Project AWARE Conservation Courses

How to create ocean awareness and seize the passion of travelers

Cleaner, Healthier Initiatives

“Project AWARE connects the passion for ocean adventure with the purpose of marine conservation

If you are anything like me, millenial or otherwise, you’d heard about PADI before you actually tried scuba diving for the first time. Maybe you even held some degree of concern about the state of ocean affairs and the devastating impact of overfishing, acidification and coral bleaching?

PADI began to channel these concerns more than 30 years ago and connected with the A.W.A.R.E non-profit organisation (Aquatic World Awareness Responsibility and Education) that championed ‘a Return to a Clean, Healthy Ocean’.

Inspiration 

I first knew about Project AWARE through my open water instructor in Thailand, who was, and still is, part of a local movement to clean all the beaches around the island of Koh Tao regularly; ultimately hoping to minimize the garbage that ends up in the mouths of wildlife at the barrier reef that surrounds the island. When I completed my training I was so in awe of the sea and the humbling experience it brought me that I felt I was in debt to the ocean. So I sent a little donation in the form of a special Project AWARE certification card and picked up every piece of trash I saw from then on – just in case it found its way into the water.

Like myself, many other travellers I met in South East Asia wanted to do more to increase conservation efforts and give back to the ecosystem that brings us so much enjoyment. As divers working for grassroots organisations we were encouraged by Project AWARE to organize and share our ideas and initiatives.

Conservation Meets Adventure

Today anyone, both diver and non-diver, can be part of these efforts to support ocean protection policies, reef clean-up programs and community empowerment initiatives aimed at improving the health of the ocean from the local level.

First born as a foundation under  PADI’s wings, it has developed over the years into a fully independent nonprofit organization with headquarters in the US, the UK and Australia. 

After almost 10 years as a PADI Instructor, Project AWARE has followed me to the mexican Pacific Ocean in Baja California where Cabo Private Guide embraces various conservation programs. These include regular beach cleans, online marine life awareness courses and volunteering for coral restoration projects.

Become AWARE-Certified with us

As one of the biggest “industry-led” conservation nonprofit organizations in the world, Project Aware (together with PADI) offer some amazing programs that anyone can take online with the PADI Professionals of Cabo Private Guide. All courses are available in English and Spanish. 

  • Project AWARE: A dry course available to everyone. You will be presented relevant information to encourage taking direct action and responsibility for the health of the ocean. Participants need only have an interest in the aquatic environment to enroll. No minimum age or experience required.
  • Coral Reef Conservation: How do coral reefs function? What is their crucial importance to Planet Earth? Why are many reefs threatened? What you can do to help stop further decline? You will discuss these issues in depth.  You will gain insight as to how you can explore the reef in a safe, conscious and responsible way. All ages, divers or non divers can take it!
  • AWARE Shark Conservation: Learn about sharks and the threats facing the whole species. Mainly; overfishing, bycatch and finning. Learn how to do your part for the sake of the world’s ocean ecosystems and help sharks secure a brighter future. Prerequisites: 12yrs Old/ Junior OW certified. 

* You must complete 2 open water certification dives 

  • Fish I.D : Let your CPG Instructor guide you through the fish families you encounter during your dives so you will better identify the species. Apply counting techniques to measure reef fish numbers.  Prerequisites: Junior OW certified 

*you must complete 2 open water certification dives

  • Dive Against Debris: Use the Conservation Tool Kit on the Project Aware website to download your Survey ToolKit. It includes how to record the types of debris you find that will be added to a database. This data helps the organisation trace the journey of trash so that prevention measures can be made. Diver surveys are integral to this research. Prerequisites: Minimum Junior Open Water .

*  You must complete 1 open water certification dive 

Responsible Choices for ‘Aware’ Travelling

Picking a responsible tour operator is just as important as learning about healthy ocean initiatives. Best Practice operators are ones that promote environmental awareness, create profitability and teach guests about the threats that face local marine ecosystems. They encourage sound interaction between visitor and the local community while making sure everyone has a positive impact on  wildlife and those that live at the travel destination.

Cabo Private Guide works hand in hand with local and international organizations working towards healthier seas and sustainable communities in Baja California Sur. 

