What makes our trips special
Our pre-trip information packages outline boarding information, what to pack, rentals and other details. Please read the pre-trip package for the latest and most up-to-date information about your upcoming trip.
Guadalupe Great White Sharks
(Updated Jan 2021)
Sea of Cortez
(Updated Dec 2020)
San Ignacio Lagoon Gray Whales
(Updated Dec 2020)
Our job is to keep our guests and crew safe. Now more so than ever during the COVID crisis. Please ensure that you arrange for a COVID PCR-test within 7 days of boarding. Please bring your printed results, and your temperature log with you for pre-boarding check-in. We are implementing the COVID testing starting on the Nov 28 trip. Per CDC guidelines, if you test positive and are asymptomatic it is recommended that you get a second test. A false positive could occur in which case you will want the retest results. IF you do test positive, we require a doctor’s note or medical report confirming the diagnosis, and you will receive a full credit towards a makeup trip on a later date of your choice. All of our crew members are regularly tested, both on and off the boat. Please read details in our COVID protocol PDFs here.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is included in the trip?
Accommodation, all meals (continental breakfast, breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert), non-alcoholic beverages and snacks, use of kayaks and stand up paddleboards (on Socorro Island trips only), weights, weight belts, aluminum 80’s and air, daily room service, towels, in-water divemastering, end of trip slideshow DVD and onboard facilities such as the hot tub and lounge.
Port Fee of $65.00 USD per person payable in cash onboard, transfers between airport and hospitality suite, gift shop purchases, bar, crew gratuities, dive gear rentals and optional wi-fi access onboard. Nitrox is available for $20.00 USD per dive day.
Proof of Dive Insurance from a reputable provider, such as DAN or Dive Assure, is required when you check in to the hospitality suite for all of our trips. No need to worry, we can assist with this purchase once you arrive! Please note, travel insurance cannot be purchased last minute after a weather event has been “named.” Please check out our Storm Policy.
Weather & Clothing
Surface weather at Socorro Island and Guadalupe Island is similar to southern California climate. Very warm during the day, and cool at night. Summer clothing should be fine for your trip. We recommend bringing a sweater, pants and a windbreaker/rain jacket.
A satellite phone is available onboard with airtime charges of $3.00 USD per minute. Should you want to leave an emergency number for family and friends at home, please use our office number, +1-604-241-1918. If it is outside office hours there will be an emergency number on the answering machine for our on call shoreside duty officer.
Customs & Cameras
Unfortunately, we have received recent reports of isolated incidents where guests have been charged taxes for bringing their camera housings into Mexico. This is a transgression of your rights as an international passenger and a violation of both Mexican and international law. The company is investigating this, and in the meantime, we would like to provide you with this information to help improve your experience at Mexican customs.
As an international passenger, you are entitled to bring without paying taxes, two cameras or video recording devices, and their accessories. An underwater housing unit is a camera accessory which fits your camera and allows control and usage of the device while diving. As the housing can only be functional when used with your camera, it should be considered a part of your “two cameras with their accessories” luggage allowance.
For more information, please see our Customs & Cameras page in your pre-trip information package or through our link here.
We have learned that the safest alcohol policy is to restrict guests from bringing their alcohol onboard. We provide a wide selection of beer, wine and alcohol from the ship’s bar at very reasonable prices. Please contact our operations office 60 days prior to your trip for a variation from this policy otherwise the crew will politely but firmly restrict all guests on your trip from bringing their own alcohol onboard. Please note, we have a strict drinking and diving policy onboard. When your drinking starts, your diving stops.
How much should I tip?
Crew gratuities are customary in this part of the world if you think the service is deserving, typically $250-350 per guest.
Can I smoke?
Yes, there is a designated smoking section on each boat. The crew onboard will be happy to show you.
How can I pay my onboard charges?
Onboard charges can be paid by Visa, MasterCard or cash. Please note, park and port fees must be paid in cash only.
What kind of outlets are onboard?
All our vessels are equipped with standard North American outlets that put out 110 volts. Please bring appropriate adapters if your electronics need a different format.
Food & Drink
You can expect a fusion of Mexican and West Coast North American food with fresh baking, produce and vegetables. Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, food allergy options, and quasi kosher menus are available with at least 30 days prior notice.
