Cabo Pulmo – Maria Elena Gonzalez

The Finest Reef in Mexican Waters

Cabo Pulmo National Park is located just 60 miles north of Los Cabos.

This jewel of the East Cape region of Baja California Sur stretches five miles from the northernmost tip, Pulmo Point, to the southernmost tip, Los Frailes. Surrounded by undeveloped desert and a stunning mountain range, the pristine beaches of Cabo Pulmo Park give way to a shallow bay that cradles one of the three living reefs (and the only hard coral reef) in all of North America.

For many years, this precious place was unprotected, but through the tenacious efforts of the Cabo Pulmo community, in 1995 it was finally designated a National Marine Park by the Mexican government. Over the past 10 years, the park has endured pressures from commercial fishing and abuse from irresponsible visitors. Additionally, in a region where the locals live on the seafood they catch by hand, enforcing a ban on fishing presents a real challenge.

However, both Mexican and American residents are committed to protecting the marine environment and promoting sustainable fishing practices.

The reef, estimated to be 20,000 years old, is the northernmost coral reef in the eastern Pacific. The reef has a number of fingers of hard coral occurring in progressively deeper water offshore.

Cabo Pulmo is a magnet for serious divers, kayakers, and windsurfers, and remains one of southern Baja’s natural treasures. Once in the water you will find that the reefs are full of hard corals and sea fans, creating an amazing habitat for lobsters, octopuses, rays and small fish. During some seasons thousands of mobula rays congregate inside the park and swim above the reef clearly visible to all. Scientists have been combining efforts to monitor the Gulf of California’s rocky reefs every year for more than a decade, sampling more than 30 islands and peninsula locations along Baja California, stretching from Puerto Refugio on the northern tip of Angel de la Guarda to Cabo San Lucas and Cabo Pulmo south of the Bahia de La Paz. In the ten years studied, the researchers found that Cabo Pulmo’s fish species richness blossomed into a biodiversity “hot spot.” Animals such as tiger sharks, bull sharks and black tip reef sharks increased significantly. Scientists continue to find evidence that such top predators keep coral reefs healthy. Other large fish at Cabo Pulmo include gulf groupers, dog snappers and leopard groupers.

Onshore you can wander around the small pueblo of mixed locals, American ex-pats and vacation bungalows and stop for lunch in one of the beach bars. Power comes from solar panels, and drinking water has to be trucked in over dirt roads. Shaded restaurants, such as Tito’s Bar next to Pepe’s Dive Center, serve fabulous fish tacos and cold drinks, and the temptation to linger for days is nearly overwhelming.

A visit will not disappoint!