Looking for my personal best diving spot June/July-Caribbean/C.A./Mexico

Discussion in 'General Travel and Vacation Discussions' started by Wanphatkatt, May 26, 2012.

  1. Wanphatkatt

    Wanphatkatt Angel Fish

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    Been reading posts now for a few days and am at the point where I need the advice of the experienced..those that might be able to steer me in the right direction cuz I am overwhelmed with the amount of info out there and researching is very tiring![​IMG]

    Im looking for the best place to dive in June and July that meet all my needs. I thought of Roatan( maybe too Americanized for me) Providencia(columbian Island- seems beautiful), windward islands of the Antilles( is the diving good? Is it really expensive?) corn islands, Belize....Panama??other islands in the Caribbean? Sea of Cortez or Isla de Mujares in Mexico? am open to more suggestions. Trying to stick to destinations in the Caribbean and Central America or Mexico as those are the most accessable areas from the USA.. The most affordable flights.
    this is what I'm looking for:
    1) best diving possible..not over fished, good visibility, palagics, good season for big stuff-whales,whale sharks, other sharks?? Healthy reef.. Good dive outfitters that are safe and reliable. Good weather in June/ july.
    2) somewhat remote and non-touristy..off the beaten path as much as possible. don't want resorts or any cruise ship destination area..don't want to be one of 100 dive boats to dive an area a day..etc..
    3) vibrant local island culture.. I love immersing myself into other cultures.. Not into Americanized places..
    4) not expensive... I'm not into resorts.. I like staying in budget places or with locals.. Im on a budget so I'd rather spend less money on accommodation so I can spend more diving!
    help![​IMG]
    What destinations do you think would cover most of what I'm looking for in June/July?
    im also open to live aboards if you have any that come to mind...
    thanks in advance for reading and replying.. Thanks!!
    Alexis
     
  2. Doc

    Doc Was RoatanMan

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    Wanphatkatt also sent me this question in a PM

    Yup, that's why SCUBABoard exists.

    Your requirements are, when taken as a whole and in total, are impossible to fulfill~ certainly in the Caribbean- except for the weather- as that will be assuredly good!

    My best advice is this- chill out and relax on the part "...best diving possible..not over fished, good visibility, lots of big stuff-pallagics...whale sharks?? Healthy reef..."

    The holy grails of diving will come with repeated dives. Right now, I'll bet that you might be just starting on this path. Go to a place where you can get a whole lot of dives in very cheaply. I am talking in the realm of 25 dives in a week. In the world of dive ops, there are "American" style places that understand and cater to that desire by Americans to dive-dive-dive... then there are those which operate on "island time". You have to decide what you want- do you want to dive as much as possible and thus eventually see all the cool stuff? Or... what?

    You'll have to decide what is more important, the actual diving or the search for "local island culture", which if you're being sincere (vs talking about some concocted Jimmy Buffet experience), the real island culture is something that is either non-existant or will be unavailable to you.

    You can't use words such as "...that meet all my needs... as those are the most accessable areas from the USA...The most affordable flights... best diving possible..not over fished, good visibility, palagics, good season for big stuff-whales,whale sharks, other sharks?? Healthy reef.. .... somewhat remote ....vibrant local island culture.. I love immersing myself into other cultures.. Not into Americanized places... not expensive... I'm not into resorts... I like staying in budget places or with locals.. Im on a budget so I'd rather spend less money on accommodation so I can spend more diving!....im also open to live aboards ..." and get a reasoned, legitimate response. These words simply do not go together.


    People who will follow this and tell you that all of your requirements are available~ they're selling something.



