Frequently Asked Questions
When is the best time to go?
Because we mainly dive two very distinct and geographically different areas, you have the opportunity to visit both destinations at their best. The Socorro Islands are best November through June and Guadalupe Island is best August through October. 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 5 minute video trip reports of all our Socorro Islands adventures since March 2011. These are short, accurate reports using only footage from that particular trip with divemaster 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 have archived these reports by season for easy access on our you tube channel at www.youtube.com/solmarv
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 Continental) 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 our Guadalupe Island trips, you will fly in and out of San Diego, California (airline code SAN) and we will provide transportation to and from Ensenada, Mexico, where Solmar V is stationed for these trips.
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 depending on what destination you are visiting. 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 transportation 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 transportation through our office. 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 pick up from three hotels in Cabo San Lucas only. These are the Quinta Del Sol, Solmar Suites and Playa Grande Resort & Spa. A Solmar V 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 Solmar V departs port at approximately 4 PM, depending on the arrival of our passengers. For our Guadalupe Island adventures you will be arriving into San Diego, California one night prior to the trip departure date. This will be at your expense but we do have a special rate arranged with the Hampton Inn downtown San Diego which includes breakfast and internet. All guests should either stay at this hotel or make sure they are at the Hampton Inn by 10 a.m. the day of departure as this is the one and only pick up point for ALL Guadalupe Island departures. That morning a Solmar V representative will meet all guests and provide orientation and transportation to the vessel in Ensenada, Mexico.
What is the difference between the standard and superior rooms?
The main difference is location and a little size. Both categories have the same amenities including private head/shower, air conditioning and carpeting. The standard rooms are located in the bow of the boat and the superior rooms are in the middle. The mid-section of all boats has less motion than the bow section. If you are prone to motion sickness, a superior room is recommended. The superior rooms are also a little bigger but not greatly so.
Should I arrive one day prior?
The boat usually leaves port in Cabo San Lucas by 4PM. Some guests that can book a non-stop direct flight arriving no later than 1PM the day of departure should have plenty of time to get to the boat. Clients traveling longer distances and using multiple flights with one or more connections should arrive a day earlier to make sure their luggage catches up with them should a piece not arrive with their flight. This was a very rare occurrence in the past, however, with increased flights into our area this now not uncommon. PLEASE NOTE that we do not accept responsibility for your missing the boat due to airline delays. 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. In the Sea of Cortez, daytime air temp should be in the 80’s or even 90’s, and the evenings are bit cooler so a light sweatshirt will work well. At Socorro and Guadalupe, 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?
For the Socorro Islands trips, 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 Solmar V reservation that you will need to rent equipment. Equipment is rented from Amigos Del Mar dive store in the town of Cabo San Lucas at a special rate for Solmar V guests. 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.” For the Guadalupe Island trips, you will be breathing from a surface supplied air source or hookah and need only bring wetsuit, booties, gloves, hood and mask. You will not need fins or a BCD or a regulator so packing is easy for this trip! Since you will not be using SCUBA, you do not need a SCUBA certification to join our Guadalupe Island trips so invite your family and friends!
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. For the Guadalupe Island trips, the water temp averages 65F-70F so be sure to pack your gloves, hood and booties plus either a 7mm full wetsuit or a drysuit. Guests rotate in and out of the shark cages every hour and you are not swimming at all so you might get chilly and should plan accordingly.
Do you have nitrox?
We do have a state-of-the-art titanium nitrox membrane system installed and serviced by Nitrox Technologies. The charge for Nitrox is $125 per diver per trip for our regular 9 day trips, longer trips may cost up to $150. The charge for the PADI EAD Nitrox certification course is $195 plus $75 to dive Nitrox for the remainder of your trip. Please note that we accept no credit cards aboard Solmar V at this time, only cash or travelers checks.
If I come in early or stay later what about hotels?
Since we are not a travel agency, we cannot book general hotel rooms. We are able to book the following hotels through our U.S. office: Solmar Suites, Grand Solmar, Playa Grande Resort and Quinta del Sol. Please note that during high season in Los Cabos, the Solmar Suites and Playa Grande Resort require a 3-night minimum stay. For more information on these fine hotels, please visit their individual websites. Also, be sure to book your hotel in Cabo San Lucas not San Jose del Cabo. The entire area is now called Los Cabos. Because Solmar V is docked in the marina in Cabo San Lucas, a hotel in Cabo San Lucas is preferred.
