Baja California has long been treasured by scuba divers around the world as a unique diving paradise, offering a wide range of exciting dive adventures ranging from easy shore dives for beginners to multi-tank deep water diving for experienced scuba divers. A wealth of Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Dive Centers and dive shops throughout the peninsula offer a wide range of tours and certification programs. Perhaps most enticingly, Baja California is bordered on its eastern side by one of the world's youngest seas, the beautiful Sea of Cortez. This underwater playground hosts a wide range of sea life including fascinating invertebrates like sea stars, spiny urchins and nudibranchs; eels, lobsters and colorful fish; sea lions, manta rays, barracuda, whales and even sharks.
Baja California boasts wonderful air and sea temperatures throughout most of the calendar year. Air temperature generally hovers in the mid-60s to mid-70s, although they can reach all the way into the 100s during peak summer months. Water temperature stays fairly steady as well (averaging 55 to 75 in Baja Norte, 70 to 84 degrees F along the Sea of Cortez) and there is excellent water visibility in the summer and autumn months between July and October. Many of the dive shops that Baja Bound recommends are well prepared for diving accidents, which are very rare, thanks to excellent dive instruction. They offer medical services in clinics and hospitals, as well as access to recompression chambers.
Great Dive Spots in Baja
Guadalupe Island, located 150 miles off of the west coast of Baja California, is a fantastic shark dive spot. A volcanic island created by two overlapping shield volcanoes, this subdivision of the Ensenada municipality was declared a nature conservancy in 1928 and recently designated a biosphere reserve. The island itself is fairly desolate, as thousands of goats brought over for herding in the 19th century by Russian whalers and sealers completely decimated its foliage however under water it is still lush and filled with unique marine species including pinnipeds and Great White Sharks. Guadalupe is a refuge for the North Elephant seal and Guadalupe Fur seals. Eco-tour operators (click here for further information) run charter services for scuba and shark cage divers out to Guadalupe Island throughout the year.
This small town south of Ensenada boasts excellent boat diving in the Pacific Ocean, with a number of decent dive sites both north and south of the launching cove. There is a sea lion rookery, a cave at 75 feet under a beautiful wall, and a 30 foot arch - not to mention White Rock - a vertical drop over 90 feet deep covered with invertebrates. A submerged pinnacle 100 vertical feet below the surface is just to the south, as well as Hidden Cove and the Rock in Tuna Farm. Water temperature is similar to that of San Diego (mid-fifties to low-seventies) and weather is generally mild. Coastal camping is available.
Puerto Peñasco (aka Rocky Point) is a small fishing port and resort town located 60 miles south of the US border in Arizona. Long known for its abundant fishing, it exploded onto the scuba diving scene in the 1980s when several resort facilities opened in the area. Puerto Peñasco offers wonderful camping areas, great sites for open water training, coves, islands and a wealth of exotic marine life. It is easy to reach, thanks to a very modern four lane highway which stretches through the Piúacate desert into Puerto Peñasco. With good accommodations and plenty of options for dining out, Puerto Peñasco offers plenty of relaxation and culture to round out your dive trip!
More fantastic Sea of Cortez dives where you are likely to see both reef and pelagic fish including wrasse, dorado, sergeant majors, angels, barracuda and sweet lips; as well as turtles, sea lions, manta rays, mobula and whales.
Loreto National Marine Park is home to over 800 species of fish, as well as invertebrates, Humboldt squid, sea lions, dolphins, sea turtles, whales, hammerhead sharks and whale sharks. There are also wonderful colored sea fans and black coral. Sea temperature ranges from 60 to 85 degrees F, and visibility ranges from 30 to 60 feet in colder months and 50 - 120 feet in the warmer season. There are over 44 dive sites in the park, most of which are shallow but some of which have spectacular vertical walls covered with fans, ledges and sea mounts.
