Best Scuba Diving in Baja California

Baja California has many different dive locations to offer. We picked six of them that we think are among the best you can find. Check out our top picks of the best scuba diving in Baja California!

Best Scuba Diving Sites in Baja California

Are you looking for your next scuba diving destination, but don’t have the budget to fly halfway across the world? Don’t get confused by the name, Baja California is not a part of California. 

Rather, it is a part of Mexico; this peninsula is a sovereign state that is dotted with mountains and has gorgeous white sandy beaches on the Gulf of California and the Pacific Ocean. It is a beautiful holiday destination in and out of the water. 

The 1250 kilometer stretch of land goes all the way from the US-Mexico border all the way to the southern tip of Cabo San Lucas. Because of the diverse waters that surround the peninsula, it offers endless diving opportunities for scuba divers.

Below we will discuss all the reasons to dive in Baja California, who can dive there, what marine life you are likely to see and of course, the best places to go diving!

Why Dive in Baja California

Baja California is a stunning location to go diving. Since it is a peninsula, it is surrounded by water on three sides, giving you a variety of different diving experiences. The water on the southern coast is warm all year round with great visibility from July to October.

You won’t be time-bound as you can visit the coast any time and you’ll be able to dive! Plus, the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez) is known as one of the most fertile seas in the world. It offers a large variety of tropical sea life to the south and colder temperature fish to the north.

The great varieties of dive sites you can find alone make Baja California a great place to visit for divers. You can get in a quick shore dive or more adventurous deep dives. The marine life on the peninsula also makes for a once in a lifetime experience. From cage diving with Great Whites to swimming alongside Whale Sharks, Hammerheads, giant Mantas, Sea Lions, and even Humpback Whales; Baja has got it all!

Is It Good for Beginners to Dive in Baja California?

Usually, with places like Baja California where there are several dive sites, you can find diving for all levels of expertise. Since the peninsula is famous for its beautiful dives, dive centers have arranged beginner dives in a lot of areas. The most popular location for beginners to dive or even for people to learn diving in Cabo San Lucas off the coast of Los Cabos.

The environments that you can dive in there are protected and enclosed with diverse and plentiful marine life. Even though these dives are ideal for beginners, there is plenty to see even for experienced divers.

Diving with Fish in Baja California

Is It Easy To Get There?

Thanks to modernity, airports, and highways have made Baja California very accessible to the rest of the world. There are multitudes of ways you can get onto the peninsula. Let’s start with the local airports. There are two international airports in Mexico that are in proximity to Baja California, namely Tijuana and Mexicali International Airports. From here, you can take one of the airport shuttles to your destination.

If you don’t fly directly to Mexico, you can fly into Lindbergh Field Airport in San Diego, and then drive down the CBX (Cross Border Xpress) aerial bridge to Baja California. If you’re feeling more boujee, there are a few airports close by that you can take private flights to. Four minutes away from the Mexico border in San Diego is the Brown Field Airport, and in Mexico are the San Felipe and Ensenada Airports that are all available for private flights.

Other than that, there is a multitude of buses and roads that lead to Baja California within Mexico as well as from the California border. This place is not a difficult destination to reach.

What Aquatic Life Can You Find?

Probably, one of the most thrilling places to dive in terms of marine life, Baja California is home to some of the greatest marine creatures. If you’re looking for whales, Baja is the place to spot them. The coasts are home to a number of different kinds from the epic Blue Whale to the celebrated Killer Whale, you’re going to see it all. The other whale species you can find include Humpback, Bryde’s, Gray and Sperm Whales.

The Sea of Cortez is also one of the best places to spot dolphins. You can easily spot Long-beaked Common Dolphins as well as Bottlenose Dolphins, and if you get lucky, you might even see a Spinner Dolphin. The diverse waters are also home to giant Manta Rays, Sting Rays, and the majestic Flying Mobula Rays. If you get a chance, seeing this acrobatic creature in action is an experience of a lifetime. They break the surface of the water and can go as high as nine feet up, flapping their “wings” before belly-flopping back into the water.

Of course, no one goes to Baja California before spotting at least one of the triumphant shark species. You can go cage diving to see the Great Whites or swim alongside the interesting looking Hammerheads, Whale or Mako Sharks.

Another diver favorite on the coast is the chance to run into a sea lion. These creatures are fun, interactive and even a little mischievous. Don’t miss the opportunity to jump into the water with them if you get the chance.

