IMG_2189 (Large)Dive Sept 23, 2014 10:15 pm
Max depth – 35 feet
Water temp – 86 degrees
Dive time – 40 minutes
Location – Rock off east end of Lalo cove, San Carlos
Critters – Fish, stingrays.
I haven’t been diving in over 10 years! Now that we have a compressor on-board, we’re looking forward to a lot of diving this winter all over the sea. It felt great to get underwater again, and Brian is an amazing dive buddy. I wondered if I would remember what to do, it’s been so long. I’ve always loved diving and I remember how great it felt to join the underwater world for a brief time. As soon as I was in the water, it all came back to me and felt natural. It also brought back many happy memories of previous dives.

IMG_2283 (Large)Dive Sept 25, 2014 4:45 pm
Max depth – 45 feet
Water temp – 86 degrees
Dive time – 55 minutes
Location – Rock off east end of Lalo cove, San Carlos
Critters – Many eels (at least 6), stingrays.
We have been referring to this dive as the “eel garden” because there were so many eels of different species, sizes and colors. The first and smallest eel we saw was the size of a sharpie marker. The various eels progressed in size all the way up to a fat, green moray eel which was several feet long.

IMG_2346 (Large)Dive Sept 26, 2014 4:45 pm
Max depth – 50 feet
Water temp – 86 degrees
Dive time – 1 hour 5 minutes
Location – Rock outcropping near Marina Real, San Carlos
Critters – Free swimming Jewel Moray Eel, many other eels in burrows, stingrays, octopus.
The free swimming eel exhibited some interesting behavior as it lazily made its way along the rocky bottom; it did not appear to be hunting. The octopus was nestled in a crack in the rock at around 15 feet so we did our 3 minute decompression stop while taking turns gently petting its tentacles. As we touched it, it gently petted us back, perhaps feeling us just as we were feeling it.

IMG_2362 (Large)Dive Sept 27, 2014 2:30 pm
Max depth – 35 feet
Water temp – 86 degrees
Dive time – 65 minutes
Location – Rock outcropping near Marina Real, San Carlos
Critters – Many schools of fish, many stingrays, two eels in burrows.
This site had surge and many fish swimming in large schools. I began to notice some ear discomfort during this dive, and the next day began to have some mild pain and tenderness when I pressed on my outer ear. This is probably “swimmer’s ear” from what I’ve read. It is caused by the ear remaining warm and wet for too long, allowing bacteria to grow. I’m treating it with a solution of half white vinegar, half water, and will lay off diving until it improves. Hopefully soon!

IMG_2425 (Large)Dive Oct 1, 2014 10:30 am
Max depth – 50 feet
Water temp – 86 degrees
Dive time – 55 minutes
Location – Southwest side of Isla Venados near Bahia Algodones, San Carlos
Critters – We saw hundreds of fish, including two large puffer fishes. One puffer was chasing the other, perhaps trying to convince it to mate.
My self-diagnosed swimmer’s ear is better after treating it with vinegar and water, and I was excited to go diving again. This dive had the best visibility so far in the sea – about 60 feet! Wonderful! We surfaced halfway through the dive to check my regulator. It would occasionally make a gentle groaning sound when I inhaled, although it delivered air normally. It’s never done that before so we tried to reproduce the groaning sound with no luck. We practiced sharing air and then continued the dive without hearing the noise again.

IMG_2456 (Large)Dive Oct 2, 2014 9:15 am
Max depth – 45 feet
Water temp – 86 degrees
Dive time – 75 minutes
Location – Southeast side of Isla Venados near Bahia Algodones, San Carlos
Critters – Five plump Green Moray Eels, one free swimming between rocks! We also saw the first Nudibranch of the season, a very small, neon colored beauty hidden in a sea of coral and rock. A purple octopus retreated to its lair quickly after being spotted. On the rocky bottom sat a red and black sea star feasting on a huge, dead lobster. We saw hundreds of fish, too. It was a long, mellow, shallow dive with many fun critters.

