The Nautilus liveaboard fleet in Baja California, Mexico is a perfect choice if you want to visit the big-fish destinations of Socorro and Guadalupe. For 25 years, Nautilus liveaboards have been diving these Mexican islands, getting customers up-close-and-personal with dolphins, mantas, whale sharks, and great whites. The fleet stands out in the crowd for their devotion to safety: all vessels are ISM and SOLAS-certified to the same level as cruise ships. But there’s no loss of comfort, luxury, or heartfelt customer service on these steel-fortified crafts. Personability is the heart of the Nautilus operation, where your trip is treated as a journey of learning, connection, and wonderment by a vessel staff as enthusiastic as you are.
Life on a Nautilus liveaboard
The waters may get choppy on the full-day crossing to Socorro, but your Nautilus vessel’s steel hull and no-nonsense structure will stabilize your trip. Forget about the waves, and focus on fun and relaxation. Each of Nautilus’ three liveaboard yachts sport a hot tub on an upper deck, where you can also soak up the sun or relax in an al fresco lounge. For entertainment, besides the usual indoor screen and movie options, the crew organizes a “Theatre under the Stars” (an open air cinema), and celebrates the end of the trip with a slideshow, so you can relive your special moments. For active types, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards are available. The food and beverages on the Nautilus fleet are highly rated by guest reviews, beaten only by the fleet’s 5-star average for customer service. Divers who have enjoyed a Nautilus journey can point to crewmembers by name for their unique and personal contributions to an excellent cruise; on the Nautilus website, you can read testimonials from previous passengers.
Diving with the Nautilus fleet
Diving with the Nautilus fleet is all about the local wildlife; as such, the trips are scheduled to follow the natural rhythms of migration, breeding and calving which bring massive visitors to Baja California. Respect for these visitors, be they giant manta rays, humpback whales, whale sharks, or great whites, is a priority for the Nautilus team. To help you get the most out of your wildlife encounters, and to make sure the wildlife benefit from you, Nautilus liveaboards teach “Manta 101”, shark behaviour, manta ID, and other conservation-friendly topics. The Nautilus fleet further contributes to conservation by protesting against shark finning (see the “No Soup” underwater photograph on their blog) and identifying the great white sharks of Guadalupe.
You’ll do an average of four dives a day, as well as an optional night dive and night snorkel on Socorro itineraries. (The night snorkel uses floodlights to attract silky sharks!) All of the Nautilus vessels are rebreather-friendly, and the Nautilus Under Sea Liveaboard offers full service for oxygen, nitrox, and rebreathers. The Nautilus fleet maintains a storm policy to ensure that bad weather won’t ruin your trip; see the website for more details about options.
Nautilus vessels and destinations
Baja California lies on Mexico’s Pacific coast, just south of the United States border; it’s extremely accessible, but still a world away. The Nautilus fleet has made the area its own, encouraging customers to connect personally with the wildlife and landscapes of the region, including top-class wineries and the mystical Sonoran desert. Nautilus lovingly maintains three steel-hulled motor yachts to traverse Baja’s incredible waters, and they undergo regular refits and renovations. The Nautilus Explorer Liveaboard, their flagship vessel, was custom-built in 2000 to carry 25 passengers. The Nautilus Belle Amie Liveaboard is the biggest vessel, carrying 28 to 32 passengers with a bit of extra luxury. The Nautilus Under Sea Liveaboard was the Cocos Island-based Undersea Hunter in a former life, and the ship carries a worldwide fan base. All three vessels are fitted with state of the art open ocean satellite systems. Besides the obvious safety benefit of this infrastructure, guests can enjoy internet and data on all boats. Each vessel holds a range of staterooms and suites on various floors. The most luxurious have their own living rooms and windows, but all are beyond comfortable, with plush beds, high-quality sheets, and ensuite bathrooms.
Socorro Island is the most famous land mass of the volcanic Revillagigedos archipelago and it attracts enormous marine life. The local chevron and jet-black mantas are famous for making eye contact with divers and hovering below or alongside them. You’ll also find 10 kinds of shark (hammerheads, silkies, whale sharks, white tips, silvertips, Galapagos, and others) and migrating humpback whales. Unless there’s ash in the water from volcanic activity, visibility is 70 to 100 feet, perfect for experiencing some of the best big-animal encounters in the world.
Guadalupe Island, 150 miles from the Baja coastline, is a premier hang-out for great white sharks. It offers unreal visibility, at 100 to 150 feet. Guadalupe great white diving with the Nautilus fleet is a unique experience. Instead of luring sharks to the surface with large amount of chum (which ends up floating around divers), Nautilus liveaboards bait the water with the bare minimum. Then, they lower the cage to 10 feet, where the sharks naturally congregate. This way, you end up watching real-life shark behaviour for sustained periods instead of short, sloppy visits to the surface. Every day offers a minimum of 3 submersible cage dives, always accompanied by a divemaster, as well as unlimited surface cage diving. In these pristine and controlled conditions, you’ll get to observe some of the island’s 228 individuals, who measure 12 to 19 feet. Consider the new Bahia de los Angeles extension for Guadalupe itineraries if you want to see the world “friendliest” population of whale sharks, along with sea colonies of up to 1200 individuals.