Revillagigedo Islands Solmar V
For big-time adventure minus the jet lag, look no further than Mexico's Revillagigedo Islands. Some 250 miles due south of the tip of the Baja Peninsula, these barren rock pinnacles, which serve as way stations for pelagics cruising the Pacific, can be explored from the 112-foot Solmar V from November through mid-June.
The Revillagigedos are most famous for attracting giant manta rays lots of them some reaching 20 feet from wingtip to wingtip. It's common to be in the water with up to 12 at once. They never tire of basking in divers' bubbles or of the gentle caress of a diver's hand across their bellies. Scalloped hammerheads ease through these waters by the hundreds and pause above the rocky volcanic substrate to wait for vividly colored clarion angelfish to rise and cleanse them of parasites and dead skin. Pods of bottlenose dolphins arrive in numbers large enough to fill the water column. Tiger, silky and Galapagos sharks can appear around any corner.
The names of rocky outcroppings such as Roca Partida and San Benedicto fall off divers' tongues with deep reverence. Roca Partida is a long way out another 9 or 10 hours beyond the start of the archipelago, which is already 26 hours from Cabo San Lucas and not always accessible, but it's a favorite of the Solmar's repeat guests. Here, a rock pinnacle rises from the ocean floor and provides anchorage of a sort for the mighty pelagics cruising the Pacific Ocean. This is one of the best places to see giant mantas. A massive column of rock becomes a condo for whitetip sharks, often found sleeping beneath the ledges. Divers use the rock as a landmark and hang in the blue to watch the action unfold. Schools of tuna are chased by sharks, both silky and Galapagos, the whole time knowing that the stealthy hammerheads are nearby, just beyond the field of vision. Occasionally, a single hammerhead boldly breaks away from the shy school and nears divers on what seems like a quick reconnaissance mission, then vanishes back into the blue.
This is a live-aboard experience with few peers in its ability to make you feel utterly alone yet unbelievably privileged. For an entire week you will anchor in uninhabited ports, unlikely to encounter another boat you won't even see the distant outline of the mainland in all the time you are at sea. Instead, you will witness unimaginable beauty as the horizon devours the sun each day and the golden light bathes the surrounding barren rocks. You'll be among the few who ever get to witness hundreds of thousands of migrating birds pausing to rest at this landmark. Then count your blessings, because while it's just you and nature out here, you get to enjoy all the comforts of home.
An endless parade of gourmet meals is prepared for you; you can comfortably rest in an air-conditioned stateroom complete with private bathroom; a TV and VCR help pass the long hours during the crossing; and a plentiful supply of fresh water is available for all of your needs.
Repeat customers board the Solmar V already knowing the divemasters from previous trips. These guys know the area, the conditions and the variables and can work out the equation that ensures the best diving on a day-to-day basis. Plus, twin compressors ensure quick fills and an endless supply of air. MP