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Dive Review of Nautilus Belle Amie in
Mexico (Western)/Socorro Islands

Nautilus Belle Amie: "Pleasant trip with everything expected except a whale shark", Dec, 2019,

by James K Harris, TX, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 9 reports with 22 Helpful votes). Report 11384 has 5 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling 4 stars
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments This was my 4th trip to Socorro on the Belle Amie but the first for this time of year. I went for the ďwarmest waters of the yearĒ but found it was it was about one degree (F) warmer at San Benedicto (78-79) but 2-3 degrees (F) cooler at Roca Partida (75-76) than my trip there July 2018. It was 77-78 at Socorro Island but I canít compare to July 2018 since we skipped Socorro that trip due to storms. I was glad to have my 5mm.

The air temperature was definitely the most pleasant of my trips (May, June, July, now December) being sunny to a little cloudy most days and an air temp in the high 70ís to low 80ís.

The seas weren't as smooth as summer trips so some people were a little queasy throughout the trip.

I was looking forward to doing some dives in the southern Sea of Cortez as we had on previous trips after being told last year that I wouldnít recognize it in December (in a positive way) compared to early summer months (cold, low vis). But due to the presence of other dive boats at the Islands the dive schedule was modified and we didnít do any diving in the Sea of Cortez.

We ended up spending the first 2 days (8 dives) at San Benedicto, then went to Roca where we were one of three boats and park rules only allow 3 dives/day when 3 boats are present so we spent 2 days and 6 dives there before heading to Socorro Island to do 3 dives and check in at the Navy base followed by the night snorkel with the silky sharks and then headed back to Cabo. Apparently thereís little coordination between the various boats so the captain didnít know how many boats would be present at an island until we got there. Being flexible is the rule of the trip.

Day 1 at El Canon/Manta Rock for 4 dives had mantas, a variety of sharks (Galapagos, white tips, black tips, silver tips), a few hammerheads (not real close) on each of the first 3 dives and on the 4th we got a school of about 20 hammerheads plus other misc. sharks. Day 2 at The Boiler for 4 dives had an awesome first dive where about 6 dolphins swam to our group with 5 continued on but one swam a couple of circles around the entire group and even decided to take a long poop while passing by me the second time (Iím special!). The other 3 dives all had mantas but less and less action the later in the day it got. Days 3 & 4 at Roca Partida (6 dives) had less big pelagics than Iíve seen on early summer trips but everyone was still pleased with the sharks, big tuna (some got shockingly close to the divers, like 6-8í away), mantas, occasional dolphins, big schools of fish. One skiff got to see a school of about 100 hammerheads (closer than just faint shadows). There was some strong current at the northern end of the island that you had to fight a bit to reach a null spot where you could just sit and observe the action without spending a lot of effort. Day 5 was at Cabo Pearce at Socorro Island for 3 dives. The wind was strong around the point with swells around 4í on the first dive and growing to 6í by the 3rd dive so it was the poster child location for using large inflatable SMBs for pickup. We saw some really good silver tip sharks, had mantas on all three dives, and had 5 dolphins swim through the group but didnít stick around to play. The most mantas I saw on any one dive was 3.

The silky snorkel was different with a lot more rules than on previous trips which can only make me speculate that they must've had an incident. Must wear a full suit with gloves, remove shiny jewelry (earrings, watches), only 8 people in the water at a time, not supposed to have dive lights in the water (but I guess video lights are still ok), try to limit splashing (it attracts the sharks). It seemed like the boat didn't turn on as many lights which means the flying fish aren't as attracted which means fewer sharks. It's still neat to do but it's not the "crazy" experience it was in past years.

Iíve given kudos to the crew of the Nautilus Belle Amie before and nothing has changed in that regard. Itís an outstanding crew and the dive masters love to have fun and they know how to run a safe operation. They took great pains to explain fire safety after the MV Conception fire a few months ago and physically walked everyone through their evacuation routes (and alternates). We had a false fire alarm (not a drill) on the way back to Cabo and it was reassuring to see the crew jump to their fire roles instinctively Ė they are drilled every trip in what to do in case of fire.

At the end of the trip the crew arranges for a shuttle to the airport ($25/pp) or a free shuttle back to the Tesoro Hotel for those staying on additional days.

The Nautilus pre-trip info and Undercurrent Oct. 2019 issue have a caution about Mexican Customs assessing taxes for bringing camera housings into the country. I did not hear of anyone on my trip having a problem with that.
Websites Nautilus Belle Amie   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Galapagos, Socorro (4x), Palau, Cocos (2x), TX Flower Gardens (15x), Hawaii, Bahamas, Caymans (2x), Belize, Cozumel, Tiger Beach (2x)
Closest Airport Los Cabos Intl (SJD) Getting There DFW to SJD nonstop on American, $25 shuttle from the airport to the Tesoro Hotel via Terramar Transfers (pre-booked)

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, dry Seas calm, choppy, currents, no currents
Water Temp 75-79°F / 24-26°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 75-75 Ft/ 23-23 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions 60 min max, 130' depth, buddy not required, not required to stay with a group
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas Squadrons
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 2 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 5 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Plenty of charging tables and area to work on cameras, huge rinse tank, only concern is that after returning to the skiff at the end of the dive the cameras are placed on the floor at the front of the skiff while divers are reboarding and for the ride back to the mother ship. I haven't experienced damage from that but the possibility is certainly there.
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Report currently has 5 Helpful votes

Subscriber's Comments

By Greg Bruce in WA, US at Dec 24, 2019 13:04 EST  
Great report- Thanks for posting!
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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