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|Manzanillo, Mexico offers
many attractions, but none as breathtaking as its warm, tranquil
underwater world. A secret, mysterious realm awaits the snorkeler or
scuba diver, no matter what your level of experience. As long as
you're visiting the Pacific Ocean, why not see it from a different
|Several exciting things
about scuba diving and snorkeling in Manzanillo's Pacific Ocean are
its incredible reefs, and its rocky, coral-encrusted coastline. The
area is volcanic in origin, and divers are treated to underwater
fissures, cracks and crevices, archways that you can swim through,
tunnels, and sea mounds with visible lava flows. Every place a boat
can drop an anchor is a different dive, and all just a few minutes
away by boat.
Pacific is known for the unknown. Because Manzanillo is not a well known
scuba diving destination, everything in our sea is still natural, alive
and growing. There are many different varieties of fish, and several
species of moray eels are plentiful. Octopus like our warm water, as do
numerous crustaceans and soft and hard corals. On night dives, we see
lobster and giant sleeping parrotfish.
The visibility ranges from 25-100 ft.
with water temperatures averaging between 78 to 86 degrees F, depending on
the location and time of year. There are rarely strong currents in the
many dive locations along Manzanillo's rocky coastline.
For photos of these dive
locations, click here to go to the photos page.
IF YOU'VE NEVER TRIED this interesting and
relaxing sport before, Manzanillo is the perfect place to learn. There are
numerous easy beach entries and qualified instructors with years of diving
If you already know how to dive and need to rent or buy your gear,
equipment can be found here in Manzanillo.
If you're already an accomplished diver or snorkeler, there are several
spots you can visit on your own.
PLAYA LA AUDIENCIA is the bay in front of the Hotel Sierra (above).
Enjoy an easy underwater experience with bi-colored damselfish, schools of
yellowtail, at least 2 species of moray eels, sting rays and soft corals.
Swim through narrow crevices and over coral-encrusted boulders. Enjoy the
fascinating feather duster and Christmas tree polyps that pop back into
their tubular homes whenever you brush your finger near them. The maximum
depth of the south side is only 20 ft. and there's never a current.
Occasionally, there's a heavy tidal surge (usually around full or new
moons), but generally staying 3-4 feet from the rocks will avoid scrapes.
On the right side, many favorites, such as
the Cortez angelfish, trumpetfish or balloonfish await your arrival. The
underwater terrain consists of large boulders, rocky ledges and crevices,
with a maximum depth of 60 feet at the point.
This side is excellent for night dives;
it's usually safe and calm and during the evening hours you'll see
sleeping giant parrotfish, lobsters and octopus. The beach is located at
the Las Hadas turnoff (Km 12) where the cobbled road dead-ends.
CLUB DE YATES: By following the signs to Las Hadas in the Peninsula
de Santiago, you can visit another beach, that is actually in Audiencia
Cove, but midway out on the south side. A road to the right of the Las
Hadas gate takes you to Club de Yates street. Bear right and follow Club
de Yates to its end where there's a white rock wall and parking area. The
beach is below, and you can snorkel or dive on the left-hand or right-hand
side. (By swimming right you'll end up back at Audiencia Beach.) In front
of the beach, about 300 yards out, are several small rocks--a 10-minute
swim. On calm days it's an interesting dive with a maximum depth of 55
feet to the center of the bay. Take a compass heading and go for it!
a magnificent coral reef right off the beach on the right-hand side, but
conditions can change rapidly, and are unpredictable, so dive with extreme
The beach entry is over rocks and pebbles,
so having boots and heel-strap fins can make it less painless to get in
and out. Although this area can be very calm (usually in the morning and
at sunset)) sometimes the waves crash against the rocks with astounding
force. This is not an area for poor swimmers or beginners, or those
not familiar with the ocean.
THE LAS BRISAS JETTY just south of the Hotel La Posada, is a
popular spot that can be reached by car, bus or taxi. The most memorable
thing about this area is the huge schools of striped grunts, needlefish
and sergeant majors that swim effortlessly in and around the manmade rock
habitat. You'll also see bright yellow colonial cup coral, fluorescent
green encrusting stony coral and pale pink gorgonians gracing the granite
boulders that divide the harbor from Manzanillo Bay. Maximum depth at the
point is 48 feet. On the harbor side, you'll see different types of corals
and sponges, but usually the visibility isn't very good because of the
heavy boat traffic and sediment in the stagnant harbor. On the plus side,
though the visibility declines when you get to the point, the amount of
fish multiplies, until you're literally dizzy watching as millions of fish
swim an orchestrated dance around the rocks.
