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From hammerhead sharks off Cabo to whale sharks, rays and humpbacks in the Sea of Cortez, Baja California Sur lures pelagic-lovers into its depths.


Manta Rays at Socorro Island

As a lonely seamount far offshore, Socorro Island attracts a large number of pelagic species, among them are large groups of giant manta rays.

Hammerheads at Gordo Banks

This hit-or-miss dive features a seamount with a submerged plateau where you’ll find scalloped hammerheads, groupers, mackerels and a variety of rays.

Humpbacks and Sperm Whales

Because of the deep water found off the coast, winter sees frequent visitors from the open ocean to El Bajo including humpback and sperm whales.

Whale Sharks in Fall

Each fall season brings a few whale sharks to the dive site El Bajo. Sightings are not guaranteed, but your chances are better during these months.

Sea Lions at Isla San Pedro

More than 400 sea lions call the Sea of Cortez home. You’ll find playful babies on most dives in the area, but Isla San Pedro is our favorite site.

Diving in Baja California Sur

Quick facts

Surrounded on three sides by water, the Baja Peninsula offers astounding dives filled with pelagic species. The Sea of Cortez is the main focal point of Baja California Sur, but this region is also known as the setting off point for Socorro Island. Popular diving destinations in Baja California Sur include Los Cabos, Cabo Pulmo, La Paz, Loreto and Mulegé.

The best diving in the region is accessible only by liveaboard. This is true for the Revillagigedo Islands as well as several locations in the Sea of Cortez. If you’re committed to staying on dry land, be prepared to dive from small wooden pangas with an easy backroll.

Aside from the fascinating rocky reefs that are protected from heavy currents in the Sea of Cortez and off the coast of Los Cabos, most of the underwater landscapes consist of rocky islands mixed with underwater pinnacles. Some of the less protected islands, such as Revillagigedo Islands and Gordo Banks, are surrounded by raging currents that relegate these sites to advanced divers. Beginners should stick to the protected reefs on the east side of the peninsula.

While a reef hook may be helpful in some areas, they are not permitted in protected areas. A 16% tax is levied on all diving activities in Mexico.

When to go

If you want to dive Socorro, book from November to May. The Sea of Cortez is excellent from August to October. And Cabo can be dived year-round.

November to May

November to May is considered the best time to dive in Socorro Island. Liveaboards set sail for this remote island at this time, because the sea conditions in the Pacific are calmest during these months. The weather is generally sunny with occasional rain showers.

Manta rays can be seen throughout the year in Socorro, but during the winter months, divers also have the chance of spotting a whale shark or one of the thousands of humpbacks that breed and calve in the area. At this time, visibility is negatively impacted is by plankton blooms. These are most common around the full moon.

If you’re headed to Socorro and want the best conditions for manta ray diving, book your holiday between November and May.

Elsewhere in Mexico, November to May is considered high season for general tourism, causing an increase in the prices of flights and accommodation on the mainland.

June to October

June to October is also the season for liveaboard diving in the Sea of Cortez. While the Pacific is cold, the Sea of Cortez is at its warmest. The water is approximately 80°F (27°C) and these are the best months for hammerhead encounters in the region.

The weather at this time transitions from hot and humid to cooler with a bit of rain. On the other hand, June to October is not as busy as the winter months in terms of tourism. You should be able to snag some good deals if you book far enough in advance. Be aware, these months represent the highest risk of typhoons. It’s a good idea to take out trip insurance if you plan to visit Mexico in the fall.

Interested in diving in the Sea of Cortez? Book your Mexican diving holiday between June and October.

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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Where to dive

Advanced divers can head to the pelagic-heavy Revillagigedo Islands and Gordo Banks. Beginners should stick to Los Cabos, La Paz and Cabo Pulmo.
  • Cabo Pulmo National Park

    Located northeast of Cabo San Lucas on the Sea of Cortez, Cabo Pulmo National Park is home to one of only three coral reefs in western North America.

  • Cabo San Lucas

    A resort destination, Cabo San Lucas lies at Land’s End where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean, creating great reef, pinnacle and wall dives.

  • The Coronado Islands

    Known for their large population of California sea lions, the Coronado Islands delight divers in Mexico with kelp forests, rocky reefs and a wreck.

  • La Paz & Isla Partida

    La Paz and its surrounding islands are home to wrecks, caves and plentiful pelagic species, including whale sharks, hammerhead sharks and whales.

