Snorkel, Eat, and Drink in Mexico’s Only National Marine Park

It’s entirely underwater
BY: AMANDA BRUNO

Cabo Pulmo is the most successful reef restoration in the Western Hemisphere. In the 1960s and 70s, the area was almost completely fished out. Some of the locals saw the destruction that fishing had had on the area and petitioned the government to make it a national park. In 1995 they succeeded, and since then no fishing or anchoring has been allowed with 27 square miles of the park. Within two decades, the reef sprang back to life. Fish returned, spawned, and grew to maturity in huge numbers, along with turtles, dolphins, and sea lions. According to Octavio Aburto, a marine biologist at the site, the sea life has grown by 500-fold. This is the largest growth rate ever recorded in any protected marine environment worldwide. The reef is now alive with activity. Coral and sea life have become incredibly abundant. Fish swirl in large schools around snorkelers and divers alike. There is great variety in these shallow depths.

Experience this return from the dead for yourself with Baja Cabo Pulmo, a tour company that operates out of Cabo and offers tours in Cabo Pulmo. Cabo Pulmo is just a two hour drive from Cabo, and if you opt to go with the crew at Baja Cabo Pulmo (and we think you should), you’ll enjoy a comfortable ride that includes breakfast, coffee, and good company. They’ll pick you up from Cabo or San Jose, and from there they’ll make sure you have a fabulous day.

Your first stop is breakfast and snacks. Enjoy a break in the trip with some coffee and empanadas. Once you’re back on the road, you’ll head straight to the Cabo Pulmo Welcome Center, a small museum where you can learn about the reef and the species you may encounter there. There, a donation of 50 pesos will be made to the conservation effort in your name (this is included in your tour package, so don’t worry about bringing extra cash for this). You’ll spend about 10 minutes here and then gear up and head out for some amazing snorkeling. Each guest receives a goodie bag that includes a bottle of water, a breakfast bar, and an autographed copy of tour operator Terry Neal’s book, In Search of Zarahemla. They also provide you with a snorkel mask, either full face or traditional, and a fresh towel.

Your boat captain will take you to several different snorkel spots along the reef, all of which are known to be active with sea life, including a stop at the sea lion colony, and the marine biologist will let you know exactly what you’re seeing. You’ll be in and out of the water, and sure to see some beautiful sights such as sea turtles, mobulla (rays), and schools of tropical fish. Be sure to bring your GoPro to capture the moment (they won't try to sell you their photos, don't worry).

And of course, your all-inclusive tour wouldn’t be all-inclusive if it didn’t come with food and drinks. Baja Cabo Pulmo will treat you to an ocean view lunch at La Palapa’s, where you can get whatever you want in whatever quantity you’d like-- we’re talking food and drinks-- so be sure to get your money’s worth and splurge here. Snacks, water, and beer are also available throughout the day, and on your way to and from the park.

The total price for this all-inclusive tour is $285 USD for adults, and $185 for children under 12. If you’re a resident, they’ll give you a 30% discount so that you’ll pay $200 for adults and $130 for kids. To recap, this includes transportation to and from the park, breakfast on the way there, entrance fees to the park, a guided tour of the best snorkel areas with a certified guide, and a marine biologist, unlimited food and drink at La Palapa’s, snacks and beverages throughout the day, biodegradable sunscreen (you can’t use anything else in the reef), all the essential snorkel gear, and some amazing memories. For more information about this adventure, visit their website at BajaCaboPulmo.com, or shoot them an email at info@bajacabopulmo.com.