Posted 16 July 2012 - 09:13 AM
This most recent trip began on a late Tuesday afternoon in San Pedro, CA, where we loaded all our gear into one truck (eight HP130s, four HP100s, an AL40 of O2 [just in case…], four scooters, two housed DSLRs, lights, drysuits, undergarments, and a few articles of clothing). We then made the drive down to San Diego, CA, where we had dinner and crashed at my father's place. Wednesday morning had us up just before 5am, and after a quick breakfast, we were headed south once again. We crossed the border into Tijuana (having already purchased Mexican insurance off the internet), and soon we were rolling along on the scenic toll highway. We made a quick stop at a local grocery store to stock up on provisions (including several bags of Mexican pastries), before soon arriving at our two bedroom villa just outside La Bufadora. Once again, we arranged lodging and diving through Dale's Dive Shop (Dale's dive shop in La Bufadora, Baja California). We quickly dropped off non-essential gear, piled back into the truck, and headed over to the cove for the first day of diving.
Loading and launching the pangas is a bit of work (especially with the stupid amount of gear we'd brought down), but we were soon motoring out to our first dive spot. Conditions had been excellent in the weeks prior to our arrival, but unfortunately we had arrived just in time to catch the start of some big swell. Thankfully, it wasn't much of an issue that first day. We made dives off two of the northern pinnacles (Second White Rock and Eagle Rock). Both sites have dramatic walls plunging down past 100', teeming with fish, soft corals, starfish, and nudibranchs. The kelp is lush and healthy. Water temps are colder than in SoCal, and we generally saw a high of about 51F. Visibility was down from the year before, but we usually had about 20-50' (vertical visibility exceeded 80' at times). We had planned for three dives each day, but after those two on our first day, with Jennifer seasick and my drysuit leaking, we decided to head in early. After repacking the truck, we dropped off cylinders for fills (right next-door to our villa), quickly patched my suit, and headed out for dinner and drinks.
The next morning it was clear conditions had deteriorated overnight. After some discussion, we decided to try diving a small cove to the north that might offer some protection from the building swell. After launching the panga, however, it became clear that our only shot for diving that day would be to hit New Wall, the second closest site to the boat ramp. We geared up in a pitching swell, and descended through pea soup. It soon became apparent that we should have just skipped diving altogether this day, and after 40 minutes of sub-par diving, we called the dive and headed in early. We spent the rest of the afternoon hitting up the taco, churro, and chip stands of La Bufadora and generally eating and drinking ourselves silly.
The big swell was still in force the next morning, so we decided to stay topside instead. We headed up the coast to Puerto Nuevo, where after some haggling, we settled in for a lunch of fried lobsters and margaritas. The rest of the day was spent relaxing back at the villa.
We were greeted the next morning to flat seas and blue skies. Excited to be getting back to good diving, we quickly loaded gear, got dressed, and motored out once again to the north. Our first dive was at First White Rock, another large pinnacle. Stephen had been having issues all trip with his new Aquatica housing, but finally he had it working and was able to start getting images. I was again shooting video, and was pleased to see clear blue water. We did a nice hour dive before popping SMBs and making our ascent. For our second dive, we headed over to The Cave. We hadn't gotten a chance to dive this site last year, so we were looking forward to it. We dropped in on a 80' wall, and began to work our way to the south. Large schools of blacksmith circled about and the rocks were just covered in nudis. After about 20 minutes we found the entrance to the eponymous cavern. We swam slowly inside the good-sized room for a few minutes. It was nice to finally get a break from the strong surge that is ever-present throughout this area. Jen and Stephen were getting cold at this point, so they headed up, while Nicole and I continued our dive. We were rewarded with a field of large anemones. As the surge picked up even more, we soon decided to call it a day, and made our final ascent of the trip. We finished off the day with another pleasant dinner and some packing.
I put together the following video from footage I shot on this trip. I've included a few of Stephen's still images, and hopefully he will post others as well.
If you have a fast internet connection, choose "HD" for much better quality (in which case just let the video load for a bit before playing it).
We awoke early Sunday, and headed for the border. We made good time (about an hour) at the crossing, and a few hours later, we arrived back home. While conditions weren't as ideal as last year (including losing almost two days of diving), we still had a great trip. The diving down there certainly isn't the easiest, but it is rewarding. It's also quite different than what we typically encounter here in Southern California. The plunging walls and pinnacles, colder water, and bigger animals are much more reminiscent of what is encountered to the north around Monterey/Carmel. We figure a trip to La Bufadora is about 40% of the cost of a long weekend in Monterey, plus it's much less driving and the food and drinks are better. We felt quite safe and had no issues while in Mexico. While I think our next trip will be somewhere "easier" and warmer, I have no doubt we'll be back again.
Posted 19 July 2012 - 09:24 AM
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Posted 20 July 2012 - 07:51 AM
We dived the 3 Sisters on our last trip, but didn't make it there this one. We were trying to get to Todos Santos on the second day, but the swell and chop was just too large to get over there. I do believe the rookery is still there.
While we lost some dives this trip due to less than ideal conditions, we still had a great time and managed some really fun dives in an environment quite different from what we typically see at home.
Great dive trip report. It brought back memories of the many dives there. Were you able to dive the '3 sisters' or head over to Todos Santos? When conditions are bad at La Bufadora, Todos Santos is a short boat ride away from there and can be a fun place to dive if you are on the lee side. There used to be, and maybe still is, a sea lion rookery there as well.