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Rocky Point this November

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I'm planning a trip to Rocky Point MX this November over Thanksgiving.

 

Anyone have a good dive operator to reccommend?

 

I found Sun N Fun on the net so far but no others. (http://www.sun-n-fun-divers.com/)

 

My biggest interest is in Bird Island. Diving with sea lions sounds like a trip! A great photo opportunity.

 

I would like an operator that offers Bird Island trips that don't take all day. I have two kids and need to spend the afternoon with them--not really fair to drag the family down there and be gone all day long.

 

Also, I've never dove cold water before. Sun-N-Fun website says the water is 62-74 degrees in November. I usually dive a 3mm shortie in the caribean 80 deg water. I was thinking about a 5mm 2 piece wetsuit like this Scuba123 maybe with a hood.

 

What do you think? Thanks for the help.

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Maybe a 7mm semi-dry would be better with temps getting into the mid to low sixties.

Also, I've never dove cold water before. Sun-N-Fun website says the water is 62-74 degrees in November. I usually dive a 3mm shortie in the caribean 80 deg water. I was thinking about a 5mm 2 piece wetsuit like this Scuba123 maybe with a hood.

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What he said... 7mm Semi-Dry. 62 is darn cold. I get cold easily, so I would probably take my dry suit! Those temps are similar to Southern California.

 

I am interested in what others have to say about Rocky Point, as it is now my closest local diving, and I am going to be looking into it myself in a few weeks when I return from La Paz.

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Rich, did you move to Mexico, Phoenix??? I need to do a google search to find out where Rocky Point is.

 

Cheers

James

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Rocky Point is at the very northern tip of the sea of cortez. I think its best feature (from what I've heard) is that it is only 4 hrs drive from Pheonix. My partents live there so this makes for cheap diving that works well with a trip to visit the family over Thanksgiving.

 

From the website above you can see the kind of diving they have there. I think the most interesting is sea lions at Bird Island but the shore and local diving is supposed to be ok too. I think tides are the biggest hurdle. They have very big tides as the water gets backed up into the end of the sea of cortez and has nowhere else to go.

 

I'll write a trip report when I get back....

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Its been a while since I've been to Rocky Point. The one dive boat I took to Bird Island all the time is now out of business. If you call Patti at Sun and Fun she should be able to hook up with some that will take you out there. I can't remember the name of the outfit I took out there last. I'll check with some friends and see if they remember.

 

Rocky Point has the second biggest tidal exchange to the world, or at least to my understanding. See if you can get a tidal chart to help you pick out the best times to be there. If you're going to do shore diving, I recomend Vina Del Mar or Manny's. I personaly like Vina better, but if you enter at low tide..well, it's called Rocky Point for a reason.

 

If I'm not diving San Diego next month we may be down there. If I run into you, the first round is on me.

 

Stephen

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Hey, that would be great Stephen. Thanks for the tips. Let me know if you decide to go. I'll PM you with where we are staying. We'll both be shooting the same camera.

 

There is never enough glass to make ME happy either.

Edited by UWphotoNewbie

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I'm just back from the Rocky Point trip. Since there wasn't much info here or anywhere on the net I would like to share my trip report in order to encourage members to make the trip down there. In short, the diving there was great. It was fun for completely different reasons than the caribean diving I am used to. But it was definately worth it! I would highly recommend Rocky Point for those in southern California or Arizona or those who have to be in either location and want a fantastic diving experience in a fun and convienient way.

 

I decided to make a trip this November to Rocky Point to get a cheap diving fix and to combine a Thanksgiving trip to visit my folks who live in Scottsdale, AZ with the typical beach vacation with my wife and kids. For this Rocky Point is perfect. My wife, two kids (3 and 6) and I flew from Demver to Phoenix. My brother picked me up at the airport. Having our own cars in Phoenix area really made this trip cheaper and easier. From there we made the easy 4 hour drive down from phoenix. The drive was quite nice crossing through Organ Pipes National Monument. The border crossing was a snap. Total drive time at the 65mph speed limit is right at 4 hrs. I know becaue a little alarm clock in my 3 year old went off right at the end of the drive. In my experience 4 hours is all a toddler can take. Fortunately we just pulled up to the rental office as she was about to break into a fit. We rented a very nice 2 bedroom townhome from Oceano Rentals, a very professional American style rental agency with a terriffic websiteOceano Rentals. 4 nights was about $700. The condo was about 12 miles from the old port in Rocky Point on a streach of beach named Playa Encanto. Development is booming in Rocky Point. With only a short drive from the 7th largest metro area in the US and fabulois beaches, private homes and condos are sprawling along the beach southward. Playa Encanto is part of this trend. As you drive out of town on a paved road it looks completely desolate--Sonoran desert without so much as a cactus and trash everywhere lining the road. A huge blank billboard marks the turnoff to Playa Encanto. FFrom there its about 6 miles on a sand road to the beach and the Paradise Villas townhomes. Fortunately we arrived just before dark. Thee is so much new development and nothing is marked so after a few wrong turns we found it. What we found was a spacious fully stocked townhome in perfect condition right on the beach with a pool. The beach there is excellent. I highly recommend staying outside town when going to Rocky Point. The beach there was perfectly clean and uncrowded. Often you are the only one on the beach as far as you can see. The sand is soft and the shelling is excellent. With the large tides thee are soft sand tidepools exposed half of the day creating lots to explore for the youngsters. The weather was fantastic with 80-90 degree days and cool nights. Not a cloud in the sky or even a breeze for the 5 days we were there. Perfect to keep the wife and kids busy while I checked out the diving!

