This has been on my whiteboard for a long time now and after visiting the Galapagos and Coco Islands, this was the next one on the list. Socorro island is one of the world’s richest areas of marine life, mainly due to the Arctic flow down the west coast of the USA and the Humboldt current from the south, both hitting the island to make the perfect storm.
After an epic journey just from Australia to Mexico, the next step was a 26-hour steam to San Benedicto, our first port of call. Here we already managed to have what turned out to be one of the best days of the trip as we hit ‘the Boiler’. A dive like no other. Imagine a cross between Mars and Jurassic Park and you will be coming close to how it felt down there. At nearly 200 miles out to sea, this site was aptly named due to how it looks from the surface. With currents coming at this up crop of reef from all directions, the surface looks like boiling water, not one for the faint hearted! This dive turned out to be a paradise for megafauna as you would expect with those currents. Within minutes of dropping in, I found myself amongst 6 manta rays, each 5 – 6m wide. We were lucky enough to do 4 dives that day and by the end of it, I felt like a kid in the best playground ever, leaving with some amazing new friends.
Our second spot was called Roca Pastida, the second part of this island triangle. This reef is just two large rocks sticking up from the ocean like the mouth parts of a manta ray, hundreds of miles from anything and anywhere. With the bottom of the ocean nearly 3 miles away from the surface, again, it was a dream place for the big things in life but very easy to get into deco diving as before you know it, you’re at 30 plus metres! We were lucky again here with glass out conditions and visited by some beautiful creatures including many white tip reef sharks, a few silver tip sharks, a Galapagos shark and even a passing whale shark. Travelling marine life seem to use this underwater mountain as a resting place on their travels and it is easy to see why, it really was a stunning set of dives.
After a day at Roca Pastida, we moved onto Socorro Island itself. 3 dives here produced what was now becoming the usual set of suspects: sharks, manta rays, giant morays, angel fish, enormous lobsters and even some bottlenose dolphins with their babies. Usual for here but non the less amazing. Despite the impressive marine life, the currents here were crazy and not for the faint hearted.
The end of the trip was coming up fast and it found us heading back to San Benedicto Island for 4 more dives. The final 2 dives of the week also turned out to be the best. The dive site called Cannons is a manta cleaning station down at 25 metres. Dropping down beside the cleaning station found no manta’s but instead, 6 Galapagos sharks with the biggest pushing 5 metres long. As I started taking pictures, out of nowhere, 3 tiger sharks decided to join the party! Tiger sharks are not small but one of these was a real big boy at more than 5 metres long. This particular shark was very interested in me, and I ended up with over 300 pictures of them all just from the one dive. By this time, I had found myself at 34 metres after getting distracted so it was time to surface. On the way back up, 8 hammerheads decided to join the party. Of course, I was nearly out of both air and time and had to leave what had just become the ultimate shark party. What a dive and what a way to end the trip.
The whole area here is a National Marine Park and I hope the Mexican government can keep it policed and the rest of worlds fishing boats away from it. It really is a fantastic area, full of life and stunning diving. I have to say many thanks to the crew of the Nautilus – Socorro Island for looking after and being so friendly and helpful the entire trip. And gaterade to the crew! This is because before every dive the crew would come around with drinks of water or gaterade and everyone would Shout GATERADE !! Until next time, have a great time diving and stay safe in the marine world.