Great White Sharks of Guadalupe Island

Baja Peninsula

September 20 - 25, 2019
Cost: $3,700 - $5,150
Leader: Scott Davis & Ted Cheeseman
Group Size: 23
Days: 6

Safari Overview

Sail this Pacific island to swim with one of the world's most respected and enigmatic predators: the great white shark. Guadalupe Island is located in the Pacific Ocean off Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. With its clear blue water, subtropical temperatures, and an abundance of great whites, the protected waters surrounding Guadalupe Island is one of the absolute best places to observe and photograph these awe-inspiring animals. Depending on your comfort and skill level, watch sharks from the specially designed surface cages (no SCUBA certification necessary!) or take the plunge in the submersible deep-water cage for the ultimate experience 30-feet below the surface. We welcome anyone interested in sharks regardless of diving experience. Scott Davis and Ted Cheeseman are perfect leaders for this unique adventure, both having backgrounds in marine biology and decades of field experience in photography.

HIGHLIGHTS
• Get up close and personal with the revered predator of the sea – the great white shark.
• Spend the week aboard the luxury vessel, Nautilus Explorer, with gourmet cuisine, and lavish accommodations.
• If you are SCUBA certified, spend time in the deep-water cages observing sharks from a unique perspective.

Itinerary Updated: September 2017



Ship Info FAQ Print Trip
Date Description Lodge Meals
Sep 20 Arrive in San Diego and travel by coach to board our boat in Ensenada, Mexico. On board the Nautilus Explorer
Sep 21 Sail to Guadalupe Island. On board the Nautilus Explorer B, L, D
Sep 22 - 24 Spend three full days in the water with great white sharks. On board the Nautilus Explorer B, L, D
Sep 25 Sail back to Ensenada, Mexico, and travel by coach to San Diego Airport. B, L

Our Trip Leaders

Ted Cheeseman

Ted grew up traveling extensively and began studying and photographing wildlife as a child. After completing a Master's degree in Tropical Conservation Biology at Duke University, Ted returned to California to lead and organize expeditions full time with Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris. Ted currently leads expeditions to Antarctica, the Arctic, and the Caribbean and recently founded the citizen science project Happywhale.

Scott Davis

Scott Davis is a professional photographer specializing in wildlife, nature, travel, and editorial imagery. Originally trained as a wildlife and marine biologist, Scott's research and photo assignments have taken him to far corners of the globe and all seven continents. His photographic work has appeared in numerous national and international magazines and newspapers, commercial websites, prestigious stock agencies, and corporate reports. His patience for teaching and love of capturing the essence of his subjects make him one of our most popular tour leaders.

Detailed Itinerary

A glimpse into our journey

Fly to San Diego and travel to Ensenada, Mexico

Sep 20

Nautilus Explorer ship

Arrive in San Diego. Transfer to the Best Western Plus Island Palms Hotel and Marina for a welcome reception with drinks and snacks. If you would like to arrive earlier, we can book extra nights. After the reception, you will travel by coach to the dock in Ensenada, Mexico to board the Nautilus Explorer.

Arrive at Guadalupe Island

Sep 21

Easy access to dive skiffs from the rear deck on the Nautilus Explorer

Sail to Guadalupe Island and arrive about dinnertime. You can spend time on the deck searching for sea birds such as cormorants, boobies, and auklets along with occasional pods of dolphins or enjoy the ride indoors in the lounge or library.

Guadalupe Island is a volcanic island with a rugged landscape located 180 mi off the west coast of the Baja Peninsula and about 250mi southwest of Ensenada. It consists of two ancient overlapping shield volcanoes, the largest, Mount Augusta, rises to about 4,250ft in the north and the smaller, El Picacho, about 3,200ft in the south. The small island measures about 22mi by 6mi with a coastline of rocky bluffs and dense forest above.

Cage dive with great white sharks

Sep 22 - 24

Great White Shark cage by Bea Metzger

Spend three full days with great white sharks in your choice of surface cages or 30ft submersible cages. Cages are open from 6:30am to dusk, so you have the freedom to spend the day in the cages for as much or little time as you like. In the evenings after dinner, you can scan the shark identification catalogs to try to ID sharks you swam with that day.

Guadalupe is considered one of the best spots in the world to see great white shark, possibly because of its large population of pinnipeds. Many island or marine species that live near Guadalupe also frequent the Channel Islands. In stark contrast to the rampant extinction of terrestrial life that happened at the same time, Guadalupe was the last refuge for the northern elephant seal and the Guadalupe fur seal in the 1890s. The island has been a pinniped sanctuary since 1975. You can expect between 125 and 150ft of water visibility enabling you to see sharks approach from beyond the anchor line through the clear, cobalt blue water.

