The Best 9 Liveaboards in Mexico for a Memorable Diving Experience
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The best liveaboards in Mexico take you to remote dive sites, where you will encounter breathtaking marine life. Liveaboards are a diving fanatics’ dream vacation: eat, sleep, and dive, dive and dive.
The three main dive spots to take a liveaboard in Mexico are the Socorro Islands, Isla Guadalupe, and the Sea of Cortez. All of these spots are located off of Mexico’s Pacific Coast.
These areas are known for big, pelagic marine life, and you will get the opportunity of a lifetime to see hammerhead sharks, great white sharks, whale sharks, giant manta rays, dolphins, and whales!
Do you want to have the dive adventure of a lifetime? Keep reading to learn about the best liveaboards in Mexico.
Top Areas for a Liveaboard Trip in Mexico
The top areas to visit on a liveaboard in Mexico are the Socorro Islands, Isla Guadalupe, and the Sea of Cortez.
Trips to the Socorro Islands and Isla Guadalupe take you far from the coast of the mainland out into the Pacific Ocean.
The long boat rides are worth the journey, and you can encounter a huge variety of large, pelagic life.
The Sea of Cortez is located between the Baja California Peninsula and mainland Mexico.
You can do day diving trips in this area, either from La Paz, Cabo Pulmo or Loreto, but taking a liveaboard will open up more dive sites for you to explore in comfort.
Diving off a liveaboard will take you to exciting dive spots, and help give you the chance to encounter exciting marine life.
Keep reading to learn more about the different liveaboard destinations.
Socorro Island is part of the Mexican archipelago of the Islas Revillagigedo. The archipelago is made up of the four islands of Socorro, Roca Partida, San Benedicto, and Clarion.
These islands are located around 400 kilometers or 250 miles to the southwest of Cabo San Lucas on the tip of the Baja Peninsula.
People often refer to this group of islands simply as the Socorro Islands or Socorro. These islands are a UNESCO World Heritage site where you will find excellent scuba diving.
Liveaboards to the Socorro Islands leave from Cabo San Lucas. It takes around 24 hours to reach the islands.
Due to the long distance to the islands, most liveaboards are a minimum of eight days.
The most popular time to visit Socorro Island is from November to May because of the favorable surface conditions.
Typical trips to the archipelago visit Socorro, Roca Partida, and San Benedicto. Clarion island is further away, so most eight-day trips do not visit it.
The water temperature can range from 82 degrees in November down to 77 degrees in May. The visibility depends on the dive site, season, and current conditions.
Most dives are to depths between 30 and 100 feet. Liveaboards typically offer between three and four dives a day.
The Socorro Islands are often referred to as “Mexico’s Galapagos” because of the large, pelagic animals you will see here. Many of the animals are seasonal.
You will have the best chance of seeing different animals in certain months. Whale sharks are most commonly sighted between November and December.
Sometimes the visibility is not as good these months due to the plankton that attracts the whale sharks. Humpback whales are usually seen between December and April.
One of the highlights of a trip to the Socorro Islands is the encounter with the giant manta rays.
These gentle giants famously visit cleaning stations in this area, and are very friendly with divers! You have the possibility to see manta rays all year in Socorro, but there are lots of them in the spring months.
Regardless of when you travel to Socorro, you can count on seeing a variety of sharks. This area is home to galapagos, silky, oceanic white-tip, and hammerhead sharks.
All year-round divers will be treated with visits from bottlenose dolphins, tuna, wahoo, marlin, and schools of jacks and barracuda.
The topography at the Islas Revillagigedo is rugged with rocky structures, pinnacles, and walls.
During dives, divers often find a protected spot to get out of the current and watch the animals cruise by. Divers may experience choppy waters and strong currents.
Due to these conditions, this area is best for experienced divers.
The amazing variety of marine life you can see at Socorro puts it on every diver’s bucket list!
Located over 200 kilometers off the western coast of the Baja Peninsula, Guadalupe Island is famous for one thing – great white sharks! Guadalupe Island is one of the best places in the world to see great white sharks.
