The 800-square-mile Loreto National Marine Park is truly a divers' paradise! With more than 100 miles of coastline, 1,000 species of fish and 300 sunny days a year, you can fill an entire log book with unique experiences here. The year-round surface temperatures average in the 80s and water temperatures range from the low 70s to the mid 80s. In the late summer, visibility in the Sea of Cortez can exceed 100 feet, while winter diving provides you with an opportunity to experience the giants of the Sea - 9 species of whales (humpback, minke, finback, sei, blue, sperm, pilot, orca and gray), whale sharks manta rays and schools of bottlenose dolphins.
Loreto Bay and the Marine Park boast dozens of small, rocky islands created by ancient volcanic action. These islands, along with plunging walls and underwater pillars and finger reefs provide some of the best island diving in the Sea of Cortez.
is 8 miles offshore and features a 125-foot-long fishing boat wreck in about 30' of water. This island is also home to one of the largest salt mines in the world and has been a source of salt since the first operation was licensed in 1700s.
is 14 miles south of Loreto and offers stair-stepped walls with deep canyons and crevices. The island is also a natural bird refuge and an excellent spot for bird watching and kayaking.
World War II Minesweeper
was sunk as an artificial reef about 1.5 miles south of Puerto Escondido. It lies about a half-mile offshore about 30' below the surface, although portions of the vessel are 70' down.
Punta Coyote (115)
is just outside Escondido Bay. There's a 115 drop-off down to some large rocks and boulders along most of the length of the point. Sea fans and gorgonians are a highlight of the area as well as the numerous colorful reef fish that inhabit the rocky crevices.
Los Candelleros (to 200)
is a great area for both fishing and diving around these massive rocky fingers which rise from the Sea about 5 miles southwest of Puerto Escondido and are characterized by sheer vertical facades dropping to depths of almost 200 feet. Deep crevices and lots of structural cover below the surface create a haven for fish of all sizes and types.
Las Galeras (to 100)
is located just north of Monserrate Island. These rocky outcroppings have steep walls characteristic of many of the great Loreto dive sites with boulders and large tabletop slabs of underwater rocks. Nearer the rocks themselves, good snorkeling is available, but beyond, the waters drop rapidly to depths near 100 with finger reefs along the bottom providing excellent diving and photography.
Mulege, although really situated about 1.5 miles from the mouth of the inlet, still has some shore diving. At the inlet mouth there is a lighthouse, which sits atop the point protecting our very own Palomita. The reef is excellent for snorkeling and can be a great place for a night dive.
The Temple (30')
is just out of shore diving range off of the point of the lighthouse. This site consists of several rock pinnacles that come to within just a few feet of the surface. The surrounding seabed is primarily sand, so these rock formations provide a great haven for creatures you may not normally see in such waters. This is a shallow 30' dive and provides a great final dive of the day.
can be classed as a beginner dive. However, there is so much to see that even the most seasoned diver can enjoy hours of blowing bubbles. The dive can be accessed from both the boat as well as the shore. This is an ideal hunting ground for the many Octopus that hunt in the shallows. Cortez Angel fish flit in and out of the rocks, defending their territory from even the largest divers that happen to wander into range. In the deeper waters off the point you can observe schools of Jack, Barracuda and Crevalle. The large boulders are great hiding places for nocturnal species and you will not be surprised when you may come across several species of Moray Eel, Squirrel Fish and invertebrates in all shapes and sizes.
Punta Concepcion (20' to 70')
incorporates several spectacular and varied dive sites: Bahia Santo Domingo, Punta Aguja and Caleta los Pilares. The Point is approximately 7 miles across the mouth of the bay from Mulege, just a short half hour boat trip away. The site is at the northern most point on the arm of the peninsula that creates Bahia Concepcion. It's boulder strewn with much invertebrate life and sports the usual suspects of Cortez marine life, including: Cortez angels, king angels and small butterflies as well as moray eels and the occasional dolphin and sea lion. The rock formations are quite typical of this area, in that they are sitting on top of each other, creating small fissures and swim throughs. A very good snorkelling area on the edge of the reef for non divers, and in the summer months a perfect place for a picnic on one of the very secluded beaches.
consists of a small group of rocky islets with a large California sea lion colony. The northern sites allow close-up interactions with these amiable creatures that lounge about on the rocky plateaus and frolic in the water with snorkelers and divers. It is the schools of Anchovies that entice the Sea Lions. The long, warmer months and clear waters offer the patient photographer some stunning opportunities.
Isla San Ildefonso (Deep!)
is a remote island, about 2 1/2 hours steaming time, south of Mulege. It lies on the outside of Punta Concepcion in very deep water. The depth is what attracts some of the larger pelagics in the Sea of Cortez and you may be fortunate enough to see manta, mobula as well as various whale and shark species. This site is a marine sanctuary and the warm currents that push north in the summer provide a perfect environment for the giant rock scallops and other invertebrate life along the shores. Due to the travel time involved in getting to such a remote island, this trip is usually offered as a prearranged 2 or 3 day "aquaventure" trip that involves camping. It's a chance to experience a night sky where the closest electric light might be 30 miles away. The diving in intermediate to advance around the island, but snorkelers also enjoy the location.