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Each October we have one or two one-week charters on the Don Jose out of La Paz in the Sea of Cortez. October is generally considered to be the most pleasant month of the year to dive the southern Sea of Cortez. Now that we have secured our spot, we hope to be able to return every year for the third week of October to dive on the Don Jose. October 2004 will be our sixth annual trip.

These trips will be limited load of 13-14 passengers, all of whom will stay 2 per cabin in air conditioned 2 or 4 bunk cabins. Each trip offers 5 1/2 days of unlimited diving in warm, usually clear water. The boat Don Jose offers aluminum 80 tanks filled to 3300 psi. Most dive sites can be reached from the main boat without needing a panga ride, but panga rides are always available for anyone seeking to dive new areas around the dive sites. Night diving can be quite rewarding and will be available for two of the nights of the trip. The night anchorages are always calm and protected.

The Don Jose crew has been together for 10 years and performs exceptionally well. As always, the Sea of Cortez, like Galapagos, is known for the unexpected. Not many hammerheads are seen these days, but there are enormous schools of skipjacks, bigeyed jacks, and green jacks. The highlights of our trip could include spending the day with giant Pacific mantas swimming in shallow water over reefs amongst bait fish and sea lions at Cerralvo, snorkeling with Orcas or with a school of 1000+ Mobulae rays, encounters with sea lion pups and bulls in vast schools of herring at Los Islotes, encountering a school of 100+ finescale triggerfish at Las Animas, watching the three or four different schools of bigeye jacks at Las Animas, and perhaps seeing the sea lions hunting them, or perhaps seeing cormorants hunt through a school of herring at Los Islotes. All of these sights have been seen from the Don Jose in the last two seasons. You can't really count on anything except something unexpected and often exceptionally exciting. On the other hand, however, you can certainly count on a relaxing and very pleasurable trip, and with our trip being in October (consistently the best visibility and weather of the year), very good to great diving.

Previous trips of ours on the Don Jose have included sightings of hammerheads, mantas, tropical fish, bull sharks, mobula rays, eels, schools of bigeye jacks, sailfish, and pilot whales. These trips typically feature spectacular weather, and margaritas for stunning sunsets. This part of the Sea of Cortez is also famous for the Los Islotes sea lion rookery, which is home to perhaps the world's most diver-acclimated sea lions. They are often seen swimming through schools of herring, and the past few years have brought divers encounters with a wayward elephant seal who has taken up residence with the sea lions of Los Islotes. The style of diving on this trip is laid back and simple, and we are forming a group of our friends who we think are laid back (not simple!), fun and top-notch divers.

The cost of trip depends on whether you are berthed in a deck level or upstairs cabin. The four deck level cabins can actually accommodate 4 people each, but will be limited to 2 each on this trip. The three upstairs cabins accommodate 2 people each. The cost of the trip includes diving, meals and drinks (beer, wine, soft drinks, tequila, blender drinks) on board the Don Jose.

We board the boat and spend the night on board on Sunday, but dinner that evening is in town at our own expense. We depart the boat the afternoon of Saturday and spend the night at Los Arcos hotel in La Paz -- lodging at the hotel that night is included in the cost of the trip.

We may arrange some freediving trips in small local pangas just before the Don Jose trip, perhaps visiting Los Islotes for extra sea lion time, El Bajo for anything big / pelagic, or the Bay of La Paz which often has whale sharks in October. After we have made arrangements we would be happy to share our contacts with you so that you can do something similar if you wish. If the group desires, we can also arrange a beach barbeque for one of the nights of the trip if we know ahead of the trip.

The itinerary will look something like this:

  • Day 1 Sun: load gear on boat anytime after noon, relax in town that afternoon and evening, dinner on our own. Spend the night aboard Don Jose.
  • Day 2 Mon: depart La Paz in the morning for Los Islotes sea lion rookery.
  • Days 3-6: diving to likely include El Bajo seamount (near Los Islotes), at least one day at Las Animas (more if conditions warrant), Cerralvo, and perhaps more diving at Los Islotes if the group desires.
  • Day 7 Sat: diving in morning only, usually at wreck of the El Salvatierra but we may be able to substitute another site near the wreck if the group desires. Return to La Paz in the afternoon, disembark boat and go to Los Arcos hotel.
  • Day 8 Sun: fly home.