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Posted by North Coast Diver on December 30, 2005 at 18:45:51:

Visited LaPaz, BCS, Mexico over the week of Dec 22 thru Dec 30 for scuba. Great package price of $1000 for 5 days of 2 tank diving, plus airport pickup and dropoff, plus hotel pickup and drop off for diving, plus 7 days and nights at Hotel Los Arcos including breakfasts every day (but not including airfare). The dive operator was Grupo Fun Baja (www.funbaja.com). They have a fleet of a half dozen boats, 45 ft to 25 ft, to zip you out to the various reefs from LaPaz. Most of the boat rides were and hour and a half long, one way. There were about a dozen people in our dive group.

Got a round trip fare on Aero California out of LAX to LaPaz for $400, but to get that price you had to reserve and pay about a month in advance. Late-comers paid more, sometimes double.

Needless to say, the prices were great!

The diving was great too! We started out on the first day at Los Islotes for 2 dives with the local sea lions. Days #2 and #4 were spent diving at the central pinnacle of El Bajo, an underwater seamount about 5 miles offshore from the Isla Partida chain of islands and into the Sea of Cortez. The seamount is at a depth of 50 ft and the walls of it drop off to about 150 ft all around it. Days #3 and #5 were spent diving on the local wrecks.

Water temps in the Sea of Cortez around Los Islotes and at El Bajo was 68 F near the surface and 66 F on the seamount. Most of us were wearing 5mm wetsuits. Some of us were wearing 7mm suits, and even then some divers were cold during or after the second dive.

Vis was about 50+ft on the seamount and about 25 ft above it.

Things we saw: whale sharks, hammerheads, mantas, sea lions, yellow-tail tuna, yellow-tail surgeonfish, leopard-patterned groupers, schools of jacks, green morays, striped sergeant major fish, parrotfish, blue-and-gold snappers, moorish idol fish, brown spotted porcupine fish, Cortez angelfish, electric rays, sea cucumbers, sea fans, orange cup corals, crown of thorns stars, and the usual array of rocky reef invertibrates. There was some coral growth but not much. It seemed like there were millions upon millions of reef fish everywhere.

Grupo Fun Baja did a great job for us while we were there. I highly recommend them, and I plan to use them again next time I visit LaPaz.

We tried but could not get nitrox in LaPaz. For two dives per day, and for the depths we were diving, 70 to 80 ft, nitrox would have been nice, but was not really needed. It is normally more appropriate for 3 to 4 tank per day dives. At any rate, I did not miss the nitrox, although I would have loved to have it as an added safety measure. I rarely dive with air alone, although this turned out to be one of those times.

LaPaz has pretty good night life, with great restaurants and other adult attractions as well. We were on our own for our dinners, and normally a good meal would run about US$10, with drinks about US$4 each, in the better places (hotel restaurants). Out in town, on the street, at the taco stands, you could feed an entire family for only US$10.

We tried goat tacos for the first time, and they tasted pretty good.

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