Jacques Cousteau raved about the sea life he discovered in the Sea of Cortez, 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.
This means… There’s awesome scuba diving in Cabo San Lucas!
“Cabo” (as it’s called for short) is located at the tip of the Baja Peninsula – right where the marine-rich Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean.
Scuba diving in Cabo San Lucas
Beginners can be comfortable diving easy sites just a short boat ride away. 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!
Best dive sites in Cabo San Lucas
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.
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.
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.
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.
Diving La Paz:
At La Paz, you can dive with sea lions at Los Islote.
La Paz diving trips often combine snorkeling with the whale sharks there.
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.
The expedition usually involves a 2+ hour drive, including along a bone-jarring stretch of bumpy sand tracks, then a panga or boat ride from the beach.
We enjoyed diving Cabo Pulmo with Manta Scuba Divers; they whisked us out on a fast 38-foot twin-diesel dive boat – the fastest way to reach Cabo Pulmo.
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).
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. (October is also pleasant above water, whereas August and September are extremely hot and muggy outside.) Our October dive trip was superb!
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.
Sea of Cortez marine life
See more crazy photos of the weird and wonderful creatures you meet diving the Sea of Cortez!
Photo credits: Manta Scuba Divers 2, 5, 7, 11, 16, 20 | Nautilus Dive Tech 1, 3, 9, 10, 12 – 15, 17 – 19 | Eagle Divers 4 | Cabo Adventures 8 |
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We’re Janice and George Mucalov, professional award-winning travel writers, sharing tales of luxury travel with a twist of adventure.