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


South Kelp Ridge

Just off South Island in Los Coronados, a year-round kelp bed and a rocky bottom with stunning visibility creates a good introduction to kelp diving.

California Sea Lions

The North Island of Los Coronados is known for its healthy population of California Sea Lions. Relax while these playful creatures dance and twirl.

Fields of Purple Hydrocoral

A stunning sight, the waters near Los Coronados Islands are at times blanketed purple hydrocoral, making a wonderful backdrop for underwater photos.

90’s Motor Yacht

In the middle section of Los Coronados, you’ll find a motor yacht which was recently sunk. It’s intact structure now plays host to Giant Sea Bass.

Diving in the Coronado Islands

Quick facts

Located just six miles (9.5km) off the coast of Mexico and 15 miles (24km) south of San Diego in the USA, Los Coronados Islands are a favorite destination among divers in the area due to their semi-tropical environment. Here you’ll find kelp forest, a new wreck, rocky reefs and caverns.

These sites can be reached by overnight liveaboard from the American city or as a day trip by speedboat from Mexico.

A few of the dive sites at Los Coronados are protected and suitable for beginners. However, a majority of the sites are subject to open ocean currents and should only be attempted by intermediate and advanced divers.

Spearfishing while scuba diving is not allowed.

When to go

June to November are the most popular months to dive Los Coronados because of water temperatures. But December to May feature the best visibility.

June to November

June to November is considered the best time to dive in the Coronado Islands. Liveaboards set sail for these islands from San Diego at this time, because the water conditions in the north Pacific are warmest during these months. The weather is generally sunny with occasional rain showers. In June and July, the temperatures and humidity rise.

During this half of the year, visibility can be negatively impacted by plankton blooms. These are most common around the full moon.

If you’re headed to Los Coronados and want the best underwater conditions, book your holiday between June and November.

On the nearby Mexican mainland and in San Diego, June to November is considered high season for general tourism, causing an increase in the prices of flights and accommodation on the mainland.

December to May

From December to May many of the local dive shops turn their focus elsewhere such as to the Sea of Cortez or south to Cabo. While the Pacific is cold, the Sea of Cortez is bearable.

The weather at this time transitions from hot and humid to cooler with a bit of rain. On the other hand, December to May features the best visibility and is not as busy as the summer months in terms of tourism. You should be able to snag some good deals if you book far enough in advance.

Interested in diving at uncrowded yet cold dive sites? Book your Coronado Islands diving holiday between December and May.

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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Where to dive

North Island is the most popular for diving, but wreck divers will like the Middle Group. South Island is perfect for those that love kelp forests.
    USD 1,754Per person for 7 nights for 2 divers
    USD 2,659Per trip
    USD 2,300Per trip
    USD 2,495Per trip

    Snorkeling in the Coronado Islands

    Popular as an excursion for cruise ship guests, snorkeling at Los Coronados is a popular pastime. Don’t expect to see much coral as visibility can be a hindrance near the shore. However, you will have the opportunity to splash around with sea lions and seals in the water. Depending on your guide, you might even have the opportunity to jump in the water with dolphins en route to the islands. Lucky guests also spot whales from the small skiffs used to transport snorkelers from the mainland.
    Diving in the Coronado Islands can be divided into three areas, the North Island, the Middle Group and the South Island. At the North Island, you’ll find sites such as The Keyhole, Seal Cove, Moonlight Cove and Lobster Shack. Of these, Lobster Shack is perhaps the most popular as it features the newly-sunk wreck of a 90’s motor yacht. The Keyhole is another favorite for advanced divers. Intriguing rock formations cascade down from an above-the-water arch. The Middle Ground is loved by cavern divers who weave in and out of the fallen boulders beneath the sea. Finally, the South Island is home to South Kelp Ridge, an amazing kelp dive site with excellent visibility and many rock-dwelling fish to discover.

    What to see

    The most impressive sight at the Coronado Islands are the fields of purple hydrocorals. These as well as the kelp forests set an interesting backdrop to any marine life you may spot.

    Lobsters, octopus and moray eels form an intricate food chain nearby the islands. Judging by their size, the moray eels are definitely at the top of this food chain. In terms of fish, you might see giant sea bass and rockfish. Horned sharks make an occasional appearance.

    The ever curious California sea lion, elephant seals and harbor seals are the extent of large marine life seen around Los Coronados. If you aren’t used to these creatures, they are sure to keep you entertained for hours on end.


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

    Most likely sightingsPossible sightings


    The Coronado Islands, or Los Coronados, are a group of small, rocky islands located 6 miles (9.5km) off the coast of Mexico and 15 miles (24km) south of San Diego in the USA. Because of their position, these tiny islands have a big history.

    From the 1820’s until the 1930’s, these islands were home to slave smugglers, pirates and rum runners during prohibition in the USA. During the 1920’s and 1930’s, the North Island was home to the Coronado Islands Yacht Club, a casino for Hollywood’s ultra-famous. After gambling was outlawed in Mexico, the islands were left in peace until 1943, when an American military commander performed unauthorized gunnery exercises on the island in the belief that they were uninhabited and belonged to the USA. He was mistaken and was relieved from his post.

    Today the islands are uninhabited and significantly quieter although they still occasionally make the news. Smugglers use these islands to hide their goods (people, drugs, etc.) before crossing the border.

    Other attractions

    The Coronado Islands are now officially a nature preserve. People are not allowed on the islands without permission from the Mexican government. However, many nature tours do operate day trips to the islands where guests participate in bird watching, visit the island’s elephant seal rookery and discover some of endemic flora and fauna such as the Coronado rattlesnake. There is also a gorgeous, white-sand beach located on the North Island. Today it is inaccessible to only day-trippers who arrive for the purpose of snorkeling, but plans are underway to make this a major tourist attraction.

    Getting there

    Los Coronados are only accessible by boat from San Diego, California in the USA or the far northwest region of the Baja Peninsula. Most diving operations in this section of Mexico are located in Rosarito, near Tijuana. Boats coming from the USA tend to be larger. Even the occasional liveaboard will arrive for an overnight trip. Boats arriving from Mexico are usually small, outboard skiffs.


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