Pre-Dive Continental Breakfast
A pre-dive continental breakfast with fresh baked goods, a fruit plate, homemade granola, a choice of cereal, yogurt, toast, fresh orange or mango juice and oatmeal.
Breakfast is usually served after the first dive and will be a mix of buffet and cooked to order. While menus are always subject to change and refinement, our “hotel breakfast” presently includes eggs to order, omelets, eggs benedict, french toast, pancakes, bean & rice burritos, muffins, hashbrowns, turkey bacon and sausages.
Lunch is served with salad and soup of the day and presently includes Deli style sandwiches with fresh bread, homemade italian style pizzas, fish tacos, burgers, fajitas with fresh salsas, tostadas, quesadillas and lasagna.
Our hostesses will be on the back deck to meet you after every dive with a big smile and a tray of goodies, drinks, and snacks. Afternoon snacks include a selection of the following; homemade cookies, brownies, sushi, cheese and cracker plates, chicken wings, assorted cakes, freshly baked muffins, banana bread, artichoke dip, ceviche, nachos, melted brie, ice cream, vegetable platters with dip and all sorts of other yummy stuff.
Dinner is served plated, buffet or family style. There is a nice array of both Mexican and American style meals. Some of the delicious dishes include: street taco night, roast beef, salmon teriyaki, clam alfredo and New York grilled steak.
Tea, coffee, water, juice, soda are included in your trip price. We also carry a wide variety of alcoholic beverages stashed in our onboard bar including: red wine, white wine, champagne, vodka, gin, tequila, rum, mezcal, brandy, bourbons, single malt scotch and beer (Mexican and domestic)
Am I going to see great white sharks?
Yes, you will see great white sharks on this trip! The number of sharks in the bay that we dive in varies from year to year. We have identified over 366 different sharks. In September, 2018 we saw over 50 sharks in three days. In all of our years of shark diving, we have only ever had two people who did not see sharks, which was way back in our second year of operation.
Do I need to be a certified diver to get in the water?
You do not need to be certified to jump into the water with the great white sharks on one of our trips. Surface cages are open to divers and non-divers alike. Please note that you do need to be a certified diver to enjoy the submersible cages.
When is the best time to go?
We only operate in peak season, July to November. July and August is when the males gather and are jostling for position. It has been said that they are like a bunch of rowdy teenage boys! The smaller females typically start showing up near the end of August, and they mingle with the males. October and November is when the dominant and reproductively successful females arrive. We call these the “Big Mommas”!
What is the diving like at Guadalupe Island?
Adventuring out to Guadalupe Island is all about getting in the water and being closer to great white sharks then you ever imagined. It’s a one day open ocean sail out to Guadalupe Island. The island is 25 miles long and we anchor where the waters are almost always calm. The truly amazing thing about this destination is the sheer number of great white sharks. Please visit the Guadalupe Island page for details, photos, cage diagrams and more.
When should I book my flights?
We suggest flying in the day before the boat departs. This allows time for any delays or missing baggage. After the trip we also suggest you depart the following day to account for any delays at the border.
What airport should I fly into?
Either San Diego California or Tijuana International usually connecting through Mexico City. Many of our guests from Europe, South and Central America and Asia prefer to connect through Mexico City.
Where should I stay before my trip?
We highly recommend a convenient airport pickup by the hotel transportation directly to the beautiful Hotel Coral in Ensenada. The resort is a great place to decompress before venturing out to Guadalupe Island with full services from spa and massage to kayaks and bikes. Ensenada is one of our favourite places and has become the gastronomic and wine destination in all of Mexico. For those who prefer to stay in San Diego, we recommend the Four Points Sheraton and can get you a great rate at this 4 star hotel.
Where do I meet the boat?
Waterfront Marina Bar and Grill at the Hotel Coral. Check-in is available from 3pm onwards on the day of departure. Your ship will board at 9:30pm.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you make your own way to Ensenada from the United States, you MUST STOP at the IMN Immigration Office at the border and OBTAIN an FMT TOURIST PERMIT. The Mexican Authorities will not allow anybody without this permit to board our ships.
What is the diving like at Socorro Island?
