Salt water, because the saying goes, is the remedy for every thing. And that’s been echoing in my thoughts greater than ever recently.
So this spring, I made the Sea of Cortez my base for some a lot wanted scuba-centric self-care after an extended pandemic yr spent largely on dry land.
In February and March, I traveled to La Paz, Mexico, the capital of Baja California Sur, to go underwater each probability I obtained within the sea Jacques Cousteau famously referred to as the ‘world’s aquarium’.
From my rental condominium, I’d gaze down on La Paz’s Malecon the place households in face masks (they’re nonetheless obligatory all over the place in Baja California Sur, even outside—it’s critically no massive deal, even helps with the desert mud) strolled on the water’s edge, previous statues of Cousteau and the world’s famed marine life, together with hammerheads, humpbacks and whale sharks.
Mexico is among the few nations that has continued to welcome American vacationers with out proof of a adverse COVID-19 check on entry, however I’d gotten one on the pharmacy drive-through earlier than leaving house simply to make certain I wasn’t bringing something aside from my flip flops and sundresses with me from the U.S.
I’d sip a sundown margarita on my balcony or at a restaurant alongside the Malecon (eating places stay open, with capability restricted) and look out throughout La Paz Bay to the place El Mogote Peninsula jutted into the water, pinching myself that I’d managed to journey to such a spot and keep there safely in the course of the pandemic.
From October to Might, El Mogote traps an all-you-can-eat buffet of plankton blown from the north into La Paz Bay, which in flip lures juvenile whale sharks to gorge within the shallows lapping the sandy spit.
Journey pleasures really feel sweeter than ever in pandemic occasions. And going from feeling trapped by my 4 partitions and similar ‘ol routine again house to having a moveable feast for whale sharks in my entrance yard felt like such an immense privilege. I used to be decided to see the giants any probability I acquired.
PADI 5 Star Dive Middle, The Cortez Club, makes it straightforward with common whale shark snorkeling excursions that depart from the store’s personal dock day by day in the course of the season, proper close to the Malecon.
I keep in mind the primary time I went out on the whale shark tour, zipped into my wetsuit on the boat, prepared for motion, questioning if it might actually be this straightforward to get within the water with such elusive animals so near shore and a large city like La Paz.
I made a decision to not get my hopes up. However inside minutes, the captain noticed the telltale shadow and constellation of white spots slightly below the water’s floor. There was no time to hesitate at that time, and the second to swap my face masks for my diving masks couldn’t come quickly sufficient as I slid into the water.
What a marvel to see an animal so large—at the least 14 ft/four metres lengthy—cruise inside a couple of ft of me, and what a thrill to have the ability to fin alongside it for so long as I might sustain!
When the whale shark ultimately outpaced the dive information and I (just one boat is allowed to work together with the whale sharks at a time), we’d climb again aboard and let the captain put us within the good place alongside the whale shark’s filter-feeding trajectory to do it once more.
As if swimming with whale sharks isn’t sufficient of a thrill to deliver you to La Paz, the encompassing waters supply just about assured sea lion encounters together with extraordinarily fishy dives year-round.
My favourite two-tank day with The Cortez Membership (which you possibly can simply tack on after snorkeling with the whale sharks within the morning) was to the pristine reefs waving with gorgonians and carpeted with colourful arduous corals round San Rafaelito and Los Islotes. Offshore islets, they’re each good dives for seeing sea lions, with Los Islotes house to a everlasting colony of 700 California sea lions susceptible to swim loop-de-loops round you or playfully nibble in your fins.
On one dive at Los Islotes, we swam right into a sea cave and briefly surfaced within the twilight of a crevice lapped with mild waves to see a younger sea lion wanting down at us from excessive within the rocks.
Throughout my Baja California Sur spring, I typically heard from native divers that I used to be visiting on the proper time of yr for the whale sharks however the fallacious time of yr for the perfect visibility within the Sea of Cortez—in any case, the plankton soup that lures within the whale sharks doesn’t make for the clearest seas.
However I used to be floored by the sheer fish life on dives just like the Fang Ming wreck off Espiritu Santo Island, the place inexperienced turtles peek from each different nook and lemon-yellow clouds of Mexican goatfish cascade over the rusty hull like waterfalls.
From La Paz, it’s a two-hour drive south to the busy resort space of Cabo San Lucas, the place you is perhaps stunned by simply how epic the diving is simply 10 minutes from the town marina on the common dive websites referred to as Pelican Rock and Land’s Finish. My eyes have been bulging behind my masks on my Cabo dives with PADI 5 Star Teacher Improvement Middle, Dive Ninja Expeditions, when it was par for the course to see faculties of cow nostril rays, moorish idols, sea lions and seahorses on a single tank. We even noticed a banded guitarfish lurking beneath a ledge on one dive.
Typically on dives round Cabo, we’d hear whale music underwater and spend our floor interval watching the humpbacks that migrate alongside the shoreline through the winter months breaching and blowing.
Once I’d ask new diving pals when it was greatest to return again, they’d all the time inform me that there’s a season for every little thing in Baja California Sur.
In April and Might, the enormous faculties of mobulas would arrive off the coast south of La Paz to remain into summer time. The autumn months convey the clearest water circumstances to Cabo Pulmo, a famed vacation spot north of Los Cabos on the Sea of Cortez well-known for diving with bull sharks and massive faculties of jacks.
I won't have timed my springtime hiatus for the most effective viz, however there had been a lot to see. And being again underwater made me really feel like myself once more.
If there’s a sea with extra happening each under the water’s floor and breaching or frolicking above it than the Sea of Cortez, then I haven’t dived it but.
In case you are able to plan a Mexico trip, contact PADI Travel that will help you ebook the dive journey of a lifetime or take a look at PADI Dive Guides to discover all there's to find out about diving in Mexico.