Over 240 miles off the southwest tip of Baja California sits Socorro Island, part of the uninhabited Revillagigedo Islands. These three small islands offer one of the world’s premiere diving destinations, from manta rays to dolphins, and an ocean landscape blotted out by fish. When you’re planning a visit, these three sites are a must, and represent some of the best diving in Socorro.
An enormous bommie is perched just off the coast of San Benedicto Island, disturbing the surrounding ocean currents. This is where large animals come to play. The first thing a diver notices are the bottlenose dolphin squeaks and squawks, reverberating in the water in what feels like every direction. Indeed, it’s not uncommon to look any which way and see these playful mammals darting here and there. Just as you think nothing could snatch your attention away, giant oceanic manta rays do their best by putting on a mesmerizing dance. Swimming together in a looping underwater ballet, they make a good show of outdoing their dolphin compatriots.
This amazing site can deliver even more if you’re lucky: keep your eyes peeled for a whale shark, who may just decide to join the fray and steal the show. The triple whammy on one dive — of dolphins, mantas and whale sharks — is more common than you may think, and multiple times per season photos emerge from The Boiler of this glorious trifecta.
The Unnamed Coast
Most dive boats will stick to the known, classic sites around these islands, as you’re almost guaranteed to see the aforementioned animals frolicking around. Sometimes, however, if another boat is diving the golden sites it can be worth exploring the rugged, volcanic coastlines of either Socorro Island or San Benedicto Island. Here you will garner the attention of whatever animals are nearby, which often means manta rays. These beautiful behemoths seem to have an affinity for scuba divers, and on nearly every dive when a manta or two are alone with a small group of divers, you’ll have a once in a lifetime experience. The rays will approach and appear to land on top of you so as to bathe their bellies in bubbles. Indeed, if you swim slowly along, they will be within an inch or two and follow you for what feels like an entire dive. It is possibly one of the world’s best wild animal encounters.
No trip to the island chain is complete without a visit to this small lump of rock that juts out into the ocean. At no bigger than a bus or two, what lies below the surface will blow your mind. The rock explodes out in all directions to a great depth once you are submerged, and nearly every inch of water feels as though it contains a fish or three. Rocky cracks teem with sharks and the depths can hold a hammerhead surprise. The fish here, thanks to the depth, seem to form enormous schooling swirls like an underwater tornado. And, just like at every other dive site, keep your eye out for more mantas.
*Possibly the best dive site ever