Sea of Cortez Whale Shark & Sea Lion Trip 2025 - Bluewater Dive Travel

Ultimate Whale Shark & Sea Lion Sea of Cortez Trip 2025

Sea of Cortez Photo Workshop 2025


Ultimate Whale Shark & Sea Lion Sea of Cortez Trip 2025

Join us for sea lions, sperm whales, whale sharks, and some awesome macro life! 


Why Join This Trip?

  • FREE daily photo workshops
  • The Rocio Del Mar is one of the most experienced liveaboards sailing in the Sea of Cortez
  • Dive in an area Jacques Cousteau called the Aquarium of the World
  • Big animal sightings like whale sharks, sea lions, dolphins, sperm whales and much more
  • Easiest liveaboard to access from the US - fly or drive to Phoenix, AZ
  • 25% off rental photo gear from Bluewater Photo


august 23 - 30, 2025

Trip Leader: Nirupam Nigam

7 Nights for only $3,095

Check out this cool video from diving the Sea of Cortez:


Trip Overview

This trip offers a great combination of big animals and fascinating macro life. There's always something for everyone. Plus, it's really easy to get to being only a 4-hour drive from Phoenix, AZ.



The Sea of Cortez is home to sea lions, whale sharks, manta and mobula rays, dolphins, and huge schools of fish. Sperm whales, pilot whales, and dolphins are also commonly spotted.

BWT Trip to Sea of Cortez 2019, photo by Bryan Chu


It doesn't just stop there as the Sea of Cortez is also a perfect place to practice your macro photography skills. You will get to see nice varieties of nudibranchs, Panamic arrow crabs, Pacific seahorses, jawfish, small and big octopuses, frogfish, and blennies. 

Signal Blenny Sea of Cortez A female bluespotted jawfish

Some macro photos from our 2022 trip to the Sea of Cortez


The boat will depart from Puerto Peñasco at 6 pm on Saturday and then travel for 12 hours to arrive the next morning for a 7 am dive. You will be diving 3-4 times per day on this trip. Here's a sample day-by-day itinerary of this trip:

  • Day 1 - Embark at 5 pm in Puerto Peñasco. Depart at 6 pm
  • Day 2 - Wake up at Refugio Bay on Angel Island
  • Potential Dive sites: Angel Rock, La Vela, Lolo’s Cove, Sunset Zodiak Cruise with Sea Lions
  • Day 3 - Angel Island
  • Potential Dive sites: Andrea’s Eagle, El Aquario, Las Vivoras, Las Vivoras including a night dive
  • Day 4 - San Pedro Martir Potential Dive sites: El Arroyo, Punta Martir (Sea Lions), Chayo’s Cove
  • Day 5 - San Pedro Martir
  • Potential Dive sites: Ravijunco, Xareni’s Pinnacle, Coromel, Morrito, in the afternoon we go looking for whales!
  • Day 6 - Salsipuedes & Animas
  • Potential Dive sites: Los Cuervos, El Caballo, In Animas, El Lavadero, El Lavadero including a night dive
  • Day 7 - Baja and Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in Bahia De Los Angeles
  • Potential Dive sites: El Pescador, Baja Ca., start heading back to Puerto Penasco in afternoon
  • Day 8 - Disembark at 7 am

To learn more about what you can expect from this Sea of Cortez trip, check out 2022 Sea of Cortez trip report. Also see the reviews on diving the Sea of Cortez here.

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  • Three meals per day & snacks,
  • Beverages including soft drinks, juice, domestic beer & wine
  • One morning of whale shark snorkeling, & several dives with a friendly sea lion colony
  • Tanks, weights & weight belts



  • Transfers from Phoenix airport ($150 roundtrip)
  • Park fees ($35, subject to change)
  • Fuel Surcharge, if applicable (none currently)
  • Nitrox ($140)
  • Gratuity
  • Mexican Tourist Card: purchased at the border ($36 CASH ONLY)
  • Travel Insurance: click here to learn more about our preferred plan



This trip is a PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP. It will be led by one of our photo instructors and will include daily underwater photography tutorials, in-water photography support, and one-to-one advice and guidance as required.

