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Tomsd Nov 5th, 2012 09:37 AM

Cabo snorkeling with a Giant Whale Shark!!!!!
Well, this Cabo trip started off with one of the best snorkeling days ever.

I had driven up from Cabo - an hour or so to the East Cape - and toured a few of the fishing resorts. I first stopped by to say hello to the very friendly John Ireland at Rancho Leonaro Resort (John frequently gives fishing reports on Lets Talk Hookup/AM 1090 - with hosts "Pelican" Pete Gray and "Rock Cod" Rick Maxa , ) - and also briefly walked around Rancho Buena Vista and Buena Vista resorts - and then drove into the fairly good size town of Los Barilles where there are a couple of Van Wormer resorts.

Hey - I would be happy to spend time at any one of them.

Then continued on and passed by Punta Colorado (which was closed for renovation) on the way down to Cabo Pulmo - and thus - arrived a little late to get ready for the scuba dive.

But also had a backup option - and was still in time for the snorkel trip - which with four stops - vs. two tank dives while diving - really turned out better.

There were seven of us - two ex-pat couples from Colorado now living in Los Barilles, two sisters and moi - and our Captain had been on sport fishing boats for 15 years out of Cabo - but was transitioning to snorkeling/dive boats from Cabo Pulmo as it was closer to his home. As you probably know - Cabo Pulmo has a big reef offshore and is a reserve (no fishing allowed) - where the University of California has a research station.

Our first stop was nice - with some good fish below - and I think it served as a sort of check-out for the
Captain who wanted to see that everybody was at ease in the water, which we were.

For the second stop - one of the guys from Los Barilles said he was going to stay on board to warm up a little (he was very trim/no body fat - but it was very temperate for this Polar Bear) while the rest of us tumbled over the side for some great snorkeling - including seeing Parrot fish reflect their colors with the sunlight piercing down to 10 feet or so.

On these boats - which are over 30 feet long - but only have a little ladder you climb up at the stern - which isn't the widest - and also since my rental boots were too big - I kept stepping on myself up the ladder.

Ergo - while heading back to board after this second stop - I kept up my pace so my momentum could help propel me up the three little steps.

As I was taking off my mask - and getting ready to toss it to the Captain - both guys were frantically pointing over the side. Well, as I looked down to unhitch a fin - just a few inches away - I saw the BIGGEST - WIDEST MOUTH I had ever seen up close and personal - at least FIVE FEET ACROSS - OPEN ABOUT A FOOT - AND TWO HUGE EYES LOOKING UP AT ME.

Hey - it could have swallowed any two of us without any problemo!!!

Now I have dove with 22 foot Mana Rays off the coast of Costa Rica - but hey dos - I was expecting that - not just looking down and suddenly seeing a mouth that could easily have just sucked you in!!!!!!

And while I had heard Whale Sharks are friendly - and not to be worried - this guy looked very curious - and maybe I had attracted his interest by paddling quickly back to the boat - and/or my flippers might have touched/kicked his nose, but in any event - I was trying furiously to get off the other fin while the guys in the boat were yelling - don't move so fast!!!!

Then the rational part of the brain kicked in saying - yes, you don't want to resemble a fish in trouble or some such - so I more calmly took off the fin and zipped up the ladder - only to look back at a 25 foot plus behemoth - casually swimming away toward the other snorkelers. (Note - these fish can get up to over 40 feet long).

We yelled to the others to swim in slowly and get on board - and they all did except one of the sisters - who had her head/ears below the water line still looking at the sights.
All of a sudden - just like out of the movie JAWS - there was a shark fin circling her and I thought - OMG - that's a shark closing in - and then remembered - Hey - it's a Whale shark - but it still looked very ominous.