After an overnight voyage we arrive at these Jurassic Park-like islands and with a little luck from mother ocean will experience interactions with our giant mantas unlike anywhere else. The mantas of the Socorro Islands love divers, they love to swim with divers, love to feel our bubbles hitting their bellies and then they quiver with excitement. Socorro is also home to humpback whales, dolphins and up to 10 types of sharks. Please visit the Socorro Island page for details, photos, wildlife calendar and more.
Where should I stay and what can I do before my trip ?
Imagine yourself getting picked up at the Cabo San Lucas airport and whisked to the property of your choice whether it’s a beautiful private villa, local hotel or resort. We highly recommend the villa option where your only decision is whether you want a private chef and what type of wine you would like to be waiting for you on arrival. This is all part of the door-to-door concierge service Cabo Villas is proud to provide for Nautilus divers.
In addition to accommodations, our partners at Cabo Villas offer numerous adventures before your Liveaboard excursion begins. From ocean-based activities like sailing, parasailing, or kayaking, to land based adventures like ATV tours and zip-lining, Cabo Villas has it all. Have a look at the activities available.
What airport should I fly into?
You will fly into the San Jose del Cabo airport (SJD), and then proceed to our dive center at the Tesoro Los Cabos in Cabo San Lucas.
When should I fly in?
At least 1 day before departure given our experience with airlines having mechanical problems, losing luggage or even cancelling flights. It’s a one-day sail from Cabo out to Socorro which means the ships cannot wait for guests who have missing luggage or missed their flight, otherwise everyone else will also miss a day of diving.
Where do I meet the boat?
Please meet us at our dive center located at the Tesoro Los Cabos in Cabo San Lucas, where you can leave your bags and then tour town and enjoy a nice dinner before boarding the ship. The crew is working hard right up to boarding time to get the ship in tip top condition so please meet us at our hospitality suite and not at the boat.
What should I bring?
- Valid Passport
- Visa (if required)
- Credit Card (if applicable)
- Hooded Vest (recommended)
- Wetsuit (5-7mm recommended)
- Personal toiletries
- Camera gear
- Plenty of film/memory cards
- A good book
The ship disembarks at 8:30am. If flying out on the day of disembarkation, we recommend booking a flight no earlier than 12:00 pm.
San Ignacio Lagoon
Will I see gray whales on this trip?
Yes, you will see gray whales! You may even have the chance to physically interact with the whales as they often approach our pangas. San Ignacio Lagoon is also home to a variety of bird species including nesting ospreys and egrets.
Why are we trying to touch whales? Is this bad for them?
Gray whales are normally shy and reclusive but their behaviour changes when they are in the lagoon. These whales were thought of as dangerous because they fought back hard against the whalers who nearly exterminated them when they discovered the breeding and birthing lagoons in the 19th century. It was only 30 years ago that a local fisherman bravely put his hand out to touch a whale who approached his panga. Much like the misunderstood orca – or “killer whale” – it became apparent that these highly intelligent animals in the lagoon were actively seeking out physical interaction with humans. It’s entirely their choice to approach our pangas and rub up alongside to be touched and stroked. Amazingly enough, the whales will grow bored with humans after several minutes if we don’t physically interact with them. It’s clear to us that the whales are actually reaching out to us, not the other way around. It touches our hearts. It’s amazing and emotional. We will never betray their trust nor allow any whale to be harassed.
Is COVID a risk to the local community of San Ignacio?
We have engaged in discussions with the local panga captains and community and they are very much looking forward to receiving guests this year as a large portion of their annual income is dependent on ecotourism. We are dedicated to taking every possible measure to protect local community members.
What about the whales?
This is a factor still unknown to us. We are taking every precaution to protect our guests, staff, and the gray whales. We are requiring guests to be tested for Covid-19 before their trip. Extensive protocols are in place in our camp, including sanitizing hands and wearing masks while on the pangas. Guests will be able to touch the whales but we ask to refrain from kissing the whales and putting our hands inside their mouths this season.
What do you mean by virtually unlimited whale watching?