Snorkeling in Baja California Sur

While not as popular as on the Caribbean side of the country, snorkeling is possible in Baja California Sur. Throughout the Sea of Cortez, you’ll find operators willing to take you snorkeling with sea lions. Snorkeling tours are also offered in colorful and fish-filled Santa Maria off the coast of Cabo San Lucas.
The Socorro Islands, or Revillagigedos Islands, are firmly located in liveaboard territory. These uninhabited volcanic islands provide some seriously adventurous diving. Vast schools of hammerhead sharks congregate here. Giant mantas with “wingspans” of up to 6 metre/20 feet are regularly encountered and Galapagos and whitetip sharks are possibilities on any dive. One particular spot here, Roca Partida, is a seamount reaching to within 3 metres/10 feet of the surface. Its walls plunge nearly straight down to the abyss and it’s a great place for huge tuna, and even humpback whale and whale sharks in season. Pelican Rock, near Cabo San Lucas, has something for divers of all abilities and is readily accessed from town. From a shallow sandy bottom in 5 metres/15 feet, divers can head down the gorgonian encrusted wall and spot myriad parrotfish, angelfish and more on their way. Sharp-eyed divers may find frogfish and lobsters hiding in the crevices and schools of jacks and rays often pass by. Sea lions, whitetip sharks and sometimes manta rays and whale sharks visit Pelican Rock, which hosts a staggering array of marine fauna for a dive site so close to town. Marisla Seamount, or El Bajo, is about 13 kilometres/8 miles northeast of La Paz. Here a series of three underwater peaks rise to within 18 metres/60 feet of the surface. This is a dive for the experienced, but those who make the effort may well be rewarded with the world’s signature schooling hammerhead dive. The hammerheads cruise clockwise around the peaks for as yet unknown reasons. The region also attracts massive schools of amber jack and tuna with occasional whale sharks and manta rays putting in appearances. Los Islotes, lie just off the north tip of Isla Espiritu Santo, close to La Paz, these small islands attract huge schools of sardines, which in turn keep the main attraction, California sea lions, well fed and happy. A colony of more than 200 of these pinnipeds is resident here and the dive is famous for the interaction between the sea lions and the divers who visit them. The sea lions are playful and inquisitive and usually put on a great aquatic ballet. While a playful fin nip is about as exciting as it usually gets, bull sea lions can be protective, and aggressive, during mating season. La Bufadora, on the Pacific coast in the northern reaches of the Baja Peninsula, has been a popular dive site for decades. Dramatic walls, caves and arches are covered with an intense variety of invertebrates making this a paradise for the macro photographer. Nudibranchs, tunicates, sponges, gorgonians and anemones compete for every available space. There’s also a sea lion rookery and a must see blowhole to while away the surface intervals. While shore diving is possible here, the entry is relatively challenging and the better sites are more easily reached by boat. Punta Concepcion, is a short boat ride from Mulegé on the central shore of the Sea of Cortez. The diving here is characterized by boulder-strewn bottoms, which create fissures and crevices that harbor a variety of angel and butterfly fish species and provide a substrate for a diverse array of invertebrates. Moray eels lurk under the rocks and divers occasionally encounter sea lions and larger pelagic species.

What to see

Known for its pelagic encounters, Baja California Sur is home to a wide range of dolphins and whales as well as 850 species of fish. From massive humpback whales to tiny seahorses, your logbook will be full and happy after a dive from Baja California Sur.

You might see hammerhead sharks in the Sea of Cortez or hear a variety of whales including humpbacks in the Pacific Ocean. You can also find starfish, angelfish and wrasse of various shapes and sizes throughout the region. Down at the tip of the peninsula as well as near Socorro Island, you might be lucky enough to run across whale sharks and manta rays, in the correct season. Finally, the sea lions in Los Islotes and nearby are a delight to all who dive with them.


For better readability of the table, pass into the landscape mode.

Most likely sightingsPossible sightings


Baja California Sur is a state of Mexico at the far southern end of the Baja Peninsula. It is the second smallest state in terms of population and was the last state admitted to the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico in 1974. Its capital and largest city is La Paz.

Surrounded on three sides by water, Baja California Sur is bordered only by the state of Baja California to the north. To the west lies the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez is found to the east. Filled with rocky mountains and dry desert, Baja California Sur has long fascinated visitors from around the world.

Other attractions

While it might be tempting to spend your entire holiday in Baja California Sur below the water, there is much to experience topside as well. Todos Santos is home to world-class surf breaks, and whale watching in the Pacific can lead to sightings of Bryde’s, Fin, Humpback, Blue and Sperm Whales. Kayaking near Loreto Marine National Park can be arranged as a day trip or an overnight experience. Of course, you should also take some time to relax on the beaches of Los Cabos or explore the many islands of La Paz. You won’t be bored for a minute during your holiday in Baja California Sur.

Getting there

Baja California Sur has two international airports, namely Manuel Márquez de León International Airport in La Paz and Los Cabos International Airport. It’s also possible to reach this Mexican state via bus or car from Baja California Norte or by ferry from the Mexican mainland. Once you’ve reached your destination of choice, use a rental car, taxi or shared van to travel from point A to point B.


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