I traveled to the Revillagigedo Archipelago in March for an opportunity to dive with the Giant Pacific manta rays. I was told that this is the place to see many of them, and the encounters that you can have on your dives are a one of a kind experience. I also saw hammerheads, silkies, silver tips, dolphins, tuna, octopus, and we were serenaded by the calls of humpback whales all week.
This archipelago consists of 4 volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean. Socorro, San Benedicto, Roca Partida, and Clarion. They have been called the Mexican Galapagos, and are as fragile and diverse, but less well known as their namesake. They are located approximately 385km southwest of Cabo San Lucas in Baja California. They are uninhabited with the exception of a naval base on Socorro.
I joined Andy Murch of Big Fish Photography Expeditions onboard the Sea Escape for 6 days of diving. It took 24 hours to get to our first dive site from Cabo San Lucas, so there was plenty of time to settle in and get to know the rest of the group.
It felt like once we started diving, we didn’t stop for the entire trip. We encountered manta rays on every dive. Sometimes just one or two, and other times we had five or six swim by as they approached their cleaning stations full of clarion fish. The mantas would look right into our eyes and stay with us for a long time, passing between divers and overhead. They would even stop and hover right over us as our bubbles moved across their bodies.
We were even fortunate to snorkel with the mantas after we wrapped up our diving for the day. They would stay right at the surface feeding on plankton. Some of them just slowly back flipped for what seemed like ages as they fed. I cannot express how amazing these interactions were. I would often turn my camera off, and just maintain eye contact with them as they swam towards and around me. I would definitely go back to these islands just to visit the manta rays again.
March is a great time to see calving humpback whales, and we were fortunate to see mothers and their calves’ topside from the boat every day. Unfortunately, most of us didn’t have any sightings underwater. They were singing throughout many of our dives though, which was the most incredible thing to hear. In addition to humpbacks, we saw pilot whales, and dolphins breaching during our surface intervals.
The water temperature was steady at around 74 degrees Fahrenheit. Many of the divers were in 5mm and 7mm wetsuits. I got away with a 3mm, but had also packed my travel drysuit just in case. The visibility was around 60+ feet, and the majority of our dives were drift.
Some of the coolest dives we did were when we rolled off of the boat into blue water. This is where there is nothing around you, above or below. It is just continuous blue. The feeling is unreal, and we would hear the humpbacks singing all around us.
This was my second trip with Big Fish Photography Expeditions. Andy Murch puts together some of the best dive and u/w photography itineraries I have ever seen. I will be joining him on many more trips in the future. The Sea Escape liveaboard is a great boat with a fantastic crew. The guides were excellent, and the food was delicious.