Cabo Pulmo is a National Park and Marine Reserve and is therefore subject to federal rules and regulations that are enforced by the local residents along with park rangers.
Cabo Pulmo is a very special Baja destination and just may be the perfect example of what we mean when we say “The Real Baja”. This small village, of less than 150 residents, has done more to preserve their heritage and lifestyle than any other place in Baja. Cabo Pulmo lies 40 minutes south of Los Barriles/Buena Vista by way of pavement and a fairly well maintained dirt road.
A visit to Cabo Pulmo is like taking a step back in time, a time when life was based more on reality and the pleasures of life were not always induced by electronics or technology.
Yes, this village on the shores of the Sea of Cortez does take advantage of modern conveniences, such as solar power, wind power and generators. They even have a few satellite phones and modern compressors to fill dive tanks. TV signals are usually available to local residents, therefore the locals are able to watch a good soccer match every now and then. There are great accommodations available (some more basic than others) for tourists. There are a few nice restaurants, a couple of basic stores, a few dive operators and that is the basic make up of Cabo Pulmo.
Cabo Pulmo is not so remote as to be completely cut off from the rest of the world. The feeling of being close to nature is so abundant here that there really isn’t much need for the endless electronic stimulation so prevalent in most places.
At the very heart of this peaceful community are the crystal clear waters of the Sea of Cortez, which provide Cabo Pulmo with its dreamlike atmosphere. The lure of the sea and the natural tranquility are the major reasons to visit Cabo Pulmo.
Snorkeling, scuba diving and fishing (fishing is only allowed outside of the park boundaries) are usually at the heart of a Cabo Pulmo visit. There are, of course, other things to do here, siestas are big! Kayaking, hiking, mountain biking, shell collecting, leisurely beach combing and “just relaxing” are also practiced here in varying degrees.
The Cabo Pulmo bay is home to the only living hard coral reef in the Sea of Cortez. The reef lies 18 meters below the surface and consists of 6 main fingers of coral. There are smaller fingers and the coral growth on the rocky reefs provide a near perfect environment for a huge variety of colorful tropical fish. This area is also very attractive to various sea mammals, invertebrates, seabirds and marine plants. The nutrient-rich waters and enormous amounts of plankton create a food chain that makes Cabo Pulmo a paradise for creatures of the sea and divers alike.
There is also a shipwreck just north of the village that lies in 15 meters of water. The wreck is that of a Mexican fishing boat that sank in 1935. Shipwrecks, with time, imitate an underwater reef, this is an added adventure for anyone who enjoys that sort of diving.
The water here is usually warm (65 to 85 degrees) and the visibility is unusually high (60 to 80 feet). There is good reason that Jacques Cousteau called this area “the world’s aquarium”.
The fact that this area has been protected from fishing and commercial diving of any kind since 1995 has produced this amazing combination of ideal conditions that should serve as a model for other areas in the Sea of Cortez. This is the only area in the Sea of Cortez that in any way resembles what the entire Sea was like years ago. Cabo Pulmo provides viable proof that time and proper conservation techniques could restore our ocean’s waters.
Fishing on the fringes of the Marine Reserve is usually incredible because of the highly productive conditions created within the Marine Reserve. The bait fish count is extraordinarily high and the reefs and marine canyons in the area create an nearly perfect environment for fishing enthusiasts. Bahia Los Frailes, just south of Cabo Pulmo is a large crescent shaped bay with a deep marine canyon that comes almost into shore. This is another area that is blessed with incredible conditions for fishing.
The local residents were protecting this area even before it became a National Park and Marine Reserve. This is an incredible achievement and the locals are very proud of what they have accomplished here.
This is without a doubt one of the very best places in the world to scuba dive and snorkel. Let us all hope that the authorities in the state and national government will not let the areas surrounding this small piece of paradise grow to be over-developed and become contaminated from afar.