FAQ’s Diving In Socorro
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO GO?
November through June. For specific water conditions and marine life encounters, please go to the individual destination page by using the drop down destination menu at the top of any page.
VIDEO TRIP REPORTS
To help our guests decide when to visit the amazing Socorro Islands, we started publishing video trip reports of all our Socorro Islands adventures on the Socorro Vortex since March 2011. These are short, accurate reports using only footage from that particular trip with divemaster or videographer narration and guest comments. These videos are an excellent resource to view first hand what previous guests have experienced during the time of year you are contemplating visiting us. We believe the entire season from November through June is excellent and these reports show you why. We will soon have a YouTube channel for the Socorro Vortex, but here you can watch many of them organized by season and month. Enjoy! www.youtube.com/solmarv
HOW OUR TRIPS ARE USUALLY RUN
Once our guests arrive on the boat they will be assigned their room and dive station. They will then remove their dive gear from their dive bags and put it in their assigned dive station. They will also unpack their dry clothes and toiletries in their rooms. Both their dive bag and luggage will be stored in our dry storage area throughout the remainder of the trip. The boat departs harbor at 4:00PM.
The boat will arrive at the first dive site around 4:00PM on the next day, and our guests will have the opportunity to do 1 or 2 dives the first day at the Socorro Islands. Every day after that we schedule 4 dives per day. The only exception to that is when we dive Roca Partida because the diving at this location is deeper and, therefore, we limit the diving to 3 dives for safety considerations. We cannot give you a more specific diving schedule because the captain goes where diving conditions are best, but under normal conditions each 9 to 11 days trip includes 5 to 7 1/2 days of diving and the opportunity to do about 20-22 to 27-29 dives. After the last full day of diving at the Socorro Islands and after the last dive of the day we start our return back to harbor. The boat returns to harbor around 8:00PM or 9:00PM and our guests will spend their last night on the boat in harbor.
After breakfast on the last date of the trip, our guests will disembark the boat by no later than 9:00AM. If their flights depart in the morning or early afternoon, then our guests will go directly from the boat to the airport and our representative in Cabo San Lucas will help them procure transportation paid via cash then. If their flights depart in the mid to late afternoon then they can be transported to our 2018 host hotel at The Bahia Hotel & Beach House (at no additional charge), and they are welcome to relax at this hotel until it is time for them to return to the airport. The concierge at the hotel will help to procure paid transportation from the hotel to the airport accordingly.
*ASK ABOUT OUR BUNDLE PACKAGE WITH ONE & ONLY, CABO’S MOST EXCLUSIVE RESORT. VIP TRANSPORTATION AND TOP OF THE LINE SPA TREATMENT TO RELAX AFTER YOUR VORTEX TRIP.
WHAT AIRLINES FLY THERE AND TO WHAT AIRPORT?
The international airport for our home port in Cabo San Lucas where our Socorro Islands trips depart from is San Jose del Cabo, Mexico (airline code SJD). This is the same airport used by all visitors to the Los Cabos area. It is about a 45 minute drive from the airport to Cabo San Lucas. Most major U.S. airlines fly directly into this airport. In general, the airlines to check out are Alaska, American, Aero Mexico, Delta, Continental and United. There are other airlines and many direct flights from gateway cities such as Los Angeles, San Diego, Houston, Dallas, Phoenix, Atlanta, Denver, Chicago and New York (out of Newark on United) so you can start from anywhere and get to us quite easily through these gateway cities. There are also convenient connections through San Francisco, Portland and Seattle, to name just a few.
*FOR THE COMFORT OF OUR EUROPEAN GUESTS, TUI AIRLINES JUST STARTED THE FIRST NON-STOP FLIGHT FROM FRANKFURT TO CABO.
WHAT TRAVEL DOCUMENTS DO I NEED FOR IMMIGRATION?
As of January 2016, all U.S. citizens require a valid passport for travel in and out of Mexico. You will be asked to fill out a tourist card upon entering the country and present this to the immigration officials in Mexico. For other nationalities, you should ask your airline or call the Mexican Consulate in your country. With so many recent changes to travel policies and requirements, these requirements are subject to change so check before you begin your travel plans. For our Guadalupe Trips you will arrive to San Diego, California and then escorted by our staff in an air conditioned coach to Ensenada, Mexico via Tijuana. Our staff will assist you with your tourist visa when crossing at the border in Tijuana but you must have a valid passport in your possession.
WHERE DO I GO WHEN I ARRIVE?
