Socorro islands are a group of four volcanic islands lie approximately 390 kilometres (240 mi) southwest of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico in the Pacific Ocean, known for their unique ecosystem. Officially known as Revillagigedo Archipelago, it offer some of the most fantastic diving in the Pacific. The archipelago include: San Benedicto island, Socorro island, Roca Partida island and Clarión. Socorro Island is the most well-known so people often referred the archipelago as Socorro islands rather than its proper name.
Socorro islands is wild, remote, unpredictable and also home to many endemic plant and animal species (both above & under the ocean), people also named it as the Mexico's "little Galápagos". The Mexican Government established the islands as a Biosphere Reserve on June 4, 1994, and in July 2016, the Archipelago were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in November 2017 they were declared to be a marine reserve and a national park of Mexico.
All diving at Socorro Island is carried out by liveaboard. These vessels depart from Cabo San Lucas or Jose del Cabo, and generally spend about a week around the islands. It takes approximately 24 - 28 hours to reach this remote destination from the mainland. There are three eastern islands (Benedicto island, Socorro island and Roca Partida island) are called the inner islands, as they fall in the time zone UTC-7 (Mountain Time), while the major part of Colima is UTC-6 (Central Time Zone). Clarión is comparatively far to the west, by more than 200 km in comparison with the inner islands, and in UTC-8 (Pacific Time Zone), it's the only outer island. Most of the dive liveaboards' regular trips will only visit the inner islands.
The diving highlights of Socorro islands are the amazing encounters with a plethora of pelagic species: Massive Pacific Oceanic Manta rays will greet divers in such a friendly manner that they will circle around the group during safety stops out in the blue, or play just above diver's heads, enjoying the bubbles on their underside. There are schools of eagle rays, heammerheads, White tip oceanic sharks, sliver tips, silky sharks, Galapagos sharsk, tiger sharks, whale sharks... As well as the friendly and playful dolphins, sailfish, large schools of jacks and tuna, even the humpback whales will visit these islands from Alaska during the Winter months! On occasion we also see orcas, false killer whales, bait balls and plenty of other surprises!! It's indeed the top 5 dive destinations in the world. Each year, divers from all around the world coming to Socorro islands for the amazing dives it offer.
Due to the weather & sea conditions, dive liveaboards will only visit Socorro Islands from November through June. The water temps are 24C – 26C in November, December, and sometimes into January and also in late April, May and June. In mid-January, February, March and the beginning of April the water varies between around 21C – 24C. Dive and Cruise team recommend to bring
The giant manta rays, sharks, dolphins, schools of tuna or jacks are here all year round. During the Winter (usually January - March/April), the humpback whales will visit Socorro Islands from Alaska for their breeding and birthing reason, Very often mothers and calf pairs are seen resting near the surface. During these cooler water months, if youa are lucky enough, you can hear these gentle giants singing on almost every dive! While the Whale sharks are often seen during the months of Nov - Dec and April - May.
Top dive sites around the Socorro Islands
San Benedicto Island
One of our favorite sites here is “El Boiler”, a large pinnacle that reaches from the depths to within several feet of the surface. Its small enough to swim around several times in one dive and is large enough to be a favorite gathering point, attracting marine life from miles around. The Boiler is known as the home of the world-famous Giant Pacific Manta, this diving spot is perfect for up-close and personal encounters with the. Giant mantas can grow to a wingspan of over twenty feet, yet they are gentle creatures. On a regular dive in San Benedicto we can also have humpback whales, whale sharks, and schooling hammerheads encounters. What makes this site so magical is the congregation of this friendly Giant Pacific Mantas. They often greet our divers even before we get into the water and swim with us all day. Divers may observe many mantas who come here to be cleaned by the endemic clarion angelfish. They seem to enjoy swimming closely over divers and stopping directly above to experience the bubble Jacuzzi on their bellies formed by exhaling bubbles from the divers. They often swim from one diver to the next posing for every photographer along the way.
On the other side of the island is “The Canyon”. Here we commonly dive with mantas, dolphins, hammerhead sharks, Galapagos sharks and silky sharks.
Socorro Island is about 30 miles south of San Benedicto. The island is about 10 miles by 9 miles in size and is home to the Mexican Naval Station since 1957. The famous dive sites here include the Aquarium, Punta Tosca and Cabo Pearce. The dive site Punta Tosca in particular, is one of the only places in the world to swim with humpback whales. You’ll see several. Socorro Island also attracts a number of pelagic species, among them are large groups of giant manta rays, dolphins, hammerhead sharks.
Roca Partida Island
Roca Partida is a small pinnacle located west of Socorro and San Benedicto, It is only 35 meters high and 92 meters from end to end. It’s the smallest island in the Revillagigedo Archipelago. This is our Dive and Cruise favorite island, divers commonly encounter schools of hammerheads, white tip sharks, Galapagos sharks, silky sharks, giant manta rays, dolphins, an occasional whale shark.
This stony pillar attracts pelagics and large schools of jacks and tuna. Beneath the surface the wall drops straight down to deep water. There are many shelves and ridges that give refuge to the animals that hide there. At about 13 meteres down, there are large caves where groups of whitetip sharks can be found sleeping most of the time. Depending on the current, is possible to swim around the pinnacle several times in the course of one dive. Other times divers prefer to just hang out in one area and watch the pelagics swim by.
Please Note : Socorro Islands is an advanced diving destination due to its strong and unpredictable currents, varying visibility and cold water. Divers must be comfortable in these conditions, as well as have very good buoyancy and be able to do negative (sometimes rapid) back-roll entries/descents from small boats. Dive and Cruise highly recommend divers join liveaboard trips here will have at least AOW level with min. 80 - 100 dives, experience in currents, ability in removing gear in water and ability in getting into small boats in choppy seas.
Due to the biosphere regulations of Socorro Islands, divers are prohibited from using knives, lights or gloves. Camera lights are permitted. Finally, the Socorro Island is occasionally closed to divers due to military operations.