So Near - Revillagigedos
The Revillagigedo Islands have often been described as Mexico's Galápagos. For divers, that's an apt depiction: It's one of the world's best places to enjoy close encounters with charismatic megafauna. During several trips on the Solmar V, I've dived with and photographed mantas, whale sharks, dolphins and humpback whales, along with hammerhead, tiger and other varieties of sharks. Of course, not all were on the same trip. If wild places gave up their bounty so easily, everybody would visit.
In one important aspect, this isn't the Galápagos: There's no place to land on the four rugged volcanic islands that make up the archipelago. So, it's essential to have a comfortable base of operations. That's where Solmar V excels. It's been making this trip for 17 years, and several crew members have been aboard since the early days. It's by far the most-experienced dive boat that plies these remote waters. Its sparkling paint job and interior speak to diligent maintenance and upgrades. From its elegant mahogany, brass and glass dining room to its spacious dive deck and camera table to the attentive service of the crew, Solmar V offers a luxurious way to experience the wilderness.
In the Revillagigedos, you can expect the unexpected. On my most-recent trip, I briefly encountered a school of pilot whales and false killer whales. Coming back to The Boiler at San Benedicto, we expected the usual habituated mantas. What we got instead was a pod of friendly dolphins. Dolphin encounters are usually short, with the animals showing little interest in humans. This time was different. Everything happened in slow motion, as some 20 animals calmly gathered and cavorted right in front us, while the songs of distant humpbacks reverberated in our chests. This went on for longer than 10 minutes, easily the longest dolphin encounter in my many years of diving.
During June in the Gulf of California, nature trips including birding, kayaking and land hikes are available. It's an opportunity for nondivers to experience a world-class dive boat without getting wet.
Solmar V is a 112-foot luxury vessel that carries a maximum of 22 passengers in 12 staterooms, served by a crew of 10. Diving is done from the swim step or from two rigid-hull inflatable Pangas. Nitrox is available.