The area is a protected biosphere reserve and the rules require all divers to stay in a cage. You are not allowed to dive or snorkel outside the cage.
Here you will get a natural encounter with the sharks. The area is famous for having over 300 documented sharks!
You will depart from Ensenada, Mexico to go to Isla Guadalupe.
Liveaboards to Isla Guadalupe usually last four to five days, and you will get the opportunity to cage dive for three of those days.
There are no set dive sites in this area, your liveaboard operator will look for an area where they believe you will have the best chance to spot great white sharks.
This area does not have coral formations. You will have the chance of seeing Guadalupe fur seals and northern elephant seals on this trip.
The season to visit Isla Guadalupe is from July to November. When you travel to Isla Guadalupe will determine what kind of great white sharks you will see.
Adolescent male sharks are the most common in July and August.
They are active and energetic. In September females start to arrive. In October and November, it is common to see large, calm, and curious females.
Shark encounters at Guadalupe Island are so great because of the visibility. The visibility is often 40-50 meters! The water temperature is between 66 and 72 degrees.
Divers and non-divers can experience the thrill of seeing great white sharks at Guadalupe Island.
Many liveaboards offer both surface and submersible cages. The goal of these trips is to get some close-up action with great white sharks!
The Mexican government’s National Commission of Natural Protected Areas closed the marine park from May to December 2022.
During this time officials are collecting data to develop sustainable tourism practices for the area.
Divers who booked trips to this area are being offered refunds or chances to visit other areas.
Sea of Cortez
The Sea of Cortez is a 1,200-kilometer stretch protected from the Pacific Ocean by the Peninsula of Baja California.
This area has been called the “Aquarium of the World” for being one of the most bio-diverse areas in the world.
Here you can find a variety of small and large marine life and a healthy coral reef system. It is estimated that 30% of the world’s known cetacean species are found here.
The large animals you can find here include humpback whales, killer whales, California gray whales, whale sharks, leatherback sea turtles, and schooling hammerheads.
You will also find a variety of reef fish, including angelfish and seahorses living amongst the colorful corals.
The most popular season for liveaboards in the Sea of Cortez is from July to November. During this time of year, the water can reach up to 80 degrees.
The season you visit the Sea of Cortez will influence what animals you are most likely to see. It is common to see sea lions in this area, and playful juveniles are often spotted in August and September.
From January to March you have the best chance to see hammerheads, manta rays, and dolphins.
Liveaboards in the Sea of Cortez depart from either San Jose del Cabo or Puerto Penasco. Puerto Penasco is in the state of Sonora, just south of the border with the United States.
There are different duration liveaboard trips in the Sea of Cortez, typically from seven to twelve days.
Some liveaboards focus on the northern section of the Sea of Cortez and the midriff islands, others cruise throughout the entire Sea of Cortez, and a few even offer a combination of Sea of Cortez and Socorro Island cruises.
Liveaboards in the Sea of Cortez give you the opportunity to see a huge variety of marine life, as well as beautiful coral reef systems.
The Best Liveaboards in Mexico
1. Nautilus Belle Amie
The Nautilus Belle Amie is a luxurious 147 liveaboard that offers 5-star amenities. It was built in 2005 and remodeled in 2018 and has room for 32 guests.
It usually offers trips to either the Socorro Islands or Isla Guadalupe. Since Guadalupe Island is closed, it is currently only offering trips to the Socorro Islands.
The guest suites all have their own bathrooms and air conditioning. The boat has a spacious sun deck with a hot tub to warm up after dives.
The main deck has a large dining area and salon. The boat provides a mix of Mexican and North American cuisine and can accommodate guests’ dietary restrictions.
The Nautilus Belle Amie is a heavy steel boat that was designed for comfortable ocean crossings. Divers will use the dive tenders to comfortably get to the dive sites and enter and exit the water.
The boat has nitrox available as well as rebreather support.
The boat also has a separate rinse area for cameras. It was custom-built for divers and is very comfortable to dive from.
