Trip Report: Ninja New Years 2017 – Expedition to Socorro
On December 26th 2017 we set off on a special Ninja New Years diving expedition to the remote volcanic islands of the Revillagigedo Archipelago. Here is Jay Clue’s trip report for what goes down as one of the best dive expeditions we have ever experienced.
We’ve just returned from an amazing Ninja New Years Expedition to the islands of Socorro, San Benedicto, and Roca Partida – also known as the Revillagigedo Archipelago. These beautiful little islands hidden 240 miles southwest of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico never cease to amaze me. As I write this I’m still trying to wrap my head around everything we seen. All I keep thinking is ‘Wow… Where do I even begin!’
We had a great group of ninjas joining us from the US, Mexico, Panama, England, Egypt, and even Iceland. It was great to see so many friends we haven’t seen in so long. Some of the group met with us at Ninja HQ in Cabo San Lucas to sneak in some local dives and whale watching before heading out. On the afternoon of the 26th of December we jumped in the shuttle and went to meet the rest of the group at the hospitality suite at El Ganzo Hotel on the Port of Los Cabos. There we enjoyed a delicious dinner before we set sail. The first night was quiet with everyone tired from traveling to Los Cabos and those that arrived early tired from an awesome day of diving in Cabo San Lucas. The following day would be spent making the 30 hour crossing from Los Cabos to Isla San Benedicto for our first dives.
The next morning we had breakfast and the crew began their briefings and we set off to start unpacking our gear for the week. But, before we could even unpack our dive gear a massive pod of 100+ spinner dolphins greeted the ship and swam alongside it, leaping from the water and diving back and forth in front of the bow and surfing our waves. It was amazing to see so many of them playing around the ship like they had found their own playground here in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Isla San Benedicto
The next morning everyone was up early and eager to get in the water. We arrived at San Benedicto’s famous ‘The Canyon’ dive site and before the morning dive briefing we could already see a huge school of jacks off the stern of the ship with a bunch of silky sharks circling them. On the first dive we had a huge scalloped hammerhead come by to check us out followed by a big school of juvenile hammerheads cruising out in the blue. What a perfect way to start out the trip! Then, during the next dive, a massive black manta swooped in to say hello, and as she cruised past us the school of juvenile hammerheads came swimming by creating an amazing backdrop for her as if Neptune himself had synchronized it for us. The next dive we would get the surprise of a lifetime… a massive 4+ meter (12+ feet) long tiger shark coming in to check us out twice. Tiger sharks are extremely rare in these islands. We finished up the day diving with a bunch of silky sharks who were circling the giant school of jacks hiding under our ship.
Isla San Benedicto, Round 2
The next day we stayed at San Benedicto to dive Fondeadero and the Canyon again. We did 4 more dives filled with friendly black and chevron mantas, more hammerhead sharks than I could count, silky sharks, Galapagos sharks, tons of jacks, and what goes down as one of my top dives of all time. On dive 3 we were playing with a friendly manta in the blue and as we came back in towards the wall a school of 40+ massive adult scalloped hammerheads stormed by only a few meters in front of us. Gracefully moving through the water in unison as if we weren’t even there. This was hands down one of the most amazing shark experiences I’ve ever had. Watching this school of these massive but shy creatures passing us by so closely. Wow.. my trip was complete. I didn’t care if I would only see angelfish the rest of the trip – I would of still been content.
Diving Isla Socorro
Of course, Socorro would never let us off that easily! On night 3 we sailed to Cabo Pierce on Isla Socorro. Before we could even get in the water we could see bottlenose dolphins checking out this ship as if they were beckoning us to come play. We dropped in on the first dive and cruised down to the main cleaning station, within minutes there they were! First, a group of 5 dolphins came down circling the group. Two of them so close that I couldn’t even shoot photos of them. They played with the divers circling around and blowing bubbles. I was filled with so much excitement that my video of the experience looks like it was taken by a drunken monkey with the camera swooping around in circles. But it’s at times like this that I say forget the camera, this is something you need to experience with your eyes and not through the lens of a camera. And I’m so glad I did. I only wish I had some better video to show you how amazing it was. Thankfully Joe from our group had his camera rolling video the entire time. The next dives would be spent spotting more massive mantas, hammerheads,, silkies, & silver tip sharks.
