Diving in Cabo San Lucas
At the southern tip of Baja California in Cabo San Lucas, the sea floor falls away into a submarine canyon some 3,500 feet deep. Tropical fish from the warm Sea of Cortez mingle with large fish and mammals from the Pacific, and creatures that usually inhabit shallow water encounter the denizens of the deep. Near a wave-battered arch in Bah'a San Lucas, between a craggy pointer called Neptune's Finger and Anegada Rock (also known as Pelican Rock), the sheer face of Middle Wall, 90 feet below, offers a peek at the drop-off zone. The water is perceptibly colder and darker in the abyss, and full of nourishment and life.
A short swim away, the base of Anegada Rock offers an equally robust spectacle at depths to 70 feet. In a moment of interspecies communion, a balloonfish fins slightly to maintain its position 10 inches from a diver's mask, an alien hovercraft with bulging eyes. Wide-mouthed morays bristle at the squadron of tank-bearing strangers in wet suits, while a school of Moorish idols clouds the water with flickering movement, shimmering light.
Exploring the Falls and Beyond
Stationed between gentle slopes and the canyon, Anegada Rock and its environs exemplify the conditions that make Bah'a San Lucas one of Mexico's most popular diving destinations. At nearby Lover's Cove, novices complete their first dives. Within shouting distance, their more seasoned counterparts explore the Point where the bay meets open ocean, the Sea Lion Colony, or the edge of the abyss itself. An easy panga ride or kayak trip away, a marina with a recompression chamber and a handful of dive shops serves the resort town of Cabo San Lucas.
Enjoying water temperatures ranging from 65° to 85°F and visibility from 25 to 100 feet (late summer and early fall bring the best conditions), the bay has one main downfall — congestion. Though the region is officially a marine preserve, Cabo San Lucas is the hub of a thriving sportfishing and tourist industry, with a lively nightlife. For a less-frenzied scene, divers explore the entire Los Cabos region, an area that includes Cabo San Lucas, San José del Cabo, and the 18-mile corridor between the two towns.
Between seven and ten miles northeast of Cabo San Lucas, Bah'a Santa Maria, Shipwreck Beach, and Bah'a Chileno harbor reefs and rocks at depths to 100 feet. Each has easy snorkeling or diving from boat or shore and marine life similar to that found at Bah'a San Lucas. Intermediate divers venture onto the deeper finger reefs where, now and then, a Pacific manta ray glides in, its wings spread at lengths to 22 feet. Others take a short boat ride to the Blowhole, where walls and ravines between 40 and 100 feet attract the endangered green sea turtle, a graceful swimmer with the reptilian version of a thoughtful stare.
Expert divers head eight miles seaward from San José del Cabo to Gorda Banks, an underwater seamount that tops out at 110 feet. In addition to promising a current-raked drop onto bushes of black coral, Gorda Bank is the habitual hangout for schools of scalloped hammerhead sharks. Like sea turtles, hammerheads have fallen victim to irresponsible fishing throughout the Sea of Cortez, and Gorda Banks is one of the few places you'll still have a good chance of seeing them. Sometimes numbering in the hundreds, the sharks create arresting silhouettes against a backdrop of blue.
Continued In: Diving in Cabo San Lucas - Part 2
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