     
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  3. TulumScuba.com

    TulumScuba.com Scuba Instructor

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    hi there,
    I have some new idea for you, cenotes in Tulum, cavern diving together with whale shark experience in Isla Mujeres, cause June-July is the best season to spot them there in amount like more than 100...what a great experience!
    together with my boyfriend we run an independent dive school based in tulum, the best location for those who like cavern and cave diving. for us cave diving is a passion and tulum area is the most amazing dive destination. just help you maybe to make up your mind and try something new, you can do cavern dives as an open water certified diver or you can take some courses and become a cave diver. One can be sure, cave diving is an ultimate experience, which gives you an opportunity to discover underwater world and yourself from a very new side, much more beautiful that you ever expected! Do some research online.
    if you have never been here we offer a nice introduction package where you can visit all caverns within a week, 2-3 dives a day, no groups. you drive to the jungle and go diving many times without seeing other divers. that is really cool comparing to ocean diving nowadays. cavern diving is all very safe and unique, breathtaking calcite formation, beautiful light penetrating the cavern and unlimited visibility. diving condition does not depend on weather which gives you a grantee when it is raining......we dive everyday.
    Whale shark tours are more depending on weather, but in July there is 100% guarantee to see them eating plankton in calm water. Last year I saw more than 100 of them at once.
    If you have more question contact us on tulumscuba@gmail.com or on facebook or scubaboard. Here also some pictures from the most popular places.......
    cenotediving_angelita.jpg cenotediving_carwash.jpg cenotediving_chacmool.jpg cenotediving_grancenote.jpg cenotediving_manatee.jpg cenotediving_pit.jpg
     
  4. diversteve

    diversteve Administrator Staff Member

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    Agree with Doc's post. I have yet to find that sort of diving mecca in the Caribbean.

    You might find some of what you're looking for in Tobago. There's the Mantas, whales during parts of the year (not summer) Dolphins, the worlds largest brain coral, Speyside is a relatively small town and there's Hammerhead diving off the Sisters nearby. For us it was about 18hrs. travel and so expensive that it cut into our normal trip budget substantially just to get there - so I have no personal exp. there.

    Utila maybe also except you've missed the Whale shark "season". And it's snorkel only with them there. We saw some bigger pelagics: cuda, oceanic triggers, grouper, rays etc. but no sharks. The backpackers and dive students overwhelm the local population there so probably not the cultural experience you want either. And it's mostly boat diving if you stay in town, the AI resorts have shore dives but they're isolated and quiet - no local interaction there. There is one local town off the west end that's on it's own little island - there's at least one resort and dive op based there also - IDK any details.

    Possibly South Belize near Placencia also - about the only place you can dive with Whale sharks - Mexico is snorkel only also - but the last days for that are June 4-14 this year - it's based on the Cubera Snapper spawning after the full moon and occurs only at Gladden Spit offshore from Placencia. There are some affordable accommodations near town - or more expensive resorts up along the coast - some of which also run day trips out there. As do several of the AI's on the atolls but they're pretty isolated. Other things to do in that area include river tours, the Mayan ruins, howler monkeys, the jaguar preserve, jungle treks etc. Cruise ships do go to Belize but they moor offshore from Belize City so no impact on Placencia.
     
  5. DeputyDan

    DeputyDan Surface Interval Member

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    I didn't bother with an answer because the OP's request does not exist in the Caribbean basin.
     
  6. Quero

    Quero Will be missed

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    It sounds like a typical pie-in-the-sky Lonely Planet post, Alexis! What you are asking for--cheap, easily accessible, but few tourists and untouched reef full of large pelagics--is just a contradiction in terms. The cheap places are overrun by budget traveler/backpacker types; the easily accessible places are full of tourists. Both of these facts mean that the reefs are not going to be pristine and it won't be only you and large pelagics in the water in some remote place where you sleep in a hammock on the porch of a dive center. You need to prioritize. What can you cross off that shopping list of yours?
     
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  7. Wanphatkatt

    Wanphatkatt Angel Fish

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    Thanks for your post, Quero, at least you are willing to engage in communication and ask me what I can cross off my list! And thanks Diver Steve for your suggestions as well!
    Sorry if My post sounded ignorant...I have mostly dived in the most pristine places that exist, with a vibrant culture to explore topside. Like Papua New Guinea, Indonesian live aboard between Bali and Komodo, Fernando De NOronha in Brazil, Solomon Islands, etc... I also am not a Lonely Planet backpacker traveler type, ( have worked in Antarctica, lived in Brazil for two years, have done expeditions in Papua New Guinea, etc...I really do interact with locals and love other cultures.. I have been doing cultural travel for over 20 years)even though this time around I really am on a budget.This time, I don't have that much time or money so I thought to stay closer to home- in the Caribbean, central America or Mexico, but I have little idea what these places have to offer since I havent been and am just starting my research so I put up the post asking for exactly what Im looking for , but not expecting to get it all...I thought folks could just give me thier best advice based on their experience instead of criticism. I guess ultimately, It would be great to get A LITTLE of all the things I would like... SOME local culture.. A pretty awesome dive experience...I wouldn't freak out if there were SOME backpackers around and hotels and resorts.. I guess the worst would be to have a great culture to explore but terrible diving..But great diving and beaches covered with resorts and partying backpackers and cruise ship tourists would be pretty bad, too. And a place so expensive that I would have to leave after a week wouldn't work either. So how about a place that offers a middle ground? I just thought that there are so many very experienced divers that have been to so many locations that I could get some good insight.
    thanks again for anyone willing to respond!
     
