Baja California stretches about 1,250 kilometers (775 miles) from north to south, from the U.S./Mexico border to Cabo San Lucas on its southern tip.
In terms of climate, there are three distinct regions in Baja California. First, the North, or cold winds, bring more precipitation during the winter.
Then the central area is an arid desert all year round. Finally, the southern part of Baja California receives tropical rains in late summer.
The waters of the Baja California Peninsula are full of life, and scuba diving opportunities are plentiful! It is possible to dive on the side of the Pacific Ocean as well as on the Sea of Cortez.
There are more than a dozen diving destinations in Baja California, and some are accessible only by liveaboard. Most divers head south, mainly to La Paz and Cabo San Lucas, popular tourist cities.
This content is a detailed guide to scuba diving and snorkeling in Baja California, Mexico.
Scuba Diving and Snorkeling in Baja California, Mexico
The best scuba diving sites in Mexico
The Baja California Peninsula presents a nice variety of diving destinations. To choose the one that suits you best, you must first ask yourself if a diving cruise interests you or if you prefer to base yourself on land.
You can also opt for the best of both worlds: a week on a liveaboard and a week on land. It will depend on how much time you have.
Here is a small glimpse of diving with great white sharks on Guadalupe Island.
Here are the main attractions of Baja California in terms of scuba diving:
Guadalupe Island is a volcanic island located 240 kilometers off the west coast of Baja California, Mexico. The island is one without really any tourist organization. It is the local fishermen who live there for a large part of the year.
Guadalupe is located beyond the continental shelf and surrounded by the Pacific Ocean’s deep waters. Divers visit the Guadalupe area mainly for cage diving with great white sharks. The cages are immersed either on the surface or at a depth of 30 meters.
Elephant seals and fur seals are also very present around Guadalupe Island. Finally, the starting point for diving cruises to Guadalupe is often the town of Ensenada, located some 400 kilometers to the north.
Ensenada is close to the Mexican/American border, not far from San Diego. This is a tourist town known a lot for scuba diving. Whether diving along the coast or going on a cruise, Ensenada is a diving destination in itself.
Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point)
Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point) is located on the mainland of the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez), about 70 miles from the Mexican/American border. Puerto Penasco’s proximity to Arizona makes it an important tourist destination, with diving a major draw. While many say diving south of Baja California, is better, others love the place and return regularly. Here you will find a variety of marine life and excellent diving from the shore.
Bahia de los Angeles
The “Bahia de Los Angeles” is a small fishing village of barely 1000 inhabitants. It’s located between the mountains of the Sierra San Borja and the sparkling waters of the Sea of Cortez. The village is best known for receiving the famous whale sharks in its waters. Between June and November, whale sharks are present in large numbers each year.
The Socorro Islands, also known as the Revillagigedos Islands, are a liveaboard destination in Mexico whose starting point is often Cabo San Lucas. Sharks and manta rays are usually present, the underwater scenery is amazing, and visibility is usually 100 feet.
You can see schools of hammerhead sharks and large manta rays, some with wingspans up to 6 meters/20 feet! Besides, whitetip sharks and Galapagos sharks are also very common. As for whale sharks and humpback whales, their presence varies according to the season.
La Paz has located just a few hours drive from Cabo San Lucas. This is an interesting tourist town and an incredible diving destination. Like in some small spots, diving in La Paz is superb all year round.
Cabo San Lucas
Cabo San Lucas is one of the most beautiful tourist destinations in Mexico. Located on the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula, Cabo is the perfect place to dive to meet two major bodies of water. The Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean meet here! Vacationers, just like divers of all levels, love Cabo San Lucas!
Reviews of scuba diving in Baja California, Mexico
Baja California is a diving destination that deserves a visit. First, places where you go on a cruise dive, such as Guadalupe Island and the Socorro Islands, are among the best scuba diving spots in the world.
Several dive boats visit the islands, offering unique itineraries and stays of varying duration. Prices are often cheaper than elsewhere, and you can book without paying.
Alternatively, at several locations in Baja California, you will find excellent diving from the shore or a short boat ride away. Local operators will guide you to quality sites. It is strongly suggested to discover both remote islands and coastal sites!
