The Nautilus Belle Amie has just returned from an epic voyage to the Revillagigedo Islands in Mexico. Diving in Socorro in December never fails to disappoint, and this voyage has been one of the best yet – as Elizabeth, or star guest and diving superstar, can attest to. If you haven’t already, read Part I and Part II of her trip for a flavor of what to expect (spoiler: never expect as the Revillagigedo Islands never cease to surprise). Just when she thought she had seen it all, the Revillagigedo Islands pulled out all the stops to end her trip with a bang…
Socorro’s Unique Topography
We got Xavi back for our second Socorro experience. I will tell you that where you start your dive is as important as where you go. Xavi smartly gave us a beautiful Sunday stroll around the ridges and sandy bottoms. Other groups went for an Olympic swim against the current – thank you Xavi!!! There were no mantas, very few sharks, and no dolphin, but do not cry for us as we finally had a chance to spend time with the smaller fishes of Socorro and it was amazing. This first dive was more like Caribbean diving, with one significant advantage – NO fragile coral. That meant we could get onto the rocks and look at everything from inches away.
Curious Animal Encounters
A puffer fish – black with white polka dots, size of your fist – was so curious that it rested against my finger, not wanting to scare it, naturally, I gave him a little side rub and he moved along. With so little interactions with humans, these fishes, sharks, mantas and dolphin are not afraid. In fact, they really seem to enjoy our presence. Like the mantas that look us in the eye, studying us as much as we are studying them. I loved this leisurely dive. It set us up perfectly for the rest of the day. We saw mantas and lots more sharks. Everyone was on the hammerhead and tiger hunt. Neither were on my personal bucket list, but I said my own little prayer that they too would get their wishes.
Joining the Pod: A Life Changing Dive
Dive two was life changing. We dropped over the wall and were immediately greeted by five wild bottle nosed dolphin. Two at the surface and three at about 85’. The large female immediately approached the divers, she literally nuzzled Doug under the chin and then rolled over. GAME ON! We spent the next hour rubbing bellies and being a temporary a part of their pod. It was hard not to weep with joy. The only ask I had was to see dolphin, this was rare and magical. It exceeded my wildest dreams. I doubt it will ever happen again and that is okay. Xavi made this trip for me as did the entire team of diver masters. Sometimes we just get really lucky. Footnote – we did see dolphin on other dives after this one, great shows, but never again did we experience their affection. Once in a lifetime possibly, but I hope not.
Underwater Photography in Socorro
On a totally different note, I did not bring a GoPro, and will do so on the next trip, for sure. If you don’t have a camera, get one!!! It is so fun every evening to look at all of the shots with the group. Getting a view from many angles will make for an excellent compilation video, hint, hint. Everyone is very generous and tries to get shots with each other in them. I am in charge of getting a Google drive for everyone to upload their best material. Totally worth it. If you want to learn the tricks of the trade for getting the perfect underwater shot, join the Backscatter Zero to Hero workshop – available for all Socorro trips.
Shout-Out to the Amazing Crew Aboard Nautilus
I would be remiss if I did not make a very special shout out to Pedro, our Engineer. He is hustling every day making the magic happen on the dive deck and everywhere else on the ship. He is an unsung hero so I wanted to say thank you to him for all he does. This is a very well-run operation and the teamwork is amazing.
After dinner, we got a guided tour of the bridge, which I highly recommend, from Captain TJ. Driving a large vessel in the pitch black with just instruments cannot be for the faint of heart – to kudos to him and Scott. I got a lesson in map reading from my new bestie, Fernando, and we stood out on the bow debating the constellations. A word of caution – watch out for Jen’s Mescal Margaritas – Limit two! Another excellent day in paradise, our last dive day is tomorrow.
The Grande Finale: The Final Day Diving in Socorro
Our Captain has been quite shrewd in his plotting and planning. When the conditions were perfect, and to avoid other boats, he took us to Roca Perdita. We had that little gem all to ourselves. Yesterday, he opted for the leeward side of Socorro which also eliminated other boats, plus it was raining like hell over there and our side was beautiful and sunny. Today we came back to where it started, San Benedicto. Although there was another boat here today, he got us here first, so we got dibs. TJ, TJ, he’s our man, if he can’t do it no one can!!
As expected, this place is the whole package. Our final dive master of the trip was also amazing – Manta Rey. Woop, Woop! He was very particular about where we started, and how we would finish the dive. We were last, so we would have the big cleaning station all to ourselves. Excellent strategy, because we saw it ALL today – Dolphin, Mantas, eight sharks at the cleaning stations at once, a big ass Galapagos shark, that is a technical term, and finally, several of our divers saw an entire school of hammerheads! There is video to prove it too! There are just no words to describe this little slice of diver heaven on earth. It would not have been possible without this crew and this boat. They are the very best. Rey was the perfect end to a perfect trip.
Feeling Christmassy: Diving in Socorro in December
Before the final dive, we took a quick skiff tour of the island. We had the privilege of the night captain, Scott, who interestingly knew tons about the volcanic rock and ash that makes up this island, as well as other nautical fun facts. As we are diving in Socorro in December, we also sang Christmas carols, a few TV show theme songs and reminisced about Land of the Lost – these islands are the epitome of that show, minus the Slee-stacks.
For my first Liveaboard experience, I give the Belle Amie, her Captain, and her Crew an A Plus. Thank you, thank you, thank you. The passengers were pretty awesome too. I am humbled to have been a part of this experience and grand adventure. I am forever changed; Socorro has stolen my heart.
Read Part’s I and II of Elizabeth’s voyage aboard the Nautilus Belle Amie. Interested in diving in Socorro in December (or any other time of year, for that matter)? Get in touch to plan your liveaboard adventure.