The Revillagigedo Archipelago
Better known as the Socorro Islands, the archipelago is located in the eastern Pacific Ocean approximately 250 nautical miles south of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico – at the tip of the Baja peninsula. These islands have been compared to the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador or Cocos Island in Costa Rica because of the big animal encounters they provide. The Revillagigedos Islands consist of 4 islands – San Benedicto Island, Socorro Island, Roca Partida and Clarion. They are wild, remote and unpredictable.
Giant mantas, humpback whales, playful dolphins, tuna, over 7 shark species plus, on occasion orcas give you the best animal diving on earth!
San Benedicto Island
Home of the world-famous “Boiler” where very friendly Giant Pacific Mantas congregate, San Benedicto is usually the first island visited on a Solmar V trip.
This island is the third largest in the Revillagigedo group at about 2.6 miles long. It has two prominent peaks, one that is very obviously a volcanic crater. The walls of the volcano are eroded, leaving vertical ridges from top to bottom. The crater is almost 1/2 a mile wide. At the base of this volcano is a lava delta that reaches out into the ocean. The north half of the island is green with vegetation.
One of our favorite dive sites here is “the Boiler”, a large pinnacle that reaches from the depths to within several feet of the surface. Its small enough to swim around several times in one dive, but is large enough to be a favorite gathering point, attracting marine life from miles around. Humpback whales, whale sharks, and schooling hammerheads can be encountered here.
What makes this site so magical is the congregation of very friendly Giant Pacific Mantas. They often greet our divers even before we get into the water and swim with us all day. Divers may observe many mantas who come here to be cleaned by the endemic clarion angelfish. They seem to enjoy swimming closely over divers and stopping directly above to experience the bubble Jacuzzi on their bellies formed by exhaling bubbles from the divers. They often swim from one diver to the next posing for every photographer along the way.
On the other side of the island is “the Canyon”. Here we commonly see mantas, dolphins, hammerhead sharks, Galapagos sharks and silky sharks.
Socorro Island is another island we visit during our Revillagigedos adventure.
Socorro is about 30 miles south of San Benedicto. The island is about 10 miles by 9 miles in size and is home to the Mexican Naval Station since 1957.
The island was discovered by Spanish explorer, Hernando de Grijalva and his crew in 1533 and had been rediscovered in 1542 and again in 1608 when it was given its name “Socorro”, meaning “Help”.
In the center of the island rises volcanic Mt. Evermann, who’s top is 1130 meters above sea level. The mountain was named after Dr. Barton Warren Evermann, director of the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, California in honor of the scientific exploration he promoted there at the beginning of the twentieth century.
It’s most recent eruption was in 1993. The island is covered with low order vegetation—sage, some grass and a dense growth of cactus that grows around the lava outcrops and lines. In September 1997 the island was struck by Hurricane Linda, one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded.
Solmar V usually visits dive sites here which include the Aquarium, Punta Tosca and Cabo Pearce.
Roca Partida is a small pinnacle located west of Socorro and San Benedicto, about 250 miles south of Cabo San Lucas. It is only 115 feet high and 300 feet from end to end. Its the smallest island in the Revillagigedo Archipelago.
This stony pillar attracts pelagics and large schools of jacks and tuna. Beneath the surface the wall drops straight down to deep water. There are many shelves and ridges that give refuge to the animals that hide there.
At about 40′ there are large caves where groups of whitetip sharks can be found sleeping most of the time. Depending on the current, its possible to swim around the pinnacle several times in the course of one dive. Other times divers prefer to just hang out in one area and watch the pelagics swim by.
Guests commonly encounter schools of hammerheads, whitetip sharks, Galapagos sharks, silky sharks, giant manta rays, dolphins, an occasional whaleshark and even humpback whales visiting from Alaska.
Seasons & Conditions
The Revillagigedo Islands trips are only available November through June due to weather conditions. During all these months, giant mantas, playful bottlenose dolphins and sharks are plentiful. The water temps are 75F – 80F in November, December, and sometimes into January and also in late April, May and June.
In mid-January, February, March and the beginning of April the water varies between around 70F – 74F. The humpback whales visit Socorro during these cooler water months. You can hear these gentle giants singing on almost every dive and as previously mentioned, underwater encounters with these whales are increasing every year.