What to expect from our Photo Workshops

  • Daily photo workshops - Your photo instructor will schedule seminars each day on topics including, but not limited to, equipment type and selection, the concept of underwater photography, lighting and composition techniques, and post-processing. They will also include additional topics relevant to the location and your experience.
  • In-water support - Where possible, each dive group will spend time underwater with the photo instructor, receiving in-water support and guidance on their shooting techniques.  Participants can also request in-water assistance during the workshop and the photo instructor will do his or her best to accommodate all requests. 
  • Consecutive days of practice & review - Each day you will have the opportunity to practice the techniques and skills learned in the previous day’s tutorials. If you are new to underwater photography you will likely see a vast improvement in just a few days.
  • Daily photo image reviews - You are strongly encouraged to bring your laptop, a thumb drive, edit your photos, and submit your shots for review from both the instructor and your peers. These are fun and interactive sessions encouraging you to improve throughout the trip.
  • Quality time with fellow photographers - Both new and experienced photographers from past workshops have expressed the advantages of joining a trip with like-minded divers with a passion for underwater photography.
  • Suitable for everyone - New and experienced photographers are welcome on all our trips. Gain the necessary skills to start shooting great photos, increase your confidence in finding the best underwater shots, or hone specific skills. We also encourage non-photographers to join, as many of them really enjoy the daily photo reviews, learning about underwater photography, and some have even returned to a photo workshop with an underwater camera setup!

Enjoy free, unlimited access to a wealth of knowledge and advice from your photo instructor.


trip syllabus

Bluewater's Sea of Cortez workshop with Nirupam Nigam is our favourite workshop for new photo & video shooters. Guests will have the opportunity to photograph the world's smallest critters - from nudibranchs to signal blennies, as well as the world's largest - sea lions and whale sharks.

This workshop will include 5.5 days of photo and video instruction including 5 x 60-minute presentations as well as 2 x 30-minute image review sessions and an underwater photo contest. Teaching will take the form of PowerPoint presentations, informal group discussions, 1-on-1 training, streaming live demonstrations (e.g., using programs like Lightroom), and underwater help.


  • Intruductory Topics (Days 1 & 2):
  • Introduction to the Sea of Cortez's top wildlife encounters: This introduction will go over our favourite subjects we can find to photograph and capture on video in the Midriff Islands. Nirupam will go over his top tips for photographing each subject and describe a little of their natural history and habitat. Subjects include blue spotted jawfish, orange throat pike blennies, signal blennies, sea lions, whale sharks, and more! 
  • Introduction to Underwater Photography: This class is Nirupam's grand introduction to the hobby of underwater photography. He will cover essential information from the phenomenon of light attenuation to the triangle of exposure to underwater composition and strobe positioning. This class can sometimes span over 2 days.
  • Intermediate Topics (Days 3 & 4):
  • Underwater Lighting Demonstration: This is a short class that will cover general positions for both underwater strobe and video lights with a single light source or dual light sources. Nirupam will cover both wide-angle and macro photography as well as what to do in difficult conditions with limited visibility or white sand. 
  • Introduction to Macro Photography (short class): This class introduces students to the concept of a macro lens and subject. It covers ideas for lighting, composition, and creative tools of the trade. Nirupam will talk about how to photograph signal blennies, blue-spotted jawfish, nudibranchs, and more macro subjects. 
  • Introduction to Wide-Angle Photography (short class): This class introduces students to wide-angle lenses, photographing reefscapes, sea lions, and dome port optics. It covers ideas for composition and lighting as well as different techniques for photographing the sea lions of the Midriff Islands. 
  • Adobe Lightroom - the Full Spectrum: This is the largest class of the workshop. Nirupam's Adobe Lightroom class includes the full spectrum of use for underwater photography including importing images, using the star rating system and sorting, creating collections, basic underwater editing, backscatter removal, and new AI masking tools/denoise/sharpen. As a follow-up, students will have the opportunity for 1-on-1 lightroom instruction in the evenings. Introduction to Underwater Video: The time we spend on underwater video is subject to change depending on how many underwater videographers there are in the group. Our introduction to underwater video can include topics from GoPro underwater video to the triangle of exposure for shooting video to codecs and post-processing. This class is catered to the individual video shooters of the group.
  • Advanced Topics (Days 5 & 6):
  • Macro Underwater Video: It can be very difficult to capture macro video underwater. This class demonstrates how to select focus and stabilize your video while lighting up your shot. Nirupam covers the use of tripods, in-camera stabilization modes, and frame rates/resolution. Snoot Photography and Creative Macro Lighting: Underwater snoots are devices that reduce the beam width from your strobe to isolate your subject - often producing black backgrounds. This class includes a demonstration of using snoots and ideas for creative macro lighting. Nirupam will talk about tools including colour filters and magic tubes. 
  • Photographing Whale Sharks (Short Class): Whale sharks move a lot quicker than they look! This class is designed to show you how to use automatic camera modes like shutter priority and aperture priority to change your settings quickly and accurately when photographing whale sharks. 
  • Photographing Sea Lions (Short Class): Sea Lions are a lot of fun to play with but can be frustrating to photograph! This class goes over my recommended lighting techniques, autofocus techniques, and settings for getting great detail and colour in your sea lion photos.