Prices of dives in Baja California
Diving in the Baja California area varies depending on the location. Here’s a look at the average dive price for Baja California:
A diving cruise in Guadalupe/Socorro/Sea of Cortez: 250€ – 350€ per day (300-400$US per day)
A snorkeling excursion (with whale sharks example): +/- 40€ (50$US)
Baptism / Discover SCUBA diving : +/- 125€ (150$US)
2 Dives : +/- 125€ (150$US)
Price Level 1 / Padi Open Water Course: +/- 400€ (485$US)*
Price Course Level 2 / Padi Open Water Advanced: +/- 350€ (420$US)*
Price Course Level 3 / Rescue Diver : +/- 415€ (500$US)*
Divemaster course: +/- 700€ (850$US)*
We advise you not to look only for the lowest rate but choose your dive center according to where you feel best. Sometimes it makes sense to pay a little more and be in better conditions!
Best time to dive in Baja California, Mexico
Diving on the shores of the Baja California Peninsula is possible all year round. But conditions vary greatly depending on the location. For example, during the winter, the northern part of Baja California is recommended only for experienced divers who are very comfortable diving in cold water.
Diving in the southern part of the Sea of Cortez is pleasant all year round. June and November are the best months to visit the area. Especially in September and October, the visibility is excellent at 60 feet and more.
The best time to dive with great white sharks on Guadalupe is between August to October. The ocean is then calmer, and the water temperature colder, which attracts sharks.
Scuba diving in Baja, California, is very diverse and perfect for all levels of divers. Besides, the dive sites on the coast are perfect for learning to dive or taking it to the next level.
If you are not already a fan of underwater photography, Baja California will make you want to get started since marine life often comes close to divers in this region.
Scuba diving conditions
The section on the best time to dive in Baja California earlier on this page gives you an overview of the conditions. Here are more details.
The water temperature is generally stable. The average for the northern part of Baja California varies between 55°F to 75°F, while the water temperature on the Sea of Cortez varies between 70°F to 84°F.
In winter, the water temperature drops (65 to 70°F), so it is advisable to be equipped with a full suit, with a hood and gloves, of 5 or 6 millimeters.
The visibility is generally excellent for these two places, and it is at its best in summer and autumn between July and October. In winter, visibility tends to decrease a bit since there is a lot of plankton in the water. But this also attracts whales and whale sharks to the surrounding area!
The Baja California area, in general, is known for its thermoclines. So, even if the surface water temperature is warmer, it is strongly advised to wear a full suit of at least 3 millimeters.
As for the diving conditions along the coast of the Pacific Ocean, they are very unpredictable.
It is thus advisable to inform yourself well about the local dive centers to know the most up-to-date conditions and have expert advice from the region.
Finally, here are the conditions for scuba diving on Guadalupe Island. We dive there mainly between August and October. The ocean is calmer during this period, and the water temperature varies between 66 and 72°F (19°C and 22°C). In October, it rains more often, but otherwise, the visibility is exceptional around Guadalupe Island. It allows you to observe the great white sharks.
Snorkeling in Baja California, Mexico
Except for the cruise destinations (Guadalupe & Socorro), you will find superb sites for snorkeling and snorkeling at almost every other location. As the video shows, snorkeling with whale sharks and seals is particularly interesting!
Underwater fauna: Fish and Coral
The Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean offers a very varied assortment of marine life. Pelagics are particularly numerous in the region with whale sharks, humpback whales, seals, sea lions, and various species of sharks at the rendezvous.
If you are planning to go on a trip to Baja California, Mexico, I advise you to invest in good travel insurance that also covers scuba diving.
You never know what can happen, and good insurance can get you out of difficult situations.
The Yucatan Peninsula, on the east coast of Mexico, and the west coast, presented on this page, are excellent scuba diving opportunities. Your experience on the Baja California side is wilder and offers a certain level of challenge.
This is especially true when you think of diving cruises on Guadalupe Island. You will be more isolated in the big blue and ready to live moments filled with adrenaline!
We hope the content ” Scuba Diving and Snorkeling in Baja California, Mexico” was helpful to you.