  8. Quero

    Quero Will be missed

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    You're welcome, Alexis. My first reaction when I skimmed through your post was "Asia is perfect for her!" But then I saw you want something close to home...

    Here's an idea, if you're willing to forgo the "easy access" bit: Little Corn Island Nicaragua
     
  9. Wanphatkatt

    Wanphatkatt Angel Fish

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    I've read about Little Corn Island..and wonder how it compares to Roatan..anyone know?
    ..Quero, of course I have considered Thialand, its further and more expensive to get there, but seems cheap to live and travel there. but Ive always been turned off by what a backpackers Mecca it is...seems like there are so many dive shops, backpackers, hostels, resorts, beach parties, live aboards, etc..I get the idea that the sites are over-dived and crowded..and top side it's just a big backpacker party. I may be wrong though? I was interested in gong there to dive the Similian Islands but found in my research that they are not open for diviing in June/July when I can go...Richelieu Rock sounds interesting for whale sharks but also seems like June /July is not the time to see them...I'd
    like to know what you think. Do you know anything about diving in Burma? The governmant and borders have softened a bit lately, i think, so perhaps it's a good time to go there for both diving and land/culture travel..
    any other suggestions?
     
  10. Quero

    Quero Will be missed

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    Alexis, there are indeed parts of Thailand that are backpacker havens, just as there are parts of Central America, like Honduras, that are infamous in the same way. And because the diving in Thailand is (in my opinion) so much richer than anything at all I've seen in multiple trips to the Caribbean, and the food and culture are so wonderful, it naturally attracts lots of visitors, and at times there are lots of boats in the water. Having said that, though, there are plenty of places that are not beach party areas, and when you're on a liveaboard, it's just you and your ship-mates, so if you're not on a party boat, you don't get the wild party atmosphere. It's a big topic, and too much to really go into here, but even on Phuket island, where I'm based, there are a few areas that are very touristy and the other 85% of the island that isn't; people tend to equate Phuket the island to Patong the beach town, but that's like thinking all of California is like LA. As you know, it takes a long time to get to this part of the world from North America, and jet lag/travel fatigue is an issue when it comes to diving safely, so doing a short trip isn't advisable. The diving in the northern marine national parks, including Richelieu Rock, is permitted between Nov 1 and May 1 when sea conditions are safe for pleasure boating, meaning that when you are free to travel, the parks will be closed to visitors.

    Burma is opening up, and should be interesting, at least land-based, but the dive sites are a different story. There's constant dynamite fishing going on there, so the reefs are not in good shape. The main attraction of going there, IMO, is the lack of other divers. But there's not too much to see, and it's very, very expensive, not to mention hugely remote in the case of any illness or accident. The diving season is the same as for the Thailand marine parks in the Andaman Sea.

    In June, in Asia, I tend to recommend Malaysia and Indonesia to my divers. You would probably like Pulau Weh.
     
  11. Wanphatkatt

    Wanphatkatt Angel Fish

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    Thanks for the all the info on Thialand Quero!. I do see what you mean...now I wish I had time off in the winter months for the diving there!
    whats your level of experience in central America? Do you have any recommendations for liveaboards? Knowing me and my wishes as you do now, lol, .....how would you rate the destinations of Belize, little Corn, Roatan and Columbia for me? I'm still researching those 4 areas but it's ddifficult to know which might be best for what I'm looking for....
    believe it or not, I am even considering Vanuatu in the S. pacific as it seems so beautiful, with a rich Melanesian culture.
     
