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
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!
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!
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.
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:
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:
At La Paz, you can dive with sea lions at Los Islote.
La Paz diving trips often combine snorkeling with the whale sharks there.
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.
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.
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
Sea of Cortez marine life
See more crazy photos of the weird and wonderful creatures you meet diving the Sea of Cortez!
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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?