IMG_2553 (Large)Dive Oct 4, 2014 9:15 am
Max depth – 48 feet
Water temp – 84 degrees
Dive time – 65 minutes
Location – Southwest side of Isla Venados near Bahia Algodones, San Carlos
Critters – We saw dozens of stingrays swimming around a large sandy area. I saw one flutter up out of the sand right next to me. We also saw a couple lobster, one eel, and hundreds of fish. There was a bit of surge and current at this site.

IMG_2027 (Large)Dive Oct 20, 2014 9:30 am
Max depth – 48 feet
Water temp – 78 degrees
Dive time – 65 minutes
Location – Southwest side of Isla Venados near Bahia Algodones, San Carlos
Critters – We saw hundreds of fish, one Jewel Moray Eel and one lobster. The lobster and the eel were both skittish and retreated to their caverns when we peered at them. Brian spent some time hovering around a very docile Scorpionfish. This particular fish tolerated us for several minutes as we enjoyed its grizzled appearance and Brian took a dozen photos of it. The water temperature dropped noticeably after two weeks away from the sea. It went from 84 to 78, and we could really feel the difference. Bikini diving season is coming to an end and soon we’ll be wearing neoprene. Algae seems to have bloomed recently in the sea, reducing our visibility to about 25 feet.

IMG_0109 (Large)Dive Oct 21, 2014 9:30 am
Max depth – 48 feet
Water temp – 71 degrees
Dive time – 42 minutes
Location – Small, isolated rock outcropping near Isla Venados, Bahia Algodones, San Carlos
Critters – We saw hundreds of fish, one Moray Eel and one huge hermit crab, with a shell about six inches long and a cute, captivating face with tiny, buggy eyes. The coral was the best we’ve seen in the sea this season, probably due to the strong currents at this site. When we were behind the rock the current was strong but manageable. However, once I rounded the corner and left the protection of the rock I had to find something to cling to so I wouldn’t be carried away! I felt like a rock climber as my fingers searched for a tiny hold to latch onto. I’ve only done one other dive in such strong currents. It was in New Zealand on a guided drift dive at the Poor Knights Islands. After we returned to the anchor line we decided to surface with over 1000 psi remaining in our tanks because the current at this site was much stronger than expected. We felt we handled the current safely with Brian using a line and reel to ensure we didn’t drift too far, but we also don’t want to push the envelope too much with strong currents and diving from an unmanned boat.

IMG_0181 (Large)Dive Oct 21, 2014 12:30 am
Max depth – 36 feet
Water temp – 78 degrees
Dive time – 61 minutes
Location – Southwest side of Isla Venados near Bahia Algodones, San Carlos
Critters – We saw hundreds of fish, two Moray Eels and a beautiful black flatworm with yellow and white spots. There was some mild current but it was nothing like our earlier site. It was a mellow dive as we meandered along on gentle currents and enjoyed many interesting sea critters.

IMG_0190 (Large)Dive Oct 22, 2014 12:30 am
Max depth – 46 feet
Water temp – 77 degrees
Dive time – 69 minutes
Location – West of Lalo Cove near red striped rock wall, San Carlos
Critters – Just a few minutes into the dive we spotted a beautiful, three foot long Snake Eel slithering across the rocky bottom. Its skin was orange, brown and cream. This was our first time seeing a Snake Eel in the sea. We also saw many fish and at least twenty stingrays. At one point, we were in a formation much like a hallway with rock walls on either side and a sandy bottom. The stingrays loved this hallway and they were fluttering all over the place. At one point I was swimming a couple feet up from the sandy bottom and four fluttered out of the sand right beneath me. Great dive.

IMG_0237 (Large)Dive Oct 24, 2014 2:30 pm
Max depth – 46 feet
Water temp – 77 degrees
Dive time – 48 minutes
Location – Near the southern tip of Isla Venados near Bahia Algodones, San Carlos
Critters – We were swimming back to the anchor line looking into rocky crevices when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw two tiny eyes peering over the top of a rock. It was a small octopus, exactly the color of the rock! This intelligent animal watched me closely, then watched as Sue and Brian also approached. The octopus remained tolerant of the three of us staring at it from close range, but the moment I touched one of its tentacles it retreated to its lair and placed a shell at the entrance to block us from entering. It was a memorable encounter with a sentient and watchful sea creature. We also saw many eels and fish. This was my first time diving with my mother in law, Sue. The photo is of she and I.

