For our second trip to San Jose del Cabo we decided to add in a day for scuba in Cabo Pulmo. After much research in Trip Advisor and Undercurrent dive magazine, we chose Cabo Pulmo Diving. We exchanged emails with Henry and Pilu and our dives were set. Our first choice was for a Monday but they were booked. Sunday would be okay but Saturday would be better. Saturday it was. We watched the weather in San Jose and knew the strong north winds wouldn't bode well with diving. We made the decision to go ahead and make the drive for the adventure and would cancel if the water was too rough. Pilu suggested 1 1/2 to 2 hours for the drive from San Jose. It took two hours. The road to La Ribera was good with one short section being cleared from previous rains. The road from La Ribera is roughly paved for the first half, graded dirt for the second half. From San Jose it took 1 1/2 hours to the end of the paved road. Taking it very carefully in a rental car, the dirt portion took 1/2 hour.
Cabo Pulmo Diving is easy to find. They have signs posted that guide you right to them, just past the very large, very well advertised scuba resort with the very large prices. Pulling up we were met by Pilu who asked if we received her last email (didn't check). She had emailed us to inform us that it would be best to cancel. Their Friday dives had to cancel due to the wind and water conditions and the Saturday forecast was for the same conditions. I knew right then we had chosen the right dive operation. The wind on Saturday was actually not as bad as the forecast and she offered to check with her boat captain to see if diving was a possibility. We were good with either possibility. After some checking the dives were on.
Diving is by panga, loaded on the beach and launched on a cart into the water. The national park has worked with the boat captains to eliminate beaching the boats, saving the captains constant boat repair and saving the ground fiberglass from entering the marine environment. The guides register for dive sites, allowing no more than two boats on any site at the same time. The result? You aren't diving with a massive hoard of divers.
Our first dive was at El Bajo. Pilu said it was one of the top sites in the park. When we arrived there was one boat and that captain said there was strong current. We dropped in via backroll and had the reef to the three of us. Being Pacific Northwest divers the prospect of current was not a problem. What we got was a nice mild drift along a beautiful reef that was one of the most relaxing tropical dives I've done. El Bajo was amazing. We have dived Loreto and La Paz and thought we knew Sea of Cortez diving. Not! It was the best Baja dive we have done. I would match it to any of our Kona dives, and it probably tops them. The only place we have dived that exceeds it would be Fiji. The marine life was great-schools of large grouper, very active morays, 2 or 3 turtles, a school of pompano overhead, and cloulds of reef fish, large and small. The coral is not as extensive as Hawaii, but that is more than made up for by the sea fans in many colors. Visibility was easily 60'+. After a relaxing 45 minutes it was time for a safety stop and back to the boat.
During our safety stop we talked about the dives I read about doing my research. I thought they had dives where they visited bull sharks. Pilu said they hadn't seen the sharks for a couple of months and before they had left, their behavior had changed, becoming a bit bold. They had referred it to some shark experts to investigate, but when the sharks disappeared, the experts weren't able to follow up.
Our second dive would be El Barco, the shipwreck. It is pretty broken down, but is rich in life. Another backroll and the dive started. After dropping in I spotted a large shark and knew this was going to be a great dive. Dropping to 30' I realized this was a bull shark, at least 10 foot, if not more. Then a second one and in less than a minute, we were up to five, with unidentified shadows on the edge of visibility (vis was closer to 25 to 30 on this dive). The sharks were starting to pick up speed as they moved in, then leave slowly. It became apparent that 3 divers weren't a good match for multiple fast moving bull sharks-who last time they were seen were starting to get bold. After 3 minutes Pilu called the dive, called in the boat, and in a flash we were back aboard. It would be easy to wonder why the dive was cut short...if you weren't there. If you would have been there and had seen the behavior, you would have happily levitated back to the boat.
If you are looking for a dive operation that will run dives, no matter the conditions, with no regard to your safety or theirs, you probably won't like Cabo Pulmo Diving. If you value a quality dive experience with a guide that values your safety and wants you to enjoy your dive, Pilu is an very easy choice. We purposely chose to dive one day only so we could see the diving and decide if it was worth bringing all our gear for a multiple day trip. Cabo Pulmo has the best Sea of Cortez diving we have seen. Cabo Pulmo Diving isn't a large resort with every amenity (including large prices), but they are the kind of dive operation we love diving with. Thank you Pilu, we will be back!
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