While many divers are quick to point to Mexico’s Caribbean coast for world class diving, one tropical locale that is all too often overlooked is the Sea of Cortez, also known as the Gulf of California, situated between the mainland and the Baja Peninsula on Mexico’s Pacific side. A place so teeming with marine life, this happened recently:
Despite its relatively unknown status in the dive world at large, the Sea of Cortez is home to one of the highest concentrations of species biodiversity in the world, with more than 5,000 species of macro-invertebrates and a wide array of marine creatures that can be found inhabiting only these waters. Migratory species like humpback whales, manta rays, leatherback sea turtles, and orcas make their way through the Sea of Cortez every year, and it even has resident fin and sperm whale populations — just a few features that earned this body of water classification as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It may not be as popular as other dive destinations in Mexico, but visitors to the region won’t find a lack of opportunities to get out and explore the Sea of Cortez, with plenty of dive and fishing boats ready to take you to where giant mantas, sharks, tuna, and a profusion of other marine life can be found doing what they do best.
Divers can choose dive sites based on what they want to see and their certification/ability level with ease, as each tends to have a particular feature that the others do not. There are more than 100 islands in the Sea of Cortez, some of which are available to dive but require long boat rides or liveaboard stays. The waters outside of La Paz hold a 300-foot ferry that became an unintended artificial reef when it grounded in 1975, now playing host to moray eels, large groupers, and Cortez angelfish. And those who are on the hunt for coral reefs will find their prize just off Baja’s most popular locale, Cabo San Lucas.
Diving is available in the Sea of Cortez year round, but those who live in the region recommend June through November when the water temperatures are at their warmest, and particularly September and October for peak temperatures and visibility due to the relative calmness of the sea. For those who are concerned with the possibility of getting the bends, a 24 hour on-call recompression chamber is available in Cabo San Lucas.
Are you ready to go diving? Take a look at this stunning footage of just a few of the sights that await you in the unmatched beauty of the Sea of Cortez.
Image via Sam Beebe, Ecotrust