Cozumel diving Cozumel diving

Join us for a Photo Excursion
Diving the Revillagigedos Archipelago (Socorro Islands)
Aboard the Solmar V

April 12-20, 2012
9 days/8 nights* + one optional night in Cabo prior to departure.

$3299 Superior Cabin, $3199 Standard Cabin

not including 11% Mexican tax, $15 chamber fee
Price is per person, double occupancy

Have you ever been face-to-face with a giant Pacific manta ray? Would you like to twirl with a dolphin? Have you ever heard the song of a whale?

Any one of these is a life-changing experience. To be able to find all three and more in one dive trip is even more amazing! That's why Socorro is often called the "Mexican Galapagos". March is the time of year when humpback whales migrate through this area. We'll see whale tails and breaches all day long and will hear their song underwater. If we get really lucky, we may even have an underwater encounter!

Join us for a magical trip aboard the 112' luxury live-aboard Solmar V. This vessel has been visiting the Socorro Islands for over 17 years and has more experience there than any other live-aboard. She's a gorgeous vessel with warm mahogany decor accented with etched glass and brass. There are 12 staterooms on board that can accommodate up to 22 divers. The cabins on this boat are small, but there's plenty of storage area. Each cabin has its own ensuite head and shower.


The food on the Solmar V is really good and plentiful! Each morning we'll be served a hot breakfast made to order. Of course they have coffee, tea, cereals and fruit for the early risers. Both Lunch and dinner are a sit-down three course meal. If we find any particular dive area especially active, they'll keep the dive deck open and serve up a simpler lunch, such as tacos or sandwiches, so we can eat quick and get back in the water. There is also plenty of snacking between meals too. On top of this, We'll will put in our order for extra chocolate for our charter and Margaritas for happy hour!

Read the trip report from our 2011 trip

Check out the photos from our April 2011 trip on Facebook

DETAILED ITINERARY - Don't read this if you don't want to get sucked in!

We will fly into Cabo San Lucas the day before the boat leaves port. It is possible to fly in the same day, but its not recommended. If you missed a flight or lost your luggage, you would have no time to recover. That evening we'll stay at the Quinta Del Sol in Cabo San Lucas. You'll have some time to tour around Cabo, do some shopping or take in some of the other activites. On the 10th we'll board the Solmar V around 2:00 in the afternoon. Be sure to bring your C-card and NITROX card if you plan to dive NITROX. We'll get settled in, complete the trip paperwork, have some great snacks and Margaritas. The boat leaves the port around 3:30-4:00. Have your camera ready because we'll cruise right past El Arco for some amazing photo opportunities.

The trip to Socorro is about a 22 hour steam from the time we leave port, but the time goes quite fast on the way out. After happy hour margaritas and a sumptuous dinner we settle in for the night. The next morning we enjoy a late breakfast, have plenty of time to get our dive gear and camera put together, get to know the other passengers, get the boat and dive briefings out of the way, and maybe watch a movie if there's time. Of course there are way too many interruptions by the breeching whales we pass, the dolphins that ride the bow of the boat and the gorgeous sunset.

The first island we'll reach is San Benedicto around 2:00 the next day. Here we'll do a check-out dive and anchor the boat for the evening.

The next day is when the real diving begins. We typically visit The Boiler first. This is a pinnacle that rises to about 30' from the surface and drops down to 160'. The giant manta rays come here to be cleaned by the Clarion angelfish. Seems like the mantas thing us divers are a bunch of big cleaner fish too, since they come right to us. We've also seen large schools of jacks being bombarded by feeding dolphins. This is also were on a past trip we've come face to face with a humpback whale. Sorry, but I was do dumfounded I didn't get any good pictures!

Center photo by Marty Snyderman, bottom right photo by Bill Downey

Depending on the manta activity, weather, and wind we may also visit The Canyon on the other side of the island. This is a shallower area where mantas and dolphins are commonly seen. On the wall side the rocky slope is full of eels, octopus and cleaner fish. The wall attracts Galapagos sharks, black tips, silver tips, silky sharks and hammerheads. We've seen dolphins here several times in past trips too! Near the shoreline I found a huge old anchor that was so encrused with coral it was hardly recognizable.

The next stop is either Roca Partida or Socorro Island depending on weather and animal activity.

