Cabo Pulmo: Scuba at a Marine Preserve

Some of the best diving in Mexico is at Cabo Pulmo, a marine preserve. From Esperanza we had to travel a few hours by car, over some very rough roads (getting our “Mexican Massage” as our Dive Master fondly called it).  The location is very remote–so much so that there was no cell reception and electricity had to be locally generated.  I also liked looking out the window to see more of Mexico.  Although our trip was utterly fantastic, we were definitely in a more touristy area in Cabo.  I liked seeing the people and places we passed; consequently, I think our dive in this area was more authentic to the local experience. 

The beach at Cabo Pulmo is absolutely breathtaking.  I could sit in a chair and just look at the beach.  The air was warm, but not terribly so, the ocean was constantly moving (albeit gently), and the sky was a rich blue.  Yup.  I adore the sounds and views at a beach.

Cabo Pulmo Beach

Right on the beach are snorkel and dive shops, as well as tiny cottages that can be rented. If you truly wanted to escape the world for a while, staying at one of the cottages where there is no cell reception (you have to go to great lengths even to make a phone call) right on this idyllic beach might be just the ticket.  If you love to dive or snorkel this is even better!

As we suited up, we watched the very technical means by which they get boats in the water here.  Ha!  I have never seen anything like it! The family who owns the land in this area has been pushing boats out into the ocean forever, and are very good at it, but the government official who was attempting the same thing with his fancy equipment and new truck got completely stuck in the sand and ocean up to his axel.  It was a complete hoot to watch.  I wish I would have grabbed a picture, but I was too fascinated to avert my eyes even for a second.  There was lots of yelling, advice, and help from the locals.

Essentially, a large, jacked up truck-ish vehicle, aided by a soft tire on the back, would rev up, back up, push the boat as far as they could manage into the ocean, and then speed back to the beach before being engulfed by the ocean.  Man, it was exciting.

Getting boats in the water Cabo Pulmo style,

The boat we took out was tiny and a bit rickety.  Our local captain was the epitome of what I would imagine a Mexican Beach Dweller to be.  Handsome, shoeless, charming, and super laid back.  The little engine on our boat was a bit stubborn, and I kid you not, the fuel was in a plastic container that he hand pumped into the engine.  Interesting.  I couldn’t keep the smile off my face.

Here is a view of our little boat in a photo my SIL snapped from the back of the scuba car.

Out tiny boat

Our tiny boat

Because we had seven people in our group, four went in one boat.  In our boat was us and my SIL.  I love the ratio of Dive Master to group (usually 4 to 1) that is the standard for Dive Cabo.  Dive Cabo picked us up at the resort and drove us there, coordinated the dives, and the meal afterwards.

Now, as you know from my last post, I am still getting over my anxiety of diving.  I was feeling pretty good today, though.  Until I heard that there are NO DIVE LINES in Cabo Pulmo, since it is a preserve.  It makes sense, I know, but I generally like to hold onto that dive line like my life depends on it.  So my heart started pounding and that anxiety started to rear its ugly head again.

We took the boat out in about a 10 minute ride to our location. Since it is a tiny boat, to enter the water you have to roll off the side.  I actually like this better.  For some reason, stepping into the ocean with all that equipment on gives me the heebie jeebies, but rolling off is OK.  Who knew.  I told our dive master, Lars, that I was feeling anxiety, and he very calmly assigned me to be with him, and he held my hand as we made our descent.  To my great pleasure, my ears cooperated beautifully and I was able to make the free descent with no problems.  In fact, I was quite relaxed once my initial anxiety calmed down.  Our first dive was a little problematic–we kind of missed the reef we were looking for–but our second dive was so full of underwater wonders it was easy to get swept away in the amazing sights and forget that it was scary.  Seriously, the marine life was amazing!  Hundreds of fish!  We saw two large schools of colorful fish, so thick they were blocking some of the sunlight.

Reef Fish at Cabo Pulmo,

The ocean was in the process of changing from the cold season to warm, so there were pockets of water that were about 68-70 degrees, followed by pockets that were warm as a bathtub.  We were a little early for prime diving season, so it was a little murky, but we still saw amazing sea life.  There were fish of all colors, shapes, and sizes–from tiny inch long fish to Groupers that were several feet long.  One grouper came right up to my husband and was checking him out–about two inches from his face.

Cabo Pulmo Fish,

fish at Cabo Pulmo,

I was able to control my buoyancy much better on my own for the second dive, and went around exploring.  What an improvement!  Both dives were drift dives, which is very relaxing because you just let the gentle movement of the ocean direct you.  On the way up, we practically went through a massive school of silvery Jacks–mackerel that are about a foot long.  There were thousands!  In between dives, we snorkeled along the top, watching the jacks move together is a silvery mass.   While diving we got the view looking up. Absolutely amazing.

I would definitely five Cabo Pulmo again, especially at high season in October.  Then the water is more clear and about 85 degrees.  I would love to explore this incredible marine preserve some more some day.

Look how far I’ve come.  Fantasizing about my next dive trip!  Aren’t you proud?

To finish our diving experience we went back to the beach to a little restaurant (outdoor seating) and enjoyed fajitas and fish tacos.  I was so ravenous I didn’t even take a picture, but the fresh tortillas with chicken and peppers were amazing.  You burn nearly 800 calories an hour while diving–so we were all pretty famished.  The trip back we all snoozed and relaxed–scuba can sure wear your out!


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