When is the best time to go?
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.
What airlines fly there and to what airport?
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. 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.
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. At 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 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 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.
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 include beer and wine. 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 May 2017 the average was 19.5 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 crossing?
The crossing from Ensenada, Mexico to Guadalupe Island is around 16-18 hours and the same advisory applies.
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 Guadalupe 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. 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.