Two things. We reckon that if you have travelled all the way to San Ignacio Lagoon for gray whale encounters, we should facilitate as much time with the whales. If you want, we will start early when the reserve opens at 8:00 am. with 2 back-to-back sessions before lunch. And then 1 or 2 more sessions after lunch! Or you can take it easy and do a couple of sessions in the morning and then relax and enjoy other activities in the afternoon. The other thing to note is that a maximum of 20 pangas are allowed in the reserve at one time while there are 26 permitted pangas. This means that during very busy peak season, each panga can stay in the reserve for 90 minutes and then needs to step back to allow another waiting panga in. The other camps typically do 2 whale watching sessions, one at 10:00 am and another session at 2:00 pm. We like to start early and finish late to avoid crowding with the other boats.
What kind of camping accommodations can I expect?
Standard tents are safari-style with adjustable twin beds or 1 king bed. The Superior Suite tents are Weatherhaven tents with flooring and attached private head and shower, offering 2 twin beds or 1 king bed. Premium Tents are more spacious with a private sitting area. We have a central palapa that hosts the dining area, bar, and lounge, as well as our nightly natural history sessions.
Can children come on this adventure?
Yes! We welcome all children over 5 years of age to Camp Tio Timo. Our Clubhouse tent is the perfect place to spend time as a family with activities great for all ages on offer from ice cream treats to board games. The Premium Tent is ideal for families looking to share accommodations as there are 2 sofa beds for children.
How often can I shower?
Water is a precious commodity in the desert. We have ample water on-hand for you to take a hot shower every day but please limit it to that. We also have a couple of propane powered hot tubs in camp and there are few things more spectacular than relaxing in a hot tub under the incredible star lit sky. Hotels talk about being 4 or 5 star. BAHHH!!! We say that our camp is 5 million stars!
What can I do in my free time?
We have kayaks available in camp for you to take out for a paddle on the calm lagoon waters. You can take a walk to explore the pristine shoreline and tidal pools. Birders will love to check out the local avian population. Relax at camp with a book or have a cold drink at the bar.
Why do your trips leave out of Cabo San Lucas?
Because the shortest charter flight to the Lagoon is from Cabo which is super easy to get to with service from 15 different US cities, most of Mexico and even direct flights from overseas. Because Cabo San Lucas in the winter and spring is a really fun place to visit!! Because you won’t have any border crossing hassles. And because we offer all sorts of other activities from our Cabo base including swimming with whale sharks and other adventures into the Sea of Cortez, scuba diving including our Socorro giant manta liveaboard trips, Backscatter photography workshops and much more.
How do I get from SJD to Cabo San Lucas?
Sealine Cabo Transfers is our recommended provider of airport transfers to and from Cabo San Lucas. For booking, please email Paco at email@example.com
What airport do I fly into?
SJD Los Cabos International for both commercial airlines and private aircraft.
When should I fly in?
Due to our morning flight time, you should plan to arrive to Cabo San Lucas the day prior to your trip. We will have a complimentary whale watching trip to see humpback whales as well as a BackScatter photography workshop on offer for you to enjoy!
Do you have a hotel recommendation in Cabo San Lucas?
Yes, we recommend the Solmar properties. They have several properties from 3 star through 5 star luxury and the very best location in Cabo San Lucas, with a private beach and only a few minutes walking distance from the marina. Please contact us for rates and booking!
What will the plane ride be like?
We charter a late model Cessna Grand Caravan 208 with 13 passenger seats, large cargo pod and leather seats and air conditioning.
Is there another way to get to camp or do I have to fly with you from Cabo San Lucas?
We are very happy to host you no matter which way you arrive from camp and you will save money with a self-arrival. It’s a 13 hour drive plus border crossing from California. or a 6 hour drive from Loreto. Pilots are welcome to fly in to the 4000 ft dirt airstrip adjoining our beach camp. Alternatively, there is an 8000 ft paved runway 2.3 hours away at Guerrero Negro with either charter flight or ground transfers to the Lagoon. Guerrero Negro airport is tightly guarded by the military and your airplane will be happy and safe while you are in camp. We have our own aircraft and are happy to assist with arrangements.
Can you accommodate special dietary requirements?
Yes! With 30 days notice, we can provide delicious vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options.
What will the weather be like?
Average daily high temperatures are 20-25°C (79-86°F) with nightly lows cooling down to 8- 10°C (48-52°F). Precipitation is very minimal. Plan to wear layers as you will be exposed to sun
and wind on the boat, and cooler temperatures and windy conditions at night in camp.
Will it be quiet in camp or will a generator be droning away?
