Trip Report Cabo San Lucas (Manta Scuba Diving)

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kumimonster

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3.) How many dives is it practical to do per day, and about what time of day do you finish? I ask because some people do a dive trip just to dive, and some destinations lend themselves to 2/day and done.

4.) Any topside attractions besides laying around/hanging out?

For CSL, you could do a couple of dives in the morning and be done in time for lunch - especially if you're doing the local dives (neptunes finger, lovers beach, wreck, sand falls, etc). Most operators will take people here because it's super close. One thing you will notice though, is the constant noise of the boat engines.
If you head to the corridor (to the east), you'll notice that the noise is gone and instead you'll be able to hear the reef more. Trips to the corridor or around the arch are slightly longer trips. I have spent a week in CSL and booked 3-4 dives per day including some night dives. It's totally do-able.
Also keep in mind, if you want, the Socorro Island trips depart from CSL.
Dives here usually begin with an 0800 or 0900 meet up time. (I honestly prefer earlier but I guess most people on holiday don't want to get up super early after drinking the night away!)

For Cabo Pulmo, it's generally 2 dives per day in the morning. Sometimes 3 but rarely 4. They do not go out at night. In general, CP dives boats are pangas. They sit on the beach on trailers, gear is loaded onto them, then the divers, and they're pushed out by trucks. When coming back. the divers jump off the side at while the boat floats in the water, the trailer is put in and the captain drives the boat onto the trailer while the truck drives it out of the water. Since there are no lights in Cabo Pulmo (solar powered village), it's not a very convenient process in the dark and quite a few of the crews don't actually live in town.

My Cabo Pulmo routine is constant. Wake up around 0500, make tea and go to the beach for sunrise. Breakfast then dive shop and dive. Lunch post dive and photo editing. Siesta, dinner. sleep. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Other activities my friends will partake in include biking (you can rent them), hiking (there are trails for bikes and feet that go up the mountain). Fishing (they take you outside of the marine park). If you have a car, you can visit the hot springs and take a hike/dip there.
In CP, you've got the sounds of the desert, birds, wild horses, etc. When it gets dark, the town starts to wind down. Bring a flashlight. There are no lights. Most places are closed by 21h00 or even 20h00.
A local visitor center was built a few years ago. There are movie nights and the community will come together to watch other presentations too. One year I was there, a documentary was playing that featured Cabo Pulmo and its status as a Mission Blue hope spot and Dr Sylvia Earle's visit. It's not a party town.

In CSL, you've got the sounds of the marina and music blasting with the random tourist getting sick sometimes. But you do have bars and night clubs and restaurants and shopping - what you'd expect from a larger city. Definitely a party town and a good place for stuff to distract! Oh and depending on when you visit and if you're into it, CSL has sport fishing tournaments. I don't fish. I've never tried. I eat it though. And some of the giant catches are pretty impressive. (Bisbee's Black and Blue).
 

O-ring

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Did you get hassled at all about lights/photo equipment? Did you fly directly into Cabo from the states? Thanks!
 

kumimonster

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Did you get hassled at all about lights/photo equipment? Did you fly directly into Cabo from the states? Thanks!
I have never been hassled about lights/photo equipment. But then I don't have a huge kit.
housing. olympus tg. tray. sola lights. Also dive lights to attach to me. GoPro.

I live in California so yes, I fly into SJD (San Jose del Cabo) directly though with Southwest bags fly free so sometimes I'll bounce via SNA or SAN from SJC (San Jose, California). There are direct flights from SFO and OAKland though. Avoid LAX at all costs for your return. Pain in the butt to go through customs and then walk 100 hours to get to the gate.
 

O-ring

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I have never been hassled about lights/photo equipment. But then I don't have a huge kit.
housing. olympus tg. tray. sola lights. Also dive lights to attach to me. GoPro.

