The Nautilus Explorer focuses on natural shark interaction and attracts by avoiding feeding sharks. They believe the best way to observe great white sharks is to descend and interact with them on their own terms from double-decker submersible cages. Conditions permitting, you can get out from behind the bars on the upper deck of these cages and with enjoy the view with only a single handrail between you and these incredible apex predators. Their highly experienced dive masters in the cages are always there to both “critter point” and ensure your safety.
A 20-hour voyage leaving from San Diego brings you to Guadalupe Island. This small volcanic island located in the Pacific 240 kilometres (150 miles) off the west coast of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula can outperform both South Africa and Australia with shark-seeing consistency and watch conditions.
Visibility at Guadalupe is typically 125-150 feet in the gorgeous blue water. You typically make 3 – 4 dives per day and though they cannot actually advertise a guarantee you’ll see a shark, the amount of resident sharks pretty much guarantees regular sightings. Male resident great whites grow up to approximately 15 feet long while the females get up to about 18 feet. Diving is done via surface supplied “hookah” with backup dive gear in each cage.
Typical trips are 5 nights/6 days long but there are some trips that run 9 or 10 nights and combine Guadalupe Island with San Benitos.
Socorro is famous for some of the most amazing, close up, big animal diving interaction in the world. The Nautilus Explorer’s experienced divemasters and crew have years of know-how and will ensure unforgettable, up-close, intimate encounters and the experience of a lifetime with giant mantas and bottlenose dolphins. Large tuna, wahoo and six different kinds of sharks frequent these dive sites as well as seasonal visitors: humpback whales, whale sharks, and schooling hammerheads. Visiting these islands is like taking a step back in time and there is no finer or more seaworthy and comfortable vessel to do it than on the Nautilus Explorer.
A 22 hours voyage from Los Cabos, Mexico brings you to the giant Pacific mantas, the largest of the rays and some of the most majestic creatures in the ocean. Growing up to 7 meters wide, but usually average about 5 – 6 meters, these giants choose to interact with divers! They come in very close – less than 1 meter! – make eye contact with you and then swim along beside you – totally on their terms. What is even more extraordinary is that the local population of bottlenose dolphins have learned to mimic the behavior of the giant mantas. It is very likely that these wild dolphins will also move in close and intimate to divers during your trip. Again, the focus here is on natural interaction with these amazing creatures, and the crew find the mantas respond better to calm divers. Socorro visibility ranges from 60 to 150 feet plus in blue, blue, blue water.
Shark sightings are also very good at Socorro island with common sightings of silky, galapagos, hammerhead, white tip and silvertip sharks. Whale sharks are usually spotted at the beginning of and the latter part of the season. A population of 1200 humpbacks moves into the island’s waters in January and chances are excellent that you will have encounters with these mighty giants. You may even hear them singing through the hull of the ship at night as you lie in your bunk. Schooling hammerhead sharks may be seen at any time but the best chance to see large schools up close is April – June.
There are 6 dive days on an 8-night trip and you will visit 3 different islands of this beautiful remote and deserted archipelago, including San Benedicto, Socorro and Roca Partida. Other trips vary in length including 8 nights, 9 days trips, and they also offer 10- and 12-night combo trips that combine diving at Socorro with the best of the Sea of Cortez. 15-night combo trips combining Socorro with Clipperton Island are also available and 15-night combo trips with the great white sharks of Guadalupe Island.
Diving from the Nautilus Explorer
Your comfort is top priority everywhere onboard. The Nautilus Explorer was carefully designed to be very safe with heavy, strong steel construction and extensive soundproofing. The vessel’s hullform, passive stability system and bulbous bow provides for a remarkably easy ride while heavy-duty commercial grade systems ensure that you have a smooth-running voyage. A water level platform aft of the dive deck provides easy entry into dive skiffs, kayaks and Laser sailboat.
The Nautilus Explorer caters to the more experienced diver and it may not be suitable for less experienced divers or those with poor physical conditioning or dive skills. Divers are required to be capable of swimming 50 – 100′ on the surface (in a no wind or current situation). They treat guests the way they would like to be treated if they were on vacation. They do not restrict divers to diving with a buddy, recreational dive limits of 130 feet, 30 minute dive times and the like. They will “turn you loose” as long as you are suitably experienced and are willing to take responsibility for your own actions. Please note that Mexican permits prohibit divers from carrying lights or knives or wearing gloves anywhere in the Revillagigedo biosphere. Your safety is their primary concern. With many years of operating experience, they have fine-tuned their “safe diving practices”. They do require that divers do a 3 – 5-minute “safety” stop on every dive, be on the surface at the designated time and arrive at 20 fsw with a minimum of 500 psi in their main tank. Following the basic safety rules will guarantee that everyone has a great time and be free to dive within their limits. Guides are available on all dives and a detailed briefing will always be provided.
