Guadalupe Island is now protected and home to amazing marine wildlife, including many great white sharks.
One of Mexico’s most unique and stunning islands is the remote island of Guadalupe in the Pacific Ocean. It is a small volcanic island about 150 miles off the west coast of Mexico’s Baja California.
One of the main attractions on this remote Mexican island is cage diving to see magnificent great white sharks face-to-face (or face-to-face with rows of razor-like teeth). It is considered one of the best places in the world for cage diving with sharks.
What to know about the remote island of Guadalupe in Mexico
Guadalupe Island is known in Spanish as “Isla Guadalupe” and is part of the Mexican state of Baja California. The island itself is mostly arid and has very little water. In 2005, Guadalupe Island (along with surrounding waters) was declared a Biosphere Reserve.
- Designated: biosphere reserve
- Administration: Part of Baja Calfornia of Mexico
Guadalupe Island is rugged and is made up of two shield volcanoes that formed on a (now extinct) mid-ocean ridge. The island is uninhabited except for a small group of scientists, seasonal fishermen and a few military personnel.
- Population: 150 (all scientists, military personnel operating a weather station, and seasonal fishermen)
- Campo Este: A small abalone and lobster fishing community – consisting of 15 buildings
As it is now protected in a biosphere reserve, anyone wishing to visit it needs special permission in the form of a permit from the Mexican government.
- Length: 35 km or 22 miles long
- Lenght: 9.5 km or 6 miles wide
- Region: 244 kilometers2 (94 square miles)
During the 18th and 19th centuries, Guadalupe Island was a major destination for Russian and American seal hunters. The Guadalupe fur seal was nearly hunted to extinction. At one point there were only a few dozen left, but now they have returned to around 10,000, which is considered to be of least concern.
The northern elephant seal was also hunted to near extinction on the island and was thought to have died out in 1884. But a remnant population managed to survive and come back from the brink.
The island’s vegetation has also been devastated by a massive population of goats. But these have now been eliminated.
Why Guadalupe Island is Famous for Cage Shark Diving
Guadalupe Island is famous for diving and is considered one of the best (or even the best) places in the world to get up close to the magnificent great white sharks of the Pacific.
“Encounters with great white sharks on Guadalupe Island are nothing short of spectacular. It is simply the best destination in the world for its clear, calm waters and consistently high likelihood of multiple shark encounters per day.”
Nautilus Diving Adventures
Sharks and other forms of marine life thrive on a rich ecosystem surrounding the islands. The movement of a stream of cool, nutrient-rich water creates large amounts of phytoplankton. These are the base of the food chain that attracts great white sharks and other animals.
Guadalupe is an important location for the study and monitoring of great white sharks. About 366 individual great whites are identified in their researcher’s database.
So many of these fearsome creatures visit the island that sightings are virtually guaranteed. The waters around the island are clear with great visibility which generally ranges between 25 and 40 meters or 100 to 150 feet.
- Visibility: Between 25 and 40 meters (100 to 150 feet)
Shark cage diving expeditions in Guadalupe
One can book a memorable shark cage diving adventure with Nautilus Liveaboards.
“We saw up to nine great whites circling the cages at once.”
Guadalupe Great White Sharks
Shark diving expeditions last a minimum of 5 days. Two of those days are for the round trip from Ensenada to Baja California. That leaves 3 full days of cage diving and seeing the stunning great white sharks up close.
- From Baja California: Approximately 241 kilometers or 130 nautical miles
- From Ensenada: About 400 kilometers of 200 nautical miles
It is very isolated and can only be reached by cruise ship, with the sea crossing taking around 24 hours one way. These depart from Ensenada in Mexico.
- When should we go: July to November
- Average air temperature: 23°C – 26°C
- Average water temperature: 20°C – 22°C
During these expeditions, you can dive when you want and for as long as you want. We will be able to descend into the deep diving submersible cages where the sharks naturally congregate.
The dives go down to 30 feet and no one needs to use the deep chum because the sharks are already there. Without a chum, great white sharks are more relaxed and curious about divers. This means that they also get much closer to the cages.
Imagine a great white staring at you from 50 feet away, then swimming up to get a closer look at you.
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