I live in California so yes, I fly into SJD (San Jose del Cabo) directly though with Southwest bags fly free so sometimes I'll bounce via SNA or SAN from SJC (San Jose, California). There are direct flights from SFO and OAKland though. Avoid LAX at all costs for your return. Pain in the butt to go through customs and then walk 100 hours to get to the gate.
Sorry, I wasn't sure what you had from the list you posted. What's your opinion on 1 canister light, 1 backup light and a GoPro with housing? Smooth sailing or potential problem?
 

kumimonster

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Sorry, I wasn't sure what you had from the list you posted. What's your opinion on 1 canister light, 1 backup light and a GoPro with housing? Smooth sailing or potential problem?

For Cabo Pulmo, you probably won't need a canister light.
You could save some luggage space by leaving it at home.
The only reason why I say this is because your bottom time is limited and less than an hour. It's a park rule.
If you're on a Hogarthian - long hose/bungee set up like I am, I use of those hose keepers for my left hip.

My lights: 3 various sola lights and the 2 big blue handhelds from the combo pack (1300/450).

I have a sola light on the hand mount and the BB1300 on my d-ring as a back up.
Pretty simple set up.
I make sure my lights are charged each night.
Those Sola's don't last long on high! I have 3 that I will use/rotate between dives for my camera tray if I bring it and I use the lights only when needed. I don't want to run out of juice if I'm doing 3 dives in one day but with a canister, you probably wont have that problem so that's a plus for bringing it!
Sometimes I will keep that BB 450 on me too. (Apeks tech shorts have sooooo much room! My friends think I'm lame for having an extra mask in there too but whatever!)

I know people have posted about being hassled at the airport and at the park. I don't know of any personally. I asked my DM friends in Pulmo and they said that it's only for people with giant set ups - like the ones that are as wide and tall as a flat screen tv.
 

philld2

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Greetings all from Cabo San Lucas!

Wrapping up an excellent trip to Cabo San Lucas and wanted to share our thoughts.

Lodging: The Westin. The Westin is located on a strip of high end hotels between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose Del Cabo. Its about 20 minutes from the airport, 25 minutes to downtown Cabo San Lucas, and 15 minutes to San Jose Del Cabo. The rooms were quite nice, dishwasher, full size refrigerator, washer/dryer etc. The resort itself is okay. Some amenities were closed either for renovations or hurricane damage repairs. That being said the food on the property was repetitive (3 of the 4 eateries had the same menu), but the bar drinks were free flowing and tasty so ultimately that's all that mattered. Oh also the hotel had the required COVID testing on site which was quite nice.

Dive Operator: Manta Scuba Diving (main harbor of Cabo San Lucas). We elected to do 4 trips with them. 1 at the local marine park, 1 on the corridor, 1 Gordo Banks, and 1 Cabo Pulmo trip.

Dive Operator Main Building: This is a very nice little setup in a shopping mall right by the harbor. The shop has limited but nice gear storage for those (us) bringing your own gear so you don't have to lug it from your hotel. There area also 2 nice gear wash tanks inside the shop (they also had nice gear hangers available for free). Upstairs were bathrooms and a very small training pool. Nearby was a nice coffee/snack place and and a OXXO for any last minute drinks/snacks you may want.

Local Marine Park: This was a 2 tank trip on one of their 2 "full size" (aka non ponga) boats. We dove on air, but nitrox was available. The boat was just my wife and I and and another couple. First side was middle wall and up to near pelican rock. It was a very nice dive down to 100ft then lopping upwards. As is typical outside of California it was a DM lead dive, and it was group air that determined end of the dive. In between dives that the boat had some waters/sodas/crackers/chips available and we generally drove around the arch. Second dive was The Point/Lands end, bit of surge but did see a cool cave, small wreck, and all around the point. Again great dive. Visability was great 80-100ft. We did see one minor sand fall but not the famous one apparently.

