Approximately 2 years ago my good friend Bob Hollis from Oceanic USA offered me some last minute space on the fabulous Solmar V. My dive buddy Alan Buck and I decided to take the opportunity, what we didn’t expect was some of the most amazing pelagic diving we’d seen. From giant pacific mantas on every dive to countless dolphins and schools of every pelagic fish imaginable and to top it off, the occasional whale shark.
Since that initial trip to Socorro, I have been itching to return but with the popularity of the location it has taken me till now to get a booking back onboard the SOLMAR V. So it was in May of this year a group of 10 of us headed off to what is officially known as the Revillagigedo Archipelago. This group of volcanic islands are located in the Pacific Ocean about 400kms off the coast of Baja California, a south western state of Mexico. It is a paradise for many large pelagic species including hammerheads, silky, silver tip, white tip and galapagos sharks, humpback whales, whale sharks, dolphins, tuna and is especially known for the many large manta rays that inhabit the islands. Socorro is not a coral reef so there weren’t bright colours everywhere, but once you experience the spectacular marine life you won’t be able to focus on much else.
“It is a paradise for many large pelagic species including hammerheads, silky, silver tip, white tip and galapagos sharks, humpback whales, whale sharks, dolphins, tuna and is especially known for the many large manta rays that inhabit the islands.”
If Manta Rays are your passion then our first dive would have been a heart stopper for you. The site was ‘San Benedicto’ with its famous manta cleaning station “The Boilers”. This is a certainty to enjoy manta rays at their most relaxed, curious and unreserved as they sweep past you with not a concern in the world, some up to 8 metres in wing span.
Moving onto Socorro Island itself for more extensive diving we hit pelagic paradise with sharks, mantas and all manner of marine life to enjoy on each and every dive. This is the most popular of the 4 islands but I have to say for a popular destination the waters never felt crowded and the dive team never rushed us or pushed us through our dives. Indeed they seemed not only passionate about the waters and the marine life but ensured we enjoyed it. Although out of our time frame, you can swim with dolphins from January to March and February to April brings the Humpback whales for breeding season.
The smallest of the four islands is the incredible Roca Partida, this amazing pinnacle is alive with every pelagic species imaginable. Being a shark lover this one really got me with walls of hammerheads on show and massive galapagos sharks. If you’re yet to experience being in the water with theses marine delights, don’t walk… RUN to your dive agent and get yourself somewhere you can! After all my years of diving around the globe this was one of those dives that I simply did not want to end. Every part was a beauty from the small creatures that catch your eye to the big boys whom you step aside for. We all finished this dive with a incredible dive smile on our faces.
“After all my years of diving around the globe this was one of those dives that I simply did not want to end.”
Our last dive was Clarion Island which is made up of 3 volcanic peaks and has its own angel fish named after it. A simple dive but it was pure pleasure to watch the beautiful bright orange clarion angelfish cleaning the large pelagic species and giant mantas.
The season runs from November through June with water temperature from 22 to 28 degrees Celsius and visibility from 15 to 50 metres. Warmer water is Nov/Dec and then again May/June. Coldest time is Feb/March but that is the height of the Humpback season.
The Solmar V is a stunning liveaboard and although the cabins are relatively small they are spotlessly clean and feature individual climate control, private bathrooms with toilets and showers, pillow top mattresses, down pillows plus DVD/TV. The 10 member crew cannot do enough for you from the panga driver Manola, our dive master Rodrigo and our fantastic chef Tony.
I have been lucky over the last 45 years with Allways Dive to have been able to take 4 to 6 trips a year to visit a myriad of dive destinations. People always ask where the best place to go is, of course the answer lays with what your interests are but for my money I’d take Socorro on the Solmar V any day of the week!
– Geoff Skinner, Allways Dive Expeditions.
WATCH THE TRIP VIDEO HERE:
Video by Adil Schindler.