We focus on teaching and enforcing the best dive and snorkeling practices to minimize the impact on the natural areas that we frequent (National Parks, UNESCO sites, Marine Parks). 

By dedicating a private guide to all our groups we make sure that you are well taken care of, making you feel safe every “fin stroke” of the way, as well as ensuring no damage to the reef or animals we encounter. We are committed to encouraging responsible diving practices and skills and making the most of every minute; either in the classroom, the pool or the ocean. 

Author – Adrian Belinchon

Enriched Air Nitrox: An Introduction

Are you a certified scuba diver with good air consumption? Good enough that you are surfacing with plenty of air after most dives?  Then you might seriously consider taking a PADI Enriched Air Nitrox course. You can also enquire about an introduction to Nitrox during your Open Water Course training.

What is it?

A tank of air contains 21% oxygen (o2) and 79% nitrogen (N) – ignoring a hidden 1% of other gas that we need not concern ourselves with here. Enriched Air is simply a blend of these two gases that has more o2 than air does – normally set at 32% or 36% instead of 21%. Actually (technically) you can say air is a blend of 21% ‘Nitrox’.

What are the benefits?

  • If we are diving with more o2 in our gas blend then this means we can reduce our nitrogen intake. You will remember from the Open Water Course that nitrogen is the gas responsible for causing bubbles to form in the blood. We must exhale sufficient levels of nitrogen from the circulatory system before reaching a shallower depth as calculated by the tables or on your dive computer. People like to dive with Nitrox because absorbing less nitrogen at depth affords us more bottom time – if your air consumption is good enough anyway. Our ‘no-decompression’ limits are now extended.  For example: diving to 18 meters on air will afford you 56 minutes at this depth whereas diving at 18 meters with 32% oxygen suddenly gives you 90 minutes.
  • Some divers like Enriched Air Nitrox, or EANx, because they argue it makes them feel more awake after a dive.
  • You can plan more dives during the same day because, of course, your no decompression limits are extended. You might want to consider doing a EANx course if you are going on a liveaboard vacation. It’s normal on these trips to do 3 – 5 dives per day in a 8 – 10 day period. Nitrox is also recommended on regular dive charters when repetitive dive profiles will be on the deeper side.  
  • If you’re planning to go down the technical diving route then this is the first step into the world of tech.

What are the limitations?

Absorbing less nitrogen with Enriched Air Nitrox seems, so far, to be a better option. So why don’t all dive centres just use this instead of regular air?

  • OXYGEN TOXICITY: Oxygen becomes toxic at depth. From a physiological point of view, you can use air safely to 57 meters with 21%. (Note: It’s NOT safe to go so deep on one tank of air because of other factors! Check out reports of nitrogen narcosis and remember how your air consumption increases substantially with depth). When using 36% Nitrox the maximum depth limit reduces to 30 meters. Therefore, Nitrox has an optimal depth of 18 – 30 meters. If you go over your maximum depth then this can lead to oxygen toxicity and will eventually cause convulsions and drowning – often with no warning. So, in addition to being able to make repetitive dives with EANx, it is just as important to track your oxygen exposure. Interestingly, if you were to dive with pure oxygen, you would not be able to go much deeper than 4 – 6m. Which is why instructors are always correcting divers who refer to their ‘oxygen tanks’. It’s air!
  • IT’S FLAMMABLE: There are increased risks when filling tanks with a higher oxygen content. It is more flammable and special equipment should be used for handling high concentrations of o2.  
  • EXPENSE: Nitrox is more expensive and there can be extra cost passed down to the diver.
  • LOGISTICAL ERROR: With lots of different Nitrox blends being used in dive centres at any given time it’s important to label tanks and for each diver to analyse their tank individually. Therefore using EANx increases logistical planning somewhat.

So both enriched air and regular air have their limitations. Both lead to potential problems if dive planning limits and computer warnings are not respected. However, it’s wise to get your Nitrox certification so that you have a choice on vacation. Plus, the class will serve to increase your understanding of concepts in the physiology of diving that are nearly always forgotten at beginner level.

