Socorro Islands in a Nutshell
Diving the Socorro Islands is a wide-angle adventure filled with giant manta and shark encounters, schooling fish, and other large pelagic marine life.
Intro to Socorro
The Socorro Islands are a group of 4 islands in the Pacific known as the Revillagigedo Archipelago. Socorro and Roca Partida are the most popular for diving, accompanied by San Benedicto and Clarión. The islands lie 240 miles (386km) southwest of Cabo San Lucas in Baja, Mexico, and are often called Mexico's "little galapagos" due to the their unique ecosystem and attraction of large pelagic animals. Searching for large pelagics leave divers with a choice between the Socorro, Galapagos, Cocos and Malpelo. Socorro is the closest destination for those in the U.S.
Because the Socorro Islands are volcanic and rise out of the open ocean, the only scuba diving options are liveaboards.
Typical Socorro Dive
We recommend Socorro for experienced divers due to the exposed nature of the diving. The islands often see choppy seas and strong currents (which attract the rich pelagic life). The diving is correspondingly rugged, with rocky structure and some huge walls. Liveaboards will typically run 3 to 4 dives per day, diving the best sites at Socorro Island, Roca Partida and San Benedicto.
Socorro Marine Life & Photography Subjects
Socorro is known for its manta cleaning stations, where underwater photographers can often spend many dives with the gentle flying giants. They're regularly found when the water is warmer in the late spring. When the water cools during winter months (December - March), divers are treated to humpback whale sightings. Galapagos, silky, oceanic white tip and hammerhead sharks are common at Socorro, as well as dolphins, whale sharks (best in November) and schools of pelagic fish like jacks and barracuda. Divers often see large gamefish like tuna, wahoo and marlin, something few other destinations can offer. Those interested in shooting photos of some smaller creatures will find eels, octopi, nudibranchs and more.
Another "signature experience" at Socorro swimming with a group of bottlenose dolphins that often visits divers and typically makes several close passes.
Check out Diane Randolph's recent video from our 2016 Socorro Photo Workshop below!
This outstanding Socorro video was taken on one dive trip, and shows many mantas, dolphins, and hammerheads, all up close.
Best Time To Dive The Socorro, Water Temps And Visibility
November - May is the best time to dive Socorro, and the liveaboards' itineraries correspond. Water temps range from 21-23C/70-74f during the winter and 24-28C/76-82f during late fall and spring. Usually a 5mm wetsuit with optional hooded vest works well at Socorro. Note that dive gloves are not permitted at Socorro by law. Visibility varies depending on the dive site, season, currents and other conditions. Roca Partida often has the best vis, reaching over 100 feet. There are sometimes reports of lower visibility in November/December (when whale sharks are found feeding on plankton).
Divers fly into Los Cabos International Airport (SJD). Once through immigration, you'll meet a shuttle provided by your liveaboard to its departure point at either San Jose Del Cabo (15 mins) or Cabo San Lucas (40 mins). Most boats take about 24 hours to reach Socorro from either city.
Cabo San Lucas, and to a lesser degree San Jose Del Cabo, offer a range of non-diving activitites, including golf, fishing, village visits and various other options. Once you're at sea, however, topside activities are limited to standard liveaboard entertainment: catching up with fellow divers, editing photos, reading, etc. There is not much else to do there!