During dives, Nirupam will be offering underwater help to provide lighting and triangle of exposure settings advice to the best of my abilities while we dive. Unless there are strong currents, he will be available by request to anyone. He will also be available underwater to anyone who is having camera issues and can try to fix any problems that are occurring underwater. Nirupam will be available for 1-on-1 advice throughout the workshop and will have open sessions in the evenings before bed to help with lightroom and any questions that people have.


About the Rocio Del Mar

Rocio Del Mar is one of the most popular liveaboards sailing in the area, offering excellent service and fantastic food. There are 10 cabins for up to a maximum of 20 divers, all offering private bathrooms with hot shower stalls, Western-style toilets, and above-height windows. Cabins are carpeted and have air-conditioning, plus convenient gear and clothes storage drawers beneath the beds. 

Rocio Del Mar  Rocio Del Mar Rocio Del Mar Rocio Del Mar

Rocio Del Mar  Rocio Del Mar 

Check out this page to see more details and customer reviews on the Rocio Del Mar.

 Rocio Del Mar Deck Plan

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Nirupam Nigam is a dedicated underwater photographer and fisheries scientist. While growing up in Los Angeles he fell in love with the ocean and pursued underwater photography in Southern California's Channel Islands. He received degrees in Aquatic and Fisheries Science and General Biology, as well as a minor in Arctic Studies, at the University of Washington. He spent some time as a fisheries observer on fishing vessels in the Bering Sea and North Pacific, collecting data for NOAA. When he is not at sea, he is traveling with his wife and taking photos.

As the Editor-in-Chief of the Underwater Photography Guide and the Chief Marketing Officer at Bluewater Photo & Video, Nirupam is one of the world's few full-time underwater photography editors. You can get in touch with him at or through his website www.photosfromthesea.comRead more about Nirupam here.

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Trip attendees will fly in and out of Phoenix, Arizona, which is the closest international airport. You should fly in on Saturday morning and arrive before 11 am.  For return flights, book anytime after 2 pm. 

Head Out To Rocky Point offers a shuttle service to and from the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport and takes you directly to the boat. It takes approximately 3.5-4 hours. The cost is $150 per person, round trip. All passengers will be picked up at the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport at 1pm, Terminal 4, Door 5 outside on the far side of the street. The shuttles are clearly marked Head Out To Rocky Point. The shuttle will stop at the border so passengers can purchase Mexico Tourist Cards.  If you choose to stay at a hotel the evening prior, be sure to be back at the airport by 12:30 so you can comfortably get to the shuttle departure area by 1pm. On disembarkation day the shuttle departs the boat at 7am.

Book the round-trip Head Out to Rocky Point Shuttle here:

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Recommended Scuba Gear



  • Deposit: $825
  • Payment 2: $825 due 15 Jan 25
  • Balance: due 15 Apr 25

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Call us today at +1-310-915-6677 or email us

And let us book your dream vacation!


Photo Gallery 

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Sea of Cortez Underwater Photos from Previous Trips

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Sea of Cortez 2017 Trip Sea of Cortez 2017 Trip

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