IMG_0348 (Large)Dive Oct 26, 2014 10:30 am
Max depth – 46 feet
Water temp – 77 degrees
Dive time – 48 minutes
Location – San Pedro Island near San Carlos
Critters – One moray eel, a few sea lions, and some Trigger Fish showing interesting behavior. There were many horizontal cracks in the rock and coral, and when we approached the trigger fish for a better view they would turn on their sides and shimmy into a crack, wedging themselves in tightly. The visibility was spectacular – about 80 feet. It’s the best we’ve seen in the Sea of Cortez this season. Wonderful dive.

IMG_0380 (Large)Dive Oct 26, 2014 3:30 pm
Max depth – 46 feet
Water temp – 77 degrees
Dive time – 48 minutes
Location – San Pedro Island near San Carlos
Critters – Two moray eels, many sea lions, one tiny lobster and an octopus! Sue found the octopus right at the end of the dive. Brian and Sue attempted to hold the octopus but it was not in a friendly mood, and inked them before it darted away to find peace and solitude. This dive was late in the day so there was not much light in the water, however visibility was great and it was an enjoyable dive with much to see. I got chilled on this dive for the first time this season. I think it’s time to begin wearing some neoprene.

Dive Oct 27, 2014 3:30 pm
Max depth – 46 feet
Water temp – 77 degrees
Dive time – 28 minutes
Location – San Pedro Island near San Carlos
Critters – One moray eel, many sea lions and fish. Tim saw a gigantic lobster. About 15 minutes into the dive I found myself feeling increasingly uneasy about the darkness of this late afternoon dive, poor visibility (only about 30 feet today) and sea lions. Brian, Tim and Sue had all experienced aggressive sea lion behavior at other sites on San Pedro Island, so I would watch the behavior of the sea lions closely while diving with them. The water was dark and large sea lions would appear suddenly out of the darkness, swoop quickly through the water near me, and I didn’t like that one bit. After a few minutes of feeling uneasy, I decided I wasn’t enjoying this dive at all and didn’t want to continue. I wrote this on my tablet and showed it to Brian and Tim, who already knew I was a bit uneasy about the sea lions and their aggressive behavior: “I don’t like this. It’s dark and vis is poor.” I gave the hand signal to turn around and we swam back to the anchor. We began our ascent and stopped at 15 feet depth for a 4 minute safety stop. During this safety stop a medium sized sea lion charged us repeatedly, and once it came at us with its mouth open wide, showing its yellow, jagged teeth. I huddled against Brian with my limbs tucked in, not moving. Tim fended off the charging sea lion with his large dive light, being careful to never turn his back on the animal. We completed the safety stop and I was glad to ascend. This was not my favorite dive but it was a valuable opportunity for learning to deal with discomfort underwater, staying calm, and remembering the importance of the safety stop when I really would have just preferred to surface and get away from the charging sea lion.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADive Oct 28, 2014 3:30 pm
Max depth – 36 feet
Water temp – 77 degrees
Dive time – 48 minutes
Location – San Pedro Island near San Carlos
Critters – Many non-aggressive sea lions and fish. Once again visibility was poor, so we decided to stay at shallower depths so there would be more light and the sea lions would be easier to see. This worked well for me and I felt comfortable diving with them in these conditions. They were in a very playful mood and exhibited no aggressive behavior today. I relaxed, enjoyed their underwater acrobatics, and shot many photos of them. At least a dozen sea lions swirled around us and they seemed genuinely pleased to share their underwater world with us! When they are being nice, there is nothing better than diving with them and seeing them up close. Sea Lions are the only animals I have ever been in the water with that seem genuinely interested in interacting with divers and also the only animals who seem curious about the stream of bubbles flowing out of a scuba regulator. I’m so glad my last dive with them on a high note, instead of leaving San Pedro with memories of that sea lion charging in dark water.