  12. Quero

    Quero Will be missed

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    Alexis, my experience in the Caribbean is limited since I live in Asia (why leave here to go dive there?), the times I've dived in the Caribbean have been "as long as I'm here in North America anyway" trips (actually, I can extend this to my Brazil/Noronha-four-times trips as well), and finally I haven't been that blown away by the diving (it's nice, but not nice enough to make a special trip for). Having said that, I'd personally be most interested in getting on a liveaboard trip to Colombia's Malpelo Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2012
  13. Doc

    Doc Was RoatanMan

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    After supplying your previous diving history, I'll second the suggestion of Tobago (Speyside North end). It is simply not a place for new divers, but it sounds like you have the experience. You can actually encounter real-deal Rastafarians if you get in the countryside near Speyside and Charlottesville. You will see from limited research that the North end diving is an E-Ticket kind of deal in terms of current- no doubt the strongest consistent and long duration current dives in the Caribbean. It can be dome pretty reasonably in terms of lodging and food.

    In terms of experience, though- you ask for references and comparison versus your experience in and around Roatan. It is an island with many different localized diving zones- big differences. What zones did you previously dive on Roatan? It would be easier to make comparisons with that bit of clarification.
     
  14. Wanphatkatt

    Wanphatkatt Angel Fish

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    Hi Roatan man, thanks a lot for writing again.. I really appreciate it! I'm not sure how, from this thread thus far, you got the idea that I already have dived Roatan.. I haven't! Roatan is just on my radar of places I am considering for this trip. Roatan, or BeLize or Columbia or Trinidad? I have been certified since 1988, and have dove some pretty exotic locals...but lots of time tends to go by between my trips. My last big trip was in 2007 when I lived in Fernando De Noronha and did 20 or so dives there in a months time. Before that i did the liveaboard between bali and komodo in 2004. In the 1990's i dove in the solomon islands and papua new guinea. So I haven't been diving in 5 years! A trip is long overdue...So i do have experience, just get a little rusty because of the long times between trips not diving! I have done drift dives before, usually with flags and divemaster sticking with me and the group the whole time. like the idea of Trinidad...also like the sound of Malpelo island, Columbia( hammerheads!)but i think the lives boards there are pretty expensive. now that I've clarified some things, what do,you think?
     
  15. Doc

    Doc Was RoatanMan

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    Now we're getting somewhere :)

    I was trying to offer the "comparison" that you were looking for with...
    How do other places compare with the diving on Roatan? Yes, no, maybe so. How do you describe a color to one who has not seen it? There has to be a mutual basis for comparison.

    Diversteve and I both mentioned Tobago, never a peep about Trinidad. There is no comparison between (TT) Trinidad and Tobago (two islands, one country) in terms of diving and social culture. Trinidad is good for transiting thru the airport. It is on my "rat-hole scale" of (not as bad as) Caracas or (a bit worse than) Belize City. Not only two different geographic plates, but the difference between "city and country". Go to Trinidad (if you must) during Carnival and see what would lure even pre-jaded New Orleans visitors. There's your ample does of culture!

    Tobago is treated nationally as their country bumpkin sister. There is a veiled inferiority complex inherent in the populace. Trinidad (the OPEC half of the country) makes sure that all of Tobago's roads are well paved and they supply all the electricity Tobago needs via a very big extension cord. (Go see it at Pigeon Point) The island of Tobago has been protected AND constrained by it's National Park status. The diving on Tobago's South side has been pre-gawked by 40 years of cruise ship types, still nice- but the North end will absolutely get your undivided attention with its insane currents.

    Many, many tourists come via large aircraft from England. They come to bird watch. Although diving has been provided for many years to cruise ship visitors on the South End of Tobago, a collective National light bulb illuminated over their heads about 18 years ago in terms of becoming a real-deal diver destination.

    Unfortunately, the day-dive ops on the previously well developed Southern end have gotten larger, and equally unfortunate are the number of unqualified divers who have ventured to the North end. This has caused a universal "dumbing down" of that experience. Small boats, essentially no piers, and stiff vertical and lateral currents. The localized Manatas have run for cover and they can only by located by special hire captains.

