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Your Guide to Guadalupe Island

Cage Diving With Great White Sharks

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...Highlights: great white sharks, seals/sea lions, onboard experts on great whites...
...Diving environment: cage dives, beginner and advanced divers...

A small island in the Pacific Ocean some 165 miles (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 colorful reefs here, or watch schools of fish, or take nice macro photographs. You don't even need to pack your fins. Guadalupe Island is all about cage diving with one creature - the great white shark.

The great white shark of Guadalupe Island, Mexico - photo courtesy of Eric Hanauer
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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 of 100 to 150ft (30-45m) 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 at Guadalupe to surface cage activities with air hoses, while certified divers can partake in the submersible cage dives with scuba tanks. Over 360 individuals have been identified now and 170 different great white sharks have been counted in the viewing area by one liveaboard boat alone.

Guadalupe is a rocky and extinct volcanic island, 17 miles (25 km) long, north to south, and 6 miles (10 km) wide, with several islets dotting its coastline. The island itself has a population of just over 200 people, including goat farmers, fishermen and Navy personnel. But it is its population of 10,000+ Guadalupe fur seals (Arctocephalus townsendi) - their only major breeding site - and northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) that attract the sharks. The island has been a seal sanctuary since 1975 and is a designated biosphere reserve.

Dive Site Descriptions

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 shark encounters are likely to be after assessing the conditions of the day. From the safety and comfort of the 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 waters of Guadalupe Island.

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!

How to Cage Dive Guadalupe

Liveaboards depart from either the city of Ensenada in Baja California, Mexico, or from San Diego in California, U.S.A.

For more information on these adrenaline infused cruise options, and all the travel information you might need to visit Mexico, read our Guadalupe liveaboard section.

The island is 165 miles (260 km) off the west coast of Mexico's Baja California peninsula and 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 Diving Season

The season for Guadalupe cage diving is from July to November, when the ocean is calmest, and colder sea temperatures of 66 to 72°F (19°C to 22°C) are to be expected at this time of year. There is more chance of rain in October. The greatest numbers of great white sharks are present in July and August, when the waters are infested by rowdy males all vying for attention. Females begin to appear in August, and the really big mature females are present in October and November. Tuna, Guadalupe fur seals and sea lions are most frequently sighted during the August, September and October period.

Visit the Climates To Travel websiteOpens in a new window for more details on the climate of the nearby port of Ensenada.

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Where is Guadalupe and How Do I Get There?

Review our map below of Mexico, showing the location of the island. Here, you will find information on how to get to Mexico, and then on to Guadalupe Island.

Map of Mexico (click to enlarge in a new window)

Reef Summary

Depth: Surface or submersed cages at various depths
Visibility: 98 - 148ft (30 - 45m)
Currents: Mild
Surface conditions: Can be choppy
Water temperature: 66 - 72°F (19 - 22°C)
Experience level: Non-certified and certified divers
Number of dive sites: >1
Distance: 165 miles (265 km) from Ensenada, 177 miles (285 km) south west of San Diego
Recommended length of stay: 5 - 6 days

Useful References

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... Staff were friendly and gave us sufficient information for the trip. Response to our enquiries were prompt and efficient service was rendered. Competitive prices with very good service, and very good dive centres for a very good holiday. Definitely will use your service again and have already recommended your service to other friends ... -- , Malaysia.  [More customer reviews]