June 3-13 Socorro Vortex Trip Report
For this trip we spent five days at San Benedicto, one day at Socorro, and days at Roca Partida. Following the afternoon checkout dive at Las Cuevas, the second and seventh days of diving took place at El Cañon. Both days had similar sightings despite the visibility dropping from 20m/66ft down to 10m/33ft. Both black and chevron mantas checked us out throughout the day and the usual suspects of sharks could be found cruising the cleaning station (whitetips, silvertips, blacktips, galapagos, and a few hammerheads). However the most exciting part is the second day here we were treated to false killer whales just after the first dive! On one of our jumps we were even able to catch them eating a tuna whilst being surrounded by sharks and dolphins!
The third and eighth dive days were spent at El Boiler. On our first day here we were interrupted during breakfast as false killers swam right past the boat! As for the diving, on both days we had dolphins and mantas competing for attention starting on the first dive. The dolphins didn`t stay long, but the mantas stayed and played throughout the days. With our last dive having one manta play with us from the moment we hit the water all the way until we climbed back aboard the pangas! Other cool happenings going on around the rock included spawning parrotfish and an occasional hammerhead coming in to say hello.
At the Island of Socorro we explored the dive site Cabo Pearce for our fourth dive day. We were plagued by a low visibility current coming from the north, but the reef diverted enough that there was a little clearer water on the south side. Here we had hammerheads out in the blue and lots of turtles around the reef. There were some dolphins and mantas around, but our encounters with them were brief as they appeared to simply be enjoying the reef.
The wind was nothing but a slight breeze throughout the middle of the trip allowing us to spend our fifth and sixth dive days exploring the tiny island of Roca Partida. It was beautiful above and below the waves. A sunny and warm topside with a clear 30+m/100+ft and mild current in the water. The fish were plentiful including huge schools of tunas and bonitas. And with so many fish the galapagos, silkies, silvertips, and whitetip reef sharks were lurking everywhere you looked! As we swam off from the rock we even found a massive cloud of baby lobsters floating in the current, which was possibly what drew so many fish to the area.
The weather throughout the trip stayed a consistent 29ºC/85ºF and partly sunny. Water temperature has dropped slightly to 23ºC/74ºF. The wind was up over 20kts on our way out to the islands, but the bulk of the trip was calm with winds under 10kts. Water visibility averaged 20m/66ft with a couple spots as low as 10m/33ft. Currents around the sites were mild, but persistent and a few visible thermoclines could be seen.
Travel times are as follows:
-18 hours for Cabo San Lucas to San Benedicto
-3 hours for San Benedicto to Socorro
-6 hours for Socorro to Roca Partida
-9 hours for Roca Partida to San Benedicto
-19 hours for San Benedicto to Cabo San Lucas
-Hex, Divemaster on Socorro Vortex
We arrived at Isla San Benedicto after an easy 18h crossing, we went to do our first and second day at “El Cañon”. We were fortunate to get a wide variety of wildlife, seeing hammerheads dolphins, silvertips, Galapagos, blacktip sharks. Encountering tiger sharks on dives is awesome, almost as good as having two days of false killer whale encounters. We followed a school hunting on our zodiac and entered the water with them successfully multiple times. One in particular was as curious in us as we in them. Very close intense encounter! “El Boiler” here we come!
Starting our boiler adventure with an excellent dolphin dive. Around 8 dolphins kept returning for almost the whole dive, this combined with 3 mantas makes everyone in a great mood. In the next three dives we are seeing 5 different mantas who are enjoying our company. Last dive we did we even saw a whale shark passing by. Unfortunately he wasn’t very interested in us. Lovely day, big smiles, ready for Cabo Pearce.
Starting our day with dolphins swimming around the boat. Once in the water, Visibility was not excellent, but the wildlife was. Getting dolphins on 2 out of 3 dives, playing with divers. On all dives we encountered a school of bonitos, to big to put a number on it. Around the school we saw a lot of silkies. Out in the blue at the end of Cabo Pearce we found a big bait ball of jacks also followed by silky sharks and a few hammerheads. Time for our check at Socorro marine base and then set sail to Roca Partida.
Our first dive at Roca is one to remember. We entered the water and encountered a pod of dolphins from the start. As there was almost no current we managed to stay with them for the whole dive. I estimate we had over 20 dolphins and most of them wanted to play as much as we did. Followed them out into the blue and saw big schools of tuna passing in the background, followed by multiple silkies and silvertip sharks. Next two dives we had time to enjoy the whitetips resting in the caves, big schools of skip jacks to swim through and of course plenty of sharks to admire. Another dolphin encounter to remember!