Gordo Banks: This was on the smaller ponga boat and left earlier. The plan was for them to drop an anchor with line/buoys on the end then descend the line. Unfortunately they dropped the anchor in water that was too deep and the anchor/bouys were lost. We had to guess at this point for the current and did negative entries (boat was just us and the DM) for the dives. Unfortunately we didn't hit the pinnacle on either attempt, so descended down to our Nitrox mod then blue water drift ascents. I don't blame the DM/Captain, it happens, but do want to go back. This was on nitrox and sandwiches were provided. Visability was phenomonal, we saw tope sharks that were around 200-250ft.

Corridor Dive: I had a stomach bug that day so didn't go. My wife did and said it was nice, generally shallower (Open water friendly). It was upgraded for a nominal fee from 2 to 3 tanks.

Cabo Pulmo: I don't think it's standard but we were picked up at our hotel instead of starting at the shop. The transportation stopped at a phenomenal breakfast burrito/coffee shack (not included in trip price). Arriving in Cabo Pulmo we loaded gear/setup prior the ponga then it was moved just prior to the surf and we boarded. Cabo Pulmo has implemented a system that limits the maximum number of divers on any one site in a week, so per our DM we weren't diving his top choices (and he had previously been a DM in the area), but the top choices of what was available. One divers on the boat didn't really listen to the brief so when they did the backwards roll hesitated which resulted in her landing on my wife injuring her hand. Descending on the reef the current was strong. The DM tried to corral the newer divers into the cracks in the reef where it was less, but ultimately they didn't listen/understand and were on the shallower part of the reef leading to one getting seperated. We all surfaced with 2/3 full tanks but the DM had us reset and explained what he wanted on the surface. The 2nd or 1.5 dive was better, but just shorter. Reef was in great shape, other group members saw a ray and white tip reef shark, we didn't see them though. Surface interval snacks were much as before water/soda/canned juices chips, crackers, granola bars. 2nd dive was on a pinnacle with the plan on hitting the sand at the base and searching for bull sharks before working our way up the pinnacle. Dive went more or less as planned. Some absolutely giant parrot fish, trigger, gaffsail pompanos, and other reef fish. Visability ranged from good 50-60ft to downright murky 10ft. Lunch at the local taco stand afterwards (included) was quite good.

Summary: Not sure we'd pay for Gordo Banks or Cabo Pulmo again when the local stuff was just as good if not better. There were some minor mishaps/missteps but nothing I wouldn't sum as up as **** happens. They handled stuff the best they could and I don't have any complaints would use them again.

Dining:
Mi Casa (Cabo San Lucas Location): Highly recommended but not sure why, by far and away the worst meal of the trip. Would not recommend

Resteraunte Maria Corona (Cabo San Lucas): Very good. Great atmosphere, killer margaritas, and excellent food. They do tend to have some off menu specials and they are great. Don't skip the quese fundito!

El Circuelo: The high end restaurant on the Westin. Excellent views and great food. Marrow butter steaks, need I say more?

Pan Di Bacco: Really simple but really great Italian/pizza place in downtown Cabo San Lucas.

Cocina Del Mar: Heading there in 30 minutes, will update later haha.

Don Sanches (San Jose Del Cabo): Fish was amazing! Sadly something here upset my stomach for a night, I think it was the sort of spicey mexcal drink (since wife and I split all the normal food and she was fine).

Los Desos (breakfast): Very good breakfast menu for a place by the harbor. Maybe not the most off the tourist track location but zero complaints.

Captain Tony's (lunch): Nice spot that is walk-able from the dive shop, good tacos/drinks

Solomon's Landing (lunch): A bit nicer that Captain Tony's but was good. A Mexican shrimp cocktail is a bit different than expected haha. Dinner menu looked great.


Thanks for the trip report. Just booked a trip to Cabo for end of December, and planned on diving with Manta, though we haven't booked yet.
How did you get to the dive shop each morning? Did you have a car or was there any kind of shuttle service as an option?
Thanks!
 
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