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Sun Dec 16 2012: Coral Reef at Cabo Pulmo

Seems like every weekend, we're hitting the beach! Cabo Pulmo National Park is at the eastern tip of the Baja Peninsula and is recommended to us by our homestay family for its excellent snorkeling. There are only three coral reefs in North America, and the one located at Cabo Pulmo is the oldest at 20,000 years, and provides shelter to a whole host of marine wildlife.

Excellent ride from La Paz to Cabo Pulmo, last 15 kms are down a gravel and sandy road

There are many dive shops in Cabo Pulmo, which really isn't a town more than a few buildings scattered over a wide area. Unfortunately, the dive shops have suspended tourboat operations for today, because of the very strong winds. They tell us that visibility is not very good at the coral reef because the waters may be murky from the sand kicked up from the sea floor.

Beautiful beaches at Cabo Pulmo

Definitely off-season, but a few families were here swimming in the waters

We debated on whether to rent some equipment and to head down to the beach ourselves, but I chickened out (It was cold, man!) and stayed on the beach taking pictures. Neda being the braver of the two of us, rented a mask and dove into the waters from the shores.

Divemaster Neda preparing to go in

Although it's advertised as being totally waterproof, this is the first time we've taken our Nikon AW100 completely underwater. I half-expected it to return ashore as an expensive brick. We were pleasantly surprised:

Neda says this school of fish were very curious about her and followed her everywhere

Water was a bit murky, but the pictures turned out surprisingly good

Although it looks small, this fish was almost a foot long!

The Mexican government has done an excellent job preserving the reef against commercial interests that seek to develop condos, marinas and resorts in this very popular tourist area. It's now designated a protected park and the aquatic wildlife has bounced back and flourished from the over-fishing in the 1980s. The park maintains a very wilderness-like feel to it, and the rough road in and out of the park reflects this.

Only old people abstain from swimming. So I grabbed my metal detector and walked the beach with this guy

So long, Cabo Pulmo, and thanks for all the fish!

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