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Diving in 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.

Highlights

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 Cabo Pulmo National Park

Quick facts

Cabo Pulmo National Park has been deemed the most successful marine park in the western hemisphere. Established in 1995 to protect one of only three coral reefs on the west coast of North America, this national park is currently home to 6,000 marine species. Continual coral growth projects ensure a steady rise in fish levels.

Both beginners and advanced divers are welcome. Beginners remain closer to shore while advanced divers will spend more time in the open ocean where drift dives are more prevalent. The c-shape of the park means that many of the sites are mostly current-free whereas those that outside the “c” can be more current heavy.

Although most dives will take place from a certified operator’s dive boat, some dive sites are accessible from shore for those that prefer to walk into the waves.

While no specific fee applies to diving in the park, all visitors must be accompanied by a local, approved guide.

When to go

In Cabo Pulmo National Park, October and November feature the best all-around conditions but December to May also have great marine life sightings.

August to November

August to November is also the season for liveaboard diving in the Sea of Cortez. While Guadalupe 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. Whale sharks can also occasionally be spotted in Cabo Pulmo National Park.

The weather at this time transitions from hot and humid to cooler with a bit of rain. On the other hand, August 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 hurricanes. 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 by liveaboard? Book your Mexican diving holiday between August and October.

December to March

From December to March, divers can expect cooler temperatures in the Sea of Cortez. However uncomfortable it might be for humans, it’s balmy for pelagic species. If you are a pelagic fan, this is the best time to dive the Sea of Cortez.

This is the best time to spot Humpback Whales, Grey Whales and Mobulas in the park. You’ll also find increased sea lion activity. Lucky divers might spot Bullseye Rays, Banded Guitarfish and Octopuses who climb from the depths due to the cold.

The topside weather is generally sunny with the occasional rain shower. Because Mexico is significantly less hot than during the summer months, December to March is also considered the best time to vacation here. Because of this, December to Marh is considered high season for general tourism, causing an increase in accommodation rates throughout the country.

April to July

June and July are offseason for both tourism and diving in the area. The seas become too rough for sailing and too warm to attract pelagic species. At this time, many liveaboards remain in dock and divers on Baja California are limited to land-based dive operations based in Cabo San Lucas. The diving in this far southern region is still good and you’ll find excellent deals at this time of year. However, you will have to battle the hot and humid summer weather. If you’d prefer to look elsewhere, try Caribbean diving for a change. The season on the east side of Mexico is year-round.

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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Where to dive

Beginners should stick closer to the protection of shore while advanced divers can follow guides to the open ocean where drift dives are most common.

    Snorkeling in Cabo Pulmo National Park

    Snorkelers are more than welcome in Cabo Pulmo National Park. In particular, the Frailes Rock Sea Lion Colony is well-suited to non-divers. Sea lions prefer the shallows making them easily seen from the surface. Occasionally, larger creatures are seen in the blue. Do keep in mind that all snorkelers are required to wear a floatation device.
    Of the dozens of dive sites in Cabo Pulmo National Park, three are most popular. El Cantil is a large reef with sheer walls that drop beyond sight. Here marco-lovers will rejoice in the nooks and crannies where all manner of nudibranchs, shrimps and crabs await. This area requires more than one dive to explore fully. El Bajo is an amazing reef at advanced depths. In addition to fish of all shapes and sizes, this is where divers occasionally report Whale Sharks, Mobulas and Humpback Whales. Finally, Frailes Rock Sea Lion Colony is where you and your non-diving friends can meet and greet a group of friendly sea lions.

    What to see

    Cabo Pulmo National Park is home to over 6,000 marine species. Principle among these are the area’s famous sea lions. In terms of other large species, the park also welcomes Humpback Whales, Mobulas and Whale Sharks. Enormous groupers, turtles and large schools of jacks are easily found. Tropical fish are bountiful and even the occasional reef shark can be found stalking its prey nearby. Underwater photographers will marvel at the diversity of macro life found on this rare reef. If you move a bit off the reef, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by garden eels, sticking their head out of the sand to stare at new visitors.

    Calendar

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

    Most likely sightingsPossible sightings

    Location

    Cabo Pulmo Marine Park was first established in 1995 in order to protect one of the only three coral reefs on the western North American continent. It’s located in the Sea of Cortez on the east side of the Baja Peninsula, just 60 miles (97 kilometers) north of Cabo San Lucas. At 3 miles (5 kilometers) wide and 9 miles (14 kilometers) from north to south, the small protected area has had a huge impact in the growth of species both inside and outside the park. Today, divers and snorkelers visit on excursions from Cabo San Lucas, aiding the recovery efforts of the area.

    Other attractions

    The main draw to Cabo Pulmo National Park is diving and snorkeling. Outside of these watersports, visitors can expect a hefty dose of relaxation. Sandy beaches reach out along the shore, perfect for topping up your tan. The park is surrounded by Baja desert and some guided excursions to the desert and villages in the area may be possible. Whatever you choose to do in Cabo Pulmo National Park, its quiet serenity is sure to represent a drastic change from the sometimes hectic vibe of Cabo San Lucas.

    Getting there

    Cabo Pulmo National Park is accessible by road from Cabo San Lucas and from other cities further north on the Baja Peninsula. It’s also possible to arrange a package trip including transport and diving through many resorts in Los Cabos or the national park. Once in Cabo Pulmo, you can get around by taxicab or on foot.

    UTC-06:00

    Time zone

    MXN

    Currency

    +52

    Calling code

    127 V

    Electric volt

    A, 

    B

    Plug type

    TIJ

    Main airport
    x

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