Diving Oceans

Epic Manta Safari in Baja California

Snorkelling enthusiasts visiting Los Cabos are in for a treat beyond the mesmerizing reefs of the Cabo San Lucas marine reserve. A hidden gem known as Cerralvo Island offers an idyllic paradise just off the coast of La Ventana. This captivating island, also called Jacques Cousteau Island, attracts divers and snorkelers with its abundance of marine life and awe-inspiring underwater landscapes. In this article, we will delve into the wonders of snorkelling in La Reina and Cerralvo, including the intriguing encounters with giant manta rays and other fascinating marine creatures.

The Giant Manta Rays

Among the captivating marine species found in the waters of La Ventana, giant manta rays stand out as one of the most inspiring creatures. These majestic beings, often reaching impressive sizes, captivate novice snorkelers and experienced divers alike. With their gentle demeanour and graceful movements, encountering a giant manta ray for the first time is a truly breathtaking experience.

A Brief Hiatus and the Return of the Giants

In 2003, giant manta rays mysteriously disappeared from the region. The decline in their population could be attributed to various factors, including fishing activities targeting these rays for specific body parts that hold value in the Chinese medicine market. Additionally, natural predators such as orcas and sharks might have played a role, along with changes in environmental conditions impacting their behaviour and habitat.

Fortunately, in recent years, there has been a slow but promising resurgence in the population of giant manta rays. Although the numbers are still lower than in the late 1990s, the return of these magnificent creatures to the waters of Los Cabos has brought renewed excitement among snorkelers and divers.

Exploring Cerralvo Island: La Reina

To embark on an unforgettable snorkelling adventure with giant manta rays, visitors can journey to Cerralvo Island. A true paradise nestled off the coast of La Ventana. A short and scenic 2-hour drive from Los Cabos takes you along the Pacific road, Highway 19, towards La Paz, before reaching the picturesque east coast. Along the way, picturesque villages and winding mountain roads add to the charm of the journey.
Departing from the beach town of La Ventana, boats set sail towards La Reina, which lies approximately 45 minutes away under favourable conditions. As you approach La Reina, clusters of rocks emerge from the azure waters, adorned with playful sea lions vying for space. This captivating site offers the first opportunity for an enchanting encounter with the giant manta rays. La Reina, a small islet located at the northern tip of Cerralvo Island, has become a sanctuary for marine life. This hidden gem boasts a resident sea lion colony, schools of jacks, turtles, and, most recently, giant manta rays. Embarking on a journey to La Reina offers an unparalleled chance to engage in freediving alongside these majestic creatures. En route to the islet, you may even encounter playful dolphins.

For the best snorkelling conditions, plan your trip between August and October. The water temperatures peak during these months, and the winds calm down, ensuring a pleasant underwater experience. Although water visibility can vary throughout the year, this period generally offers clearer views of the mesmerizing marine world beneath the surface.

An Unforgettable Experience with Giant Manta Rays

Snorkelling and diving alongside giant manta rays in their natural environment is an opportunity not to be missed. Baja California Sur provides a sanctuary where you can immerse yourself in the company of these magnificent creatures. As you explore the underwater realm, dolphins, orcas, sea lions, and other marine animals often grace you with their presence. The dive and snorkel sites around Cerralvo Island offer stunning vistas of barracudas, sea lions and turtles gracefully traversing the vibrant reefs. Indulge in a relaxing lunch on a pristine beach, savouring the tranquillity of this off-the-beaten-track location while surrounded by your favourite pelagic animals.

In light of the resurgence of giant manta rays and the importance of their conservation, various organizations and groups have come together to elaborate good Practices for Manta Ray Encounters:

  1. Qualified Guide. Ensure that a knowledgeable guide leads the activity, providing safety instructions, explaining the relevant aspects of manta rays and demonstrating proper practices for their observation.
  2. Controlled Entry. Swimmers should enter the water slowly and maintain a distance of at least 5 meters from any manta ray. It is crucial not to harass, touch, chase, or ride the mantas to avoid causing harm or altering their behaviour.
  3. Limited Number of Swimmers. To minimize disturbance and maintain a safe environment, limit the number of swimmers to six per manta ray, including the qualified guide.
  4. Reef Protection. Avoid touching or damaging the coral reef—Mantas often frequent areas with rich marine ecosystems, including coral reefs. We can help preserve these fragile habitats by being mindful of our interactions.
  5. Passive Observation. Maintain a respectful and passive approach when observing mantas. Allow them to dictate the interactions while keeping a reasonable distance. Avoid sudden movements, as they might startle or frighten the mantas.
  6. No Feeding. Please don’t try to feed mantas during encounters. Feeding can disrupt their natural behaviour and diet, leading to potential harm.

Responsible and respectful behaviour towards manta rays and their environment is crucial for their well-being. And also for preserving these magnificent creatures for future generations.


The best time to snorkel with giant manta rays in Cerralvo is from July to October, with the highest water temperatures occurring in September and October.

Besides giant manta rays, snorkelers often have the chance to see dolphins, orcas, sea lions, barracudas, and turtles during their underwater adventures around Cerralvo Island.

Yes, to ensure safe and responsible interactions with giant manta rays. Following these guidelines is essential to protect both the mantas and the tourists.

To reach Cerralvo Island from Los Cabos, you can take a 2 to 2.5-hour drive along Highway 19 to La Paz. From there, you will cross the country to the east coast, where you can find boats departing from the beach town of La Ventana.

Yes, freediving enthusiasts can indulge in exhilarating experiences with giant manta rays at La Reina, a small islet located at the northern tip of Cerralvo Island.

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