 

The first hurdle was finding a dive boat. So this is my motivation for writing this. Finding a dive boat was not easy. The only real dive operator in Rocky Point is Sun-N-Fun. They are a very professional American Run operation that runs out of a shop on the main strip of town. The owner David is a dive instructor and very friendly. David speaks almost no Spanish, as a testement to how easy it is to get by with English in Rocky Point! The problem was that no one had signed up for any diving that week. I called their 1-800 number and made reservations a week in advance but my brother and I were the only ones on the boat and they needed 6 for any trip. When we stopped into the shop the following day they had good news! One other couple had signed up and David would take us 4 anyway the next day. It was a 3-tank dive trip to Bird Island ($140). David was so friendly he offerred to close the shop and take us out to the port to show us his boat. The boat was undergoing renovations but in excellent shape with a comfortable cabin, a wide step and room for 6-12 divers. Best of all its very fast.

 

Bird Island is a small group of rocks 24 miles from the port. It is the main diving attraction in Rocky Point. It is home to 3,000 sea lions and has a small reef with loads of fish and even some sparse coral. We boarded at 7:15 at the port. David took everything slowly in a relaxed fashion. With only 4 of us this was Mexican Vacation diving at its best. When we arrived at Bird Island I could barely contain my excitement through the pre-dive briefing. This would be my first dive with sea lions. From the moment we approached the sea lions started to get excited about the boat, swimming around us and calling to us as if to invite us over to play. As soon as I entered the water the sea lions swarmed me and it was non-stop action. The first dive was only about 12'. Rocky point diving isn't deep, and the vis was pretty bad < 20' I would guess. There are huge tides there over 12 feet of change. In November the water temperature drops rapidly. In summer its over 80 degrees F. The water was 68 for us, but a 2 piece 5mm with no hood was perfect for me. My brother was fine in a 3mm 2 piece. But none of this mattered. The sea lions wanted to play.

 

The sea lions were mostly close to shore so while it may have been possible to reach 12', I was mostly near the surface for the entire dive. Snorkeling would be fine here. I didn't care. I wanted the sea lions and if they were shallow thats where I was. It was nonstop action with the lions darting toward me for a quick look, chewing on my fins and nibbling on my dome. I shot a 158 shot card halfway into the first dive. I clearly needed more ammo. My 1 GB cards last 2 dives easy in the caribean. Not here. I deleted and shot more. With nearly unlimited dive time my dive ended when my brother needed a rest 1.5 hours later.

 

We had a quick surface interval and dropped in to the south side of the island. It was the same, a swarm of seal lions with fish, urchins, satarfish. This dive was closer to an honest 12'. The dives were unguided (David stayed on the boat) which was great . I could shoot however I wanted without worrying about keeping up with the group.

 

We had lunch. David provided sandwiches apple, chips and granola bars with bottled water (all from Costco!). Our final dive was a drift dive on the southwest side of the island. The vis was horrible and I was quickly seperated from my buddy. Re-surfacing didn't help. David pointed out his bubbles and I followed them down but never found him. I relaxed and enjoyed the dive. This one was 50' and I focused on the reef. Sparse soft corals, lots of triggerfish, angel fish and unicorn fish--schools of sergeant majors. 5 different kinds of starfish, a huge stonefish and nudibranchs. The vis wasn't great but there is lots to see. I planned a macro dive here but with memory card full and no strobe power left from the sea lion frenzy, I left the camera on the boat. Big mistake. I'll be back next time with more ammo.

 

There are dolphins and rays to see there too. While we were out diving my wife spotted a pod from the beach and we spotted some rays while kayaking along the beach as well. There is one shop that rents kayaks in town across the street from the Thrifty ice cream. Its kind of a hoky operation though. You need to get the lady from the Coldwell Banker across the street to help you, and you need to surrender your drivers license as a deposit.

 

Without more divers for the boat the rest of the week and unable to motivate my brother into a shore dive I spent the rest of the days on the beach. No snorkeling in Playa Encanto. I tried hard but nothing but soft sand. Nothing to do but enjoy the kids. No hard feelings--one dive with the sea lions and I was full. Besides its only 4 hours from Pheonix. I know I'll be back.post-561-1164601408_thumb.jpg

Edited by UWphotoNewbie

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Very cool. I fly to Phoenix all the time and had no idea I was that close to some seal action! I often gazed at the map but not knowing the terrain I was uncertain of the drive time. Nice shot on the seal. It looks surreal. The only time I've ever encountered one, I didn't have a camera.

 

Later,

Gary

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Go down and check it out. You will see so many sea lions that you would need the 105mm to get a shot of only one in the frame! They literally mobbed me tugging on my fins and diving all around me. Bring lots of memory cards and extra batteries!

 

My only advice is to call first. The water temp is fine if you use a wetsuit but many Arizona divers consider it too cold so its pretty slow right now. David says he runs trips every day in the summer. Sun-N-Fun has a 1-800 number.

 

Sun-N-Fun

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Thanks for the report! Since moving to Phoenix from LA, this will be my ONLY local diving... Looks like I am going to have to find a few other divers to join me for weekend runaways!

 

James, sorry I missed your earlier post. Yes, I am in Phoenix now. Director of Engineering for Arizona Film Studios. I left Warner Bros. to try things out here... That said, my photo biz has taken off lately, and I am doing a lot of above water shoots. Looks like I may be here for a while!

Edited by richorn

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Thanks for the report. There is indeed very little info on this site so your report is a big help for many. When I looked into it I got the impression that the preferred dive site is San Carlos, beyond the 4 hr toddler limit but if your going for a longer trip then it seems worth the extra drive and they have multiple dive operations. Next time we are looking for a Spring or Fall cheap and easy getaway I'll certainly be looking at either or both of the these sites.

 

Bart

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