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. 

Wow…

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.

Scuba diving with giant mantas in Socorro
Ocotpus at Pelican Rock Los Cabos Scuba diving

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.

Baby humpback whale watching in Cabo San Lucas , Baja Sur, Mexico

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’.

Scuba girls silky shark diving in Cabo San Lucas, MexicoScuba girls silky shark diving in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico