Welcome to the Solmar V
The Solmar V is the only luxury live-aboard dive vessel departing from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico—well within range of the most exciting diving in the Sea of Cortez and Soccoro Islands. During the weeks of our great white shark season at Guadalupe Island they depart from Ensenada, Mexico. The Solmar V travels with a crew of 10 and a maximum of 22 divers.
As a guest on board you will receive unmatched service and comfort while expeiencing the best big animal diving on earth! Side scanning sonar, multiple radar systems and the most modern electronic marine technology package provide an excellent compliment to the experienced crew. Twin compressors, with cascade storage for fast filling, provide our guests with an endless air supply and quick fills between dives. Two main engines and three full-time generators power the Solmar V to a top cruising speed of 11 knots. Two freshwater makers produce 1,600 gallons per day, more than adequate for the passenger numbers.
You will be well-fed from the time you set foot on board until the time you leave. Arriving guests are greeted with snacks and a welcome Margarita. Each day the early risers can start with fresh, hot coffee or tea. Before the first dive passengers are served their choice of continental or hot breakfast, both if you like.Lunchtime, divers come back to the lounge for a delicious 3-course lunch which includes fresh homemade soup, a hot entree and desert. During the day there is always fresh fruit available, hot chocolate and a never-ending supply of guacamole. They strive to use fresh produce and local ingredients as much as possible. As the diving experience is like no where else on earth, the crew may opt to keep the dive deck open through lunch on days where the experience is extraordinary. On those days lunch will be available over several hours so you can grab something to eat during your surface interval and get right back into the water when you're ready. Following the afternoon dives the chef will have snacks waiting, which leads to happy hour. There is plenty of Mexican beer and Chilean wine on board and there is no additional charge either. Every night divers will enjoy a sumptuos 3 course dinner. A house white and red is served during dinner service.
There are no dormitory-style rooms available on the Solmar V—luxury and comfort are their specialties. The Solmar V was specifically designed with your comfort in mind. The interior of the Solmar V is outfitted in brass, rich mahogany, granite table tops and is completely carpeted. It is a gracious and beautiful boat. The salon comfortably seats all of our guests and offers a large-screen HDTV, VCR, DVD player and stereo system. Each mahogany detailed stateroom features air conditioning with individual controls, a private head, sink and shower and a TV / DVD player for your enjoyment. All staterooms have top of the line “pillow top” mattresses and down pillows and new carpet. If you are interested in email, you can sign up before your departure and have email sent to your Solmar V Sea Wave account. Computer stations are available for guests for checking emails, and downloading and archiving images, and image processing using Adobe Photoshop.
The diving is sometimes done from the pangas and sometimes from the Solmar V, depending on the dive site and conditions. The Divemasters will let you know the plan on arrival at each location. For each dive site your Divemasters will give the group a thorough dive briefing and answer any questions you might have before you get into the water. Typically the divers are divided up into two groups, each with their own panga. A simple back roll and you're enjoying the wonders each destination provides. Your panga driver stays within sight of your bubbles throughout the dive. Each pangas has a sturdy side ladder so you can don your gear in the water and easily climb up after your dive. Guests may also dive directly from the Solmar V. There are entry gates on both sides of the vessel, as well as the custom-built double swim step, which gets rave reviews from guests! Getting into and out of the water is very easy. The helpful crew is always there to assist.
The dive deck is very spacious and designed for flow and ease of use, even with a full load. The dive stations are positioned around the outside of the dive deck. You don't need to carry your tanks around at any time during your vacation. The crew will fill your tank between dives and move your gear to or from the panga if needed for the next dive. There is also plenty of room on both sides to hang your wetsuits. The center of the dive deck has a huge multi-level camera table, complete with charging stations and an air gun. There are also plenty of charging stations inside the lounge. At the back of the dive deck are four large rinse bins; two for rinsing gear and two separate bins for cameras. There are also two fresh water showers so you can rinse off after getting out of the water. Fluffy towels are provided and fresh drinking water is always available on the dive deck. When the Solmar V visits Guadalupe Island the diving is done in cages, so the routine is different. For these trips they bring three state-of-the-art shark cages; two float at the surface at the back of Solmar V and one is a submersible that sits at about 30'.
These trips are limited to only 16 divers so you'll have plenty of time with the sharks and more room in the cage. The submersible cage gives divers a 360 degree view! Air is supplied from the surface so you don't need a tank. Diving is done all day, rotating divers every hour. The cage diving at Guadalupe is bar none the greatest on the planet, with up to 100 feet + of visibility. The water temperature ranges from 67 to 70 F degrees making this the ultimate White Shark destination, especially for the discriminating underwater photographer. Nitrox is available (32% or 36%) on board and all nitrox C cards are accepted.
The Revillagigedos Archipelago, more commonly called Socorro is located in the eastern Pacific Ocean approximately 250 miles south of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico – at the tip of the Baja peninsula. These islands have been compared to the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador or Cocos Island in Costa Rica because of the big animal encounters they provide. The Revillagigedos Islands consist of 4 islands – San Benedicto Island, Socorro Island, Roca Partida and Clarion. We simply call them Socorro. They are wild, remote and unpredictable and have been called the Mexican Galapagos. This area is famous for up close and personal encounters with the Giant Pacific manta ray, which can grow to 22 feet from wingtip to wingtip.
The Solmar V have been interacting with these gentle giants since 1992 and as a result of having worked with several manta researchers over the years, have extensive ID’s on most of them and special relationships with many of them. They absolutely do not chase or ride the mantas, and they allow our interaction with them to be initiated by the mantas themselves. The Solmar V crew believe that their continued willingness to interact with divers is due to the respect they have shown for them over the years. San Benedicto is by far the best location in the world to experience and photograph these gentle giants. The feeling of a wild animal this large deliberately interacting with you is something you will never forget. There are up to 7 species of sharks on a single dive! Hammerhead schools, white tips, silver tips, silkies, duskies, Galapagos and occasionally tigers. There are several hammerhead cleaning stations that are visited each trip, weather permitting. Whale sharks are a special treat at the islands, they find us in November/December and late April/May. Encounters with pods of wild bottlenose dolphin are possible on a regular basis and from January through March, these islands are home to a large population of humpback whales, that come to breed and calve.
The crew have observed several newborn humpbacks in the years they’ve been fortunate enough to visit these remote and pristine islands. In the last few years the frequency of underwater encounters with humpbacks has increased dramatically. The scientists who visit the Revillagigedos Islands every year to study the migrating whale population tell the crew that after twelve years of encountering the SOLMAR V, the humpbacks now recognize the vessel and so the opportunity for underwater encounters improves. Add to the mix extremely large tuna (the world record yellowfin is from these waters), wahoo, thick schools of jacks and many other big critters along with endemic tropicals found nowhere else in the world, and you have the BEST BIG ANIMAL DIVING ON EARTH!!
Sea of Cortez is home to many endemic species, such as the Cortez angelfish and Cortez damselfish, found nowhere else in the world. You can also encounter whale sharks, hammerheads, orcas, whales and dolphins. The Sea of Cortez is located between the Baja Peninsula and the mainland of Mexico. It is one of the youngest and most fertile seas on earth, containing over 850 species of reef fish. The beautiful, tranquil sea has much to offer – large schools of tropicals, jacks, tuna, dorado, wahoo, marlin, stingrays, turtles, playful resident California sea lions, several types of moray eels, lobster, octopus, frogfish, sharks, mantas, and the famous flying mobulas of the Sea of Cortez.
The water temp is usually between 74F - 84F during the visits into the Sea of Cortez and the visibility ranges from 50 - 100+ ft. The dates of these trips vary each year but usually run in June, July and October. This area is usually calm and the distance between dive destinations is not far. Although there are some advanced dives most of the diving is moderate.
This is a great trip for those looking for a live-aboard experience in calm water with both big and small marine animal encounters. There is something special about the Baja peninsula and diving the Sea of Cortez – a living desert wilderness spilling into the spectacular Sea of Cortez.
Departing from Cruiseport Marina in Ensenada, Mexico, this is a new adventure in Baja California. Solmar V teamed up with Great White Adventures, long known for their expertise in this area, to provide their guests with a safe and secure environment to meet the apex predator of the sea – the great white shark. Located in the Pacific Ocean approximately 165 miles west of Ensenada, Mexico, Guadalupe Island is rapidly becoming the world’s best location for viewing, photography and video of great white sharks. The visibility is often more than 100’ and the water temperature averages between 65F-70F. This is cage diving at its most exciting and, because you will be using surface supplied air (hookah) instead of scuba tanks, this adventure is open to both divers and non-divers alike.
These 5 day trips are shorter than the other diving excursions so they are perfect for a great mini-vacation. Although set up to handle 22 passengers, as on all our other trips, they only take 16 passengers to Guadalupe. This "limited load" trip provides a quality experience for clients by maximizing cage time and onboard comfort. Solmar V operate 2 four man cages using a proprietary swivel system which hooks to their swim platform making it very easy and safe to get in and out of the cages even in rough weather. Having only 16 passengers and two four man cages enables us to rotate 8 guests in and out every hour all day long.
We have thought about adding more cages and clients but decided we did not want a "circus" feel when meeting great whites on their own turf. The submersible cage allows you to descend a little further into the realm of the great white shark. Although the submersible cage lowers to only 30' below the surface of the water, it provides a completely different perspective to your great white shark diving experience. These spectacular dives are available to certified scuba divers only. A safety diver escorts one diver at a time on these 20 minute rides. We rotate all certified divers who wish to experience the submersible cage as many times as conditions will allow. The view offered by the submersible cage is a photographer’s dream come true. You are actually surrounded on all sides by these magnificent creatures in clear blue water.