It actually bumped her a bit - she called it a love tap - and she came back on board without incident - yet DANG: I will never forget looking down at that mouth - a mere inches below my feet.
Yes, they are peaceful, but if for some reason he had just out of curiosity clamped down on one of my feet/ankles/leg - it could have caused some damage - to say the least - and ruined the rest of the week.
More about fishing below this pic/info and even though this lovely underwater photographer was asking me to go back in and pose with the Whale Shark - I politely declined:

"The whale shark (Rhincodon typus) is the largest fish in the world; with its vast size it resembles the whales from which its common name is derived. The head is flattened and the wide mouth, positioned at the tip of the snout, stretches almost as wide as the body. The dorsal fin is particularly large and the tail has a half-moon shape. The patterning of the body is very distinctive with its dark greyish-blue colour on the back and sides, and array of pale yellow blotches; the undersurface is pale (5). Stout ridges travel the length of the body, ending at the tail shaft (6). Five massive gill slits occur on the side of the head and within these there is a sieve like structure of cartilage (5). Curiously, the mouth contains around 300 tiny teeth although the function of these is unknown (6). "
[Unable to display image]

The next two snorkeling stops were also great - the third with Sea Lions cruising by - four of them in formation like the Blue Angels - and with one little flip of their fins - they would just glide on about another 30 feet or so.

Note: While Sea Lions are also friendly - the do have fairly long and sharp teeth - so don't try to pet them.

The last stop was with two big schools of small sardines (aka bait balls) - one being inch and a half size and the other about 3to 4 inch size - and all of a sudden - the smaller size school parted like a huge cannon ball had been shot through it - and sure enough - cruising along the bottom - were some foot and a half size yellowtail - which of course, like to feast on these small critters.
Well, the rest of the week was great - and Cabo is such a beautiful, warm. sun splashed paradise - even though I had really forgotten about it since the first trip there about 15 years ago when my charter/boat caught a 300 lb Blue Marlin.

This time - despite the best efforts of my grade school buddy - John Enright and his cousin Dave - who routinely catch big fish - we dutifully went out three days in a row - but only caught some 20 to 25 pound - nice grade Dorado (Mahi). On the plus side - did bring home some 40+ pounds of fish - but alas - no Marlin or Big Tuna. (Did catch a small - 12 lb yellowfin - which yielded some Sashimi grade Ahi.
Will have a couple fishing pics later - but that's it for now.

MichelleY Nov 5th, 2012 06:21 PM

Dear Tom- thank you for the report! We are headed down that way in December. We go at least every couple of years. Please fill us in on the rest of your trip. Questions: where did you stay? Any great new places to eat? Which route did you take to Cabo Pulmo? We have never gotten that far on the East Cape and would like to head that way on this trip and check out that area. How cool to see that whale shark!! Looking forward to more!

Tomsd Nov 6th, 2012 01:06 AM

The first two days I stayed at the Hilton (great infinity pool and nice beach but I didn't get to the beach and only spent 5 minutes in the pool) - and it was great. The next week I was with a friend at their place at the Cabo Country Club, being renamed the Los Cabos Golf Resort - behind the Cabo WalMart.

The road you take is the main road that goes on past the airport - north toward/to La Paz (Hi way 1 - but google away for Cabo maps) - and then about 40? miles past the airport - you take the road east/toward the Sea of Cortez (it was marked as I recall) and then on down to Cabo Pulmo - the last few miles being dirt road but it's in fairly good condition down to Cabo Pulmo. From there - the dirt road back to Cabo gets pretty rough - or so they told me - so I doubled back the way I came.

If you want a fun place to go eat - the Roadhouse (not part of a chain) has very good steaks/food - (close to/behind Home Depot?) - and also is a veritable museum to fishing/diving. It's also called Lattitude 22 - No bad days.

Very fun to see the huge Marlins and other fish that are mounted around the restaurant, and all the great pics - and they have a funny guy doing the entertainment.

And in the Marina/harbor - we loved taking our freshly caught Dorado/Mahi Mahi to Alexander's, where they cooked it a couple of ways (with a very nice plate presentation/rice/vegetables, etc for only $10) - with coconut crust (like cocoanut shrimp - just delicious) and sauteed with butter garlic, and they could also probably do blackened if you asked, which we had at another place - Eco - which was good but not as good as Alexander's. They had several sauces too - including a to die for Mango sauce.

And for the best view perhaps in Cabo - go to the rooftop bar at the Cabo Villas - Baja Brewing - which is fantastic. It's just across from Mendano beach - by all the happening places on the beach. and

More later.

volcanogirl Nov 6th, 2012 06:44 AM

Wow, what a cool experience. It's amazing that they get so close to you.

Stewbear Nov 6th, 2012 07:50 AM

Whale sharks are vegetarian eating only plankton. I dove with one in The Gulf of California many years ago MAGNIFICENT!

