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 next day 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 before we fly out. 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. :(