Roca Partida is a tiny pinnacle in the middle of nowhere that rises about 105' out of the water. Its about as long as a football field and is frosted with a thick layer of quano. Smells horrible, but underwater the steep wall of the rock drops down to the bottom at about 260'. Roca is a magnet to marine life. Here we commonly see mantas, white tip sharks, large schools of jacks and tuna, silver tips, Galapagos shark, dolphins and sometimes even whalesharks. Its possible to swim around this rock at least once during one dive. Inside the rock there are caves and crevases full of lobster, eels, cleaner fish and more. It is here that we are most likely to get close to schooling hammerheads also. On past trips the passengers voted to spend several days at Roca, but we always keep our options open to go where we'll find the best diving.

Our last island is Socorro Island. Here we'll stop by the Mexican Navy Station to clear customs around breakfast time, then move the boat to The Aquarium or to Cabo Pearce, where we have been greeted by many dolphins both on the surface and underwater. On one trip several years ago, we dived with dolphins for the entire dive.

After our amazing trip we head back to Cabo San Lucas to arrive the evening of April 16. We usually have enough time to go into town to play. Dinner is served on the boat for those who want to stay, or guests can go into town on their own. The food is so good on the boat, guests usually stay onboard. The last night is spent on the boat while she sits at the dock and passengers disembark early the next morning, right after breakfast. If your flight out isn't until later, we'll arrange a day room at the Solmar Hotel to hang out. Transports will take you back to the airport for your trip home. :(

Diving here is not for beginners. California divers do quite well because the water is warmer and clearer than what we're used to, but before you decide to join this trip you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you comfortable diving to 100+ feet in at least a 5mm wetsuit and the appropriate weight?
  • Are you comfortable diving in bottomless water? This means you have the skills to control your depth and buoyancy at all times, even when you're distracted by pesky dolphins, mantas and sharks.
  • Will you make the right decisions in the event of an emergency?
  • Are you comfortable diving in a current or surge? Current can pick up at some of the dive sites.
  • If you are afraid of sharks, dolphins, mantas or whales we recommend you stay home, because here you're going to get really, really close to them!

Socorro is about 22 hours away from reality, so if you screw up, the whole boat suffers the consequences. We don't want do discourage you. We just want to make sure that you are comforable enough with your skills to fully enjoy what this amazing destination has to offer.

As with all my workshops we recommend that if you don't consider your buoyancy to be perfect, you should think about leaving your camera behind. Your safety is most important and we need models.

About the Photo Workshops - Because the dive, eat, sleep schedule on live-aboards is already really intense, we'll keep the presentations to a minimum. I will offer one presentation about how to photograph mantas on the way out and will be available to assist through the entire trip. I'll also be doing Photoshop mini-sessions with those who are interested in learning the best way to process blue water images. There is a nice wide screen TV in the lounge of the Solmar V that I can hook my laptop to, so this makes it possible for several people to join in on these sessions.

I have many other presentations available about topics such as photo composition, digital workflow, image size & resolution, and file formats. Let me know what you need and we'll tailor the schedule for you.

Camera Recommendations - Bring a still or video camera with a wide-angle or fisheye lens. The mantas are big and they do get very close IF you don't chase them. At least one external strobe with an extra long arm is recommended. Two would be even better. There are some macro opportunities, but you know that as soon as you put that macro lens on, the big animals will show up. If you need help getting your camera set up for this trip, please contact me ahead of time.

Of course you may just want to come to enjoy the experience also and leave your camera at home. That's OK too!

Price includes:

  • RT airport transfers
  • 9 nights aboard the Solmar V
  • All diving
  • All meals while on board
  • Photography assistance and instruction
  • All beverages

Does not include:

  • 11% Mexican taxes
  • Air fare
  • Chamber fee - $15 cash
  • Crew gratuity - generally about 10% of the price of the cruise...these guys are good!
  • Extra nights in Cabo
  • Camera rentals
  • Post trip shenanigans at Cabo Wabo and/or El Squid Roe
  • Bail bonds

For more information or to sign up contact Bonnie
or call the Solmar V office at (866) 591-4906 or (310) 455-3600 for more info.

Please remember that this area is very remote. Mother Nature has the final say about where we go and what we see. Visibility, water temperatures, currents, surface conditions can change quickly and as the organizers of this trip we have no control over this. These animals are wild and are in their own habitat. Big animal encounters are totally random and are at the choice of the animal.

*It takes one full day to get there and one full day to get back from Cabo. The boat leaves around 3:00 on day 1 and arrives back around 6:00 p.m. on day 8. You'll depart the boat the morning of day 9. We'll likely get 1 dive in on day 2 and have five full days of diving.