I went on a eight day seven night dive trip to La Paz Mexico last October - my reward for getting my oldest daughter married the week before. My experience might be of some interest to anyone thinking of diving that area.
I traveld with Aquatic Adventures, out of Alexandria Virginia, even though I am in Oregon. We met up at the Cabo San Jose airport, the same airport serves Cabo San Lucas. After everyone arrived we boarded a Greyhound type bus for the three plus hour ride to La Paz. The bus stopped a little ways from the airport at a market so we could stock up on snacks, water and alchohol (I went for the water). The rest of the trip was pretty scenic as the road literally wandered north.
We stayed at the Hotel Cantamar, located about 10 miles past La Paz. On a scale of ten I would give it a five as dive resorts go. It sits next to a large commercial ferry landing. Divers with rooms on that side of the resort complained about the noise. Other than that it was okay. There are nicer looking resorts nearer town but that also means a lot longer to get to the dive sites.
The daily dives usually took one to one and a half hours to get to each day and just as long between dives so there was plenty of surface time between dives. The boats were large with on board heads and a small kitchen for the boat crew to make up lunches.
The diving was actually pretty good. This was my first non-Caribbean dive trip so I was suprised to find it comparable. Visible varied but was never less than about 50 feet. There were plenty of fish to see, good variety and a small ocotpus in virtually every small crevass. Scorpion fish were abudant along with several varieties of moray eels. My favorite fish was the wounded wrasse (only saw one sadly) and the Mexican Hat fish which has several color variations deopending upon the life phase it was in.
Highlights of the trip were:
Swimming with sea lions; We dropped of the boat in fairly shallow water next to a sea lion haul out/rookery. The sea lions were quite curious and investigated us closely. The photgraphers in the group had a field day.
Wreck diving: It seems like half the dives were on wrecks in about 60 feet of water. Most were sanitized before they were sunk so even a newbie could explore the upper decks and have ample opportunity to get out through the many escape holes cut in the sides. Certified divers could explore more deeply into some of the wrecks. Needless to say the wildlife around the wrecks was plentiful. This would probably be a good place to do checkout dives for wreck diver certification.
Hammerhead Dive: This trip took forever to get to but was not dissappointing. We dove on a site called Los Bajos. This is a bounce dive. The group help at 70 feet while the dive master dropped to 120 to find the sharks then came up and motioned for the group to drop down. Once they spotted the sharks, which moved away quickly, they repeated the process a second time. They saw as many as eight sharks each bounce. Two of us didn’t think we were good enough divers to attempt the bounce dive so we went with a divemaster to the top of one of the seamounts, about 100 feet down. There we were still lucky enough to get a good look at two scallopped hammerheads. One swam right up to us before turning away. So everyone was a winner.
Whale shark snorkle: This was an additional trip i.e. we paid extra for it. The resort sends up an ultra-light plane to spot the whale sharks then the plane directs to boat to their location. Once the shark got near all of swimmers massed on the stern of the boat then jumped in at the captains command. At first this was more like a Chinese fire drill, I actually felt sorry for the whale shark. After getting kicked and elbowed by my fellow divers, to many times to count I went back to the boat which worked out great because the shark just pushed past the group and I found myself positioned right in front of it, twice. I had to work to get out of the way. Up close and personal has a new meaning now.
Info for the non-diver: There is virtually nothing for the non-diver to do at the resort but La PAz is actually a pretty vibrant and clean town. The resort does have a shuttle that makes one trip a day to town. The one non-diver in the group was bored to death by the fourth day. There is no shore diving to speak of. There is an excellent restuarant on the beach just across the bay from the resort, an easy walk. Several folks from our group went over to it the last night and raved about the food, location and service.
Over all it was an enjoyable trip. The resort was only fair by dive resort standards so I can’t say I was overwhelmed by the experience but the diving was good to great so I can’t complain plus it is warm water diving easily accessible to west coast divers.