Revillagigedo Islands (Socorro)

The Revillagigedo Islands, often called the Socorro Islands, are a group of largely-uninhabited volcanic islands lying approximately 250 miles southwest of Cabo San Lucas at the tip of the Baha penninsula. The archipelago is owned by Mexico, which maintains a small naval base on Socorro, the largest island in the group; the other three islands are San Benedicto, Roca Partida and Clarion. Clarion Island lies far to the west of the main group, and is seldom visited. The other three form a triangular grouping far from the Mexican mainland. The waters surrounding the islands are designated as a Mexican national protected area, and no fishing or collecting is permitted.

The largest island, Socorro, measures approximately 10 miles across, while San Benedicto is much smaller, and Roca Partida is only a tiny twin-peaked rock jutting from the vastness of the Pacific, nearly 70 miles west of Socorro. Isolated from other land masses, the group of islands is sometimes referred to as the "Mexican Galapagos," possessing their own unique ecosystem.

The islands isolated location and steeply sloping undersea topography causes many varieties of pelagic marine life to congregate in the surrounding waters. For divers, the islands represent an opportunity to get a close look at some of these species, including the famous manta rays, sharks, dolpins, whale sharks and, during the winter months, humpback whales. The only practical way to visit the islands is by liveaboard dive boat.


Dances with Mantas...



November 2021

In November 2021, I made my second trip to these islands aboard the liveaboard dive vessel Rocio del Mar. The boat and crew were fantastic, and the marine life encounters on this trip far exceeded my earlier trip to these magnificent islands.

Rocio del Mar

San Benedicto Island

San Benedicto Island
At San Benedicto Island, we were treated to sharks and magnificent manta encounters; at times it was reminiscent of the acrobatics seen at an airshow...

Socorro Island

Socorro Island
At Socorro Island the manta show continued with close encounters with up to four animals at once, often flying in formation
We were treated to one all-too-short quality encounter with a group of dolphins . . .including one animal that blew a bubble for me!
The famous schooling scalloped hammerhead sharks were rather elusive, but we did manage at least one reasonably close encounter, but even then the sharks preferred to stay in the deep gloom of the ocean

Roca Partida

Roca Partida--a guano-covdered rock, literally in the middle of the Pacific Ocean
Roca Partida is a lonesome outpost in the middle of the Pacific Ocean; a steep volcanic pinnacle rising from the ocean depths provides a natural attraction for the ocean's pelagic species
Numerous small shelves along the steep walls of this rocky pinnacle often featured small white tip sharks congregating in small groups (left); a group of silky sharks herds a group of jacks, surely looking for an opening (right)
Over two days we had intermitent sightings of several whale sharks


Equipment used: Canon 5DmkIV camera and Canon 28-70mm lens w/ WACP in Nauticam housing


February 2008

In February 2008, I made my first trip to these islands, and spent 9 days aboard the fabulous Nautilus Explorer diving around the islands.

Nautilus Explorer

The magnificent manta rays at Socorro Island

While snorkeling with dolphins and sharks behind the boat one afternoon, we had the incredible fortune to witness a "flyby" by a humpback whale. We had been seeing them in the area the entire trip, and could hear their haunting songs throughout most dives, but to actually see one in the water was a special treat.


We often caught fleeting glimpses of massive schools of yellow fin tuna in the distance....

schooling fish beneath crashing wavessilky sharka diver is dwarfed by a giant manta


Equipment used: Canon 5D camera and Canon 16-35mm lens in Seacam housing

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