La Reina – *suitable for diving and snorkeling
La Reina translates to “The Queen” and is a rocky islet located just off the northern tip of Isla Cerralvo. It is home to a small colony of around 40 California sea lions, mostly retired alpha-males banished by their successors from the main colony of Los Islotes in the Espiritu Santo National Park.
La Reina is well noted for its stunning rock formations including a submarine canyon that is carpeted with colourful sponge colonies and other invertebrate life.
This dive site is widely considered to be one of the best in La Paz, particularly from around mid-June to mid-October when an aggregation of migrating oceanic giant mantas often grace the surrounding waters.
La Reina is approximately 90 minutes of travel time by boat from La Paz.
Los Islotes – *suitable for diving and snorkeling
This rocky pair of islets are located at the northern-most point of the Espiritu Santo Archipelago. Los Islotes is home to around 500 or so California sea lions (Zalophus californianus), popular to wildlife tourism participants due to the puppy-like playful nature of the juveniles. Because Los Islotes is a no-fishing zone, the fish are present here in much of the abundance and diversity that Jacques Cousteau once described.
This site is suitable for both scuba divers and snorkelers because much of the marine life, including the sea lions, occupy shallow waters close to the rocks.
Los Islotes is around 60 – 80 minutes by boat from La Paz.
Swanne Reef – *suitable for diving and snorkeling
This shallow rocky reef habitat is located in the centre of the San Lorenzo Channel between La Paz and the Espiritu Santo Archipelago. Laying in around 10 metres of water at its deepest point, Swanne Reef or Swanne Rock is abundant with both vertebrate and invertebrate life. It is a popular fishing destination for California sea lions who like to float on the surface in-between diving down to feed in schools of fish. The reef’s crown falls just short of the surface making it easily accessible to snorkelers.
Fang Ming (shipwreck) – *suitable for diving only
The Fang Ming is a Chinese shipwreck laying in around 20 metres of water. Following her seizure by the Mexican Authorities for attempting to smuggle illegal migrant workers into the United States, she became the very first intentionally sunken ship for an artificial reef in all of Latin America.
Some 19 years later, the Fang Ming has transformed into a sanctuary for marine life harbouring numerous species of fish, rays and sea turtles. This shipwreck is sheltered from much of the effects of winds and swells by Isla Espiritu Santo making it suitable for divers of all levels.
El Salvatierra (shipwreck) – *suitable for diving only
In the mid-1970’s the Salvatierra ferry met with Swanne Reef and consequently sank shortly after, settling in around 18 metres of water in the San Lorenzo channel. Before she could be salvaged, Hurricane Liza hit La Paz tearing most of the housing from the deck of the stricken ship.
The Salvatierra remains to this day and has attracted an abundance of marine life that can be enjoyed by divers year-round.
Huge groupers and sea bass can be seen cascading down into the depths on all sides of the wreck. This marine oasis attracts stingrays, mobula rays, sea turtles and huge schools of fish and is covered with invertebrate life. Sea lions will occasionally pass by to snatch a few fish.
San Rafaelito – *suitable for diving and snorkeling
This rocky islet is surrounded by healthy coral communities that support an abundance of marine life. Located just outside of the beautiful Balandra Bay National Park, San Rafaelito is home to a small breeding colony of around 40 or 50 California sea lions.
El Bajo – *suitable for diving only