If you still want more, Baja California is also home to the gorgeous Olive Ridley Sea Turtle, jumbo squids, and a variety of pelagic fish and tropical reef fish. Whatever you’re looking for, you can find it off one of the coasts on this peninsula.

6 Best Scuba Diving Destinations in Baja California:

Loreto

Known as one of the top dive locations in the world, Loreto was once the capital of Las Californias, a region that includes modern-day Baja California and part of the western United States. Loreto is on the Sea of Cortez where it houses the Loreto Bay National Marine Park; a 500,000-acre stretch of water that is home to hundreds of beautiful fish species and underwater plants. The park is referred to as “the world’s aquarium” because of its diversity; you can expect to see whales, sea turtles, and dolphins, among the hundreds of different fish.

Level of Expertise Required:

Dolphin dives are good for all levels, even families.

Shallow dives are ideal for beginners.

Sand Falls

This is a deep dive with some very unique sights. The site gets its name from a vertical granite wall covered by a cascade of sand; the falling sand resembles a waterfall, giving the site its name. Once you are at this wonderful cliff that is decorated with sea fans on crevices, you can look down and see beyond infinity. It feels like you’re floating above a never-ending drop.  

Level of Expertise Required:

Recommended for advanced divers.

Los Islotes

This site consists of two large rocks upon which live colonies of sea lions. These playful creatures are a joy to swim with; they are known to come and interact with divers, pulling on their fins and curiously looking in their snorkels. Not only that, but the shallow dive also features a number of reef fish like angelfish, surgeonfish, and parrotfish. Orange cup corals make this site colorful and interesting to dive.

Level of Expertise Required:

Great for beginners.

Aquatic World in Baja California

The Salvatierra

This was an ex-World War I landing ship that was converted to a Mexican ferry. The ferry hit the Swanee Rock and sank to 20 meters below the water in 1976. Fortunately, no one from the hundreds of passengers on board lost their lives.

The ship is 70% intact, though it is not recommended to penetrate the wreck as it can be unpredictable and dangerous. Though you can’t go within the wreck, it has become home to a variety of marine life, including eels, Angelfish, Scorpionfish and groupers.

Level of Expertise Required:

All levels can dive here since the wreck cannot be penetrated.

Cabo Pulmo Coral Reef, Rocky Reef, and Caves

With the efforts of locals, this 20,000 year-old-reef has banned all fishing. The area is a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site and its Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park is known as the most successful reserve in the world.

Cabo Pulmo isn’t the best destination as a well-rounded vacation; however, it is a great place for diving enthusiasts. The reefs are home to many colorful fish and sea creatures, but the real sights are the magnificent Humpback Whales, Manta Rays and Bull Sharks. If you’re lucky, you might get to see the occasional Orca that swims by these waters. 

Level of Expertise Required:

Snorkeling is available for beginners, diving is available for the more experienced.

Gordo Banks

This is a pretty deep dive that starts at 35 meters at its shallowest. The bank has a few different jumping-off points that all offer the chance to see some amazing marine life.

If you get off the boat at Land’s End or Neptune’s Finger, you are likely to see Sea Lions, Reef Sharks, and Barracudas that swim along with the interesting rock formations. If you make the hour-long trek to the main area of the bank, you get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to swim amongst Hammerheads and Bull Sharks, and maybe even get to see the gravity-defying Flying Mobula Rays.

Level of Expertise Required:

Recommended for experienced divers.

What Specific Gear Do You Need To Dive In Baja California?

It is very unlikely that you will be traveling with a bag full of heavy diving gear. Dives in the Pacific Ocean are mostly done on liveaboards, some exclusively, so it is pretty easy to rent them to get to the site.

Thankfully, Baja California is frequently visited for scuba diving. You are most likely going to be able to rent any of this equipment very easily. With each location, your guide will be able to tell you what equipment is absolutely necessary, but here is a list just in case:

Compulsory Gear for Regular Dives

Additional Gear for Wreck Dives

Baja California Reef

Is It Dangerous to Dive In Baja California?

Depending on the dive and your level of experience, the danger associated with these dives varies. All dives should be done with some level of precaution. Experienced trainers on-site can guide you through the dangers of each dive individually. Wreck dives at the peninsula should be approved with an extra level of caution and should only be entered by experienced divers.  

Final Thoughts 

Just a few hours from San Diego, you can enter the magical world of Baja California. Most spots on the peninsula and the surrounding islands offer great hotels and overall holiday experiences, but this place is best for divers. The variety and kind of marine life that can be spotted around make this a bucket list destination for scuba divers of all levels of experience.

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