The crew will work hard to make sure you have a trip of a lifetime. The professional guides will help pick the best dive spots to take you to every day.
👉 Check out rates and availability of Nautilus Belamie on Liveaboard.com
2. Nautilus Explorer
The Nautilus Explorer is the sister ship to the Belle Amie. It is currently cruising to the Socorro Islands.
When the Mexican government reopens Guadalupe Island the Explorer is ready to take guests there.
On the dive deck on the back of the boat, the Explorer has a 5-ton hydraulic crane, a water-level platform, and a steel deck for cage diving.
It is equipped to handle filming and scientific research crews.
The boat was built in 2000 and remodeled in 2015. It has space for 25 guests and 13 cabins. It was built for the diver’s comfort in open ocean crossings and has stabilizers for smooth sailing.
There are plenty of communal areas for socializing including a hot tub, sun deck, and main salon.
Divers will use comfortable tenders to access dive sites. The boat offers a camera room with tables and charging stations for photographers to use.
Nitrox is available for certified divers and the boat is equipped to support rebreather divers.
Divers rave about the Explorers staff. On the Explorer, you will comfortably arrive at world-class dive locations.
👉 Check out rates and availability of Nautilus Explorer on Liveaboard.com
3. Solmar V
The Solmar V is a 112-foot boat with 12 rooms that can accommodate 22 guests. When Guadalupe Island is open for tourists, the Solmar V offers trips to Guadalupe Island and Socorro.
It is currently only going to the Socorro Islands. When Guadalupe Island reopens, it will resume trips there, and it has a self-propelled ocean cage that divers can use to get up close to the great white sharks.
The Solmar V boasts an experienced crew to take you on your dive adventure. Their main focus is guest satisfaction and safety and they provide all divers with a Nautilus lifeline GPS to wear.
The boat was custom-built for diving and has a large dive platform. Divers will get to dive sites on zodiac tenders.
The boat has nitrox available and can support rebreather divers.
👉 Check out rates and availability of Solmar V on Liveaboard.com
4. Quino el Guardian
The Quinino el Guardian Liveaboard was built in 1980 for diving and scientific research. This 82-foot boat has space for 16 guests.
There are four quad-capacity rooms that have two sets of bunk beds. Divers are divided into rooms by gender.
The boat has community bathrooms with warm water showers. It has a spacious salon and dining area and sundeck for divers to relax on.
Quino el Guardian sails four different itineraries throughout the year. It goes to the Socorro Islands and has three different itineraries in the Sea of Cortez.
You can choose between the Sea of Cortez and Midriff Islands, Sea of Cortez where you explore over 700 miles of this area, or the Sea of Cortez Southern Safari where you get a chance to explore shipwrecks.
There are two pangas for divers to use to get to the dive sites and easily in and out of the water. The spacious dive deck is well-organized and has a table for cameras. Nitrox is available.
Divers love the great value of this liveaboard. You will get the chance to explore amazing dive sites and see some large pelagic life.
👉 Check out rates and availability of Quino el Guardian on Liveaboard.com
5. Rocio del Mar
The Rocio del Mar is a 88-foot liveaboard that has room for 22 guests. There are 10 guest rooms with en-suite bathrooms. The boat has a comfortable dining area, lounge, and sundeck with a BBQ.
The Rocio del Mar sails year-round and offers three different itineraries. You can choose between the Socorro Islands, the Sea of Cortez with the Midriff Islands, or the Sea of Cortez, explore Baja where you will cover over 700 miles of the Baja Peninsula.
They also offer extended cruises that combine Socorro with the Sea of Cortez.
Divers will dive off of dive tenders. Photographers can take advantage of the camera station and separate camera rinsing area.
The boat offers nitrox and can support rebreather divers. Divers recommend the Rocio del Mar and its great crew.
You will get the chance to explore pristine dive sites off this liveaboard.
👉 Check out rates and availability of Rocio del Mar on Liveaboard.com
6. Nautilus Gallant Lady
The Nautilus Gallant lady is a 166-foot luxury yacht that can accommodate 16 guests. There are 5 superior suites and 1 premium suite on board.