    Yup, I think that's a valid general statement- liveaboards are very expensive, certainly when compared to most land based. They usually offer a great deal more than land based options, sometimes- such as in the Red Sea or the Galapagos, this is open to debate, but again- by people with no basis for comparison. Very, very few divers have done these areas (or any) by both methods. like so many things, everyone has an opinion, but no basis for comparison... ie: "from what I've heard..."

    What we are really talking about here is, in terms of the Caribbean/Bahamas basin, what diving is already accessible yet still relatively good? (that eliminates a number of destinations that are simply not reachable to dive by us mere mortals) In that short list, I place the Outer Bahamas, very localized South Shore Roatan, North end of Tobago. These three areas have very unique and specific u/w geography. The Bahamas and Tobago have some very evident island culture, but Roatan (I don't care what locality therein), the culture is pretty mutated. The macro creatures in this zone make up for it.

    You can get a lot of interesting Bahamas diving at http://www.ridingrock.com/ The Bahamas do not end at Grand Bahama or Nassau.

    We can diverge into esoterica- places in the Caribbean that used to have "fairly easy" access or never had any access (yet). The area of Los Roques (VZ) was open to us for a moment with a PH liveaboard, but no longer. Many flock to Grenada, enjoy the Bianca C wreck, but 99.99% are unaware of the true allure of it's so-far inaccessible NE barrier islands. The list goes on and on of "you can't get there from here" kinds of places- like Swan Island Honduras http://www.scubaboard.com/forums/bay-islands/354295-cisne-swan-island.html

    You apparently didn't like my original answer, but a few others here did validate it. And, I did predict the Tulum cave response ;) From your prior experiences, from your list of requirements, it really is an impossible checklist to fill. It's better that you adjsut your critera, rather than now asking others to tell you what destinations would fit your list if they were to modify your needs. That would be never-ending and "our desires"... not yours. I could diverge, as some have, from your question and add alternative world-wide destinations that you might like and would certainly fulfill your other requirements, but that wasn't within the scope.

    If you want literally on-the-edge places (but still in the specified geographic zone) , Yes- check out Corn, Guanaja, and Cayos Cochinos. They have resident diving services, but getting there can be a hump, not impossible.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2012
  16. diversteve

    diversteve Administrator Staff Member

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    What Doc said ^ - also I have a buddy who travels to many third-world areas regularly - works for the oil companies training workers on-site - so he's been to places I've never even heard of. The only place he's ever been robbed was his hotel room in Trinidad - and they put him up in pretty nice places usually.

    State Dept. Travel Advisory for Trinidad/Tobago:
    ---------- Post added ----------

    If you are wanting to do a reasonably priced liveaboard - look at Rocio Del Mar. In July they'll be diving the Midriff Islands in the Sea of Cortez. You can fly here (Phoenix) and take a $100 shuttle that drops you at the boat in Puerto Penasco, MX. The trips are $2295 plus fees/tips etc. It's one of the newer liveaboards around and was built by the owners for diving - I know one of them slightly.http://www.rociodelmarliveaboard.com/midriff.html
     
  17. TulumScuba.com

    TulumScuba.com Scuba Instructor

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    Little Corn Island does not offer great diving, it happens sometimes on a very lucky day but in general diving there is based on seeing corals and sponges, not fish. I work 6 months on Big Corn Island and apart form diving The Blowin Rock (not always as good) I did not fall in love in diving there....It also cannot be compare to diving in Roatan!
     
