Although the waters off the Baja Peninsula are not as calm, clear or warm as Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, the Pacific waters surrounding this peninsula offer some thrilling diving experiences for those seeking an exciting dive amongst swift currents. For those seeking a calmer reef dive, the Baja Peninsula does offer some protected bays lining the Cabo coast, but generally a short boat trip is needed to get calmer diving conditions. The strong currents and large surf make shore diving near impossible, and not nearly as enjoyable as elsewhere in the world.
Scuba diving is a popular pastime around Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, specifically around the towns of Cabo San Lucas on the southern tip and La Paz on the same side as the Sea of Cortez.
If staying in Cabo it is possible to take a boat tour or a day snorkeling trip, but for the real fun divers should get in touch with a local dive shop and visit some of the surrounding sites with a diving boat captain that knows where to go.
La Paz, the capital of the Mexican state Baja California Sur, is located about a half day’s drive across the Baja Peninsula. The town of La Paz is situated within a bay on the beautiful Sea of Cortez and is a great base to explore the dive sites around this area. La Paz enjoys a pleasant climate year-round where temperatures in winter don’t drop below 60°F and summer temperatures don’t venture above 90°F thanks to a cooling maritime wind. It is possible to dive at any time of year around La Paz, and it is very common for visitors and locals to dive in the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific during winter. The spring and fall months are pleasant too, although rain days are likely in the months of August and September.
Liveaboard trips are becoming more popular in this area, offering divers a chance to access the remote dive sites around what is known as the Mexican Galapagos. The island chain that liveaboards visit is known as Revillagigedo and is made up of Socorro Islands and San Benedicto Islands roughly 250 miles away from the Baja Peninsula. These volcanic islands are home to schools of hammerhead sharks, giant mantas, bottle nose dolphins, schools of tuna, tiger sharks and even whale sharks.
Gordo Banks is a great dive site for experienced divers located just 10 miles offshore from the mainland of the Baja Peninsula, roughly an hour boat ride. This site is actually a sea mountain that lies deep within the water, with its tip visible at 110 feet down. Divers will encounter schools of yellowfin tuna, amberjacks, snapper and an abundance of striking black coral. Depending on the season, it might also be possible to see giant mantas, hammerheads and whale sharks at this popular diving spot.
Chileno Bay is easily accessible from the marina at Cabo San Lucas and is a protected, easy dive suitable for snorkelers or beginner divers. Another nearby dive site is that of Anegada, which gives divers the opportunity to explore an underwater canyon. La Larga is yet another underwater canyon that takes divers to depths of between 60 and 120 feet to see barracuda, schools of fish in abundance and local octopus.
The picturesque town of Cabo Pulmo and the National Marine Park in this area is home to the only coral reef this side of North America. Beginner through to advanced divers will enjoy this site which is unique to this part of the world.
Getting to the Baja Peninsula is fairly easy from anywhere in the United States, specifically LA or California. Direct flights from Mexico’s Benito Juarez in Mexico City will take visitors to La Paz or Cabo, landing at Manuel Márquez de León International Airport or Los Cabos Mexico International Airport respectively.
If visiting La Paz, it is a quick and easy ferry ride across to mainland Mexico from the busy port of Pichilingue. Visitors will arrive at either Topolobampo or Mazatlán nearby Los Mochis.
Although it is possible to arrange diving trips from the beach resorts at La Paz, to really make the most of the diving experience it is recommended to travel by liveaboard. Liveaboard guests will have the chance to visit some of the Sea of Cortez’s most popular dive sites including Los Islotes Island to encounter sea lions and the El Bajo seamounts where mantas and hammerheads abound.
Both Cabo and La Paz have good scuba diving operators where it is easy to arrange a dive, however you are likely to get a more authentic Mexican experience when in La Paz or on board a liveaboard. Although scuba diving is popular in Cabo San Lucas, it is not the main attraction, with many crowds and tourists coming to explore the nightlife and lounge on the beaches.