Cabo Pulmo

60 miles north of the tequila shots and and swaying spring breakers of Cabo San Lucas, an undeveloped desert mountain range led us to Cabo Pulmo.  Dusty, bumpy roads riddled with potholes greeted us on our arrival.  A dive tank was sacrificed to fill a flat tire.

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This 20,000-year-old reef was once called “The world’s aquarium” by famed explorer Jaques Cousteau.  It’s teeming fish and brilliant corals were recorded in Steinbeck’s The Log from the Sea of Cortez.

But in the 1990s, after years of overfishing the people of Cabo Pulmo noticed a catastrophic decline in their underwater ecosystem.  In order to save their national treasure they teamed up with fisherman and procured protected status for their reefs, officially establishing the Cabo Pulmo National Park in 1995.

Cabo Pulmo- Schooling Yellowtail Snapper
Photo courtesy of Marisa Lozano

Covering over 7,000 hectares of 100% no-fishing, Cabo Pulmo has become the poster child of Marine Parks. Though successes was slow at first, after 15 years the biomass, meaning mass of all living animals, had increased 463 percent and  was 5 times larger then the biomass in nearby areas. 

The benefits of creating the marine park continue to roll in.  In 2005 the park was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and tourism there brings in over half a million dollars each year, boosting the income well above the average in Mexico.  Fishing outside the borders of the park has began to rise as well.

A divers trip to Baja would not be pointless without a stop in Cabo Pulmo.  It’s a hotspot for top predators like sharks and groupers (which had nearly disappeared in 1995).  The greatest highlight from my year of diving in Mexico was here- seeing bull sharks amongst a wreck, approaching fearless groupers, and being surrounded by a tornado of Jacks.

Cabo Pulmo is the epitome of diving in Mexico.  Paying customers assist with launching pangas (dive boats) from the beach, the dives are breathtaking and a long morning underwater is rewarded with fresh fish tacos and cold cervezas from the beach bar. 

Cabo Pulmo should truly be at the top of every divers bucketlist.  It can be done via day trip from from a dive shop in downtown Cabo however I suggest doing an overnight trip.  As hard as it is to leave the flashing lights of Squid Roe the stars at night are breathtaking in Cabo Pulmo, and if the season is right the bay even offers the chance to see a nesting turtle or two.

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Where to Stay:

Cabo Pulmo Beach Resort – http://cabopulmo.com/

Baja Bungalows – http://bajabungalows.com/

For More Information –

http://ocean.si.edu/ocean-news/cabo-pulmo-giving-optimism-coral-reefs

http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2011/05/17/the-aquarium-of-the-world-at-risk/

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