The Revillagigedos Archipelago
The Revillagigedos Archipelago, more commonly called Socorro Islands is located in the eastern Pacific Ocean approximately 250 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. We simply call them Socorro Islands. They are wild, remote and unpredictable and have been called the Mexican Galapagos. This area is famous for up close and personal encounters with the Giant Pacific manta ray, which can grow to 22 feet from wingtip to wingtip.
We’ve been interacting with these gentle giants since 1992 and as a result of having worked with several manta researchers over the years, we have extensive ID’s on most of them and special relationships with many of them. We absolutely do not chase or ride the mantas, and we allow our interaction with them to be initiated by the mantas themselves. We believe that their continued willingness to interact with divers is due to the respect we have shown for them over the years. San Benedicto is one of the best locations in the world to experience and photograph these gentle giants. The feeling of a wild animal this large deliberately interacting with you is something you will never forget.
There are lots of sharks in the Revillagigedos Islands - hammerhead schools, white tips, silver tips, silkies, threshers, galapagos and occasionally tigers.
We have encountered up to 7 species of sharks on a single dive! There are several hammerhead cleaning stations that we visit each trip, weather permitting. Whale sharks are a special treat at the islands, they find us in November/December and late April/May/June.
We also encounter pods of wild bottlenose dolphin on a regular basis and from January through March, these islands are home to a large population of humpback whales, that come here to breed and calve. We have observed several newborn humpbacks in the years we’ve been fortunate enough to visit these remote and pristine islands. In the last few years the frequency of underwater encounters with humpbacks has increased dramatically. The scientists who visit the Revillagigedos Islands every year to study the migrating whale population tell us that after 22 years of encountering the SOLMAR V, the humpbacks now recognize our vessel as a friendly, non-threatening entity and so the opportunity for underwater encounters improves. Add to the mix extremely playful dolphins on almost all trips, large tuna (the world record yellowfin is from these waters), wahoo, thick schools of jacks and many other big critters along with endemic tropicals found nowhere else in the world, and you have the BEST BIG ANIMAL DIVING ON EARTH!!Photos by Norbert Wu, Andrew Sallmon, Marty Snyderman