All rooms have either a California king-sized bed or two double beds.
The rooms have en-suite bathrooms. The boat has a sky lounge with a hot tub as well as a sun deck for relaxing.
From May to October, the Gallant Lady runs cruises in the northern Sea of Cortez at the Bahia Los Angeles.
Divers will get the chance to see whale sharks, orcas, and Mobula rays. Depending on the dates you go, you will see different marine life.
The Gallant Lady cruises near Cabo Pulmo from September to December. Divers have the chance to see bull sharks, tiger sharks, sea lions, schools of fish, and even manta rays!
The Nautilus Gallant Lady is a luxury way to explore the Sea of Cortez. Nitrox is available and the boat can support rebreathers.
👉 Check out rates and availability of Nautilus Gallant Lady on Liveaboard.com
The Valentina is a 125-foot liveaboard that was remodeled in 2013 for guest comfort. It accommodates up to 20 guests and has 10 double cabins.
Each cabin has an en-suite bathroom. The boat has a comfortable sundeck for relaxing between dives.
Valentina sails two different itineraries. From August to November it cruises in the Sea of Cortez where guests can find sea lions, schools of sardines, and hammerhead sharks.
From November to May Valentina sails to the Socorro Islands to look for humpback whales, manta rays, and whale sharks.
The boat has nitrox available. Divers will use dive tenders to reach the dive sites. Guests love the enthusiastic crew of the Valentina.
👉 Check out rates and availability of Valentina on Liveaboard.com
8. Nautilus Under Sea
The Nautilus Under Sea built in 1968 and was originally used as a research vessel. In 2016 it was remodeled to become a liveaboard dive boat.
It is 105 feet and has room for 19 guests. It has 9 suites, each with an en-suite bathroom. It has a spacious lounge and dining area as well as a sun deck with a hot tub.
The Nautilus Under Sea offers trips to the Socorro Islands and Guadalupe Island when it is open for divers. It offers nitrox and can support rebreathers.
👉 Check out rates and availability of Nautilus Under Sea on Liveaboard.com
9. Socorro Aggressor
The Socorro Aggressor is 135 feet long and has room for 26 guests. There are 13 suites each with a TV and en-suite bathroom.
The Socorro Aggressor typically runs charters to Isla Guadalupe from August to October and to the Socorro Islands from November to May.
The boat offers plenty of space to socialize with a spacious sundeck, and air-conditioned lounge and dining area.
The Socorro Aggressor has three tenders from divers to use to get to the dive sites and in and out of the water. It has a camera room with charging stations and a separate rinse area for cameras. The boat offers nitrox.
👉 Check out rates and availability of Socorro Aggressor on Liveaboard.com
Mexico Liveaboard useful tips
Going on a liveaboard in Mexico is a bucket list experience for so many divers. The crew and guides will do everything in their power to make sure you have an amazing experience.
There are several things you can do before boarding the boat to help make sure you have the best dive vacation.
✔️ Take the time to make sure your dive gear is properly working. Many divers do not touch their gear between dive trips, and you do not want to get to the liveaboard and find out something is not working properly.
If possible, plan to bring extra o-rings or any small spare part you might need.
✔️ Pace yourself. It is so exciting to be on a liveaboard. You will want to do every single dive and social in between, but make sure you get enough rest.
Be realistic with your energy levels. You do not want to end up exhausted after a few days and miss dives because of it.
✔️ Talk to the crew. If you are feeling tired they can give you their honest opinion about what dive to skip. Crew members are knowledgeable about marine life and dive sites, and most are happy to share extra information with you.
✔️ Stay warm! It is easy to get chilled after several days of diving multiple dives a day. Make sure to properly dry off and warm up between dives. Bring layers to wear both above and underwater.
✔️ Dive with Nitrox. If you are certified for enriched air, it is a great idea to use it. You will be doing several dives a day over many days.
Nitrox will help you have plenty of bottom time, and many people think it helps with dive fatigue.