Tomsd Nov 6th, 2012 12:24 PM

Let me tell you oh saltwater experts: If that big critter somehow was curious or startled and clamped down on your leg -even relatively lightly for him - you wouldn't like it one bit. :) And he was that close and looked interested.

As for more dining info:

Tomsd Nov 6th, 2012 12:24 PM

Oops. Didn't paste. See if this works:

Here are some more dining suggestions. As for Maro's Shrimp house - it's relatively new - and my friends that go to Cabo every year wanted to try it (had read about it) - and we asked around - and heard from a local who gave me a ride, and also from a tour guide, and a couple other people (one who owns a Sports Fishing Fleet) that it's very good and reasonable.

It's close to downtown - toward the Solmar Hotel.

And in the center of town - for authentic Mexican Food/reasonably priced - is Tres Gallos (Three Roosters) which the head valet at the Hilton told me was very good and I asked others and received other good reviews.

On our trip 15 years ago - we went to the Trailer Park (make sure you get the older one) which still gets good feedback - and we also had fun at Romeo & Juliet's (Romantic, Italian, etc) - but didn't hit either one this time, but you can check the feedback on this page.

And walking around the harbor (did that 4 times - 3 after returning from fishing and one other time to find the Bisbee Office) - it was fun to see the live lobsters in a wheelbarrow type tank at Lorenzillo's
- which looked good (and pricey?) - but no idea how good it is.

We also hiked along Mendano beach one day and stopped at one of the crazy beach bars - Billiygans - after they offered us a free Margarita - and then ordered a couple beers - 2 for 1 at $5 total. Had a canopy for shade and was sort of fun to see the young and crazy holding forth, and my younger friend was out there - doing the Macarana for another free drink. He also was chatting up some of the young ladies - while I had fun watching him liven things up a bit.

hopefulist Nov 6th, 2012 06:19 PM

Thanks for posting this report! We loved snorkeling with whalesharks off Isla Mujeres a few years ago - great memories. :-)

Stewbear Nov 7th, 2012 08:13 AM

Great Photos Hope. Makes me wish I was a camera guy.
Guess you & I are not as tasty looking as Tom! Smile

Tomsd Nov 7th, 2012 02:14 PM

Michelle - forgot to add that if you have the car for another day - theh artist colony of Todos Santos - an hour away up on the Pacific side - is highly recommended and the Hotel California (some think it was the theme for the Eagles great song - Hotel California) has a great restaurant - according to my friends I was just with in Cabo. :)

hopefulist Nov 7th, 2012 05:12 PM

Thanks, Stew!

Tomsd Nov 13th, 2012 10:50 AM

No idea that when we were fishing at Cabo last week - if we would have been savy enough to head in with this prize/very rare fish - or stayed out trying to catch Marin?

Melissa5 Nov 25th, 2013 12:32 AM

Tomsd, yikes, scary! I'm glad you didn't become a snack! Thanks for sharing the trip report.

I'm considering a first trip to Los Cabos with my husband. I've never been to Mexico, except for Tijuana! I live in California, and have traveled to many countries, but have always been nervous about Mexico.

How did you like the Hilton? We have some Hilton points. Would it be a good choice for a couple? We would also rent a car.

Tomsd Nov 27th, 2013 04:02 AM

Melissa: The Hilton is great - with a lovely infinity pool and a great - virtually private beach in front - that none other than rock star Sammy Hagar - he of the Cabo Baja Cantina is it? - considers his favorite.

And Cabo is very safe - with young wives pushing baby strollers around while their husbands are out fishing. :)

Tomsd Nov 27th, 2013 04:06 AM

Actually - Sammy's nightclub in Cabo is called Cabo Wabo. He loves to visit Cabo - as we do - and it's only two hours from SD - while flying to Hawaii - another placed we love - especially Kauai and the Big Island - takes 5 hours - and is more expensive.

MichelleY Nov 27th, 2013 10:15 AM

Melissa- the Hilton is out along the "corridor" so having a car will be handy for going into Cabo San Lucas or San Jose.

tenthumbs Jan 16th, 2014 01:06 PM

Just got around to reading this trip report...........amazing pictures, Tom!! The pucker factor diving with that huge creature must have been pretty high............ :o

I'm going in March, and the rooftop bar looks like a great place to investigate.

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