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 Solmar V. 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. Solmar V is one of the few luxury live-aboards that serves a three-course meal for lunch. Our's always begins with a fresh, homemade soup (our chef, Tony, is famous for his soups!), followed by a main course and then a delicious dessert. After an afternoon snack and cocktails (watch out for the margaritas!), you'll be ready for your relaxing dinner aboard Solmar V. We begin with a fresh salad, then either chicken or fresh fish or beef, always a fresh vegetable or two followed by another decadent dessert. All beverages, including beer and wine with your meals, are included. Since alcohol and diving don't mix, be prepared to snorkel for the remainder of the day if you choose to drink alcohol before dive ops have closed for the day. Our chef prepares delicious snacks in the mornings and afternoons and especially takes pride in his fresh, Mexican-style hot chocolate. We always have available fresh fruit, cold fruit juices, sodas, fresh-brewed coffee, and both hot tea and iced tea. We can easily accommodate any special requests such as food allergies, a vegetarian menu, heavy on the fresh salads, etc if you inform us of your needs at least two weeks before your trip. 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 Solmar V 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?
Solmar V 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. We also include beer and wine. We ask all guests for a $15 local chamber donation, payable IN CASH once you board the boat. If you are Nitrox certified and wish to dive Nitrox during your trip, there will be a charge of $125 IN CASH onboard. We offer PADI EAD Nitrox courses for a charge of $195 and an extra $75 to dive Nitrox after you are certified. Nitrox fills and courses can also be paid in advance through our U.S. office. We also sell Solmar V T shirts, caps and other mementos onboard and of course, our crew works hard for and greatly appreciates your tips which also must be paid in cash.
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 or travelers checks, we accept no credit cards or personal checks aboard Solmar V.
Does Solmar V accept credit cards onboard?
NO WE DO NOT. Once onboard the boat, you are welcome to pay for your extras and the crew tip in cash or travelers checks. We accept no credit cards or personal checks aboard Solmar V at this time.
What is the current exchange rate?
The general exchange rate for the U.S. dollar to the Mexican peso varies greatly. In January 2016 the average was 16.5 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 crossings?
The crossing to and from Socorro (The Revillagigedos Islands) from Cabo San Lucas takes about 22-24 hours, depending on weather conditions. 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. The crossing from Ensenada, Mexico to Guadalupe Island is around 16-18 hours and the same advisory applies.
What about waivers and insurance?
For Socorro Islands, you will be asked to present your scuba certification card when you sign in with the Solmar V divemasters once onboard the boat. We have a "no C-card, no diving, no exceptions" policy. You will also be asked to read and sign the Solmar V Liability and Release form when you board the boat. Solmar V requires that you show proof of dive accident insurance, which you can purchase from DAN, PADI and other agencies. We strongly suggest that you purchase travel/trip cancellation insurance and that you read this policy carefully. WE NO NOT REFUND for bad weather or acts of God. We recommend the following three links for purchasing insurance:
What kind of communication system do you have onboard?
The Solmar V communicates twice daily with either our Mexican home base or U.S. Office by Satellite Phone. Although we discourage conducting business while out on your Solmar V expedition, we realize that sometimes it is necessary to communicate with your office or home. Guests are welcome to use our phone system and will be assisted by our captain. Your call will be charged at Satellite minute rates ranging from $4 - $5 U.S. dollars per minute. Remember our phone and email system is primarily for boat operations and emergency use. We encourage our guests to detach and enjoy this adventure of a lifetime by leaving your worries at home.
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 and wine, a certified divemaster in the water at all times, tanks, weights, weight belts and air fills. The same is included for Guadalupe but since this trip is done entirely from inside our custom shark cages using surface supplied air, you only need to bring a full 6-7mm wetsuit (including hood, booties and gloves) and a mask - all else is included onboard.
What crew do you have onboard?
Our crew is our strength and we consider them all family. The Solmar V crew has worked together for many, many years and each crew member contributes something unique and necessary to your trip. We have a permanent crew of 10 that consists of captain, engineer, chef, cabin steward, 3 divemasters and 3 pangeros/ deckhands. We are exceptionally proud of the hardworking, talented and seamless crew aboard Solmar V and we can assure you that their team effort will provide you with the most excellent service anywhere.