After dive 3 we headed to the Navy base for our National Park check-in and then went for a night snorkel with all the silky sharks that had been circling our ship. If you’ve ever been in the water with silkies you know their super curious nature so you can only imagine the rush of being in the water with them at night in the dark. Afterwards we would lift anchor and head to one of my favorite dive sites in the entire world….
New Years Eve at Roca Partida
New Years Eve morning we would wake up at Roca Partida. This lone rock jutting up from 2000 meters (6000+ feet) in the middle of the ocean is the tip of a now dormant volcano that erupted underwater a long time ago. It still amazes me how anyone managed to found this rock in the middle of the sea. The dives I’ve had here have always been insane, so what better way to end 2017 than at my favorite dive site in the entire world. Our first 2 dives did not disappoint… lone hammers as well as schools of hammerheads, massive tuna, huge mantas, big schools of galagos sharks, mobula rays flying in formation, silver tip sharks, huge schools of jacks, and white tips pretty much everywhere you looked. But Roca had a surprise for us for New Years…one I definitely could not of seen coming.
All of a sudden on the last dive of the day I see Pierreric shooting out towards the blue and hear Juan screaming through his reg…. swimming faster than I had seen either of them swim all trip. I shot off after them thinking it has to be something insane… and boom… what do I see in front of us? The silhouette of a gigantic whale shark slowly swimming by. My year was made. Everyone was hugging and high fiving underwater. But Roca wasn’t done yet… a few minutes later I hear Juan screaming through his reg again and see him pointing below us… Our friendly giant had come back to wish us a Happy New Year. He cruised along the rock wall from maybe 20-30 meters below us, then right up to us slowly cruising by barely a meter (3 ft) away from me, before heading back out into the blue.
That night we went for another silky night snorkel and celebrated New Years onboard before packing up and heading back to San Benedicto to ring in the New Year diving at ‘The Boiler’.
The Boiler at Isla San Benedicto
The boiler has always been one of my favorite places to dive on the itinerary, but little did we know that the ocean had some special ‘New Years’ surprises in store for us. At 7am on New Years Day morning we hit the water and were immediately greeted by 2 beautiful mantas playing. The looped around each other for a few moments doing graceful back flips in the blue. As they made their way off into the blue we continued towards the cleaning station that makes Boiler such a famous dive. Within seconds we were greeted by a pod of playful dolphins, curious to check us out.
Then, I would see one of the cutest things I have ever witnessed under water. This may sound a bit silly coming from a big bearded guy from New Jersey covered in tattoos, but I have no other words to explain it. A baby dolphin not more than a few feet/ 1 meter long was accompanied down to the cleaning station by his mom. The baby stood vertical in the water as the bright orange Clarion angelfish began their task of cleaning. The mother shot to the surface to grab a quick breath and then returned back to the baby who looked like he had falling asleep during the cleaning. She swam up and slapped him with her pectoral fin, like “Hey wake up! It’s time to go to school!”. The baby rolled belly up and as he began to float upward another dolphin that had been escorting them came in and began to do what I can only describe as looking like it was tickling the baby’s belly with his nose. The baby shaked and wiggled just like a kid does when you tickle them. I could swear I even heard the baby giggling. Then he shot off with the mom and escort back to the surface before coming back down to investigate these curious creatures that were blowing bubbles and staring at them in awe. The pod grouped together and spent a few more minutes investigating the divers before taking off into the blue. The following dives that day would be spent playing with mantas, lazy white tips, and spotting a juvenile, and an adult, tiger shark that had been surveying the outer edges of the Boiler.