Sail back to Ensenada, Mexico and transfer to San Diego

Sep 25

Hot tub on the Nautilus Explorer

Spend most of the day at sea en route back to the mainland. Keep your eyes peeled for seabirds, bow riding dolphins and maybe some whales. You’ll arrive in the Ensenada port in the afternoon and our coach will transfer you back to San Diego airport or to the hotel if you are extending your stay.

Baja

Sail this Pacific island to swim with one of the world’s most respected and enigmatic predators: the Great White Shark.

29.048718, -118.264529

Ship Information

Nautilus Explorer

The 25-passenger 116ft Nautilus Explorer is the world's first and only fully SOLAS certified dive boat. This beautiful tough small ship carries the same certificates as the largest cruise ships in the world. She has a steel hull and superstructure, sea stabilizers, and sails at 12 knots maximum service speed. Equipped with two submersible cages and two surface cages, all with easy entry ladders, 12 passengers can be in the water at a time.


More Information
Nautilus Explorer ship with Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris

Cost & Payments

Costs (in US$)

Type Description Cost Per Person
Premium Suite Double occupancy with one queen-sized bed (or two beds), separate lounge with convertible futon, large picture windows, air conditioning, desk, wardrobe, two TVs, and private bath with full bathtub. On Upper Deck. (Emerald) $5,150
Superior Suite Double occupancy, picture window, air conditioning, wardrobe, and private bath. The Rosario and Nautilus have one quasi-king-sized bed (two beds made into one king) and doors that open directly outside. The Dofleini has one queen-sized bed and a TV. On Upper Deck. (Dofleini, Rosario, Nautilus) $4,525
Single Stateroom Single occupancy with one full-sized bed, porthole window, air conditioning, and private bath. On Lower Deck. (Staterooms A and B) $4,825
Double Stateroom Double occupancy with two twin-sized beds, porthole window, air conditioning, and private bath. On Lower Deck. (Staterooms C, D, E, F, G, and J) $4,000
Triple Stateroom Triple occupancy with two lower twin-sized beds and one upper twin-sized bed, porthole window, air conditioning, and private bath. On Lower Deck. (Stateroom H) $3,700

We reserve the right to charge for cost increases that occur between when we set tour prices and the date of travel, for example, changes due to the cost of lodging and transportation. If you are a single traveler and you desire, we will find a roommate for you. If we cannot find you a roommate, we will not charge you a single supplement. Single rooms are subject to availability.

Please note that we cannot guarantee a specific cabin number. If changes occur, we will do everything in our power to assign a cabin of equal or greater value as the cabin type specified in your reservation. Deck plan, cabin arrangements, and cabin amenities are subject to change by ship operator.


Payment Schedule

Payment Due Date Amount Per Person
Deposit Due now to reserve your space $500
Second September 10, 2018 $1,000
Final April 10, 2019 Remaining balance

Payments will be due based on the schedule above. All reservations require a deposit to confirm reservation of your space. For reservations made after a due date, all past payments will be due with registration. By sending your initial deposit, you agree to accept our payment schedule and cancellation policy as a contract. If payments are still outstanding two weeks after the due date, your space may be forfeited.


Cancellations

Refunds are given depending on the time left before departure according to the following table. The cancellation fee of $300 per person can be applied toward another tour if reserved within six months of the cancelled trip’s departure date. Cancellations are non-transferrable. Consider purchasing trip cancellation insurance that could reimburse your trip costs in the event of your cancellation.

Dates Forfeited Amount per Person
On or before February 9, 2019 $300
February 10 to March 9, 2019 10% of tour cost
March 10 to April 9, 2019 40% of tour cost
On or after April 10, 2019 - no refund after final payment date. 100% of tour cost

Included

  • All leaders, transport, park entry fees, and permits for all activities unless described as optional.
  • Meals from breakfast on September 21 through lunch on September 25.
  • Welcome reception with light snacks and drinks at the Best Western Plus Island Palms Hotel and Marina on September 20.
  • Group transfers from the Best Western Plus Island Palms Hotel and Marina to the Nautilus Explorer on September 20 and from the Nautilus Explorer to the San Diego Airport (or Best Western Plus Island Palms Hotel and Marina) on September 25.
  • Five nights on board the Nautilus Explorer.
  • Port fee of $65 per person.
  • DVD of photos and videos taken by crew while onboard.
  • Trip Materials – information about flights, packing, entry and departure requirements, airport transfers, gratuities, etc.