How to Get Certified

If you are interested in taking the class on your next vacation then you can opt to study online with interactive eLearning to save time in the classroom. Or, you can schedule an online interactive session with your dive shop if they offer this option.  You will revisit physics concepts taught at beginner level, learn the correct tank labelling procedures and also learn in more detail the risks and benefits of diving with enriched air. You will complete a workshop with your instructor that covers tank analysis and computer set up. Dives for the course are optional. Your EANx license will certify you to dive with up to a 40% Nitrox mix.

Mobulas y Distanciamiento Animal en Los Cabos

El nado (así como el  buceo con tanque y la apnea o buceo a pulmón) con móbulas durante los meses de verano frente a las costas de  Baja California Sur es una atracción al alcance de todos aquellos que buscan el turismo de naturaleza y aventura, y quieren disfrutar del océano de forma sana, segura y sustentable. Cabo Private Guide realiza paseos en barco de forma íntima y personalizada para esta actividad.

https://www.freepik.es/fotos/fondo”>Foto de Fondo creado por LuqueStock – www.freepik.es</a>

La noche de Los Cabos no suena igual…

Durante estas semanas sin turismo en Cabo San Lucas, los sonidos de la naturaleza se abren paso con decisión. Todos hemos vistos los ejemplos en otras partes del mundo, desde delfines en los canales de Venecia, mamíferos caminando por el asfalto de las ciudades o tiburones curiosos rondando pueblos costeros del mediterráneo donde no se asomaban desde hacía décadas. Aquí en la Baja, con uno de los océanos más ricos del planeta, la naturaleza siempre estuvo más presente que en otros lugares más urbanos de México, pero en las últimas semanas hemos también tenido nuestras sorpresas, en muchos casos sonoras. Empezando por una mayor abundancia y cercanía de pájaros de mil colores, los sonidos de la naturaleza se han ido abriendo paso por la ciudad hasta nuestros oídos. 

Playa El Corsario, también llamada La Empacadora, Cabo San Lucas, BCS.

Los que vivimos a cierta distancia de la Marina no podíamos creer nuestros oídos los primeros días al percibir desde nuestras casas,  alto y claro, el sonido de las olas rompiendo en la bahía a más de 30 minutos caminando de la orilla del mar loma arriba, así como el aullar de los lobos marinos de nuestra querida colonia local.  Son sonidos mágicos que sólo los primeros turistas que nos visiten tras la cuarentena serán capaces de disfrutar, antes que los clubes y antros prendan la noche como hacían a diario hasta hace poco más de un mes cuando el turismo se cerró de golpe. Y cuando todo vuelva, parece difícil imaginar las fiestas y la diversión en grupo cuando sólo oímos de “sana distancia” en todas partes. 

Migración Anual de Móbulas

Pero, ¿qué podemos aprender de la naturaleza y nuestros amigos marinos en estos tiempos de distanciamiento social? ¿No sería estupendo que, como los peces, fuéramos capaces de mantener nuestro perímetro respecto a otras personas para frenar posibles contagios? Seguro que más de uno ha sentido, como yo, ese instinto de mantener la distancia al sentir una persona acercándose en el supermercado o la fila del banco. Para esto, los peces están equipados con unos órganos sensoriales que se conocen como Línea Lateral, que les permite detectar el movimiento y las vibraciones del agua a su alrededor. De ello se sirven para mantener su distancia y coordinación de grupo cuando nadan en escuelas. Este sofisticado órgano electrosensorial también está presente en nuestros peces de mayor tamaño, los tiburones y rayas. 

En las móbulas, comúnmente conocidas en México como Mantarayas junto a las rayas de aguijón, encontramos una versión de estos órganos de percepción llamada Ampolla de Lorenzini. La usan no sólo para su distanciamiento y  coordinación al moverse en grandes escuelas migratorias, como observamos en las costas de Los Cabos entre mayo y agosto, sino también para encontrar a sus presas, identificar amenazas como depredadores o percibir el golpe en la superficie del agua que producen otras móbulas al saltar y hacer acrobacias.