Set against the Sierra de La Giganta, divers in the Sea of Cortez near La Paz will enjoy sighting hammerheads and whale sharks; blue, gray and orca whales; Moray eels, sea lions, dolphins, manta rays, and a wide variety of tropical fish and other marine species. Some dive shops offer the service of sending spotter planes to search for whale sharks. Interesting dive sites include El Bajo Seamount, Cerralvo Island, Los Islotes, Salvatierra and Las Animas.
Cabo San Lucas
The Cabo San Lucas region offers wonderfully diverse marine life. Cabo Pulmo (only a 2 hour drive from Cabo) has the only living coral reef on the Pacific Side of North America. Divers will enjoy whole schools of tropical fish including puffers, angelfish, grunt and snapper. In addition, there are many rays and turtles and pristine beach coves to explore. Gordo Banks, a site for highly experienced divers, is a sea mount 28 miles from the Cabo shore. At 110 feet below the surface, you will get close to schools of hammerheads, whale sharks, manta rays, pelagic and big game fish. Other dive sites include Cabo Bay and the Corridor. For more information, click here.
Featured Dive Services in Baja
Baja Blue Diver
Phone: +52 (646) 120-3040
- Los Arbolitos
Shore diving and 8-diver boat trips available upon request. Operated out of a self-contained diving trailer which houses all gear. Will pick clients up from their accommodations in Ensenada and take them directly to dive site. Trips include 2 tanks, dive gear, transportation and lunch. Dive computers, spear guns and Hawaiian slings available for additional cost. There are discounted group rates. Customers may also select combination packages that include scuba diving, snorkeling and kayaking.
An additional resource for Ensenada scuba diving and snorkeling in Northern Baja California, México is the website by Ensenada Baja Vacations. It offers exciting information to help you plan your perfect Ensenada scuba diving holiday. Learn about secret and popular scuba diving locations in both coasts bordering Ensenada. Visit their website.
Phone: USA (858) 277- 7823
- Coronado Islands
- San Martin Island
- Guadalupe Island
- San Benito Island
- Cedros Island
- San Ignacio
- Alijos Rocks
- Magdalena Bay
Dedicated to sustainable eco-tourism, Horizon Charters works hard to conserve natural resources and provide information to their clients to educate them about the biological and socio-economic aspects of their scuba diving adventure. These are scuba diving tours with all accommodations provided on the boats. Dive boats are fully equipped with GPS, radar, satellite telephone, life rafts and radios. Captains and crew are US Coast Guard certified, CPR certified and drug tested. Boat cabins are carpeted and air-conditioned. Each boat has two restrooms and hot water showers, a clothes dryer, beverage and snack options, email and satellite telephone communications available to clients. All diving equipment provided, including Nitrox membrane and underwater diver recall system.
Phone: Toll Free USA 1-888-405-3268
- Isla Guadalupe - Great White Sharks
- Sea of Cortez - "Red Demon" Giant Squids of Mexico
Focused upon 5 day shark diving expeditions at Isla Guadalupe, Shark Diver offers cage diving with Great whites. Certification is not necessary to participate in most Shark Diver trips, however Tiger Shark encounters do require certification. Divers who are not certified may either go down with a qualified instructor or act as on-board camera crew gathering amazing topside feeding photos. Vessels feature a range of accommodations including private air-conditioned state rooms. All vessels have dedicated air system for shark cage operations. Trips cater to individual divers and groups. Excellent chefs create delicious fresh cuisine on board, and beverages are included. This company is dedicated to combining careful cage diver interactions with long-term shark behavioral research.
Sun n'Fun Dive Shop
Phone: +52 (638) 383-5450 or Toll-Free from USA 1-888-381-7720
- Bird Island
Widely recommended by experienced divers, the Sun n'Fun Dive Shop complies with standards set by Scuba Schools International and Recreational Scuba Training Council. Full equipment rentals including tanks, regulators and weights available but you must present a valid scuba certification card to rent scuba gear. There are dives for all levels of experience including shore diving and charter boat excursions for certified divers. Shop offers scuba instruction and many certification courses ranging from Open Water Diver to Master Diver. Babysitting for children 6 years or less may be arranged for fee.