  18. Wanphatkatt

    Wanphatkatt Angel Fish

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    Thanks a lot for your responses!
    Don't know how I got Trinidad and Tobago mixed up..thanks for the clarification though!..I predicted there would be some scary state depart travel advisory stuff on the country...almost every country in world where the population is mostly people of color gets a state dept. travel advisory stamp..imagine if I paid attention to the fear mongering in the past.. I'd have never gone to Papua New Guinea, Cuba, or Brazil... I was robbed in one way or another in all those places by the way...
    Ive also been robbed in NYC and sexually harassed in Amsterdam...I'm sure you see what im getting at...that said, it's true you do have to be "in the mood" to travel outside the fenced-in tourist resorts and mix with the locals.. Since there is always a chance of crime, you have to always be on your toes and engage your "street smarts" .. And that can be tiring after a while...I know from experience! So i have to ask myself what do I have the energy for on this trip? I guess i find myself leaning towards more R &R with less emphasis on negotiating a very intense street culture.. Doesn't mean I want to stay in a resort though! Im traveling alone, so staying on a live aboard or a hostel or with locals is more conducive to meeting people.. A resort would be very isolated.. OK, anyway...:focus:
    Roatanman said,
    Gaunaja and cayos Cochinos are both in the Roatan area..so what would be the best way to dive them? Is there a live aboard that goes around to all these sites or are there places to stay in Cayos Cochinos and Guanaja?
    also previously Diversteve said
    so maybe a combo trip of south Belize and the Bay Islands? (I have a month to travel) But Diver Steve, are you saying that after June 14 the whale sharks move on from the area, or there are no more dive trips that go out after June 14? If I wasn't to arrive there until July, there would be no diving in the area?
    I would be VERY keen to see whales or whale sharks diving...Would that also be possible in Sea of Cortez in June/July?
    I was looking at this live aboard previously, and saw that the area I'd rather do is the Soccorro islands, but the season for them is closed. What do you all know about the Midriff trip? What megafauna is likely to be seen?

    Also Roatan man..
    Well, I have tried to adjust my criteria already if you look back.. And yes, Quero responded with some info about Thialand and Malaysia which I really appreciated. As I stated to her, i would consider other world wide destinations. I was focusing on the Caribbean and Central America just because it would be cheaper to get there. But if other destinations in other countries are cheaper to stay and dive, like Thialand, then the more expensive flight would be OK. Thialand is OUT only because it's not the season for the best diving there. As I stated, I am actually considering Vanuatu...so Roatanman, if some other worldwide destination idea comes up In your responses to me, please share!!!
    thanks everyone...little by little, I'm getting somewhere!:acclaim:
     
  19. diversteve

    diversteve Administrator Staff Member

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    Utila Aggressor is the only liveaboard in that area. They dive part of the week off Utila, part off Roatan and also visit several seamounts not normally done by day boat from either. I've done many of the dives they mention in their itinerary off both Roatan and Utila during a week on each island. http://www.aggressor.com/subpage14.php Plantation Beach Resort is a dive resort on Cayos - IDK anything else about it.
    That's doable, there's one option to take a bus to the border and cross over into Honduras - then either fly from Tegucigalpa or San Pedro Sula or take the ferry from La Ceiba to either island. You can also fly locally between Belize City and San Pedro Sula on Tropic Air. From Placencia to Belize City is almost hourly IIRC.
    There's three peak weekends during/after a full moon in spring/summer when the snapper spawn - which brings in the whale sharks. After that it's my belief that they move to the Holbox, MX area for part of the summer. They show up off Utila, move up to Belize, then further up the coast to MX. I spent a week at Deep Blue Utila several years ago during a peak Whale Shark Research week there - in late March - talks by the experts seemed to confirm this migration.

    The peak time that's left this year - from the Splash Dive website:
    Of course there's other diving all year round in Belize, just not with Whale Sharks...personally if I was going during a non-whale shark time I think I'd stay at one of the atoll resorts farther north - closer to Lighthouse Reef, the Blue Hole and or Turneffe - that's supposed to be the best of Belize.
    Afaik the only place you can dive with Whale Sharks semi-reliably is Belize. It's snorkel only in Holbox and I would assume elsewhere in Mexico also.
    They do see them in Socorro but not in the summer - in Oct/Nov and Apr/May. Nautilus Explorer is running an 11day Socorro/Sea of Cortez combo trip June 24th-July 4th but it's $3775pp. https://www.nautilusbookings.com/?destination=explorer
    It's in the link I posted:
    [user]Dora the Explorer[/user] owns the boat so would probably be the best person to ask what to expect in mid-July. Or call their office - it's in Phoenix.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2012
  20. Wanphatkatt

    Wanphatkatt Angel Fish

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    Diversteve, how would you rate the diving in costa rica compared to these other destinations were talking about? I know most CR diving is in the Pacific, not Caribbean, but just curious about a comparison of megafauna one might be able to see...
     

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