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Scuba diving in Cabo San Lucas: An underwater world of wonders

Please only travel when and where it’s safe, and follow all local guidelines. Also double-check what's open before your trip.

Jacques Cousteau raved about the sea life he discovered in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico, calling it “the world’s richest sea.”

The waters are home to sea turtles, hammerhead sharks, giant manta rays with 12-ft wingspans, sea lions and more than 900 species of reef fish.

We’ve dived several places around Los Cabos, which snuggles up to the Sea of Cortez.

And we can tell you – there’s awesome scuba diving in Cabo San Lucas!

Scuba Diving in Cabo San Lucas

Key contents: Mini-guide to diving Cabo San Lucas

Best dive sites in Cabo San Lucas

1) Land’s End

2) The Corridor

3) Gordo Banks

4) Diving La Paz

5) Cabo Pulmo diving

Best time to dive Cabo

Reputable dive shops in Cabo San Lucas – Half- and full-day dive trips

Sea of Cortez marine life – More crazy photos of weird and wonderful undersea creatures

Scuba diving in Cabo San Lucas

scuba diving in cabo san lucas
What a rush it is to go scuba diving in Cabo San Lucas! (Janice is in scuba heaven)

Let’s talk more about “Cabo” (as it’s called for short) and the Sea of Cortez.

Cabo is located at the tip of the Baja Peninsula – right where the marine-rich Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean.

The Sea of Cortez (also called the Gulf of California) is the 700-mile-long sea of water hugged by the Baja Peninsula on one side and mainland Mexico on the other.

Because of its strong tidal flow and water movement, plankton and fish move about as if in a washing machine – attracting dense concentrations of sea lions, dolphins, humpback whales, turtles, sharks and other sea life.

For scuba divers, the area is a marine paradise – diving is one of the best things to do in Los Cabos!

Scuba Diving in Cabo San Lucas
Large schools of fish are commonly seen when scuba diving in Los Cabos

Beginners can be comfortable diving easy sites just a short boat ride away from Cabo San Lucas.

More challenging and dramatic offshore walls entice intermediate and expert divers.

And then further away in Cabo Pulmo, well, you’ll be amazed by what you see there!

Non-cheesy sunset cruises? Best whale watching tours? Read our Los Cabos guide for water lovers and beach babes!

5 Best dive sites in Cabo San Lucas

1) Land’s End:

Land’s End is popular because it’s so close to the Cabo San Lucas Marina.

It’s just a 5- to 10-minute panga or boat ride away.

Puffer fish are seen when scuba diving Land's End in Cabo San Lucas
Hello there! You might spot puffer fish at Land’s End

See the famous underwater sandfall, beginning at a depth of 100 feet, at Neptune’s Finger; it was supposedly discovered by Jacques Cousteau.

(Sandfalls are unique phenomena where sand flows down a cliff much like a waterfall does.)

The rock-covered North Wall is a great dive for beginners.

You start from a shallow sandy bottom, gradually diving deeper until about 40 feet, when you start to see rock boulders.

The dive site is home to eels, pufferfish and lobster.

2) The Corridor:

Along the Corridor, a 20-minute boat ride from the marina, swim over underwater canyons and enjoy drift diving. Visibility is good (often 80 to 100 feet).

Barracuda, hawkfish, different types of moray eels, angelfish? See them all here. You might even spot a shark.

3) Gordo Banks:

Cabo San Lucas diving
Wow! You may see heaps of hammerheads at Gordo Banks (but there are no guarantees)

Located about 10 miles offshore from San Jose del Cabo, Gordo Banks is an underwater mountain.

Huge numbers of pelagic fish gather around the top of this sea mount, which is about 120 feet underneath the surface.

Schools of hammerhead sharks are the big draw, inviting experienced divers to sink deep into open blue water at Gordo Banks. You may also spot giant manta rays and whale sharks.

Boat rides from San Jose del Cabo take about 50 to 60 minutes to reach the dive location.

4) Diving La Paz:

Scuba diving in Cabo San Lucas
Getting up close-and-personal with sea lions is always fun in Los Islotes!

At La Paz, you can dive with sea lions at Los Islote.

La Paz diving trips often combine snorkeling with the whale sharks there.

You can snorkel with whale sharks in La Paz

Other cool day trips? Natural hot springs? Hiking in the Sierra de la Laguna area? See the 9 best day trips from Cabo San Lucas!

5) Cabo Pulmo diving:

Then there’s Cabo Pulmo.

Strewn with coral reefs, this remote national marine sanctuary teems with parrotfish, bull sharks and the occasional tiger shark too.

There are lots of amazing tropical fish to see in Cabo Pulmo
There are lots of amazing tropical fish to see in Cabo Pulmo

The expedition usually involves a 2-hour scenic drive (including along a bone-jarring stretch of bumpy sand tracks the last 6 miles) to get to Cabo Pulmo, then a panga or boat ride from the beach.