- Punta Prieta
- Punta Concepcion
- Santa Iúez (Norte)
- Santa Iúez (Sur)
- Isla San Ildefonso
The only PADI 5 Star IDC Facility owned by a PADI Course Director in the whole of Baja, Cortez Explorers offers courses from PADI Open Water through to full Instructor Development Courses and beyond, to the various PADI Instructor ratings. Plus great diving from the beach or by boat. Reef and pelagic fish along with invertebrate life makes this area outstanding. Plus there is "Bahia Concepcion" 30 miles/50 kilometers of sand, bays and rocky outcrops to play and explore. Turtles, sealions, whales, dolphin, manta and whale shark. Given the right time of year, all things are possible here in Mulegé.
Phone: +52 (613) 135-1134 or Toll-Free from USA 1-888-649-5951
- Loreto National Marine Park
Baja Outpost offers an enormous variety of dive sites suited to varying levels of scuba diving experience, oxygen aboard their five boats (including a trained DAN 02 provider), certified dive masters on all trips, a modern equipment room, 2 compressors and complete gear to outfit up to 30 divers. Dive packages include accommodations at Baja Outpost, daily breakfast, lunch/soda, 2 tank boat dives per day and unlimited use of mountain bikes in Loreto.
Dolphin Dive Center
Phone: +52 (613) 135-1914
- Loreto National Marine Park
Dolphin Dive Center is a full service PADI scuba diving center that offers economy, standard and deluxe packages including tanks, weights, boat, certified guides, hotel accommodations, VAT and marine park fees. Hotel accommodations for their deluxe diving package are at the world renowned luxury hotel Posada de Las Flores. Rental equipment (including dive computers), rinse tank and safe storage available. Dive courses and various levels of certification are offered. Co-owners Susan Speck and Bruce Williams authored "Diving Baja California" and "Diving and Snorkeling the Sea of Cortez".
Phone: +52 (612) 122-7010
- San Jose Island
- Espiritu Santo Island
The Aguilar family runs a fleet of modern dive boats in the Sea of Cortez near La Paz, and prides their operation on the philosophy, "Don't kill anything but time, don't take anything but pictures, and don't leave anything behind but bubbles." Their tours include Espiritu Santo, San Jose and Cerralvo islands. Included in cost are ground transportation to and from hotels, boat rides, lunch/drinks and 3 tanks. Divers may pay $20 extra per person to request their ultralight plane to locate whale sharks. Rental equipment, snorkeling sets, nitrous fills, etc. may be used for an additional fee. Training and classes offered.
Phone: 1.877.408.6769 USA or +52 (612) 121-6120 International
- Los Islotes
- El Bajo "Marisla Sea Mount"
- Naked Lady "Los Muellecitos"
- Salvatierra Wreck
- Rocas Lobos "Sea Lion Rocks"
- Gaviota Wrecks "Los Barcos de Isla Gaviota"
- Rocas Tintorera "Tigershark Rocks"
- Isla Ballena "Whale Island"
- Fang Ming & Lapas
- La Reyna "The Queen"
- La Reynita "The Little Queen"
Cortez Club is Baja California's only National Geographic PADI 5 star Gold Palm IDC Resort and Watersports Center. This is high-end diving based out of luxury resorts for those who would rather not hassle with taking care of equipment. With twelve fully equipped dive boats, enriched air diving, a ScubPro rental inventory as well as technical diving and equipment rental, Cortez Club has it all. They also offer many courses and certifications, given in their air-conditioned classroom that features LCD projection and highly trained teachers.
Cabo San Lucas
Phone: +52 (624) 1443871
- Pelican Rock & Sand Falls
- Neptune's Finger
- The Point or 'Land's End'
- North Wall
- The Corridor
- Cabo Pulmo
- Gordo Banks
Manta's guides are all PADI certified, trained in First Aid, and speak English. They offer modern equipment and excellent information about local diving. Dive packages include transportation from Cabo, tanks, weights, lunch (including soda/coffee). A quality operation.