About 200 miles from Los Cabos, Baja California Sur lie the Revillagigedo Islands, a unique archipelago sometimes described as the “Galapagos of Mexico.” The volcanic islands of the chain include Socorro Island, San Benedicto Island, Clarion Island and Roca Partida—and host some of the most breathtaking underwater sea life in the world. Recently, Don Hirschaut, president of CaboVillas.com (Earth, Sea & Sky Vacations) took an unforgettable journey to get up close and personal with the islands’ giant manta rays, sharks and more. Here, he shares his experience exploring this fragile and beautiful ecosystem.
How do you reach the islands? I actually had the opportunity to make the trip with the expert team of Nautilus Explorer. This wonderful 108-ft boat offers exceptional live-aboard diving excursions. In all, there were about 27 of us on board, including the boat crew, passengers, a shark expert and a cinematographer—all of us passionate about diving. The ship is a great home base for dives, with comfortable bunks and even a hot tub on deck! The islands are protected and tightly regulated, with only a relatively small number of certified excursions allowed to visit this area.
What were some highlights of the trip? The opportunity to see true giant mantas (Manta birostris) up close was definitely unforgettable. These gentle giants can reach sizes of up to 25 ft. across. They are truly one of the world’s wonders! Manta rays have a long lifespan, and over the years they’ve grown accustomed to visiting divers and even seem to seek out their visitors. We had the chance to witness up to 7 giant mantas circling around us as we dove. At San Benedicto Island, there’s an area known as “The Boiler” where a kind of natural “cleaning station” attracts the giant mantas. Smaller fish swim out to the mantas and groom these creatures by picking off parasites and bits of skin. The smaller fish get a snack and the mantas get a spa treatment. The mantas also seem to enjoy the bubbling off of divers’ equipment, positioning themselves directly above. Another interesting sight are the remoras, fascinating fish that hitch a ride by attaching themselves to the rays. I feel very fortunate to be able to experience this breathtaking scene.
Another highlight, of course, was celebrating my birthday doing what I love best—diving!
We heard you also swam with sharks! How was that? We got into the water for a night snorkel with sharks—it was amazing and thrilling! Over the course of the trip, we saw about 5 different species of sharks.
What else did you see? The abundance of sea life around the islands is amazing. The volcanic islands are like massive underwater mountains, with only their summits poking up above the water. Due to their isolation and their positioning in the Pacific Ocean, many big pelagic species including yellowfin tuna and wahoo, as well as dolphins, are present. In addition, there are plenty of beautiful tropical fish to see as well.
See the Full PHOTO Gallery from the Trip!
More Information about Live-Aboard Diving Excursions to the Revillagigedo Islands: