Isla San Benedicto 19° 18′ 16″ N
110° 8′ 52″ W
San Benedicto, formerly Santo Tomás, is uninhabited and third largest island of the Revillagigedos group.
Located 220 nautical miles south of Cabo San Lucas this island is part of a chain of three islands called: The Revillagigedo Archipielago. The island is a Biosphere reserve now so you need special permits to visit them, limited sportfishing is allowed, and commercial fishing in the area is strictly prohibited. I visited the island for the fourth time in June of 2012 and am happy to report that I saw no commercial fishing vessels in the area. So it would appear the Mexican navy is doing a fine job of enforcing the biosphere boundary.
San Benedicto Island is an extinct volcano that last erupted in 1952 and soon coverered the island in ash and pumice. Practically all flora and terrestial fauna was wiped out on the island. Thus the majority of the souther half of the island is a rather large cinder and ash dome.
The fauna of San Benedicto is composed entirely of seabirds. There are no invasive species on San Benedicto. Walking on the southern flanks of the island as we did in the video above must be not unlike walking on the moon. There is virtually no sign of life what so ever on the southern beach. The southeastern beach does have a small population of boobies and albatross and green vine like vegetation.
However San Benedicto under the water is a completely different story and abounds with wildlife. Encounters with dolphins, sharks, giant manta rays, and other pelagics are an every day experience. The area called “The Boiler” located on San Benedictos west side is one of the wildest dives you will every have. Anchoring on the boiler can be very challenging indeed and on our last trip we only had one day in which the swell allowed us the pleasure of diving there. Tiger sharks, Galapago sharks, silky sharks, and humpback whales are also common visitors here.
The most common months to visit the island are between November and May. Even though we visited the islands at the end of May and beggining of June 2012, and we were please to find out that is also a good time of the year to come. If you should try to visit the island at this time of year you will find yourself as we did waiting for the proper weather window. We sat in Cabo San Lucas at the end of May waiting almost a week for two early tropical storms to clear out of the area. San Benedicto lies within the eastern pacific hurricane belt and it seems that each summer the island finds itself in the path of at lest one or two hurricanes.
If you should decide to go there in late May or early June as we did you need at least a two week window of good weather. That gives you time to get to San Benedicto and if you have the nerve San Benedictos big sister Isla Socorro, the crown jewel of the Revillagigedos archipelago. Once at the islands you are approximately 335 miles west of Puerto Vallarta.
In 2012 we had mostly light wind, calm waters and large swell, that prevented us from anchoring at the boiler on all but one day. Water temperatures were around 75 F during our almost 10 days visit to both the Islands. The wind was predominely out of the NNW and we anchored on the South side of the Island during the whole time. If you spend any time at the island You will most likely see the long range dive boats Solmar from Cabo San Lucas and another Canadian boat called the Nautilus Explorer filled with sport divers.
The fishing at and around the islands is legendary as you will see by the video above. We ate tuna and wahoo every day we were there and also released several sharks. Actually I pretty much got my ass kicked by the shark in the video above. We hooked up that shark with one of my favorite rapalas and I certainly didn’t want to loose the lure so I had to make a loop in a line lasso the shark with haul it up on deck to and yank the lure out of his mouth. By the end of it all my leg had one gnarly raspberry on it from wrestling with that shark.
With out doubt San Benedicto Island is one of the few places in the world where you can come in contact “eye to eye” with amazing sea creatures in crystal clear water, experience spectacular sunsets and sunrises, and dive in beautiful underwater canyons at the most remote are that Mexico has to offer. The islands are not for the faint of heart, that is for sure but those who venture there will reap the rewards of a life time of memories. For a trip to the Island is truly a trip back in time.