Para aquellos pocos privilegiados que alguna vez han sido testigos de las inmensas manchas de móbulas  y han nadado junto a ellas, la forma en que la escuela se mueve y se comporta como un único organismo enorme es uno de los espectáculos más formidables de la naturaleza salvaje. La sincronía de cada animal en el grupo y el dinamismo y fluidez de la coreografía crean este mágico baile en grupo en el que nadie se toca. Nadar a pocos metros de una congregación de animales de este tamaño en su entorno natural, de forma segura e íntima de la mano de Cabo Private Guide, es sin duda una experiencia que nadie debería perderse. Para nosotros, los guías, tener esta maravilla natural a la orilla de nuestros hogares (a tan sólo 5 minutos de viaje en barco)  y poder compartirla con nuestros invitados es sin duda una de las cosas más hermosas y gratificantes de nuestra profesión.

Summertime in the Sea of Cortez

Cabo San Lucas and the Baja California Sur peninsula is particularly well known in the scuba diving and snorkeling world for amazing animal encounters, big aquatic life and beautiful conditions in the autumn and winter months. So how does summer compare for our aquatic adventurers?

 Cabo San Lucas

The Mobula Ray Migration

One of the most impressive aggregations of wildlife on the planet comes to Cabo.  We swim with huge ‘squadrons’ of rays in their tens of thousands right inside the bay of Cabo San Lucas. Only 5 minutes by boat. Incredible! Cabo San Lucas is where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean and we venture into both to search for them. Finding them is easy as they leap, jump and pop out of the water from the depths to create a sonic wave of communication with the hard slap of their landing. As just one theory goes. Their behaviour is a visual metaphor of watery popcorn exploding into action; it is both an impressive and unforgettable sight.

We can take you to see these aggregations between May and August.

Scuba Diving

July and August last year saw incredible wildlife encounters on the canyon wall. An oceanic Giant Manta Ray made Cabo home for the summer and we kept seeing huge numbers of eagle rays, mobula rays and stingray. In addition to this Cabo is famous for all the usual suspects: five common species of eel, macro life that includes frogfish, seahorses and nudibranch and also several species of turtles, sharks and tropical fish families. Treat yourself to a private guide and get the best chance to spot the most wildlife.

We run tours every day morning, afternoon and evening.

 Snorkeling the Bay

Summer is obviously hot. So combining a tour to the arch with a quick dip at the Pelican Rock reef is a sure way to cool off while making the most of being out on the boat. It’s a short trip so no need to get up too early and you still have the afternoon to sit by the pool. Remember your reef safe sunscreen!

Tours run from 7.30am to escape the crowds up to 2pm.

 Gordo Banks

This deep pinnacle is located 25 minutes out of San Jose marina and is a very advanced dive site. Sightings of schooling hammerheads are frequent among other pelagic animals. Other species of shark have been seen: last year a rare handful of Pacific Sharp Nose were spotted near the surface. Summer is swell season so a deep dive away from the coast is often the perfect option for those who are qualified.

We need you to check out dive with us first at minimum Advanced level.

 Cabo Pulmo National Park

Diving and Snorkeling

If aquatic life is the focus of your vacation then this ground breaking marine reserve is arguably one of the best places to visit in Baja California Sur. You can do this on a day trip from Cabo.

The national park gives divers more freedom in the summer months to explore the popular reefs: reefs that are, by September’s ‘high season’, more restricted in the interests of reducing human impact.

For non-divers wishing to cool off in the heat of the summer a snorkel tour in Cabo Pulmo is one of the best in the area. You can swim with a tornedo of Jacks, snorkel next to sea lions, visit a beach popular with turtles and swim above beautiful soft coral reefs.

Espiritu Santo Island, La Paz.

This island is one of the most beautiful in the whole of the Sea of Cortez. It was declared an UNESCO biosphere reserve in the 90’s. You can visit an old pearl farm, a huge frigate colony and lunch on one of the world’s top ten most beautiful beaches (Travel Magazine 2016). For water enthusiasts you can snorkel at some amazing snorkel spots and see turtles, tropical fish families and rays. This is a full day trip from Cabo.

The Sea of Cortez has a huge variety of beautiful places to see and plenty of aquatic activities to keep you busy. If you are visiting Los Cabos this summer as either a scuba diver or a snorkeler there are some great memories to be made.

