A small island in the Atlantic Ocean some 265 km south-west of Ensenada in the upper region on Mexico's Baja California, Guadalupe is not a liveaboard destination in the usual sense. You won't see colourful reefs here, or watch schools of fish, or take nice macro photographs. You don't even need to pack your fins. Guadalupe is all about diving with one creature - the great white shark.
From the safety of a cage you can enjoy some of the world's best encounters with these awesome apex predators. There are only a few spots of earth where great whites can be seen in such numbers and in such intimacy. And possibly nowhere in the world that has these shark encounters, has such great visibility as Guadalupe Island. That explains why scuba divers who love sharks come here and take photographs that become their pride and joy, reminding them of these unforgettable moments.
Uncertified divers are restricted to surface cage acivities with air hoses, while certified divers can partake in the submersible cage diving with scuba tanks. Over 100 different sharks have been counted in the viewing area by one liveaboard boat.
There are no dive sites at Guadalupe to speak of. Cages are lowered into the water at different spots around the island where the operator thinks the best encounters are likely to be after assessing the conditions of the day. From the safety and comfort of a cage you will spend all your wet-time checking out the awe-inspiring sight of great white sharks cruising past and coming towards you. Even spotting them from the liveaboard is a thrill, so imagine seeing them in the crystal clear water.
Depending on your choice of liveaboard safari, you might even be able to exit the cage and stand with just a single hand-rail between you and these awesome creatures!
Liveaboards depart from either the city of Ensenada in Baja California, Mexico, or from San Diego in California, U.S.A. The boat journey time to the island is 18 to 20 hours, so daytrips from the mainland to visit the sharks are out of the question. Most of the liveaboard trips include 3 or 4 days of cage diving.
The Guadalupe season is from August to October, when the ocean is calmest, and colder sea temperatures (19°C to 22°C) are to be expected at this time of year. There is more chance of rain in October. Great whites, tuna, Guadalupe fur seals and sea lions are seen throughout the whole of August, September and October.
Good for: Visibility, large animals, underwater photography
Not so good for: Wrecks, reef life and health, small animals, non-diving activities
Depth: Surface or submersed cages at various depths
Visibility: 30 - 45m
Surface conditions: Can be choppy
Water temperature: 19 - 22°C
Experience level: Non-certified and certified divers
Number of dive sites: >1
Distance: 265 km from Ensenada, 285 km south west of San Diego
Access: Guadalupe liveaboard cruises
Recommended length of stay: 5 - 6 days