✔️ Stay hydrated! Dehydration can increase your chance of decompression sickness. Staying hydrated will keep you safer, and it can help with motion sickness.
✔️ Take care of your ears! You will be doing a lot of diving on a liveaboard and the last thing you want is to hurt your ears. Take your time on all ascents and descends!
✔️ Be careful in the sun. It can feel great to sit in the sun to warm up after a dive, but be careful not to let yourself burn.
✔️ Have dive insurance. Double-check that you are up to date on your dive insurance. No diver plans to have an accident, but if you do, dive insurance will provide you assistance.
Is Dive Insurance necessary?
The short answer is: yes! Although we all hope that nothing bad will ever happen to you, you never know.
I always prefer to be safe than sorry and a small investment today can save you tons of dollars tomorrow.
Hyperbaric chambers and hospitalization, in general, are outrageously expensive in Mexico
Dive Assure is one of the top insurance companies for diving and we cannot recommend them enough. I am sure you have heard of them as they are one of the most popular.
🔽 Get a free Dive Assure quote here 🔽
You want to make the most of your Mexico liveaboard. For many people it is a once-in-a-lifetime trip! Taking care of yourself will help you be able to make as many dives as you want.
What to pack for a Liveaboard in Mexico
Most liveaboard cabins are pretty small. You probably will not have a lot of extra space in your cabin, so it is important to pack smart. Here is what you should take with you on your Mexican liveaboard adventure:
► Dive Gear. The BCD and regulator are obvious, but remember that you may start to feel chilled after a few days of diving.
In addition to your wetsuit, you may want to pack a hooded vest, hood, or additional layers to add if you start to get cold.
You will enjoy your dives so much more when you have the correct exposure protection. If you have a backup dive computer take it with you!
That way if your primary computer has any issues, you will still have a computer with your dive profiles.
Diving multiple dives a day for consecutive days makes having your own, working dive computer so important.
► Comfortable clothing you can layer. If you start to get chilled after a few days of diving, it is important to get warm between dives.
Take comfortable layers. Many dining rooms and salons have air conditioning, so you might want an extra layer while inside.
► Socks. It is hard to think of needing socks on a dive vacation, but many boats do not allow you to wear shoes. If your feet get cold you will want a pair of socks with you.
► Earplugs. You might end up sharing a cabin with people you do not know. Or, you might end up near an engine room.
If you are a light sleeper, a pair of earplugs can give you the quiet you need to sleep well.
► Clothes pins. You will want to find a way to hang up wet clothes to dry. Having clothes pins is a great way to secure your items.
► Motion sickness medicine. Even if you have never had motion sickness in your life, you do not want the first time you experience it to be on a liveaboard, days away from land.
► Medication. Take any medication you might need. Make sure to pack any prescription medicine you need, as well as painkillers in case you need them.
► Documents. When you are packing do not forget all your necessary travel documents. Remember to take a copy of your dive certification cards. Check with your liveaboard if they will ask to see a dive log.
A waterproof documents holder may come handy.
► Camera equipment. If you are planning on doing any underwater photography make sure to pack the housing, battery charging equipment, and extra memory cards. Go Pro Hero 10 is amazing, but make sure you get your waterproof case .
► Entertainment. On many liveaboards, you will be disconnected from WIFI. Take a book or load up your Kindle with reading material before traveling.
Packing for any trip, especially a liveaboard, can feel a little overwhelming. Take your time to pack and double check you are not forgetting any essential items. For your own comfort, try not to overpack.
Some more useful packing items
Click on the image to check out the item.
Best Liveaboards in Mexico: Final thoughts
The best Mexican liveaboards take you to incredible dive sites. You will get the chance to see amazing pelagic animals.
You will see different animals, depending on the season you travel. If your goal is to see a certain animal, plan your travel destination and dates to give yourself the best chance of having an encounter!
No matter when you go, you will have an amazing dive trip off of a liveaboard in Mexico.
If you want to learn about other amazing diving sites in Mexico you can check out my post on Mexico Cave Diving, Diving in Cancun, and Diving in Cozumel.