Dive Oct 30, 2014 3:30 pm
Max depth – 47 feet
Water temp – 75 degrees
Dive time – 55 minutes
Location – Red striped wall near Lalo Cove, San Carlos
Critters – Stinging jellyfish, sting rays. We cut our dive short after Brian got stung several times by a jellyfish. When we ascended, there were tentacles strung out along the anchor line, too. Gross! There are a lot of jelly fish and visibility is poor (30 feet). We’re done diving here.

IMG_0387 (Large)November 8 1:00 PM
Max depth – 52 feet
Water temp – 78 degrees
Dive time – 63 minutes
Location – Rocky point of the bay at Puerto Ballandra, Loreto area
Critters – A lot of Sargeant Majors, Cortez Angelfish, Parrotfish, and many other busy reef fish. We crossed the sea and found much better diving conditions on the other side! We named this dive The Aquarium for all the fish and the great visibility here (60 feet).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANovember 9 10:00 AM
Max depth – 38 feet
Water temp – 78 degrees
Dive time – 68 minutes
Location – Island near Puerto Ballandra, Loreto area
Critters – Many eels and fish on a shallow reef. In the photo at left are two eels with homes right above and below each other on this busy reef! We saw plenty of colorful fish including sergeant majors, leopard grouper, parrotfish and coronet fish. We took the dinghy about a mile from Magic to explore a small island and found great visibility there.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANovember 10 9:30 AM
Max depth – 59 feet
Water temp – 78 degrees
Dive time – 64 minutes
Location – The Aquarium near Puerto Ballandra, Loreto area
Critters – We love seeing Nudibranchs on our dives. Our favorite critter this time was a dark blue nudibranch with prominent, feathery gills and antennae and bright yellow spots. A school of Golden Trevallys swam right by us early in the dive, and must have been two feet long. The combined mass of them was easily 15 feet wide. They were briefly interested in us.

IMG_0437 (Large)November 10 6:15 PM
Max depth – 25 feet
Water temp – 78 degrees
Dive time – 43 minutes
Location – The Aquarium near Puerto Ballandra, Loreto area
Critters – We saw many creatures that are never around during our daytime dives, like dozens of four-foot-long sea cucumbers, sea hares, sea cucumbers, and big sleeping fish. It was fun to get a closer look at several huge fish which would normally never let me get near them while they are awake. The parrot fish pictured here was really cute, suspended in a little cave with a toothy grin on his face! The fish sleep with their eyes open and are so entranced that we could swim right up and touch them.

IMG_0449 (Large)November 12 10:15 AM
Max depth – 59 feet
Water temp – 79 degrees
Dive time – 64 minutes
Location – Candaleros Islands, Loreto area
Critters – Colorful gorgonians (coral) in red, purple, blue, white, and orange. Many eels and fish. I was stung by a jellyfish late in the dive on the arm. The pain was pretty intense, but the beauty of the dive made up for it. I need to wear my protective skin for all dives now, apparently.

IMG_0487 (Large)November 13 10:15 AM
Max depth – 50 feet
Water temp – 78 degrees
Dive time – 57 minutes
Location – Candaleros Islands, Loreto area
Critters – We enjoyed many colorful Gorgonians again, and spent quite a bit of time taking photos of them. This is the best coral we’ve seen anywhere in the sea! We also found many small fish hidden among the large corals.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANovember 14 12:00 PM
Max depth – 54 feet
Water temp – 79 degrees
Dive time – 55 minutes
Location – Isla Los Islotes, La Paz area
Critters – Los Islotes always has many fish, but the side of the island we chose seemed to have fewer fish than usual. We saw a couple sea lions during the dive, but they were not interested in us. As we ascended at the end of the dive, we saw a couple sea lions chewing playfully on the anchor and anchor line as if it were a chew toy we brought just for them.

