October 14, 2017
In March I attended an SSI conference in North Carolina. Met a lot of great people. One of them was Tonia Foster of El Mar Dive Center in Mesa AZ. At one point she was discussing she also owns El Mar Dive Center in San Carlo Mexico. They take monthly trips there to dive the Sea of Cortez . Oh look a bucket list item!
After I returned home I check their calendar against mine and found out October would be the best time for me to go. Called the shop, booked a seat, the October trip was going to be bus trip, they do bus or car caravans several times a year, October was the bus trip. . Booked a flight. I was ready to go.
Flew to Phoenix the night before. Grabbed a hotel for the evening, Early the next morning Ubered to the shop in Meza. Meet Tonia there, she was not going this month, but she had an outstanding crew of dive professional leading the trip.
Once everyone was loaded up, we headed out. Along the ride and the trip, I got to meet some great people. We stopped just north of the border for a pit spot and to pick up lunch.
The crew from El Mar had this process down. They let everyone know what to expect when crossing the border, what to expect from Mexican customs. How to act and behave to quickly and efficiently move through the check point.
We arrived late in the afternoon and checked into the hotel. The views where amazing, the pool view was from my balcony. Moving around that part of San Carlo was easy. Most everything we needed for the weekend was within a short walk.
On Friday morning we headed for the boat. They have a Newton, which has become the standard for group diving. The boat crew was from their local shop, again seasoned professionals. The dive site was San Pedro Nolasco Island, off the coast of San Carlo. The island is protected resource and a home to lots of sea birds. No worries for us we were there to dive.
All weekend the sea was calm and flat. Dive conditions where excellent. I dove in a 3 mm suit, when I go back I think will take a 5 mm. The water temps where just on the edge of needing a thicker suit.
The island is the reef. All manner of sea life is attached to the exposed base below, Respectable sizes of small and medium schools of fish swimming around. Lots of sea urchins, I had not seen them before, sections of the base where covered with them.
First day we did two dives on the south side of the island, the second day we did two dives local, just outside of the cove where the marina, the third day, on our way out to the island we saw a whale, well we got a glimpse of a whale as it surfaced for a breath, still very cool. We did three dives that day. What made the day spectacular was the sea lions, they also live on the island, a few of them decided to swim with us. It was such a blast. They are fast. They will swim by and tap you on the head with fin. They will just keep out of reach and put on a show of movement and speed, they darted in out of our group as we dove. It was such a fun dive.
Sunday night we had a group meal a Charly's Rock across the street from the hotel. We had a great time. Good People.
The next day we make our way north back across the border, That was a bit crazy, we had to stop at customs take out all of our bags, go in to the building, run our bags through airport style scanners, that was after it was check by dogs, the bus had to go off to be inspected separately. Then we loaded up again, 10 miles up the road at another check point armed border agents, looking more like military, did a walk through the bus.
By evening we had arrived back in Mesa. I had a great time on this weekend trip. Now I have to see if I can get a group of my dive buddies to join me for a return trip.