All the pictures below are geotagged, so you can click on them to see where they were taken
Arturo, Regis, Jennifer and I went to San Jose, Mexico, the southmost tip of Baja, California, to board a 9 day liveaboard (which really only has 6 days of diving due to the time lost in travel), to Socorro Islands, Mexico's Cocos Island. Socorro Islands just became a national park where fishing is totally prohibited, and likely better enforced than in Cocos.
There were 2 boats that could have gotten us there for 9 days (they advertise 10 but it's really 9): Solmar V and Valentina. We ended up picking up Valentina as it was more reasonably priced and more inclusive. I think the boat and cabins were also a bit larger (although I'm not positive on that).
We arrived the day before to visit San Jose and try some ATV'ing, and the next day, we took a long day tour to LaPaz to go snorkel with whale sharks, and finally got onto our diving boat that evening:
This trip was about diving. Just like Cocos, it's a long way there, over 24H each way, so we had time to read, sort pictures, and pass the time in other ways :) The folks on the boat were all great, so it made the trip much better.
The diving was spectacular, especially the first 3 days (out of 6, with a total of 22 dives): Hammerhead sharks, Manta Rays (more than I remember), many friendly and curious dolphins, and then 3 different whale sharks! We also got lucky that the water was much warmer than planned (26 to 29C, mostly 27-28, when it was supposed to be in the 22-26C range).
Ok, I think I must start with Whale Sharks, 3 different ones on 4 different dives. We were so lucky...
even small whale sharks were big
I found a few octopii, although only 3 of them:
Got lucky to find a small octopus that continued hunting after I found it:
We saw some hammerheads:
Plenty of other sharks:
Plenty of sharks at Roca Partida:
Plenty of friendly dolphins:
Look at how many dolphins came to see us:
One site had dolphins that actually came to us and wanted to be pet. We tried to tell them that maybe wasn't maybe legal, but they didn't care, and kept saying "pet me, pet me please", we had to pretend to pet them to appease them :)
So many lobsters, too bad we couldn't help cull them :)
So many manta rays:
Mantas love bubbles
Lots of different Manta Rays at one site:
While at Punta Tosca, a ray followed us during almost our entire dive:
Also mobula rays:
And electric rays we hadn't seen anywhere else:
Plus other rays:
fun to see those swmimming in pairs
It was Xmas early
We picked up a few tired birds on the way:
Other pictures from the boat:
navy base on Socorro Island
It was a middle class liveaboard with reasonable pricing, so it was a good deal in the end. The last days of diving were not as good due to the weather changing, but we had seen so many awesome things in the first days, that it didn't really matter.
It took another 30H or so to get back to San Jose, and the next morning we left soon after sunrise for a private transport to Cabo San Lucas before having to take our flight in the afternoon:
Since we were going to San Jose Del Cabo for our diving boat, after a bit of research, I figured out that La Paz had swim with whale shark tours, and that our time to visit was the right season. Woohoo!
So, we arrived the previous day from our boat departure, got picked up at 06:40 for the 2H+ drive to La Paz, and joined the tour. Sadly, they just introduce a reservation system where only 2 or 3 boats are allowed in the area at a time. While this makes sense since you don't want all the boats dropping people at the same time on top of a few poor whale sharks trying to feed, sadly the current system works by having boats leave the harbour, and then wait in the middle of the water, burning gas, for their turn to enter the area. For us, that was a 1h30 wait before we were allowed to finally enter the area, which was annoying given that we had gotten up at 06:00.
But once we got there, finally, it was great. Several juvenile whale sharks were feeding at surface level, and our boat sent people 3 at a time with a guide just next to a whale shark feeding. Sadly, the first 2 we got dropped by, were way too fast for me to keep up with just the small fins they gave us (apparently bigger fins don't help at the surface). You could barely keep up with them if you swam with your hands, but with a camera with each hand, that was not possible for me, so I had to let them go.
Thankfully they picked a slower one for us for the 3rd and last one, and I was able to keep up with it just with my fins and get some good shots.
Here is a summary video:
And here are some shots:
one had fish attached to its tail
So, while the first 2 times in the water were frustrating, because I couldn't keep up with the whale shark due to the small fins and inability to swim with my hands while holding a camera and a video camera, the last encounter was awesome since we got a slower whale shark and could keep up with it for a long time.