed in 2005 with a designation as a World Heritage Site. Parque Nacional Archipiélago de Espíritu Santo was established in 2007 and protects more than 180 square miles of unique land and marine environments.

A mobula ray flies out of the Gulf of California, near La Paz, Baja California Sur
A mobula ray flies out of the Sea of Cortez. Photo: gudkovandrey/Adobe Stock
Fang Ming Wreck

The Fang Ming is an artificial reef created in November, 1999, by intentionally sinking a 180-foot former fishing boat. The vessel was seized by the Mexican Navy in 1995 while attempting to smuggle 88 men and seven women from China to the US.

Prior to its sinking, the Fang Ming was prepped specifically to become a world-class dive site. Potential hazards were carefully removed and hatches and other openings were deliberately enlarged to make it much easier and safer to explore. Additional openings were cut in the hull to allow more light to enter. Dive depths range from 48 to 72 feet, the wreck teems with life, and the diving and photography opportunities are some of the best in the world.

Salvatierra Wreck

On a dark night in June, 1976, the 320-foot ferry Salvatierra was approaching La Paz from Topolobampo, on the Mexican mainland. Her cargo was a fleet of commercial trucks, with no passengers. The only people aboard were her crew and 22 truck drivers.

Salvatierra struck Suwanee Rock, just a few feet below the surface. Everyone aboard managed to escape in a lifeboat but the ship was mortally wounded. The ferry sank shortly afterward and now lies on her side, on a sandy bottom, in about 60 feet of water. Many of the trucks aboard that night are still at the wreck site.

Isla Las Animas

This tiny, uninhabited island is one of the more remote dive sites in the Sea of Cortez. It is known for its colorful coral reefs and huge variety of fishes including moray eel, giant hawkfish, starry grouper, and king angelfish.

A moray eel in Baja California Sur
A moray eel in Baja California Sur. Photo: leonardoganzalez/Adobe Stock
Isla Cerralvo

The most southerly island in the Sea of Cortez, 52-square mile Isla Cerralvo rises to 2,100 feet above sea level. The geography and terrain offer a unique habitat full of sea life, with fairly easy diving down to about 60 feet and exceptional visibility.

In November, 2009, the Mexican government officially renamed Isla Cerralvo to Jacques Cousteau Island. You’ve probably heard of Jacques-Yves Cousteau. He was one of the people who invented the aqualung, the predecessor to our modern scuba gear, back in 1943. And he spent a lot of time exploring and documenting the Sea of Cortez, which he called “the world’s aquarium.”

So you can see why Mexico might want to honor his legacy, and perhaps attract some tourists.

Local folks are not especially happy with the name change. Nobody asked them about it ahead of time. They still call this place Isla Cerralvo. And there is a growing movement to undo the official name change.

Our liveaboard dive boat, Quino el Guardian
Our liveaboard dive boat, Quino el Guardian. Photo: Mexico Liveaboards

The boat

Quino el Guardian is a modern, extremely seaworthy, dedicated liveaboard dive boat. The vessel is 90 feet long, with a 23-foot beam, and is approved by both the US Coast Guard and the Mexican Coast Guard.

We have accommodations for no more than 16 guests, plus ample crew to take good care of you. The boat has room to stretch out and relax between dives including the indoor salon with sofas, a TV, and a computer table, plus the shaded outdoor deck with lawn chairs. All of the interior spaces feature air conditioning and there are multiple heads (bathrooms) and showers for guests.

Quino el Guardian is one of two liveaboard dive boats owned and operated by our good friends at Mexico Liveaboards, who have been thrilling scuba divers in the Sea of Cortez since 2008.

The details

The base price for this small-group, LGBTQ-friendly, liveaboard scuba diving trip in the southern Sea of Cortez is $US3,500. If you want to dive with nitrox, and are certified to use it, we will have it available at no additional cost.

We have planned for eight days of diving with approximately four dives a day, at multiple, spectacular, diverse sites in the southern Sea of Cortez. The exact locations we visit and dive will, of course, depend on the weather and other conditions that are beyond our control.

Your fee includes 10 nights shared-cabin accommodations aboard Quino el Guardian, three meals each day, plus snacks, and local beer and wine after a day of diving, air, and scuba tanks and weights. If you need to rent additional dive gear, let us know and we’ll help arrange it for you.

We will also include shared group ground transportation from San José del Cabo International Airport (SJD) to La Paz and return for our guests arriving and departing on the same flights. If that doesn’t fit with your travel plans we are happy to help you find something else that does.

There are so many things to do and places to see, food to eat and people to meet, in Baja California Sur. Cabo San Lucas is known for its resorts, beaches and nightlife. La Paz, the historic capital of Baja California Sur, offers a wide range of land and water-based adventures including desert hikes, hot springs, paddling, and kitesurfing. The quiet village of Todos Santos is full of art and music, plus world-class big-wave surfing. If you would like to arrive a few days early for our dive trip, or stay a few days late, we are more than happy to help you build an itinerary that is perfect for you.

Like all of our small-group adventures, this Baja liveaboard dive trip has very limited availability and we expect it to sell out quickly.

If you are interested in joining us on this trip we strongly suggest that you contact us as early as possible, using the simple form below. Just let us know that you think you want to go. We’ll start working with you right away to make this trip perfect for you.

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