IMG_0611 (Large)November 15, 2014 1:15 PM
Max depth – 52 feet
Water temp – 79 degrees
Dive time – 109 minutes
Location – Rock near Ensanade Grande, La Paz area
Critters – Brian pointed out a Snowflake Eel toward the end of the dive, which I had never seen before. It was beautiful with yellow and gray markings. Brian saw a sea lion, but I was watching fish intently and missed it. That was ok with me.
IMG_0635 (Large)This dive featured a scattering of small coral heads around the area where we did our safety stop, and as we peered into these coral heads we saw an amazing number of small critters using them for shelter. Many colorful crabs and small fish entertained us for quite a while, and Brian took many macro photos as we explored the coral heads at a depth of about 20 feet. That is the reason this dive was 109 minutes long. It is probably our longest dive to date!

November 17, 2014 9:35 AM
Max depth – 26 feet
Water temp – 78 degrees
Dive time – 63 minutes
Location – San Gabriel, La Paz area
Critters – Schools of fish, many Moray Eels and one small ray. This is one of our favorite snorkeling spots near La Paz and there are always many busy fish swarming the coral reef. The orange coral heads are large and flat on top, offering a perfect opportunity to peer into the coral and see the small creatures who call it home.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANovember 18, 2014 9:04 AM
Max depth – 33 feet
Water temp – 78 degrees
Dive time – 66 minutes
Location – San Gabriel, La Paz area
Critters – Plenty of fish here, as always. We also saw several Moray Eels and some larger fish. We went out to the point at San Gabriel, but it never truly dropped off and we remained at around 30 feet. Although this site is best done as a snorkel, we knew it would be awhile before our next dive since we’re headed to the US for the holidays. We enjoyed the fish, coral and plenty of light in the water.

IMG_0820 (Large)March 2, 2015 9:46 AM
Max depth – 54 feet
Water temp – 72 degrees
Dive time – 51 minutes
Location – Marietas Islands, Puerto Vallarta area
Critters – At the beginning of the dive Brian found a Zebra Moray Eel, which was very exciting. I had never seen one before. We enjoyed it for awhile, and then moved on and I spotted yet another Zebra Moray! What luck! We also saw schools of fish and at the very end of the dive Brian spotted a flounder camouflaged in the sand. Its small eyes were poking up from the sand, and that gave it away. This was our first flounder encounter in the Sea of Cortez. This fish begins life with one eye on each side of its body, and as it matures both eyes move to one side, allowing it to lay flat in the sand with both eyes watching for prey.

IMG_0957 (Large)April 1, 2015 7:52 AM
Max depth – 54 feet
Water temp – 72 degrees
Dive time – 66 minutes
Location – Mona rock outcroppings at Isla Isabel, Puerto Vallarta area
Critters – We saw many large fish, including a school of shiny, silver jacks. They always caught our eye and never allowed us to get close for photos. We saw a wonderful ruffled nudibranch with neon blue antennae. We also saw many small fish and enjoyed good visibility for Pacific Mexico (30-40 feet).

IMG_0949 (Large)April 1, 2015 12:20 PM
Max depth – 42 feet
Water temp – 72 degrees
Dive time – 18 minutes
Location – Isla Isabel, Puerto Vallarta area
Critters – We went diving right under the boat. I was trying out Brian’s dive gear, and found it did not fit well so this was a short dive. I currently use a bulky women’s jacket-style BCD which I bought over ten years ago. It is still in good shape, but is larger than it needs to be and has a “cummerbund” that often shifts around and comes loose. I wanted to try Brian’s backplate style BCD. I found I really liked the way it floated, and it makes it easier to float horizontally. However, the un-padded straps cut into my shoulders and began chafing my skin a few minutes into the dive. I would like to get a backplate style BCD, but one that is cut specifically for women and has a bit of padding so it’s comfortable against my skin. There is nothing better than a bikini dive in warm water and I want the BCD to be comfortable without a shirt under it.

