I sort of hesitated to bring up Pulmo in the first place. In a selfish way, I kind of wish it does not become too popular. It is not for everybody and I hope it stays that way. For example, we met a couple on the beach that were up from Cabo San Lucas, where they have been staying at the Hilton for the past 14 seasons, and they looked completely lost. You could tell they were wondering why would anyone want to come here. Their loss. The place has a wild feel about it, even if a born and raised Pulmo boat captain told us it was “muy tranquilo”.
There are literally 2 and a half restaurants, one that doubles as something of a grocery store (limited offering, but cold beer) and there’s a little stall at the edge of town that will sell you small bags of chips and perhaps some soft drinks. That’s it. You best bring your own food if you are planning to stay several days, which we did, and it was glorious. The place is very “natural”, rustic even, and if geckoes and large insects freak you out this is not the place for you. However, if even a whisper of adventure troubles your soul, then Pulmo is a place you must see, and quick, before it changes. A shady diving operator in La Paz called it Cabo Pulvo (Cape Dust), but clearly we do not value the same things.
Of the place above the waves, think of a cross between an Adam Ansel photograph and a Georgia O’Keefe painting. We were there just after rainy season so things were lush and green, the brown was a couple of weeks away still.
Horses and dogs walk the streets, and the cars that aren’t pickups belong to tourists. Wedged between the sea and small mountains the town’s main street aligned with a bright milky way at night. We sat on the rooftop, looking for shooting stars, while the club flag flapped lazily in the wind. You can’t ask for more.
Yes, we finally rented a house with a flag pole. The house was aptly named The Jewel of Cabo Pulmo, and if you enjoy living outside as much as in, and a hint of early 20th century bohemia, it is clearly for you. Yes, there is only one toilet and it is only accessible from outside the house. Neat huh? Bring a flashlight to avoid stepping on bugs, but perhaps that was season dependent.
The scuba diving is apparently also greatly variable in terms of what you see, depending on when you go. Summer might bring you schools of jumping mobulas rays, other times it might be hearing whale songs underwater or lots of sea lions. We were hoping for sharks (hammerheads were a very very long shot, you have to go to Gordo Banks for that) and the famous fishnado. You probably have seen that picture before, of a diver standing next to a large ball impossibly dense with fishes? Well that we saw, and it was breathtaking.
We dove with the oldest shop in town, Cabo Pulmo Divers, and they had about 10 or 12 dive sites indicated on their wall map, with some other lesser known one available for the DM’s to choose from. Generally the dives are on the shallowish side, with only a site or two around 80 feet, the rest was about 50 according to my watch. Pulmo is a marine park with absolutely no fishing allowed, at that means the fishes grow very big (damsels so huge they were hard to recognize) and plentiful. It truly was at times, like swimming through a well populated aquarium. Moray eels by the handful, puffer fishes, including one I have not seen in the Caribbean, the Guinea Fowl puffer, trigger and parrot fishes and of course jacks and machetes (tarpons I think) plus a host of others.
In many ways the diving was reminiscent of the west coast of Panama, but with warmer waters and more corals. We were told this is the most northerly coral reef on the west coast. The coral does not compare, to be blunt, with average sites in the Caribbean, but the topography of broken rocks and the variety and amount of fishes make for a kick ass diving experience. There is a wreck which we did not dive. I guess we will have to go back at a different time of the year.
Cabo Pulmo Divers provided a luxurious diving experience, with our gear on the boat every morning and tanks changed during the surface interval while we just chilled in the water and compared notes on the coolest things we saw (lobster? Turtle? White tipped shark? Bumpy head parrot fish?). Chloe (a shoutout to CHLOE!) our DM, was enthusiastic, knowledgeable and professional, like everybody else from the shop we met. After the dive? Your bcd’s and regs will be rinsed out for you and waiting for your next dive if you so choose. You can leave all the rest of your stuff so you don’t have to lug it back and forth, and you don’t have to worry about hunting down the different pieces the next morning. The service was excellent, the shop was tight.
And yes we left a sticker. BTW, if you ever spot one of our stickers on your travels, do drop a line, or instagram it or something. Pretty please?
I’m always loath to return to a place I’ve seen, there are just so many places to discover in the world, but for Cabo Pulmo I think I would make an exception, and keep in mind this is not an easy place to get to. At a different time of the year no doubt, to see some of the other creatures that travel through there.
Hope you don’t change too much Pulmo. Here’s to seeing you again.