To finish our trip, we went back to “El Boiler”. As usual vortex gets the first dive of the day, two other boats in the area. Dive one started really slowly. In the first 30 minutes we saw a manta passing by who showed no interest in us and a black tip shark. As people started getting ready to go do safety stop, a little bit of “El Boiler” magic happened. A pod of 6 dolphins showed up followed by 3 mantas to give us 20 minutes that more then make up for the first 30. Our last dive was manta heaven, with as good as no current and having only 14 guest on board. I think we almost had a manta a diver. Very peaceful amazing dive to finish. If you think I exaggerate please ask any of our divers and you’ll see a big smile appearing that confirms everything above.
Cheers Islas Revillagigedo!
From the very beginning the islands showed us the power they had. Our check dive in Las Cuevas had calm surface conditions but as soon as we descended the strong current took hold. We found protection among the large boulders of the site and spotted many oceanic stingrays buried in the sandy bottom with plenty of small electric rays gliding by. As we passed through the caves nobody knew to take first photos of the 6 white tips resting on the bottom or the group of huge lobsters hanging from the ceiling. A fast paced dive set the tone for the following morning.
Again with ideal conditions we started the first full day of diving still at San Benedicto Island diving the Boiler. The morning was dominated by playful dolphins showing us how to handle the fast current. As always these ever smiling animals were curios of our small groups of divers and delighted in teasing us with there graceful moves. As the day went on, Oceanic, Chevron and Black Mantas showed up in force and totally stole the show. For some time we had 5 mantas slowly circling our group, it really doesn’t get much better for a first day.
The 2nd and 3rd dive days were spent out at Roca Partida to make the most of the good weather window we had a available. During both days the current was changing directions so often that we never knew where the next sharks would arrive from! The Silver Tip and large Galápagos sharks were constantly soaring through the massive schools of Jacks forcing them to continually to change their pattern in the water which made for a wonderful display. On most dives we saw large schools of smaller Tuna passing by in the blue, sometimes for up to 10 minutes they just kept on passing by. The huge Tuna ‘Big Sam’ was patrolling the shallow areas on the second day and giving us some real close passes. We had seen a few Hammerheads during the first day but it wasn’t until the second the schools of them came out of the distance and allowed us a closer look. After these close up encounters everybody on board said goodbye to Roca with happy smiles on their faces.
Day 4 and we were at Socorro Island and at Cabo Pearce for 3 dives before the check in at the Naval Base. Beginning the day we were checked out by a small pod of dolphins, they were very tentative and kept some distance as they had 1 young they were protecting in the group. From then on the day was spent glimpsing Hammerheads passing by and waiting for that evasive large school to materialize out of the rushing current.
Another day and a different Island where we had El Canõn all to ourselves. Within the first 30 seconds of the first dive we were greeted by a large dolphin in the act of chasing down an Amber Jack. Dolphins again for the second dive and a graceful black manta. For the whole day the action at the cleaning station was great, Silver tips of all sizes circling over the rocks mixed with large Galápagos and a couple of large black tips out in the distance. The hammerheads were passing close to the wall itself but once we ventured into the blue we started to see the larger schools of 30+.
We spent the night at the Boiler and again had the site all to ourselves. Jumping in the water at 7am making our descent everybody was looking around for the dolphins we had already seen on the surface and could hear. While we were all looking out into the blue the first dolphin had snuck up behind us and was in a vertical position watching us! Once we saw him he began to come closer and play with the group right before the rest of the small pod arrived. After playing for 10 minutes the dolphins vanished in to the blue just as the mantas showed up to put on their show. That was exactly how the day continued, full of Mantas!
Finishing the trip we were back in El Canõn being protected from the strong wind that had picked up. Life underwater carried on as usual and we were treated to encounters with 6 different species of shark. A couple of Mantas flew by and even on one of the dives a dolphin was so busy hunting it swam right through one group and didn’t even give a second look as it relentlessly chased down a Jack.
Another great trip with a wonderful group, we had birthday celebrations and new friends made for life.
Socorro Islands, second trip for the Vortex!
After an easy 18-hour crossing, we arrive at Isla Benedicto, ready for a check out dive in El Canon. We had a radio check from Solmar V and talked about promising wildlife encounters. Not even 5 minutes in a manta started circling our group and was kind enough to guide us to another one. This manta action along with silvertip- and Galapagos sharks, made our check out dive like we hoped it would be.
Next morning ready for 4 dives in “El Canon”. Finding schooling hammerhead sharks on 2 out of 4 dives, friendly mantas from the day before still guiding us around and plenty of Galapagos, silvertip and black tip sharks posing for the cameras made our day epic. All happy faces at the dinner table and off to Roca Partida.