Reef Safe Sunscreen

If you’re a warm water enthusiast maybe you have at some point made the common mistake of putting on sunscreen just before donning mask and snorkel and throwing yourself excitedly into the blue. Seconds later you experience a furious eye burn that only sunscreen can give. Ouch! If you happen to be descending on a scuba dive with no real alternative than to blink through the pain then this really is quite annoying.

Now: imagine you’re a delicate coral!

An estimated 6000 tons of sunscreen enter our oceans each year (Downs 2016). A large amount of that will be found inside marine parks where said sunscreen will damage delicate corals: corals that are then genetically affected by chemical attacks leading to serious infection. A usual practice of many is to lather a generous layer to one’s skin immediately before entering the water. Of course most of this washes off straight into the ocean. Cue burnt shoulders and chemically burnt coral.

What Makes Sunscreen Unsafe?

In July 2018, Hawaii became the first state to ban the sale of sunscreens with the chemicals ‘Oxybenzone and Octinoxate’. In the rest of the world sunscreen products without these chemicals are labelled ‘reef safe’. So, positive steps are no doubt being taken.

Unfortunately other chemicals found in ‘Reef Safe’ sunscreen have been thought to cause at least some damage. Although the government require labels to be ‘truthful and not misleading’ the term ‘reef safe’ is still in its infancy and it remains very ambiguous as to what ingredients are actually deemed safe for corals.

For instance: Octocrylene, Homosalate and Octisalate are also now thought of as damaging (Downs 2016) when observing the negative effects of brain and liver development in Zebra fish. But so far these harsh sounding chemicals remain in our ocean potions. It’s going to take time to accumulate the results of extensive testing so that the necessary government bodies can develop their policies in restricting them.

So what can we do?

Whenever you go on a snorkel trip, a scuba trip or visit a marine park you can make the following changes:

Hands down the best thing to do would be to reduce skin exposure to the sun and the need for sunscreen. Wear a rash guard for snorkelling or a long exposure suit if scuba diving.  Easy!

You should think about purchasing a mineral sunscreen with ‘non-nanotized’ zinc oxide. These are a mixture of oils and natural ingredients that also are kind to the skin.

Save the World!

We live in a time where the population has never been so large and Planet Earth is nearing a point of no return. We plunder our natural resources to fuel our frivolous existence and consume astronomical amounts of garbage that eventually finds its way into our tired seas. Sunscreen has added to the extinction of coral reefs worldwide. Coral continues to decline at an alarming rate: a rate that should be making headlines every day. We only have 30% left and they produce much of the world’s oxygen. We wait for the government to prioritise the importance of conservation over the needs of big business. But in the meantime we are free to choose what we buy and what we consume: the power lies with us.

Make sure you look out for mineral sunscreen (ideally in a non-plastic container!). It might not save the world tomorrow but it’s a step in the right direction. 

The Flight of the Mobula Rays

It’s first light in Cabo San Lucas, the sun is rising over the entrance to the marina and a pink sky frames the open ocean inviting us to explore the deep blue sea. There are few boats out as dawn shifts into early morning and we are excited to see the calm seas ahead. We are going to see one of Cabo’s most spectacular natural events: the schooling mobula rays.

Every summer Cabo enjoys the arrival of impressive schools of mobula rays traveling in their hundreds of thousands. Huge schools congregate at the surface where snorkelers can see them spinning, gliding and breaching out of the water for reasons that leave the scientific community baffled in awe.

Some theories favour the idea that they are ridding parasites from their skin while others say that this is part of a mating ritual. It could purely be accidental considering the mobula ray’s only form of defence is speed and agility. Maybe they’re just happy.

There are records of mobula ray growing up to 17ft long, although we see smaller ones on our Blue Water snorkel tours. They can jump as high as 6ft out of the water and even do a number of flips on the way down. Research is currently being done into their aggregating behaviour as still a lot is unknown.

Seeing such a remarkable number of mobula rays is thrilling and a once in a lifetime opportunity. Snorkelers and free divers can treat themselves to one of nature’s great events on a short tour from Cabo. Don’t miss out!

Tours usually run from May to July / November when large schools are more predictably seen.

