Thrill-seeking divers come to the remote island of Guadalupe for one reason: diving with Great White Sharks. Most of the diving here takes place within the confines of a cage, although a few operators will permit cageless diving for qualified individuals.
The liveaboards running tours to Guadalupe Island boast several different variations on shark cages created by enterprising dive operators. Some cages include an upper level with no bars so that the only thing between you and the shark is a hand rail. Other cages are horizontal and include motors for moving around in the water.
It’s important to note that both certified divers and non-divers can participate in Great White Shark diving near Guadalupe Island. Non-divers must use a hookah system and stay in a cage at the surface. Certified divers can use scuba equipment while cage diving at 30 feet (10 meters).
Finally, chumming or baiting the sharks is technically illegal in Guadalupe Island. However, law enforcement at this distant locale is lax and many operators do entice sharks with food.
When to go
Liveaboards make Guadalupe Island accessible from August to October. October has the most rain, and August and September features the best conditions.
August to October
August to October is Guadalupe liveaboard season. During these months, the coldest water temperatures arrive with an average surface temperature of just 66°F to 70°F (19°C to 22°C). These temperatures attract the Great White Sharks making this the best time to dive in Guadalupe.<br><br>The weather at this time transitions from hot and humid in August and September to cooler with a bit of rain in October. Be aware, these months represent the highest risk of hurricanes. It’s a good idea to take out trip insurance if you plan to visit Mexico in the fall.<br><br>Interested in cage diving with Great White Sharks at Guadalupe Island? Book your diving liveaboard holiday between August and October.
November to July
In the months outside of August, September and October, liveaboards do not travel to Guadalupe Island. From November to July, it is simply not possible to cage dive at this remote island. <br><br>If you’d like to dive with sharks elsewhere in Mexico, consider a diving holiday to the Sea of Cortez or the Yucatan Peninsula.
Rain and temperature
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Where to dive
Diving in Guadalupe is not about choosing a location. Instead choose your liveaboard based on the type of cage you’d like to dive in and amenities offered.
Free snorkeling in Guadalupe Island is not allowed as any object on the surface may be viewed as a tasty treat to waiting Great White Sharks. However, non-divers may participate in cage diving by use of a hookah system. Cages used by non-divers do not leave the water’s surface, making them perfectly safe for “snorkelers.”
There are no dive sites at Guadalupe Island. Rather, liveaboard operators decide where to put the cages in the water based on the conditions of the day and the patterns of Great White Shark sightings at the time. Based on this system, many liveaboard operators even guarantee that you’ll come face-to-face with a Great White Shark.
Most of the sites chosen by liveaboard dive masters are within a couple miles of Guadalupe Island. However, you can expect to be diving in the blue, meaning there is no visible land beneath or beside you. On some dives, you’ll have the option to emerge from the top of the cage, giving you an unbarred view of a magnificent Great White Shark.
What to see
There is only one reason to dive at Guadalupe Island. That reason is to see a Great White Shark. There are an estimated 170-180 individual sharks that visit Guadalupe Island annually. The experience of diving with them is aided by crystal-clear water. Visibility around the island often tops 100 feet (30 meters). If you’ve seen an amazing photo of these massive sharks, chances are it was taken at Guadalupe Island.
On the other hand, the sharks are attracted to the area by their main food source. Guadalupe fur seals and elephant seals use this remote island as a breeding ground. It’s likely that you’ll see these playful creatures as well as sea lions during your surface intervals and perhaps in the water. Tuna are also present on many dives.
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Most likely sightingsPossible sightings
Located 150 miles (240 kilometers) off the coast of Baja California, Guadalupe Island is a rocky, extinct volcano. A small island, Isla Guadalupe, as it is known locally, measures only 22 miles (35 kilometers) long and 6 miles (10 kilometers) wide. Several islets add variety to the rocky shore.
As of 2010, approximately 200 people call Guadalupe Island home. The population is made up of lobster and abalone fishermen as well as goat farmers and military personnel. A small runway makes it possible to transport goods to these remote population.
Because you will be arriving to Guadalupe for the sole purpose of cage diving with Great White Sharks, there will be little time to explore other attractions. However, there are few attractions to discover. Most liveaboards dock on the island only in emergencies. Outside of cage diving with Great White Sharks, liveaboard guests can spot seals, sea lions and sharks from the ship in their topside intervals. If you like bird watching, endemic Guadalupe rock wrens and Guadalupe house finch can be spotted near land.
The only way to dive at Guadalupe Island is via liveaboard. These boats depart from San Diego, California, USA and Ensenada, Mexico in Baja California. The journey to the island lasts approximately 18 to 22 hours over sometimes rough seas. Most liveaboards sail for 3 to 5 nights. If you choose to depart from San Diego, you will need to clear Mexican customs before proceeding Guadalupe Island.