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About Scuba Diving in The Sea of Cortez

scuba divingAbout La Paz Fun Baja Diving

Reef fish, sea lions,  manta rays,  invertebrates, morays, garden eels, turtles, hammerheads sharks, whale sharks, whales, pelagic fish -- all this adds up to just one thing -- Sea of Cortez Scuba Diving. Voted one of the top diving spots year after year there are few places left in the world where an entire archipelago is virtually free of commercial fishing, leaving the waters left to those who want to swim and watch the action unfold in the deep, clean waters of the Sea of Cortez. The optimum months for seeing Manta Rays and Whale Sharks in La Paz islands, are May thru November, where we have seen as many as 15 of these incredible 12 - 20 ft. creatures on a single dive and snorkeling day.

Diving conditions in La Paz

Sea of Cortez scuba diving is for real divers. We recommend La Paz diving for beginners, mid-level to advanced divers, but we will advise you on the conditions at that time and can suggest less strenuous itineraries for beginners. Diving conditions in La Paz are can be for intermediate to advanced divers, due to the currents, depth and shape of the dive sites, temperatures and fauna. However, for those of you who want to get your PADI certificate, there's no better place than La Paz due shallow water. THE Sea of Cortez diving, even in the waters near the islands, will give you the chance to swim with sea lions, watch mantas, look out for Whale Sharks, colorful fish and lot's of more.

CONDITIONS: The range of surface temperature of the sea is from 18ºC to 30ºC. February, March, April and May are the coldest months, and August to November the warmest. Thermo clines are present, between 10 to 30 meters depth (30 to 100 feet) and the temperature can drop from one to five degrees Celsius. The Fun Baja Diving center will supply divers with wet suits and appropriate rental gear for the temperatures in case is needed.  

CURRENTS: You will probably dive in the IN LA PAZ in medium to strong currents. We understand medium currents to be between one and three knots (between 1 and 4 miles/hour or between 2 and 6 Km./hour), and strong currents are more than three knots (more than 4 miles/hour or 6 Km./hour) but never happens in La Paz.

La Paz diving can be tricky if you are caught in an unexpected current on the surface. Just relax, get positive buoyancy and the boat will come and get you. If you are in a group with dive master, get close together and he will know what's to do. In the warm season (from July to November) the current is coming from the southeast and northeast which is perfect for drift diving at El Bajo, where the hammer head sharks can be easy to find.

VISIBILITY IN THE SEA OF CORTEZ: Diving visibility couldn't be better! 100 feet or 30 meters often is present in La Paz waters during the summer. But you shall expect a visibility from 50 to 80 feet or 15 to 25 meters in most of the diving places. In some areas and in some seasons due to the richness of phytoplankton, green waters are present. This plankton is the first step in the atrophic chain and is necessary to sustain all marine life at the islands and bring big pelagic fish to our seas.

DRIFT DIVING: Some of the dives in La Paz are drift dives. The group will enter and will be drifted down current. With medium currents, you should not wait more than a few seconds at the surface before descending by the anchor line to the bottom and drift together with the group and Guide. During your dive the boat will follow the bubbles and will pick you up in the place you appear at the surface.

Safety stops are often made in blue waters, away from a wall or bottom. Some of the dive sites in La Paz can be difficult, so we recommend you stick with your buddy and the group.

DEEP DIVING: More than 20 meters or 60 feet is considered a deep dive. We make the deep dive first in the morning. Always consider the possibility of a thermo cline in the bottom, use sufficient thermal protection to be comfortable. Few dives in La Paz are deep or wall dives, making the La Paz an easy and safety destination for all level divers. 

NIGHT DIVING: You can enjoy a shallow night dive with no drift. Your guide will select a safe place for the night dive with no current. Nocturnal crabs, starfish, sea cucumbers, fish, and other different species are visible at night, and it is common to find fluorescence in the first six meters. When you do, it's like diving in the stars! One of the best dives can be a fluorescent night dive with turtles, and other animals which can be seen with the lamp turned off.

HOW TO APROACH TO ANIMALS: We have some recommendations and norms to follow during your diving adventure in La Paz. If you want to go close to the big animals, the best way is to make slow movements, or none at all, when in front of them and minimize your bubbles. You will scare a resting turtle or a passing shark or whales if you head fast towards it. The only animals underwater that will not be frightened by your presence (if you find them), are killer whales and adult male sea lions. Be careful with the male sea lions, they may bite you when there are baby sea lions around. One way to get close to the animals is to stay hidden underwater in the same place during the entire dive..

THE DIVING RULES ARE VERY IMPORTANT FOR SAFE DIVING.

Follow your guide’s instructions.
Never do decompression dives.
The maximum depth of any dive is 100 feet or 30 meters.
Make a safety stop after every dive. Take three to five minutes at 5 meters or 15 feet.
Make the deepest dive first and don't make repetitive deep dives.
You should finish your dive with 500 p.s.i. or 40 bars of air in your tank.
If you lose the group, search for them for a minute and if it is not possible to locate them please return to the resurface.
Never leave an unattended tank on the deck.
Always dive with your buddy and/or dive master.
Don't touch or disturb the animals or plants, you can be bitten or stung.
Don't collect anything from the oceans, only remove the rubbish.
Don't go outside of the diving or snorkeling area specified by your guide.
Keep yourself safe of nitrogen; don't go to the limits of the diving tables or computer.
Never attempt to snorkel or dive if you are not sure that you can manage the situation.
Be sure that your guide, the boat driver, or another person is supervising you at all times.
If a problem arises on the surface, be calm and maintain positive buoyancy.
If you are caught in a current, don't fight against it. It is better to relax, float, and make signals to the boat.

There is a  Hyperbaric Chamber, operated by , part of the SSS Recompression Chamber Network in Cabo San Lucas.

DIVING SAFETY: You should take all of the safety indications that your guide will explain very seriously in the briefings. Conditions in the sea of Cortez are variable that the guides can only make an accurate assessment of the actual conditions upon arriving at the diving site. Additionally, conditions may very well change during the dives. For you safety, we strongly recommend that you have a valid D.A.N. membership card.