Cabo Diving

CopyRight @ 1997

Here is a bit of travel log. I can give a first hand description of some of the diving in Cabo San Lucus. This is to suggest some of what you might want to do and what not to bother with. Cabo is more of a party town and a fishing town, than a dive destination. The food is good and there is fun in the air. It is a rather small town and the main part can be walked end to end in less than a 20 minute stroll. There are scads of interesting shops.

The water is warm. A little bit of wetsuit is all that is needed. As you get to town, you can see the swimmers and the jet skiers. The jet skiers seem to delight in seeing how high they can drive their jet skis onto the beach. There are enough timeshares for everyone.

First off, Cabo is fascinating just because it is the very tip of the extremely long peninsula between the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez. That beautiful arch that is shown in so many pictures, it turns out that it is right at the mouth of the harbor. You can walk most of the way to it. There is a timeshare right to the west of it on the Pacific side. At different times of the year, record sized Roosterfish can be caught right off the beach there. The rocks themselves are fascinating just because of their incredible sculpturing. At first glance, it looks like water erosion. A little thought says that that is impossible. The wear must have been done by blowing sand. That is a lot of blow and a lot of sand.

In any case, Cabo is really good if you want a tan, a drunk, good food or good fishing. Unfortunately the diving is a bit limited. There are more dive shops than there are dive sites. For a rock crawler like myself, there was not all that much to see. The best offering to divers is that the Cabo area can be excellent for encountering large pelagics. It is possible to see tuna, perhaps billfish and an occasional whale shark.

The commonest dives are right around the famous arches at the entrance to the harbor. This is where Jacques Cousteau found the sand falls. On the inside of the harbor, at various depths is an area where big and little flows of sand constantly stream down the sides of steep rocky slopes into deep water. They are very pretty in a quiet way. The total area at the harbor mouth is not large and is quite heavily dove, but there is still interesting stuff to see. There were beautiful patches of yellow anemones and small fish flittering all over the place. There are seals to dive with and a pretty substantial wreck perched on the rocks off of the last point. There are three divable wrecks near this area. The fishing boat, right off the lands end is the most interesting that I saw. Past the arch at the end of the land, are two more divable rocks that are like small seamounts. Big morays are common in the many places. The area is a good snorkel spot and there are small, but quite nice beaches there amongst the rocks.

Be aware that if you go to the sand falls, you may not see much, though it is interesting. Really though, the falls get better at a depth beyond what you are likely to want to go. Be careful there. You are in the harbor and there is a lot of boat traffic, especially the water taxis and it doesn't seem that they have any concern for divers.

When diving Cabo, I would strongly recommend diving with Amigos Del Mar.

Up the coast a short distance is Cabo Pulmo, called North America's only living coral reef. It is heavily dove and not very extensive. Really, if you want to see coral reefs, you are going to see prettier ones elsewhere.

The high point of the trip for me, was the Gordo Banks. It took a little arm twisting just to get them to take me there. My "pre-arranged with the dive shop" dive plan included that I would go there, but things change... There are a couple of reasons why they did not want to go there real bad. First, they do not always have enough people, three is about minimum. Second is that it is a bit deeper than many divers are prepared for. At the last minute, the dive shop found another diver to go with us. We took a van about eight miles up the coast to a fish camp. There are numerous small open boats with outboards, called pongas. The guide, Luiz, was a very experienced diver. He spoke of the salvage work that he had done that ultimately had him doing dives to 265 feet. This was supposed to be a bit less. The method of finding the Banks was to line up on landmarks and then throw out the anchor until they found it. The first try found nothing, but the second try hit rock. Now, I knew that this was to be a deep dive. The shallowest part of the banks come up near 100 feet. I figured that we would probably end up at around 130 feet, but spend our time primarily at 110. Right. The guide and I went down the anchor line, as the other diver had a bad case of mal de mer. At 100 feet, there was only blue water to be seen. At 130 feet there was only blue water to be seen, with the anchor rope going down into the clear depths. At 150 feet, the anchor line still just went on down, but at the limit of visibility, off to the side, large rocks, like the top of a mountain, could be seen. We went there.

There were these beautiful yellow lacy tree like things growing as much as 4 feet up from the rocks. As there is not supposed to be coral there, I suspect that they were some kind of zoanthid. I have to admit, I fear what the anchors of the boats must do to them. There were fish all over the place. As we progressed on up the reef to a bit more reasonable depth, we saw numerous different tropical species that I was used to seeing in coral reefs. Seeing the bright colors of butterfly fish at this depth suggested that part of the reason that they must be bright colored is so that the colors will still show up at that depth. Luiz went down in a crack and picked up a really neat looking bulls eye ray and offered it to me for a photo. It languidly swam a few feet and posed quite nicely. I was surprised to see that there were Crown of Thorns starfish here and there. I thought that they lived on coral, though I guess that many starfish are generalists. It was a beautiful dive with many different things to see, but I think that what amazed me the most was that after seeing all these beautiful tropical fish and bottom critters, a Sheephead went zipping by. Hmmm. Somehow I had not expected to see something that familiar from California, during such an exotic dive. It was a bit of a short dive at that depth. My computer was showing a display that I had never seen before, but did not seem to mean much. We were not literally into decompression, but I sure was not going for the surface any time soon. We went up. Luiz parked at 20 feet and I stayed at 15. We stayed there as long as we could, looking at the small floating life and hoping to see a big pelagic. The small pulsating iridescent jellyfish offer a beautiful macro view to anyone willing to focus on the nearby. All in all, we stayed there long enough that it was excellent safety procedures for a deep dive. The funny thing was that because of our long shallow stop, within about 15 minutes, our computers said that we could go again. I told Luiz that I would like to wait at least 45 minutes. We made another dive. It was a bit shallower than the first. We saw the same incredible variety as the first trip, beautiful tropicals were everywhere. I think though that the prettiest thing that I saw were the delicate lacy yellow zoanthid anemones that grew everywhere. I would like to see them again.

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