We enjoyed diving Cabo Pulmo with Manta Scuba Diving. They happened to whisk us out on a fast 38-foot twin-diesel dive boat from Cabo. (But their all-day Cabo Pulmo dive trips usually involve a van ride to get there.)

And yes, we spotted many bull sharks along with one tiger shark, which circled and followed us quite closely for a while (making us a teeny bit nervous).

Manta’s Cabo Pulmo dive trips are offered from May and November.

Cabo San Lucas scuba diving
Scuba diving in Cabo San Lucas

Best time to dive Cabo

June to November is the best time to dive Cabo and sites around Los Cabos. Underwater viz extends up to 100 feet and more during these months.

For bathtub warm waters, go in October, when the water temperature fluctuates between 80 and 85 degrees F on average. Our October dive trip was superb!

October is also pleasant above water, whereas August and September (high summer in Cabo) are hot and muggy outside.

In the winter months, the water is colder – between 64 and 74 degrees F.

Diving Gordo Banks and La Paz is typically only offered June to November.

Prefer to snorkel instead? Get the scoop on the best snorkeling spots and snorkeling tours in Cabo!

Reputable dive shops in Cabo San Lucas

These are all reputable outfits offering tours and packages for diving Cabo San Lucas:

Amigos del Mar

Cabo Adventures

Eagle Divers

Manta Scuba Diving

Nautilus Dive Tech

Cravin’ more Cabo? Find tips on restaurants, local buses and so much more in our ultimate Los Cabos holiday guide

Sea of Cortez marine life

See more crazy photos of the weird and wonderful creatures you meet diving the Sea of Cortez!

Scuba diving in Cabo San Lucas: Cannonball jellyfish
Cannonball jellyfish
Sea horse: Cabo San Lucas diving
Sea horse
Diving the Sea of Cortez and seeing a moray eel
Moray eel
Spotted eagle ray
Spotted eagle ray
An arrow crab seen when diving Los Cabos
Arrow crab
Cup coral at night
Cup coral at night
Giant coral hawkfish
Scuba diving in Cabo San Lucas
Diving with sharks
Coral hawkfish
Coral hawkfish
Playful sea lion seen when scuba diving in Cabo San Lucas
Playful sea lion
Playing hide-and-seek
diving los cabos
Scuba diver with manta ray

Experience more of Los Cabos!

Read our posts on:

Whale watching | Between December and April, there’s awesome whale watching in Cabo! Check out the best tours here.

Where to stay | From One & Only Palmilla to Hotel El Ganzo, there are lots of beautiful boutique and 5-star luxury hotels in Los Cabos.

Recommended restaurant experience | In Cabo, do yourself a favor and eat at the beautiful farm-to-table Flora Farms restaurant.

Hey, don’t miss this! See our ultimate Mexico travel guide (it’s packed with information on where to play, stay and eat in Mexico)


Pin to Pinterest!

Here’s a good pin to pin to your Pinterest board…

scuba diving in Cabo San Lucas

Photo credits: Manta Scuba Divers 2, 6, 9, 13, 17 | Nautilus Dive Tech 7, 11, 12, 14 to 16, 18 to 20 | Cabo Adventures 10


Have you gone scuba diving in Cabo San Lucas?

Where did you go? Was the diving great for you?


About the authors:

Janice and George Mucalov

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George are the publishers of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents.

Find destination guides, global food-and-wine stories, luxury hotel reviews, articles on cultural explorations and soft adventure trips, cruise reviews and information, insanely useful travel tips and more!

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Irene S. Levine

Wednesday 11th of July 2018

Love the photos of marine life; one of you isn't bad either:-)

Janice and George

Wednesday 11th of July 2018

Thanks! But the sea lions are much cuter :-).

Anda

Wednesday 11th of July 2018

These pictures are fantastic! I am not a diver (nor do I have any desire to plunge under the water), but I can appreciate the beauty of the underwater world.

Janice and George

Wednesday 11th of July 2018

It is a whole other world under there -- the feeling of weightlessness is also very calming. We're not hard-core divers though -- we like warm waters, not-too-deep dives, great visibility and lots of sea life! Picky, huh!

Do you like snorkeling? Many times you can see almost as much from the surface :-).

Debbra

Wednesday 11th of July 2018

I haven't yet made it to Cabo San Lucas but would love to explore this area, both on top of and under the water! The scuba diving looks incredible! I'd love to see the hammerhead sharks, among other life you've pictured above!

Janice and George

Wednesday 11th of July 2018

We'd love to see the hammerheads too. But you have to be experienced divers out there in the open water and those are deep dives, so we'll have to see!

Norman Hoff

Sunday 11th of May 2014

I'm glad you have explored Cabo San Lucas' depths. When I was there, it's the first thing I did, no, it's the only thing I did for days and there was no single regret, only satisfaction and amazement on how beautiful Cabo San Lucas is underwater.

Kathryn

Tuesday 16th of April 2013

I have to go there! One day!