I’ve always been one of those people who didn’t really find interest in the giant parties of New Years and when asked I always have trouble remembering what I even did the year before. But this year has changed that. I’ll never forget the experience we had and can think of no better way to have closed out 2017 and rung in 2018 than diving these beautiful little islands in the middle of the ocean. And even more so to be able to share it with great friends, both old and new. The crew onboard the Nautilus Undersea Hunter was fantastic. A special shout out has to go Juan, Pierreric, Florian, Adriana, and Captain (Manta) Rey! Nautilus is lucky to have such a great team.
I’m already counting down the days until our 2018 Ninja New Years trip! Interested in joining us for the next trip? Shoot us a message here and one our team will get in touch to answer any questions and get you booked in for the next one in December 2018!
Scroll down to see what some of our guests had to say about the trip and make sure to check out the photo gallery below too!
What our guests had to say…
“We had to wait for more than 8 months, more than 240 days, since we decided to book our New Years trip to Socorro with Jay. Now that it’s all over I have to say that it was well worth the wait and worth every single penny to have this experience in Revillagigedo’s archipelago with Jay and the crew of the Nautilus Undersea Hunter. The people in the “DiveNinja” group made all this a fantastic experience, adding fantastic dive buddies and many laughs to this amazing trip. The whole adventure, underwater life, service on board, price and team deserve five stars in every aspect. Mantas, dolphins, sharks… everything that was promised and more. Thanks Jay to have us on your list for further trips, and hopefully we can repeat this one some other time. ”
— Camilo & Sabina
“I have to confess when booking the trip to Socorro my expectation levels were high yet they were exceeded in every way!! The diving was absolutely awesome – we saw so many different sharks, experienced close manta encounters, playful dolphins and viewed spectacular landscapes! From start to finish we were thoroughly looked after by the crew of Nautilus Undersea – we didn’t want for anything!
Diving with fellow DiveNinjas from around the globe was amazing, I think we have nearly as many anecdotes from our time together on board as we have memories from the dives :)
I couldn’t have thought of a better way to finish 2017 and start 2018. Thank you DiveNinja!! Here’s to the next one…..”
“Our trip to Socorro with DiveNinja was packed full with some of the most exciting, relaxing and fun diving we’ve experienced. The Manta rays appear out of the blue on most of the dives and are so graceful, the dolphins were playful and the hammerhead sharks shy but inquisitive. Add to that some brief sightings of a whale shark and tiger sharks and you have an amazing live aboard adventure. If you haven’t experienced big pelagic marine creature you are missing out.
Thanks too DiveNinja’s for organizing the trip and to the fantastic divers that made this possible. What a way to say goodbye to 2017 and hello to 2018!”
— Michael & Kristine
“This has been so far the trip of my life. It was my first time on a live aboard and diving in the Pacific Ocean. I enjoyed very much all the dives and I got to see creaters that I haven’t seen before: mantas, dolphins, hammerhead sharks, silky sharks, Galapagos sharks and why not a Whaleshark emerging from deep waters swimming along a huge rock lost in the middle of the ocean. All the dive sites where great and the divemasters and crew on board made the whole experience something awesome. The best part for me, was to be able to share these amazing dives with some of my dearest friends and having the opportunity to meet other amazing persons with a passion in common. I feel so happy that I got a spot on this trip and i definitely look forward to the next one. ”
“It was an unforgettable dive trip I’ve ever had in my life. We’ve seen mantas, dolphins, hammerheads, silky sharks and even whale shark. Pod of dolphins and gigantic mantas always came close and checked if they can play with us. It was an incredible experience to interact with such animals in a wild environment. It was my first live aboard experience which I will never forget. The crew of the ship did everything possible to make sure that we have an outstanding experience on board and in the water. Thanks DiveNinjas for organizing the trip for us and made it possible to start a New 2018 Year with an extraordinary experience!”