Weights and Wetsuits: A Guide to Fine-Tuning your Buoyancy.

Suddenly it’s that time of year again; the cold water Pacific up-welling embalms the coral reefs that reside in the mouth of the Sea of Cortez; from Cabo San Lucas bay to The Corridor to Cabo Pulmo National Park. 3mm shorties are swiftly replaced with 7mm long suits followed by hoods, gloves, rash guards and any extra neoprene you can get your hands on as each week gets nearer to the peek cold water season of summer.

With the changing of neoprene arrives the changing of weights: more neoprene = more weights. The questions is: how much extra weight do you need? I know you only used 6lbs on your Caribbean vacation last year, sir, but this has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO with diving in a 7mm in the Cortez. By the way.

Why Do We Need to Use the Correct Weight?

Out of courtesy your dive guide will ask you how much weight you need. But, they already know. They are simply just checking that you know what they know. Any dive professional worth their salt (awesome pun, thank you very much) can take one look at you and provide you with an accurate estimate.

“But I like to be heavy in the water” – mmm… so you’ll be the one trampling coral and burning up your air then will you? It’s a selfish diving practice.

We are not insisting that you take the correct weights out of a stubborn ego trip. We want you to be comfortable and we don’t want to spend our dive re-teaching buoyancy control that you learned in your Open Water Course. We want to go and show you the best of the local wildlife and look for new things we haven’t see before.  We want your bottom time to last as long as everyone else by conserving air and not dragging extra weights around at depth or on the surface. Correct weighting makes life easier for all of us.

How to Establish the Correct Amount

“Any object, wholly or partially immersed in a fluid, is buoyed up by a force equal to the weight of the fluid displaced by the object.” — Archimedes, a long time ago.

Is a quote that you don’t actually need to bring to the dive boat! But it’s the buoyancy concept and as a principle of physics we can apply some basic common equations to figure out how much weight we may need. Stay with me readers, there’s no actual maths to do.

If you have the PADI Advanced Open Water manual you can check their buoyancy guidelines in their ‘Peak Performance Buoyancy’ chapter for more detail – but it goes something like this:

3mm shorty: 5% body weight

7mm long suit: 10% body weight

Aluminium tank: Add 2kg/ 4lbs

Steel tanks: Subtract 2kg/ 4lbs

Boots or hood: Add 1kg/2lbs for each

Salt Water: Add 1kg/2lbs

Fresh Water: No extra weights.

Just to complicate matters further this is very basic list. Sorry PADI. These estimates are rigid and based on a person of normal build and, possibly, a person living in the slimmer 1980’s. Times change.

What’s MORE IMPORTANT than how much neoprene you have is BODY TYPE. If 2 people weigh 190lbs but one is a body builder and the other is…  erm…  well let’s just be politically correct and say ‘not a body builder’, there will be a difference in lead needed: muscle sinks and fat floats. In addition, if any of the neoprene you use is new then you need to add a couple more pounds.

IMPORTANT Buoyancy Techniques:

Buoyancy Check

Easily the first skill you forget when you finish your open water course but the most imperative to retain for accurate buoyancy control. On my dive boat a weight check is mandatory on dive 1 and every subsequent dive when you change any variable.

How it’s done:

Once in the water; put your regulator in your mouth, do not kick your feet and breathe normally while emptying the BCD completely. Once your head goes under make a nice, long drawn-out exhale. Resist the urge to kick. You should be descending VERY SLOWLY. When wearing thick suits the buoyancy changes dramatically in the first 10 feet and you will feel heavy very quickly once it compresses. 5mm+ wetsuits are very buoyant at the surface but you don’t need to take the anchor with you to get to the bottom.

Compensating with the BCD for pressure changes.

Don’t be afraid of your inflate button. At depth, air should be added slowly and steadily to the BCD to achieve neutral buoyancy: leading to effortless, relaxed fin kicks. Suddenly the fish don’t seem so scared and those underwater photos and videos turn out 100% better. Who knew?

As you ascend at the end of the dive your thick wetsuit will suddenly ‘pop’, ESPECIALLY at the safety stop level. To avoid ascending faster than the group, or omitting a safety stop completely because of a rapid ascent, safely ascend in a controlled manor by releasing any rapidly expanding air from the BCD if needed on the way up. Keep that finger posed on the deflate button and be in an up-right body position to ensure air can escape skywards.

