Chris’ snorkling story

Dave and I stopped at the first dive shop we saw when we drove into Cabo Pulmo from the north and got information about snorkeling tours and said we would be there the next day – Sunday.

On Sunday morning, drove back to that shop and the young man said no snorkeling today – only a dive trip. Very annoyed that wasn’t mentioned yesterday.

So we drove down to the beach and boat launch area and asked two different shop owners about snorkeling tours and were told ‘no snorkeling today”. The fourth one said “maybe”. He had one other woman signed up but that he wouldn’t go until 10 anyway and only if he had four people on the tour. But that there might be other latecomers; to come back later to find out for sure.

Back to dive shop at 9:15 and still four people not signed up. So I said to owner, Javier, go to fewer places with just the two of us. Then the other woman, a Columbian, suggested we pay more for just the two of us and he agreed to that. We ended up paying 1020p – reasonable for a planned three hour tour.

We were fitted by Ezra for fin, mask, shorty wetsuit and life vest. After trying on for size and while taking the top of the wetsuit down so I wouldn’t overheat before getting into the boat, my swimsuit strap came down and Ezra got a good look at my bare breast. Hadn’t planned on doing a strip tease.

After gearing up, Javier explained the rules for both the snorkeling tour and the Park rules since Cabo Pulmo is a National Marine Underwater Park. It is the only hard coral reef on the west coast of North America and is the furtherest north coral reef in the Eastern Pacific. Estimated to be 20,000 years old.

We trudged down to the beach with our gear and climbed aboard the 15’ boat with Ezra captaining and Jose being the snorkeling guide going in the water with us. The company’s team slid the boat off the boat trailer at the edge of the white sand beach and we headed out northeast from the shore about 1/2 mile. We got into our gear, and on the count of three, hit the water. Again by just swinging our legs and fins around from the seat and sitting on lip of boat and pushing off into water. Water was warm and very still. This time I was calm and collected and didn’t fight to get back into the boat promptly.

Started swimming but immediately Jose was 50’ ahead of us so I signaled to Ezra and he picked us up. And then he talked to Jose about swimming slower. But Ezra ended up moving the boat since current was running strong through one of the coral ridges. There are eight coral ridges that form channels that run southwest to northeast at a diagonal from the beach.

He headed out to a location about 1 mile north of the beach where we launched. Back in the water which was still calm with 1’ swells and and I was instantly transfixed by the spectacle I was seeing below me. The water was approximately 40’ deep and I could clearly see the bottom. Saw many of the tropical fish Dave and I had seen when we were diving in the 80’s and early 90’s.

Saw different colors and sizes of parrot fish nibbling away at the corals, schools of damsel fish darting in and around, and individual puffer fish with their square body shapes, some colored black with blue neon dots, others were yellow with brown spots and others were splotchy yellow. Saw a school of approximately 6-7 Moorish Idols parading across reef all in a row. Spied all different sizes of angel fish and many other fish I couldn’t ID and too many different types to remember. Jose pointed out two different moray eels who had left their crevasses and were swimming to another coral head. Schools of neons 4”-5” inches flashing throughout. Different corals, some barrel shaped, others flakey, some brain-shaped and a few antler-shaped. In this section, the corals looked healthy.

We swam through these ridges for about 20-25 minutes then back into the boat. The shorty wetsuit more than kept me warm. The water temperature was approximately 70 degrees.

Ezra moved the boat out further into deeper water looking for larger fish or even dolphins. We trawled for about 15 minutes but nothing was spotted so the decision was made to go south along the Coast for about 5 miles past the sandy beach to the rocky cliffs where the sea lions haul out.

We were advised to be careful of the swell and not let it push us into the rocks. Many sea lions were sunning themselves on the rocks but only two were interested enough in us to leave their perch and drop into the water and dive under and around us. So graceful in the water; it doesn’t appear they use any effort at all to propel themselves through the water and they twist and turn as if they have no bones in their body.

We swam away from the sea lions south along the cliff wall when we were engulfed by the biggest school of jacks (each approximately 18” long) I have ever seen diving or on any Nature show. They split and swirled around us for 10-15 minutes. There could easily have been 1000 or more. They just kept coming, forming and re-forming into balls and twirling around us. A real Jacque Cousteau moment!!!!

Back into the boat and re-traced our path to the south end of the mile long sandy beach we launched from and came in close to the shore. We were advised that this area was very shallow and to be extremely careful to not hit the coral reef with our fins as we passed over the ridges.

It was shallow, approximately 15’ at the deepest and full of seagrass. During this dive, Jose spotted three different Hawksbill Turtles. Each was grazing away at the grasses; we would watch until they had to come up for air and would follow them up. All were approximately 2’ long and their shells were mottled olive green and yellow. Towards the end of the dive, Jose grabbed our hands and swam fast with us over a sandy bottom to show us a 3’ manta ray swimming by. We never got closer than about 30’ away and it quickly out-swam us. In this area, I did see some dying and dead coral with the tell-tale sign of white patches.

Back to the boat and well-pleased with the outing. Another water adventure that was spectacular and that Dave couldn’t share in.

10 thoughts on “Chris’ snorkling story”

  1. Wow, Chris, that sounds amazing! Your descriptions are so vivid that I wish I could see a video of the whole adventure. The trip all sounds wonderful and I look forward to the Travelogue every day!

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    1. It was amazing. The local community has worked hard first to protect the reef and secondly to keep it in as pristine condition as possible. So many coral reefs around the world are being damaged and are dying so it was good to see this one in a similar condition as when we were diving during the 80’s.

      Chris

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  2. I’m guessing that either Dave doesn’t want to give you his underwater camera, or you don’t want to use it! A shame, would love to have seen what you saw.

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      1. WHY????
        (Chris…see my suggestion about one use, throwaway cameras if they still have them… perhaps too expensive or unavailable in the area…but used to see them in high tourist areas.. Use just for those underwater trips when you don’t want to jeopardize your regular camera. )

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    1. Suggestion:… what about using a throwaway, one use underwater camera…do they still have those? I used to use them all the time on trips, underwater, sandy beaches, etc. Perhaps available in high tourist areas like Cabo???

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      1. I haven’t seen that type of camera in Mexico. If available it would probably be at the big resorts, which we don’t go to.

        Good UW photography, even at shallow depths, is hard. Chris doesn’t have the patience for it.

        Dave

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      2. they were point and click…and safe underwater…I got really good pix…. but yes, you had to send the file back for processing. Hm..wonder if they come in digital??? I’ll check it out.

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