Upon reservation confirmation, we will send you a pre-trip information sheet. If you do not receive it, please ask us for it. This will describe arrival procedures. Basically, for the Socorro Islands arrivals into San Jose Del Cabo airport, once you clear Mexican immigration and collect your bags from the luggage carousel, you will proceed through customs. After clearing customs, if our office has arranged for your pre-paid transportation in advance, then just outside the terminal please look for a representative holding a sign which reads “Cabo Seasons”, our local transport company. Give that person your name and they will take it from there. If you are handling your own transportation into Cabo San Lucas, then look for the “Authorized Taxi” sign inside the terminal where you can purchase shuttle tickets to the hotel where you are staying. If you are arriving the same day the boat departs you MUST arrange pre-paid transportation through our office in advance. However, we strongly advise you arrive one day before departure. It is about a 45 minute ride into Cabo San Lucas. On the day of departure, we currently will pick up from three hotels in Cabo San Lucas only. These are the Quinta Del Sol, Solmar Suites and Playa Grande Resort & Spa. As of 2018, our host hotel will be The Bahia Hotel & Beach House (please see below for hotel information). A Socorro Vortex Divemaster will arrive at these properties between 1 – 2 PM depending on the property. Our staff will then escort you to the boat about 5 minutes away to start check-in procedures onboard. The Socorro Vortex departs port at approximately 4 PM, depending on the arrival of our passengers.
OUR STATEROOMS AND SUITES
LUXURY STATEROOM. Yacht-like suite located in the lower deck. Independent A/C, private head and shower, a 22” flat screen TV, closet, and two single beds that can turn into one queen.
JUNIOR SUITES. Located at the bow in the main deck, each Jr. Suite has a desk, a 40” flat screen TV, larger storage space and bathrooms. Two twin beds that can turn into a king size.
MASTER SUITE. Behind the bridge on the upper deck with a panoramic view with one private Access from the salon downstairs and the outdoor lounge upstairs. Corner desk, sofa, walk in closet, and a big 70” screen TV.
We highly recommend arriving one day prior to departure and travel insurance should be seriously considered as we do not refund for bad weather. For these reasons, we strongly recommend travel insurance, so here are three links where this insurance can be purchased.
WHAT CLOTHES SHOULD I BRING?
On all live-aboard dive trips, packed clothing should be kept to a minimum as cabin space is usually limited. You will be in your swimsuit most of the trip and shorts and t-shirts are the common dress. We ask that you appear at all meals in dry clothes, as all meals are sit-down in the main salon. At Socorro, daytime temps will be in the 70’s or 80’s and we can have cooler evenings here so one pair of sweat pants, and a Polartec, sweatshirt or sweater is a good idea. Be sure to bring a hat, sunglasses and plenty of sunscreen.
WHAT ABOUT SCUBA EQUIPMENT? WHAT DIVE GEAR WILL I NEED?
The price includes tanks (aluminum 80’s), weights and a weight belt. We now require but do not provide dive computers on our Socorro Islands trips. Additional equipment can be rented for the trip BEFORE you leave the dock. PLEASE advise us when making your Vortex reservation that you will need to rent equipment. Equipment is rented directly from us at our dive store in the town of Cabo San Lucas at a special rate. National Park regulations do not permit dive knives or lights that are not attached to your camera. We have some extra equipment on board in case your equipment should fail but not a large inventory. This equipment is rented on a daily basis when needed. Underwater photography or video equipment is not available at this time and you should be completely self-contained when it comes to this equipment. Rule of thumb when packing is to pack light but keep in mind that “it is better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.”
WHAT KIND OF WETSUIT WILL I NEED?
The ocean temps at Socorro usually range from 78F-82F in November, 70F-74F in Feb/March and then 76F–80F in April to June. Depending on what time of year you join us for the Socorro trips, we’d recommend 5mm in the warmer months, and a 5/7mm or a 7mm in the cooler months. Some of our guests also pack a light vest and hood or a vest with an attached hood in case we run into thermoclines during the cooler months.
DO YOU HAVE NITROX?
For a safer and more confortable dive experience, Socorro Vortex y a Nitrox Only vessel. The gas mix is complimentary and PADI certification is available on board if needed, at an extra cost.
IF I COME IN EARLY OR STAY LATER WHAT ABOUT HOTELS?
Since we are not a travel agency, we cannot book general hotel rooms. As of 2018, our host hotels are The One & Only and The Bahia Hotel & Beach House, where we have pre-negotiated special discounted rates for our liveaboard guests. Please note that we will send the host hotel reservation link, together with your liveaboard reservation confirmation.