Our eco-beach camp is silent. But don’t be fooled!! You will still be able to enjoy electrical powered luxuries from the cappuccino machine to toaster to ice machine. Much more
importantly, in this day and age, we have commercial dishwashing sanitizers to keep everyone safe from viruses.
Is there a maximum baggage allowance on the airplane?
The aircraft operator limits us to 10 kg of baggage per person which doesn’t seem like much until you realize that you only need to bring clothes for 4 days of whale watching plus toiletries, camera and computer. We will happily store any suitcases or excess gear in our Cabo warehouse. We know that serious photographers or astronomers might want to bring a lot more gear. Please contact our office and we will arrange this for you.
What should I pack?
Comfortable clothes for camp (cotton t-shirts and long sleeve shirts, shorts or pants), windbreaker, a sweater for cool nights in camp, sleepwear, water friendly sandals, tennis shoes, flashlight, reusable water bottle, insect repellent, your camera, hat, sunblock, personal medicines. There are no ATM’s in San Ignacio so please bring all necessary cash.
Optional: computer or electronic devices, binoculars
When is the best time to go?
We only operate in peak season when large numbers of whales are present, from January through April.
What kind of insurance is required for this trip?
Due to San Ignacio’s remote location, we require all guests to have current evacuation and emergency medical coverage. We recommend packages from Dive Assure. If you are purchasing coverage for just this adventure, you can select “non-diving trip” for best pricing.
What are the boats like?
The whale watching excursions take place on local “panga” style boats. They are about 7-8 meters in length and have bench seating.
How many guests will be on each boat during whale watching?
We will ensure a maximum of only 6 guests per panga to provide the highest quality, most personalized experience for each visitor. This ensures you will have the best opportunities for whale interactions!
Where do we meet?
We will pick you up directly from your Cabo San Lucas hotel at approximately 7:00 am on the day of your trip.
When will I return to Cabo San Lucas?
Your charter flight will return to Cabo San Lucas on Day 4 at about 1:00pm. We recommend scheduling your departure flight no earlier than 3:30 pm.
What can I do in Cabo San Lucas before or after my trip?
Plenty! Take a day trip to the Sea of Cortez to snorkel with sea lions and whale sharks, or book a day dive with our See Creatures Dive Center. Extend your trip and join one of our Liveaboard Dive sailings. Or, relax by the pool and enjoy some sun at one of our partner resorts.
Do I need a passport or visa?
All guests must have a passport valid 6 months from entry. Visas are required from certain countries, please check your specific requirements online.
Will it be quiet in camp or will a generator being droning away?
Our eco-beach camp is silent. But don’t be fooled!! You will still be able to enjoy electrical powered luxuries from the cappuccino machine to toaster to ice machine. Much more importantly, in this day and age, we have commercial dishwashing sanitizers to keep everyone safe from viruses.
Is Wi-fi available in camp?
YES!! There is a wifi network throughout camp with satellite connection to the internet that is complementary to all of our guests. Please note that satellite service will be much slower that you are used to with broadband, so while Whatsapp messages and text emails will work just fine, streaming and video are not compatible.
What happens in the case of an emergency?
Our camp operates with the same emergency preparedness and protocols as our ocean going liveaboard ships. You can be sure that camp will be stocked with an AED, emergency oxygen and extensive first aid equipment and that we have “first responders” on staff. In the very unlikely event of a medical emergency, medevac flights are available to an acute care hospital in Cabo. Camp Tio Timo is equipped with fire fighting gear including pumps and water supply and staff trained and equipped with SCBA and turnout gear.
What kind of insurance is required for this trip?
Due to San Ignacio’s remote location, we require all guests to have current evacuation and emergency medical coverage. We recommend packages from Dive Assure (link or button). If you are purchasing coverage for just this adventure, you can select “non-diving trip” for best pricing.
What’s included in the trip price?
Comfortable, fully catered camping with provided bed linens and towels. Non-alcoholic beverages, guide service, washrooms with flushing toilets and showers, biodegradable toiletries, 2-4 whale watching excursions per day, battery charging station.
What’s NOT included in the trip price?
Reserve and airport landing fee of $35 USD per person, alcoholic beverages, single occupancy (25% surcharge), and if you think the service is deserving, crew gratuities – typically between $250-300 USD per person.