Remember, however, Pacific coast diving is quite unlike the Caribbean, in
that diving conditions change daily. Before you go out on your own, check
with the local dive shop, Underworld
Scuba, for an update.
LOS FRAILES (The Friars) is a group of detached rock
pinnacles in the open ocean that reach a maximum depth of 100 ft. About 10
minutes from the mainland, visibility is normally 50-100 ft. The area is
teaming with grouper, hogfish and triggerfish. The rocks are volcanic in
origin and are covered with large gorgonians, starfish, encrusting stony
corals and brightly-colored sponges. On almost every dive, a 5-6 foot
green moray can be seen poking his head from a protective crevice.
"SAN LUCIANO SHIPWRECK":
Sunk in the hurricane of 1959, this 300-foot-long behemoth sits in only 25
feet of water only 300 yards off shore. One of Manzanillo's most popular
diving and snorkeling attractions, the "San Luciano" has
HUGE puffer fish inside, and an area outside known as "Puffer Fish
City." You'll never see more balloonfish anywhere! In addition,
seahorses enjoy this shallow, protected habitat, and during every dive,
we've seen 1-5 of these miraculous creatures. Seahorses are good at camouflage,
however, and it takes a trained eye to spot them. Other amazing creatures
on this 84-year-old wreck include eels, octopus and huge schools of
ROCA ELEFANTE (Elephant Rock) is another site that can only be
reached by boat. This dive features underwater tunnels (about 50 yards in
length) through the mountain, 2 swim-through underwater arches (the first
opening into a high-walled canyon with a white sand bottom,
squeeze-through crevices, shallow coral reefs, and a booming, surging
blow-hole. Schools of yellowtail surgeonfish and king angels swim by,
right under the boat, and several species of puffers frequent the area.
Other noteworthy dive buddies we've seen include turtles, a 30-foot whale
shark (a harmless plankton eater), zebra and jewel morays, dolphins, giant
Pacific mantas, and electric rays. Depths from 20-60 ft.
LOS CARRIZALES (The Reeds) is a quiet, deep bay about 20 minutes
north of Audiencia Beach, where it is said that more than a million
dollars of Spanish gold and silver were lost in a storm more than 400
years ago. One never knows whether divers will happen across the treasure
while exploring this uncharted bay, but it is guaranteed they will
discover other living treasures of the sea. The "Grand Canyons of
Carrizales" are awesome, and the numerous cracks and crevices in
shallow water serve as habitats for octopus and lobster. Depths from 25 to
100 feet. There are at least 4 different dives you can do in this area
with depths from 25 to 100 ft.
LA AHOGADA or (Drowned Rock) is aptly named because with good
visibility you can see a huge boulder about 25 feet beneath the surface.
Walls and canyons make this an interesting dive with depths of up to 70
feet. It can only be reached by boat, and dived when calm. A swim-through
cave with millions of cardinalfish make this a great dive. Sometimes there
is a strong current, and this area's diveability should be determined by a
PEŅA BLANCA is an enormous white rock (aptly named because its
color is due to bird droppings of the brown and blue-footed booby) that is
often visited by whales and giant pacific manta rays. Volcanic fissures
and crevices, caves and deeper depths make this dive worth remembering.
Prolific sea life, black coral, virtually unexplored regions. About a
40-minute boat ride from La Audiencia Beach, this diving area is designed
for experienced divers. Depths from 45-100+ feet.
There are many other coves north of Santiago Bay, with interesting names
such as "Horses Ear," or "The Elevator." A recently
discovered barge, sunk in the hurricane of 1959 is a new challenge and
it's in shallow water. Every location where you drop anchor has
something special to offer. In 1995, two artificial reefs were
installed--one to the south of Manzanillo in an area known as Tepalcates,
and the other to the north, near Elephant Rock. Last year a new shallow
reef was discovered in the Bay of Santiago.
In July of 1998, several sea mounts (mountains under the sea) were
discovered 5 minutes from Audiencia Beach in open ocean, whose tops are
only 30 feet beneath the surface. All of these areas make Manzanillo's
diving and snorkeling something to remember, especially when winter-summer
water temperatures range from 76-86 degrees.
For photos of these dive
locations, click here to go to the photos page.