La Entrega - This is a national park with extremely shallow coral formations. It is very aquarium-like, with semi-tame fish. Unfortunately, the shallow nature of the bay means that a lot of the coral has been broken by the hoards of snorkelers standing on the formations. If there are any resort-course level divers in the group, this is where you will go. However, if your group consists entirely of experienced divers, tell the operator "Thanks, but no thanks." If you're looking for a place to do a tune-up, you can get here by taxi for a shore dive.|
La Montosa - The operators really like to use this spot since it's at the mouth of Bahía Tangolunda, where your five-star hotel is located. This gas-saving option for the operator has mixed implications for the diver. On the plus side, the pelagics can be found as readily on the open-ocean side of this island as they can at any other site in the area. Big black and white Pacific Eagle Rays are common here. There's at least two big green morays for your entertainment. For the shallow portion of your dive, there's quite a bit of coral, especially on the side facing Balcones de Tangolunda. The opposite side has several neat swim-throughs. Really, there are several dive sites on this island.
On the down side, This island is awfully close to Bahia Conejos and the river mouth. If the winds are wrong, visibility will be bad.
Club Med Rocks - This is actually one of the best sites around the bays, but you'll not get a chance to dive it except possibly at night. There's just too much boat traffic during the day. This one has lots of pelagics as well as tropicals. But be real careful around the rocks, especially with the surge. More about that in the next section...
Risco La Blanca - These rocks are in front of the point separating La Entrega and Bahía Santa Cruz. This may be the best site in the bays area for seeing an assortment of sea critters. Lobsters, angel sharks, huge triggerfish, and a wide variety of cone shells abound. Be very careful, though, when you're away from the area where the boats park. The surge through the rocks can flush you right to the surface if you're diving shallow. If you're above 20-30 feet, don't get yourself high in the water column. And if you do get too buoyant and find yourself suddenly on the surface, for God's sake don't do what a couple of unfortunates in one of my groups did and climb up on the rocks. If you do, you'll spend the rest of your vacation plucking sea urchin spines out of your aching body! This bit of advice regarding a low position in the water column is applicable to all of the rocks in the area. I bring it up because I've seen more people screw up in this area than anywhere else. If you're on the surface, swim to the open water and signal the boat. If you don't have at least a whistle and preferably a dive alert on your BC, get one before you go. There is a nice one from IST that even works underwater...
El Naufragio, the shipwreck below the lighthouse, is probably my favorite dive. This 50+ year old wreck is really just a big debris field, with only the boiler, anchor and chain, and deck cargo of small tracked vehicles remaining to show that it once was a ship. There are always some brilliant blue and yellow sweepers and Moorish idols inside the boiler. Down on the flats, you'll probably see some monstrously large rays. It's easy to follow the chain up the slope from the anchor and imagine the long-gone captain trying to save his ship during an intense storm... There are a number of superb dive sites near the mouths of Bahías El Organo and El Maguey. These are farther from the hotels yet not far enough to justify the extra fees that are charged to go to Bahías Cacaluta, Chachacual, or San Augustín, so dive operators may try to avoid taking people to them.|
Isla Cacaluta, at the mouth of Bahía Cacaluta, is a site well worth arranging a half or full-day charter. The shallow side is great for snorkeling; the open-ocean side is fantastic for pelagics; and the side opposite the shallows combine the two! Do a deep dive on the open-ocean side; take your surface interval on gorgeous Playa del Rey, spend some time snorkeling on the shallow side of the island; and then finish off with an intermediate depth dive on the west side of the island, finishing up near the small blow-holes. Remember, the farther you get from the Río Copalita river mouth at Bahia El Conejo, the better the visibility. And this is far enough to have consistently great viz!
Chachacual is the bay housing Playa El Indio. This spot has the best snorkeling over shallow coral in clear water that you'll find in the area.
San Augustín is the westernmost of the nine bays in the Fonatur development zone. It's the only one with a still functioning native fishing village. The visibility is usually the best, especially around the island. There's a wrecked shrimp boat that's fairly intact. You'll have to pay extra to get here, but you won't need to pack a lunch. The food at the palapas is excellent!
John M. Williams