Not Included

  • All airfare, airport and departure taxes, and excess baggage fees.
  • Passport and visa fees.
  • Airport transfers from the San Diego Airport to the Best Western Plus Island Palms Hotel and Marina on September 20.
  • We can arrange extra hotel nights for an extra cost.
  • Gratuities – tipping is, of course, discretionary, however we suggest budgeting about $350 to $400 total per participant for the ship crew.
  • Equipment, e.g., wetsuit, mask, booties, and diving gear. Details about dive rental gear will be sent to you in the Trip Materials.
  • Dive Insurance, but it is required for you to purchase. Consult your regular travel insurance company to check if they have policies that cover diving activities. If you need some recommendations, see the dive insurance section at travel insurance.
  • Trip cancellation insurance. Read more about travel insurance.
  • Items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone calls, medical costs or hospitalization, room service, alcoholic and other beverages, items not on the regular menu, etc. If you have special dietary needs, please indicate them on your Reservation/Release Form.

Climate

September air temperatures range from 60–80°F during the day and can drop to 45–55°F at night (7–26°C). Water temperatures average 72°F (22°C). September is the tail end of the dry season for the Pacific Coast.

Fitness Level

Minimal fitness is required to join this shark safari, but your fitness and in-water ability enrich the experience. Getting in the water is not required; we’ve shared this safari with travelers who had wonderful experiences shark watching from the ship. To get the most out of this safari you should be comfortable in the water and getting in and out of the water via a ladder. We recommend you spend time swimming at a pool or similar before your trip to make sure you are comfortable in water. If you would like to use the 30ft deep-sea cages, you must be SCUBA certified.

Flights

Airfare is not included in trip costs. Detailed logistical information and the contact information for our recommended flight-ticketing agent are included in the Trip Materials we will send you. Please let us know if you are arriving earlier or staying later as we are happy to assist you with any extra overnights that you might want to arrange.

Flights you (or a travel agent) book: Arrive in San Diego, California (SAN) no later than 5:00pm on September 20. Depart from San Diego, California (SAN) after 9:00pm on September 25.

FAQ

What are the shark cages like?

The Nautilus Explorer has four shark cages. Two cages are submersible to 30ft and two remain at the surface. In both the submersible and surface cages, you will use a hookah breathing system with air coming directly from the boat’s compressor. Do not worry if you have never used hookah systems before, because we will demonstrate its use and a divemaster will be with you in the cage at all times.

Do I have to be SCUBA certified for this safari?

You do not need a SCUBA certification to enjoy lots of time with the sharks in the surface cages. If you are SCUBA certified, you can also use the submersible cages. If you are not certified, and want to use the submersible cages, you should get SCUBA certified before this safari. The best resources to find SCUBA certification courses near you are the two largest diving certification programs: PADI and NAUI

Is cage viewing safe for the sharks and people?

Our goal is to keep our guests safe and also to protect our growing shark population. To that end, we teach and ask for responsible shark interactions that do not impact or change the behavior of these magnificent animals. We do not use oil, chum or blood. A piece of tuna, wrapped in a burlap sack, is all the sharks need to know we have arrived. We do not feed the sharks at any time. Conservation efforts continue at night when we kick back in the salon and identify who we spent the day with. And should you discover that you hung out with a great white shark not yet catalogued, yes, the naming rights are all yours.

Why do I need dive insurance?

While in the submersible and surface cages, you will be using a hookah breathing system. Most insurance companies consider this a diving activity, which is not covered by regular emergency medical and evacuation insurance policies. Dive insurance is required for this trip so that you are covered for any possible injuries that may occur while in the submersible or surface cages. Consult your regular travel insurance company to check if they have policies that cover diving activities. If you need some recommendations, see the dive insurance section at travel insurance.

Accommodations

Seasickness

Don’t let a fear of seasickness scare you away! For all but the most sensitive, seasickness is rarely a problem in this region. It’s a good idea to bring medication if you get seasick or are unsure, but you may find that you do not need it after a couple days once you have your “sea legs.” Even those who have experienced seasickness reported that the incredible wildlife and overall experience were well worth the temporary discomfort. Read our suggestions for coping with seasickness and contact us if you have any concerns.

Transportation

Conditions

  • Non-smoking policy: We have a strict non-smoking policy. Smoking is not permitted at any time or any place during our tours.
  • Maximum time in nature: We try to spend as much time in nature as possible, sometimes resulting in long days but giving you a more in-depth experience.
  • Itinerary route: The itinerary route, stops, and plans are subject to change by unforeseen circumstances beyond our control, such as weather or road conditions.
  • Additional forms: For some of our tours, you may be asked to fill out additional forms (e.g., medical questionnaire).
  • Medical conditions and travel risks: Travel to remote places is exciting, but it is important to understand and accept the risks, both medical and logistical. Minor medical problems can usually be treated, but because we are often far from medical facilities, there can be no expectation for immediate medical treatment or evacuation, even in cases of trauma. Anyone with health problems needing close medical supervision should not consider going on this tour. Bring enough medication for the duration of the trip for any chronic medical needs, since pharmacies are usually not available. When you send your deposit and signed Reservation/Release Form, you certify to us that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions that would create a risk for yourself or for other trip participants.