We dived Roca Partida for 2 days. On the first day, galapagos- silvertip-hammerhead- sharks being spotted all around the rock and schools of jacks started gathering. Then our last dive of the day a bit of Roca magic. As we jump in 4 big Galapagos started swimming in between dive groups, silvertips swimming through big schools of blackjacks, couple of playful hammerheads and massive tunas from beginning to the end. As we plan to do our safety stop, I turn to my group and a Chevron manta comes from Deep straight towards us. Beautiful Roca sunset and like expected all happy faces at the dinner table. Second day, on all three dives encountered schooling hammerheads. Groups of jacks on both sides of the rock accompanied by multiple sharks. The shy manta from day before gained some confidence and joined us for 2 dives. Oh, did I mention yet that schooling yellowfin tunas in all sizes kept on blocking our view several times? Thank you, Roca Partida.
Dive site “Cabo Pearce” was next on our list. Seeing before our dives big pod of dolphins with around 4 calf’s that couldn’t properly swim yet was a Good start of our day. Through the day we all got a lot of manta encounters and at our last dive we managed to push towards the end of the canon and encountered big school of hammerhead sharks.
We had such a good time in “San Benedicto” and still having the boiler waiting for us, so we returned for our last days there. Starting with a fantastic dolphin encounter in “El Canon”. Seeing pod with calf very playful. During the whole dive they came and went. The best part was the safety stop. Having a big school of jacks looking for shelter under the boat, that are very easy to approach, makes our safety stop very enjoyable. But if you add hunting dolphins too it, well it doesn’t get much better. As we just got out of the water, our eagle eye guest “Allan” spots 2 humpback whales and we managed to approach closely to the mother and her calf. During the rest of our dives we enjoyed the attention of 3 mantas and blacktip- hammerhead- silvertip- and Galapagos sharks.
Good morning “El Boiler”! heading out in the zodiac accompanied by pod of dolphins, puts smiles on everyone’s faces straight away. In about 5 minutes of waiting at the boiler we encountered a pod of around 10 dolphins that entertained us for almost half an hour. Last 20 minutes 3 mantas took over so very good start. Next 3 dives everybody getting all the manta love you can get. We even encountered schooling hammerhead sharks on one dive. Lucky us, next day we get very similar experience. Dolphins in the morning and up to 5 mantas a dive circling our dives. Thank you “El Boiler”
Thank you, “Islas Revillagigedo”
For our first trip we had a full boat, 14 passengers eager and excited to explore the Revillagigedo Archipelago on the newest boat to the islands. By @xavivo We had a smooth quick crossing allowing us to leave Cabo San Lucas in the evening and arrive for our check out dive in Las Cuevas at the Island of San Benedicto in the early afternoon. The island gave us the reception we couldn’t have dreamed of. As we were lowering the pangas into the water, off in the distance we saw a Humpback calf splashing and playing on the surface while the mother kept a close eye from a short distance away. After watching the whales for a short time they dropped down in to the deeper water in search of a new area to play in. The check dive itself was pleasantly calm, great conditions to get everybody back in the water and test new gear and camera configuration. There were a couple of huge loggerhead turtles relaxing on top of the reef in the shallower areas above the swim throughs that were filled with sleeping white tip sharks. Some juvenile silver tip sharks checked out the groups just as we began the ascent to the safety stop. The following day was the first full day of diving and we stayed at the same island but moved to El Boiler. Good surface conditions with mild current and good visibility made for a great day of diving. The dolphins were making loops around the boat before we were even ready and they came to find us to play once we got in the water! Close passes by giant black mantas with dolphins in the background and you have a great first day. We stayed the night in San Benedicto and had an incredible early morning dive in El Cañón with Dolphins, Mantas, Hammerheads, Silver tips, Silky and Galápagos sharks. Smiles all around the group and an amazing energy kept us happy all day. For the final dive the current had almost completely calmed and we managed to spend almost the entire dive in the same spot being circled by up to 4 mantas. Day 3 and we awoke in Cabo Pearce on Socorro Island after making the journey during the night. We had the dive site to ourselves so made a leisurely 3 dives before the check in at the naval base in the afternoon. Again the dolphins made an appearance first teasing us towards the end of the dive and then at the surface playing for a good 20 minutes. The definite highlight of the day for everybody was the school of hammerheads we managed to get close up with on the 3rd dive. All the way out at the point of the dive site as the reef began to drop away below us we were entranced by the wall of beautiful sharks. Roca Partida had all the guests in awe, the sheer remoteness of this tiny islet paired with an unforgettable sunrise and the excitement levels were through the roof. The cotton mouth jacks were in abundance and there was no lack of Galápagos and Silky sharks drifting in and out of the large school. Later in the afternoon as we were taking photos of the 30 white tips all stacked up on top of each other resting on the ledge when we were lucky to catch sight of the huge Tuna passing us by in the shallow water. To finish the trip we made our way back to San Benedicto and there was no question of which site to finish with, El Cañón! Strong currents made it possible to have hammerhead sightings on every dive. Down at the beacon we could hide out from the current and have the juvenile Silver tips and large Galápagos sharks passing within a few feet of us. It was a memorable trip for everybody on board, both guests and crew, to be a part of the first trip on Socorro Vortex. This is just the beginning of our adventure!