IMG_1098 (Large)April 1, 2015 1:08 PM
Max depth – 17 feet
Water temp – 75 degrees
Dive time – 29 minutes
Location – Isla Isabel, Puerto Vallarta area
Critters – We saw many fish and a surprising number of lobsters. Most lobsters were small, some were medium sized. They seemed to like being in a group. A wall with many rock ledges gave them many places to hide. We also saw moray eels under these rocky ledges. We had already used a portion of the air in our tanks on the previous dive, so we used our remaining air on this short and shallow dive.

IMG_1057 (Large)April 2, 2015 8:40 AM
Max depth – 49 feet
Water temp – 75 degrees
Dive time – 61 minutes
Location – Punta Bobos, Isla Isabel, Puerto Vallarta area
Critters – This was our last dive at Isla Isabel and I spotted my favorite eel hiding under a rock! A Zebra Moray is always an exciting find. We also saw many fish and green moray eels, and the caves and arches underwater were fun to explore.

IMG_1179-1 (Large)April 19, 2015 12:06 PM
Max depth – 45 feet
Water temp – 73 degrees
Dive time – 58 minutes
Location – Isla San Francisco
Critters – We were surrounded by huge schools of fish for most of this dive. We also had great visibility of about 50 feet. This was one of our best dives in the sea so far. A large turtle even cruised by, about 30 feet away from us. It was exciting but we didn’t get a close look at it. Many of the fish swam near us, curious and photogenic.

IMG_1027 (Large)April 20, 2015 11:37 AM
Max depth – 52 feet
Water temp – 73 degrees
Dive time – 50 minutes
Location – Isla San Francisco
Critters – Fish, eels, plenty of current. I had a funny encounter with a large eel. I was clinging to a rocky outcropping to avoid being swept away by the current, when around the corner comes this huge eel. He’s swimming really fast right toward me, flying on the current. Then he spots me. He was about 5 feet away. He froze and then began swimming backward, in reverse, eyeing me. If an eel could show emotion, I could see a surprised look on his face as he slowly backed away from that very strange creature emitting bubbles!

IMG_1282-1 (Large)April 22, 2015 7:59 AM
Max depth – 40 feet
Water temp – 69 degrees
Dive time – 53 minutes
Location – San Marte
Critters – We took the dinghy about a mile from Magic and anchored next to rock. The bottom was large, course boulders and coral. This dive was really nice. We didn’t move around all that much but there was a lot of macro life. We saw two nudibranchs, one pictured and one with black skin and tiny multicolored dots. They are such fascinating macro creatures. A large Moray Eel lived in a nice crevice surrounded by different colors of coral. I posed for some photos next to this giant, and made sure I kept a safe distance from his special crevice. This was a very colorful area.

IMG_1363-1 (Large)April 24, 2015 10:43 AM
Max depth – 63 feet
Water temp – 70 degrees
Dive time – 52 minutes
Location – Rock near the north tip of Danzante. We snorkeled and saw a wall dropping off steeply and decided to dive there.
Critters – Golden Grouper, fish, great macro wall with many things to see. We found a thermocline at around 55 feet, and I got very cold when I dropped below 55 feet to see a small cave filled with colorful coral and fish. I didn’t respect the cold, and continued with my core temperature very low. While trying to get into position for a photo at the end of the dive, I flailed my arms and cut my fingers on some coral. Usually I move very gently and carefully underwater, and suspect my coordination suffered as I got colder and colder, resulting in my less-than-graceful movements.


Lisa Hackett

About the Author

Hi, I’m Lisa. I’m a tall, blonde superhero and I live in a van. I do it all. I rappel big waterfalls, drive from Idaho to Alaska solo, live and work in a van in the wilderness and dodge encounters with wolves and bears. Seriously. More

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About the Author

Hi, I’m Lisa. I’m a tall, blonde superhero and I live in a van and on a sailboat with my superhero husband, Brian. I do it all. I rappel big waterfalls, scuba dive with sharks, dodge encounters with bears and wolves, and work remotely as a full time computer programmer.
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About the Van

Hi, I’m Vanifest. I’m a big, 4x4, off-the-grid van complete with solar panel for power. I'm a 2000 Dodge Ram Van and Lisa has had me since 2009. Read more about me here.


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