WHAT KIND OF MEALS AND BEVERAGES DO YOU SERVE ONBOARD?
We must be doing something right because we get consistent rave reviews for the gourmet cuisine aboard Socorro Vortex, our signature vessel. With Socorro Vortex we are bringing it up a notch. Our menus vary and feature a combination of American and Mexican cuisine, using fresh, locally grown ingredients as much as possible. We offer a variety of cooked-to-order choices for breakfast and you can always count on fresh tropical fruit platters, icy cold fruit juice, yogurt, pastries, an assortment of cereals, teas and fresh-brewed and very strong, Mexican-style coffee.
Aboard the Vortex, worry not about paying for a beer, a glass of wine or even high quality single malt. We have a complimentary high end bar that includes the best Mexican wines and a wide variety of handcrafted beer provided by Mexico City based Tres Eles and Ensenada based Agua Mala, two of the finest micro breweries in Mexico.
We understand that a live aboard experience is eat-sleep-and-dive and we do our very best to ensure that each of these experiences aboard Vortex is memorable for you.
WHAT ABOUT SMOKING?
Although we discourage smoking for reasons we’re all aware of at this point, we understand that some guests are still wrestling with it, so we allow smoking on the sundeck only. We ask that our smoking guests be considerate of our non-smoking guests. You’re outnumbered!
WHAT CHARGES WILL I BE RESPONSIBLE FOR ONBOARD?
Socorro Vortex (Socorro Islands) includes all port fees, fuel surcharges and park fees in the price of your trip so you will not be asked to pay for these upon your arrival. Socorro Vortex (Guadalupe Island) includes all port fees and fuel surcharges in the price of your trip. However, each guest will be responsible for a $15 national park entry fee. For both itineraries we also include beer and wine. We ask all guests for a $15 local hyperbaric chamber donation, payable IN CASH once you board the boat. Nitrox is complimentary but PADI certification comes at an extra cost if required. Nitrox and scuba gear can also be paid in advance through our U.S. office. We also sell Vortex t-shirts, caps and other mementos onboard. Lastly, our crew works hard and greatly appreciates your tips which also must be paid in cash. For everything else, we accept all major credit cards on board.
WHAT ABOUT TIPS?
While we feel that tipping is a very personal decision and should reflect the service you received, we are always asked to give tipping guidelines. In general, we suggest a tip of 10-15% of the cost of your boat trip. The tips are given to the captain and divided evenly among the crew at the end of your trip. We ask that your tips be in cash.
DOES VORTEX ACCEPT CREDIT CARDS ONBOARD?
Yes we do, but please keep in mind that tips and chamber donations will be collected in cash only by the crew.
WHAT IS THE CURRENT EXCHANGE RATE?
The general exchange rate for the U.S. dollar to the Mexican peso varies greatly. In May 2018 the average was about 19.5 pesos to the Dollar but please check online at one of the many currency exchange websites such as http://finance.yahoo.com/currency-converter/#from=USD;to=MXN;amt=1
WHAT IS THE ONBOARD VOLTAGE?
Onboard voltage is 110 AC, just like in the United States. We also have a number of 220 charging stations for our overseas guests.
WHAT ABOUT THE CROSSING?
The crossing to and from Socorro (The Revillagigedos Islands) from Cabo San Lucas usually takes about 22-24 hours, depending on weather conditions. But the Socorro Vortex is not your average liveaboard, and will make the crossing in much shorter crossing times, making remote diving destination closer and more accessible than ever before”.
Although most of the crossings are in fairly calm seas, we are crossing in open ocean conditions so precaution against motion sickness is advised. We have sometimes experienced rough seas heading uphill from Socorro to Cabo.
WHAT KIND OF COMMUNICATION SYSTEM DO YOU HAVE ONBOARD?
The Socorro Vortex counts with two satellite phones, AIS and top of the line high-speed, complimentary WI-FI.
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE TRIP?
Included in the price of your Socorro Islands trip are all port fees, fuel surcharges and National Park fees. Also included are your accommodations, all meals and snacks, all beverages including beer, wine, a certified divemaster in the water at all times, tanks, weights, weight belts and air fills.
WHAT CREW DO YOU HAVE ONBOARD?
We have a permanent crew of 11 that consist of Captain, Engineer, Engineer Assistant, Chef, Steward, Hostess, 2 deckhands, 3 Divemasters (keeping dive groups of 4-5 divers per guide).