In my opinion, as a full time cold water dive pro of 9 years, the biggest mistakes people make are: taking too much weight, losing control and surfacing on safety stops, forgetting to buoyancy check and, finally, to not properly compensate for the thicker suit during the dive.

If you have time then take a buoyancy course. They can be conducted over just 2 dives and are not much more in price than a certified diver tour. Plus, it’s a good way to get your own dive guide!

The Dive Sites of Los Cabos

From scuba diving in the Pacific Ocean at the sea lion colony that sits above a large shipwreck, to the huge canyon wall of the Sea of Cortez on the north side, the diving here in Cabo San Lucas is hugely understated and mightily impressive. You would think that between the hundreds of boats that tour the bay every week and the hotel-sized cruise ships bringing guests in their thousands to the docks of Cabo the underwater realm of Los Cabos would quickly become saturated; a slim chance of any decent animal encounters.

In fact the opposite is true. The meeting point of two significant oceans makes for some utterly outstanding diving here in Cabo San Lucas. Take a boat 30 minutes further north into the mouth of the Cortez and you’ll have a selection of empty dive sites to choose from: the area we call The Corridor.

Dive Sites

Cabo San Lucas

Pelican Rock. 5m/15ft – 40m/120ft

This is one of the more popular dive sites for a variety of reasons. The buoyed safety area dedicated to snorkelers and divers makes this an appealing dive site for courses and first timers. No matter how busy Pelican Rock may appear at the surface with snorkelers, kayakers, sailboats and paddleboard enthusiasts, there is always amazing wildlife underneath and a good guide will find you space thanks to the vast canyon wall. Finally, this site is always sheltered from whatever weather is trying to spoil our fun out in the Pacific Ocean at The Arch.

Neptune’s Finger. 5m/15ft -40m/120ft

Neptune’s Finger is dramatic pinnacle, piercing the surface of the water in the shape of an upside-down Baja California Sur. It is an advanced dive site if you want to go and see the beautiful fan coral fields down at 100ft/30m. As with most dive sites in the bay it sits on a sloping rocky wall and, for this reason, you can choose your depth. A wall at 18–24m/60ft–75ft and a small cove at 12m/40ft allow you to make this a shallow dive – however, buoyancy needs to be good due to the boat traffic.

Land’s End: ‘The Arch’. 10m/ 30ft – 25m/75ft

If you visit Cabo when the swell is low and the Pacific winds aren’t blowing a gale, you’ll have the chance to make one of the most interesting dives in the area. The Lungberg cargo ship went down here in the 1950’s after losing engine power in a storm. It now lies scattered at 12-15m/40-50ft. The Sea Lions play at the wreck and if you’re lucky they will let you join them. A small channel at the side of their colony allows you to pass back and forth between the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean. Currents that swell at the point can make for an interesting drift dive to the Land’s End pinnacle (rumoured to be the most southern point of Baja California) where you can see sea lions hunting huge schools of fish. Pelagic game fish are often spotted here, as are occasional whale sharks and humpback whales.

The Corridor

Chileno Bay 8-18m/20-60ft

The shallow waters at Chileno Bay are more impressive than the deep. Coral is much healthier in the Corridor than in the shallow waters of Cabo San Lucas because of less human impact. Diving from one side of the rocky outcrop to the other you can surround yourself with schooling jacks, snappers and grunts. Check under rocky boulders for reef shark. It is common to see turtles, eagle rays and mobula rays passing by.

Blow Hole 12m/40ft – 35m/110ft

Named after the hole in the caves above that create a blowhole when the waves hit and blow through. This dive site has beautiful corals in the deeper water and there’s a resident white tip reef shark in one of the rocky caves. Huge morays can be seen down here.

Whale Head 10m/30ft

The shallowest dive but by no means inferior. The underwater channel here leads through some of the most interesting topography in the area. Channels lead to chambers and then eventually out into a rocky clearing with huge rocks covered in soft coral. This place is famous for spotting eagle rays.