< Back

Contact us

Our scuba travel experts are available 24/7 to assist you in planning and booking a fantastic scuba diving vacation

Socorro Island is one of the only places in the world to swim with humpback whales. It’s also well-known for its hammerhead sharks and manta rays.


Humpback Whales

Socorro Island, and the dive site Punta Tosca in particular, is one of the only places in the world to swim with humpback whales. You’ll see several.

Manta Rays at Cabo Pierce

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

The Friendly Dolphins of Cabo Pierce

Rather than swim away at the sight of divers, the dolphins of Socorro Island are known to curiously approach divers and remain for several minutes.

Schooling Hammerhead Sharks

Among the parade of pelagic species seen at Socorro Island are schools of hammerhead sharks. They are most often spotted at the dive site Roca O’Neal.

Diving in Socorro Island

Quick facts

Located 240 miles (390 kilometers) off the Baja Peninsula, the four Revillagigedo Islands offer some of the best diving in Mexico. Of these, Socorro Island is the most famous. It’s so well-known that often the group of islands is referred to as Socorro Islands rather than its proper name, the Revillagigedo Islands. Advanced divers flock to remote Socorro Island and its neighbors for fantastic encounters with a plethora of pelagic species.

All diving at Socorro Island is carried out by liveaboard. These vessels depart from Cabo San Lucas and generally spend about a week around the this island and its neighbors. It takes approximately 24 hours to reach this remote destination from the mainland.

It’s also important to note that diving at Socorro Island should not be attempted by novice divers. The currents are strong and unpredictable, relegating this to advanced divers only.

Because of the biosphere regulations of Socorro Island, divers are prohibited from using knives, lights or gloves. Camera lights are permitted. Finally, Socorro Island is occasionally closed to divers due to military operations.

When to go

Pelagic species are present year-round at Socorro Island, but for a comfortable journey and best conditions, book a trip from November to May.

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 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.

On the other hand, from August to October, many liveaboards set their sights on Guadalupe. If you’re interested in a dive holiday to Mexico during these months, consider a liveaboard trip to cage dive with great white sharks at this remote seamount.

Rain and temperature

Click to expand

Water temperature

Click to expand

Where to dive

The sites at Socorro Island are for advanced divers only. This is the case for all the Revillagigedo Islands, including San Benedicto and Roca Partida.
    USD 2,659Per trip
    USD 2,300Per trip
    USD 2,495Per trip

    Snorkeling in Socorro Island

    Most people who make the effort to travel to Socorro Island are scuba divers. If you would like to spend some time snorkeling, it is certainly possible, although you’ll need to ask your boat captain to find a protected bay. Outward currents can be dangerous to topside spotters. If you happen to see a whale shark or humpback whale from your liveaboard, don’t hesitate to ask if you can grab a snorkel and jump in.
    There are only five dive sites around Socorro Island, and four are dived regularly. Cabo Pierce is perhaps the most liked of the dive sites at Socorro Island. Here you’ll find a reef that extends out into the current. To view the large number of pelagic species here, you’ll need to nestle yourself into the boulders. Roca O’Neal, or Hammerhead Central, is a pinnacle with a plateau at about 30 feet (10 meters). Wait here for the many shark species that travel through this current. Photographers may also wish to explore the cavern below.

    What to see

    In the Pacific, you can come across everything from massive humpback whales to tiny seahorses. In fact, humpback whales are often a highlight of the trip. This is one of the only places in the world to snorkel with them. On the other hand, curious dolphins play near the shoreline, and intimidating sharks patrol the deep. These include hammerhead Sharks, Galapagos sharks, tiger sharks and silky sharks. In the same sea, you can also find starfish, angelfish, and wrasse of various shapes and sizes. Near to Socorro Island, you might be lucky enough to run across whale sharks and groups of playful manta rays. Finally, during the late winter, octopus are a common sight and divers are often able to photograph mating pairs.


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

    Most likely sightingsPossible sightings


    Socorro Island is one of the Revillagigedo Islands and is a volcanic island located approximately 240 miles (390 kilometers) off the coast of Cabo San Lucas. Socorro Island along with its close neighbors Roca partida and San Benedicto Island are considered the “inner islands,” while their distant neighbor, Clarion, is an “outer island” and sits 124 miles (200 kilometers) further west.

    In 1533, Hernando de Grijalva first discovered Socorro along with San Benedicto. Today Socorro Island is a part of the state of Colima, but for all intents and purposes, the island realistically falls under Mexican federal jurisdiction.

    Other attractions

    The only reason to visit Socorro Island is to scuba dive. Because the island is under military control, visitors are very rarely allowed onshore. Besides scuba diving, many liveaboards encourage their guests to participate in whale watching both above and below the surface. On the boat, you might see hundreds of dolphins punctuated by a breaching humpback whale. If you choose to try to get in the water with the whales, you’ll be asked to remain on the surface using a snorkel. Freediving can scare the humpbacks away.

    Getting there

    With great biodiversity comes great challenges in reaching remote destinations. The Socorro Island is no exception. First, you must fly to Cabo San Lucas. From there, you’ll need to board a liveaboard diving ship. The journey from Cabo to Socorro Island takes approximately 24 hours and can be quite rough in inclement weather.


    Time zone




    Calling code

    127 V

    Electric volt



    Plug type


    Main airport
    Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.

    Save that favourite

    With a PADI Travel account, you can favourite dive operators to come back to later on any device or computer

    Log in or sign up