A Weekend Dive Getaway in Cabo

Photo Essay and Guide to Underwater Photography in Cabo San Lucas
By Brent Durand

As the bubbles race towards the surface it becomes quiet enough to hear the songs of the whales underwater, enchanting in the deep blue, and making it almost a pity to exhale my next breathe. But you have to remember to breathe while diving, especially when mesmerized by the large schools of fish in Cabo San Lucas in Baja Sur, Mexico.

Cabo sits at the bottom of the Baja Peninsula, where the mighty eastern Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez. And as you might imagine, this is the perfect recipe for some very nice diving with high odds of surprise pelagic action.

I had the opportunity to plan a last-minute weekend getaway for three dive days with MANTA Scuba – a perfect excuse to break up the monotony of winter (I live in LA, but hey, it’s technically still winter here and I’ll use any excuse to dive Cabo and shoot some photo and video).

For those in the American Southwest, Cabo San Lucas is the perfect destination for a weekend dive getaway at a very reasonable price. The direct flights are short (i.e. 2.5hrs from LAX).  For those that live further away, Cabo is still a fun dive destination that draws some dive groups back year after year.

So what do all these divers know that we don’t?  In short, the Cabo area offers some incredible dive opportunities.

 

A school of jacks blasts by us near Chileno Bay, during a Corridor dive.

 

Blennies, like this sabertooth blenny, always make fun photo subjects.

 

 

Cabo San Lucas Marine Park

Diving doesn’t get any closer than this.  Dive sites like Pelican Rock, Neptune’s Finger and Land’s End surround Cabo San Lucas’ icon Arch (El Arco), offering large schools of fish, bait balls, a resident sea lion colony, macro critters like sea horses and blennies, rays and even a wreck. Conditions vary throughout the year, with visibility reaching 100 feet in the fall. During other seasons vis will be less, but that brings in the large schools of fish.

Manta offers morning and afternoon 2-tank dives to the marine park daily, which is perfect for nice morning dives, an afternoon after morning dives in the Corridor, or even if you’d just like to relax in the morning then spend the afternoon in the water.

 

Pacific Seahorses are frequently found near Pelican Rock.

 

Schools of fish like this one are a common site at Land's End.

 

This wreck at Land's End was uncovered during Hurrican Odile, and is a fun attraction for divers.

 

This cave near Land's End is great for creating diver silhouette photos.

 

No dive in Cabo San Lucas is complete without some surgeonfish, moorish idols or snapper.

 

 

The Corridor

The Corridor is a section of coastline between Cabo San Lucas and Cabo Pulmo. It’s here that massive rock structure with swim thrus and channels meets deeper pinnacles blanketed in small gorgonians. Schools of fish pass by and you need to keep your eyes in the blue for a chance at seeing mobulas, whales, whitetips or any number of other fish/mammals.

 

Cortez rainbow wrasse are everywhere near Cabo San Lucas and the Corridor.

 

Whitetip reef sharks inside a cave at the Corridor.

 

Our dive guide pauses next to fans, gorgonians and a tan star at the Corridor.

 

Reef scene at the Corridor.

 

 

Gordo Banks

A deep sea pinnacle, Gordo Banks is a magnet for pelagic action. The boat ride out to the pinnacle can take between 70 and 90 minutes, but the rewards are well worth it. Scalopped hammerhead sharks, rays, marlin and even whales are likely to pass by while you’re diving Gordo Banks. The top of the pinnacle starts at 120 feet and current may be present, so this dive is for advanced divers only. During our surface interval in early/mid January, we had 10+ humpack whales all around us. Not bad entertainment while waiting for your next dive!

 

A scalopped hammerhead passes by a mobula ray at Gordo Banks.

 

 

Cabo Pulmo

Cabo Pulmo has been protected since 1995 and is home to the only living coral reef in the Gulf of California. The fish biomass and diversity produces some fantastic diving, generally organized by Manta as a day trip from Cabo San Lucas.

 

Cabo Pulmo is home to fish large and small. (Photo from a trip in 2013)

 

 

La Paz

Want to swim with whale sharks during your Cabo trip?  No problem if you’re visiting during the fall, when whale sharks congregate in the bay of La Paz to feed in the plankton-rich water. No scuba diving is allowed, but the whales are generally on the surface feeding, creating some amazing snorkel and photo opportunities. This trip is also organized by Manta as a day trip from Cabo San Lucas.

 

Whale shark snorkeling is a must in La Paz. (Photo from a trip in 2013)

 

 

About Cabo San Lucas

There are many sides to Cabo San Lucas, and many reasons to visit this Mexican resort town. Perhaps the most well known is Cabo’s rich nightlife, with bustling restaurants and loud bars with dancing going strong until the early hours of the morning. There are beaches to explore, parasailing for new views and jet skies to rent. 

But the other side of Cabo is ideal for a relaxing and adventure-packed vacation, whether a couple days or a week. Tasty restaurants with excellent pricing can be sought out with the right recommendations (ask us!). You can plan your evenings around sampling local Mexican plates, multi-course fresh seafood meals, hearty Italian dishes, spicy street tacos, and of course, some excellent margaritas! The restaurants boast color and character in Cabo.

Manta Scuba even organizes afternoon whale watching tours during the winter/spring months - a perfect complement to a morning dive schedule.

 

 

Special Dive Travel Package

Bluewater Travel put together a several dive and stay packages with Manta Scuba, with different pricing depending on the season. Seasonal trips like La Paz for whale sharks and Gordo Banks for hammerheads and other pelagics are also available.

View the:  Cabo Weekend Getaway Package

 

 

Quick Cabo Getaway Dive Video

Filmed & Edited by Brent Durand.  

Gear: Canon 5D Mark III in Aquatica A5D MkIII Housing and I-Torch Venom 38 Video Lights.

 

 

Further Reading

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brent Durand is a weekend wanderer and story teller from California.
BrentDurand.com   |  Facebook  |  Instagram

Brent is managing editor of the Underwater Photography Guide, an avid diver and adventure photographer, and shoots underwater any time he can get hands on a camera system. He can be reached at brent@uwphotographyguide.com.

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