Will I be cold? What are the water temperature and surface weather like?
Guadalupe Island: You can expect water temps in the high 60’s or low 70’s (20-22 degrees C) and some guests prefer to bring gloves and a hood or even a drysuit. Captain Mike often comments that he is comfortable and happy in a 5 mm wetsuit.
Socorro Island: Water temps range from the low ’80s (27 degrees C) in November to mid ’70s (23 degrees C) in February before climbing back up in April. The consolation to lower water temps is that is when the humpback whales and their babies show up! Surface temperatures range from 70 to 85 degrees and it is sunny and beautiful almost all winter long. A drysuit or a 7 mil wetsuit will work nicely. Most of the crew wear dive skins or shorties through the end of January. Water temps will start rising again by March. There is a hot shower on the dive deck and in all the cabins. There is also a hot tub to soak in after the day’s diving.
What kind of visibility can I expect?
Guadalupe Island commonly gives clear blue water with 125-foot visibility but it can depend on the weather. At Socorro, you can expect visibility from 60 to 150 feet plus in blue, blue, blue water.
For a small ship, the Nautilus feels “plenty big”. There is ample room to find a quiet place to read, chat, fill out your dive-log or journal or work on editing the images you shot that day – whether in the separate dining room, main salon or one of the upper sundecks. There is nothing like a soak under the stars in the sparkling clear fresh water of our hot tub after a day of diving or exploration. The main salon also serves as the ship’s entertainment centre with very “comfy” couches, a great library, a well-stocked bar and select evening video showings, presentations and slide shows. Accommodation offered on the Nautilus Explorer is suited to all preferences ranging from a luxurious premium suite on the hot-deck to a cost-effective, mixed-gender triple occupancy stateroom on the lower deck.
Premium Emerald Suite: There is one premium suite located just behind the wheelhouse. It includes a large bedroom with a queen sized bed (cannot be converted into 2 beds), a lounge with a convertible futon and large, ocean view windows. It also includes two flat-screen televisions, air-conditioning, and a private washroom with shower and bath.
Superior – Dolfleini, Nautilus and Rosario Suites: There are three superior suites on the hot-tub deck. The suites are approximately 140 square feet, air-conditioned, and feature a private outside entrance. All suites except the Dofleini, have convertible quasi-kings or double beds (Dofleini is a queen size and cannot be converted), hanging closet with shelves, and a private washroom with shower.
Lower Deck Staterooms: All eight lower deck staterooms have private heads with separate shower stalls, central air conditioning and measure 90 square feet. Six of the staterooms have side by side beds. Two of the staterooms have large double beds and additional storage area. There is also one co-ed triple occupancy stateroom.
The imaginative and fresh cuisine is one of the cornerstones of The Nautilus Explorer. Soups are homemade; Bread, pastries and deserts are baked onboard and there is always lots to eat with up to 4 meals a day, a choice of entrees and plenty of snacks (including some that aren’t good for you!). They offer a mix of both buffet and table service with a menu that combines North American and European tastes and also a touch of Mexico. Having a chef and 2 hostesses’ means that they can take excellent care of the guests. The chef is happy to accommodate almost all special dietary requests – including vegetarian, vegan and all religious requests – as long as there is advance notice.
Located immediately forward of the dive deck, the main salon is the social centre of the ship and is fitted with comfortable couches surrounded by large picture windows. This is the perfect place to relax, browse through the library, download digital images on our dedicated PC and Mac computers and view them on a 42″ plasma TV, enjoy an evening slideshow or sample one of our 30 plus microbrew beers, extensive wine list or selection of single malts. Located above the main dive deck, you can also find the fresh sparkling clear water of the hot tub which invites a relaxing afternoon soak or a glass of wine or frosty cerveza under the evening stars. You can also enjoy the upper sun deck with plenty of room to relax, view the scenery, read a book or chat with new friends.