Clipperton Atoll

  • image
  • image
  • image
Diving at Clipperton Atoll

The Trip

Clipperton Atoll and Socorro Island combo trips – 15 nights of true adventure

The Nautilus Explorer offers the very rare opportunity to combine the adventure of voyaging to a remote coral atoll with diving the amazing, gentle and friendly giant pacific mantas and dolphins of Socorro Island. No other operator has ever offered dive trips to Clipperton Island.

Clipperton Island is virtually “off the map” – it is a beautiful and very remote tropical coral atoll that has been visited by very, very few divers. In fact, the Nautilus Explorer offers the only diving expeditions to have ever visited this place other than Jacques Cousteau, Scripps, the Smithsonian Institute, National Geographic and a french scientific party. The atoll and lagoon are surrounded by a shallow barrier reef with a beautiful coral reef that descends down to a white sand bottom at 175 feet. The amount of fish life is excellent and varied and ranges from the endemic, rare and beautiful Clipperton Angel fish (we brought specimens back to the Long Beach Aquarium and Scripps Institute on our first expedition) to big schools of jacks and other panamic fish, lots of nudibranchs and macro life and more free-swimming green moray eels than you can imagine. One of the many fascinating things about Clipperton is the adaptive behaviour of the moray eels – this particular population of eels have learned to wriggle out of the water and hunt crabs that are close to the water’s edge. We have never heard of this unique behaviour before!! Shark sightings on our first trip were not so great with a total of 22 assorted hammerhead, silky and tiger sharks as well as 1 giant manta and 1 whale shark spotted in 5 days of diving on our first expedition. However we will be trying a different dive plan on our next trip and are hopeful of seeing more sharks.. The 2 mile long atoll itself is absolutely loaded with life including 5 MILLION land crabs, 500,000 boobies (more than anywhere else in the world), coconut trees, canadian geese (no idea what these guys were doing on a tropical island!!) and even the “skink”, which is a lizard duplicated nowhere else on earth.

Clipperton Atoll was discovered by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. English pirate John Clipperton based his attacks on spanish Manila galleons from there. Players in Clipperton’s ongoing history included Emperor Charles V, Napolean III, Mexican president Portfirio Diaz, Italian King Victor Emmanuel III, Benito Mussolini, guano miners, castaways, adventurers, scientists, sailors and even the self-appointed King of Clipperton (a Mexican lighthouse keeper who went mad and enslaved the local population of women and children). The results: discovery, loss, the great guano rush of the nineteenth century, habitation, rape – and MURDER!! President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited there twice. It was home to a secret US Navy installation during World War 2. Jacques Cousteau investigated the blue hole in the lagoon in the early 1980’s. A visit to Clipperton is not your typical dive trip and is truly one of the few real adventures still possible.

Trips depart from Cabo San Lucas. It is a one day ocean crossing out to Socorro and then an additional 2 days of voyaging to Clipperton. Cabo San Lucas is easy to get to. Fly in on the major U.S. airlines from anywhere in North America or connecting from Europe. You will need to arrive in Cabo San Lucas the day before boarding the ship and we can recommend a local hotel. We board at the main dock (API dock) right downtown at 8:30 a.m. and depart shortly afterwards. It is a one day ocean crossing out to the first dive site and we usually arrive the morning of dive day #1. We will pack up after your last full dive day for the one day voyage home, arriving in Cabo San Lucas the next evening. Overnight stay on the boat and disembarking the next morning at 8:30 a.m. Trip length is 15 nights, 16 days.

Clipperton current – none to very light current. Skiff pickups available on all dives and a divemaster is available as an escort if needed. Descent and ascent line available all dives.

Clipperton water temperature – 86 degrees on our first expedition in 2007

Number of dives at Clipperton – 15 – 19 dives on station depending on the weather and how long we can stay at Clipperton. Number of dives subject to Captain’s discretion and the vagaries of the weather and marine animals..