2000-02 Cabos Dive Fiesta
Leave your inhibitions at home
Sometime after landing at the airport in Cabo San Lucas, you lose your inhibitions. Gone. Disappeared. No need to search. They’re lost in the mirages rising from the Baja desert. Lost in the electric blue water filled with marine life. Lost, mostly, in the hot, sultry nights where the land ends and the vast sea takes over. Where packed clubs pulse with locals, tourists and divers being driven into a frenzy by deep, raw beats of music.
It’s 2:00 am, my first night in Cabo. I’m raising the roof in a club with barely enough room to breathe.
“Where you from?” I turn and see green eyes and sensual movement.
“California,” I say.
“First time here?
“Welcome to Cabo.” She hands me a shot of tequila, places a lime between her lips and commands me to drink.
My day flashes before my eyes—Mantas, sea lions, massive schools of fish and a blue womb of 82°F water; a carne asada dinner, cold cervezas and the sea lit afire by the setting sun; and now the tequila, lime and lips. Yep, I think, Welcome to Cabo.
Panamic Porkfish and Yellowtail Grunts.
At this southernmost tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, wild diving converges with famous, south-of-the-border nightlife. Divers flow to these magnetic centers like tornados to trailer parks. And for 10 days this last November divers from across the states and even the frigid confines of Canada heeded the siren call of Cabo’s first ever Dive Fiesta.
“You dive?” said the girl in the club, later, while pressing a lingering finger on the dive logo on my T-shirt.
“Uh, huh. Went out today.”
“Me too. You see the Whale Shark?
Women can be so cruel sometimes.
That’s the way life is for divers. Somebody’s always seeing something you want to see. Sometimes it’s you. Off southern Baja the odds are pretty good it will be you. Here, the waters of the Pacific and the Sea of Cortez bang heads and conspire to throw surprises at divers–Mantas, Scalloped Hammerheads, Whale Sharks, playful California Sea Lions, vast schools of fish and their predators, and lots of cool macro critters for those who look close and slow. All encapsulated in 100-foot-plus viz or 20 feet, usually somewhere in between. You never know. The real secret to diving this area is: stay wet, and your time will come. I dove the same site, the Pinnacle off Land’s End, several times and each time it was different, each time it offered something new, a couple times it blew me away and I didn’t want to get out of the water.
One happy guy: six happy women.
What's his secret?
But the Cabo Dive Fiesta is more than diving, it’s about cheaper than normal diving—and ripping nightlife. Plus free demo gear, free swag, free parties and swapping (freely exaggerated) stories with people from everywhere.
For eight days Dive Fiesta divers experienced such famous sites as Cabo Pulmo, Gorda Banks, Neptune’s Finger, Anegada, the Pinnacle and sites in between. Mares and Princeton Tec lent out free demo gear, and SeaLife put U/W camera systems in the hands of tomorrow’s David Doubilets and Marty Snydermans.
Well-known U/W photographer, Walt Stearns, was on hand to sign posters; Skin Diver Publisher Emeritus, Paul Tzimoulis, and Stearns presented slide shows; and free prize giveaways culminated in a mega-prize treasure hunt off Santa Maria Beach where snorkelers and divers alike scored dive equipment, free hotel stays, airfare, dive lights, U/W cameras, PADI CDs, caps and more.
Sea lion reverie.
But it was the people that made Dive Fiesta more than just a great dive vacation. Divers rule. Invite a big group of divers to Mexico for a week-long party and there are only two words to describe the outcome: no mercy. Something about earning a C-card makes a person want to suck as much life out of every day and every minute of existence. And, from their first dive onward—maybe it’s the narcosis—divers can weave the best stories. And when the weaving began at Dive Fiesta, even outsiders were lured in, usually professing disbelief and accusing us of insanity. But inevitably they would sigh, “I’d love to do that,” then head off into the tourist night, dreaming of blue water.
At the end of the Fiesta, Cabo had not so much been conquered but immortalized in logbooks and late-night memories. As the participants filtered back to the airport a stillness crept through the streets. I sat oceanside looking out over the water, basking in tropical denial, and wondering what was going on beneath those waves. What unseen creatures had shown up today?
And the winner is...
Then the girl from the first night passed by. She smiled. I smiled back.
Our inhibitions had returned. We were both going home.