Seven Days in the Company of the Sizzling Sailfish
When we are ready to dive with the Sailfish, the bait-ball and the Frigate birds above, you and another snorkeler will slide into the water — camera in hand if you wish. Franco will join two guests at a time following the action after the ball of sardines.
The action most often is fast and moving, so we send only two or three divers at the time. Sometimes, when it is stationary, everyone can get in on the action. Most of the feeding action is close to the surface, so we never have to dive deeper than 20 feet.
With this in mind, some action can take only three to five minutes, while other encounters can be as long as 30 minutes, or even up to an hour. You’ll be left hovering in the water with memories to last a lifetime, images that are truly unique, and a satisfying ache in your limbs from keeping up with the escaping Sardines and speedy Sailfish.
ON THIS EXPEDITION, you’ll have a front-row seat for one of the most extraordinary natural phenomena in all the oceans of the world. And Amos pretty much had to look in all those oceans to find the perfect setting for our sailfish expedition.
The sailfish can be found in warm waters worldwide, but it was only after Amos observed them in Brazil, Venezuela, Ghana, New Zealand, Australia, Costa Rica, and Guatemala, that everything came together at Isla Mujeres: clear blue water, beautiful setting, great support for diving, one of the best sportfishing skippers in the Caribbean (with a boat converted for diving), and a very dynamic cooperative hunt among the Caribbean sailfish population.
Since Amos got set up in Isla Mujeres, many industry operators have followed his example, but only Big Animals Expeditions has kept a commitment to providing divers with the closest and wildest access to the sailfish show — up to 100 sailfish working together to corral their prey into bait balls, and then making the bait ball disappear, one sardine at a time. Plus, because Amos has such a consistent record of success with the international award shows, you’ll be assured of always getting the best conditions possible for taking your own award-winning wildlife photography.
Day 1: ARRIVE Cancun. Take a taxi to the Ferry terminal for Isla Mujeres. The ferry ride takes about 15 minutes from Cancun to Isla Mujeres. Upon arrival, take a taxi to the Hotel Playa la Media Luna, about 5 minutes away. We meet in the late afternoon with the skipper and review our logistics.
Days 2-7: Early each morning, we depart about 6AM. Depending on wind and water conditions, the skipper decides if we head out to sea or wait until the wind dies down. Our skipper is one of the most accomplished sport-fishing captains there is — meaning, he really knows how to find the fish. Working with Amos, and being openminded enough to adapt his craft to our needs, we have at our disposal a perfect dive boat for finding and photographing sailfish
Providing weather conditions are safe, we’ll race out anywhere between 10-40 miles offshore looking for frigate birds hovering over the water. While on the search, we suit up in our snorkeling gear and get our cameras ready. The point is to be prepared for the opportunity, because when it comes, the action is fast and unpredictable.
Only five guests on this trip, because otherwise, we’d all be in each other’s way when it’s time to go-go-go!
When we spot what looks like sailfish activity, the skipper will maneuver the vessel to give us the best position according to his estimated movement of the bait ball. Once the skipper gives the word, two guests plus Expedition leader jump into the water, and swim as quickly as possible to get close to the action.
The sardine bait-ball is moving fast running away, and the sailfish pack is chasing the bait ball. This is a very dynamic and fast-moving encounter. Sometimes we’ll be in the water five minutes and it will be all over, and sometimes, if we can stay with them and we’re positioned right, we’ll get 30 minutes to an hour observing the sailfish hunt.
When one team returns to the vessel, the second team is ready and waiting for the skipper’s instructions. This is how each day proceeds.
We’ll have lunch on board as well as water and soft drinks.
The day ends around 3 or 4pm — by that time the water becomes cloudy and is not as clear and blue as in the morning. On returning to shore, we head back to our hotel. With enough time on hand, and if you’re not too tired from swimming with sailfish, the charms of Isla Mujeres village life are there for you to enjoy. Some evening we will meet for sunset drinks on the beach and have dinner in town.
On board the vessel we have five small scuba tanks (13 cuf) for each person, plus a weight belt — all our dives will be at 20 feet or less, and mostly at 10 feet. However, this means that each diver must be a strong enough swimmer to be able to stay afloat with camera and weight belt throughout the encounter until the vessel comes around to pick us up. Most of the encounters can be done with snorkeling gear only and no scuba gear at all.
Day 8: DEPART from the hotel according to your flight schedule back home. We’ll provide your transportation from the hotel to the ferry and from the ferry to the Cancun airport.
Tour price includes:
- Six Days Charter
- Seven nights at the hotel (Accommodations are based on shared rooms. Single occupancy is available for an extra fee)
- Breakfast and Lunch Box
- All diving equipment: tanks and weights
- Franco Banfi leadership and Photo coaching
Not included in Tour Price:
- International or domestic flights
- Excess baggage charges on flight
- Single occupancy
- Dinners and other meals not specified above
- All items of a personal nature such as laundry, meals ashore, bar, beverage charges and telecommunication charges
- Loss of dive gear and equipment
Payment Policy & Deposit:
When we receive your deposit, you’ll receive confirmation and a comprehensive Trip Preparation Bulletin about the experience and the destination. All flights and trip costs are subject to change without prior notice until your reservation is confirmed.
- A non-refundable deposit of $2,000 is required to secure a space on the Expedition.
- Full payment is due no later than 90 days before departure.
- We reserve the right to sell any space that is not paid in full 60 days before departure.
- A refund will be made if the space can be filled in time, less unrecoverable costs of sales, administration, or special promotion.
- Cancellation must be made in writing. Deposits are non-refundable if cancellation is made 180 days or less before departure.
- No refunds for unused part of the itinerary.
For payment, please mail your check to:
Big Animals Expeditions
189 Evans Ave. # A
Pacific Grove, CA 93950
A note on preparation
We’ll be in semi-tropical waters but it sometimes gets cloudy, rainy, and windy. Do bring a windbreaker coat that can go over your wetsuit. Bring casual clothing, a long-sleeve shirt in light colors, plus ahat, sunglasses, and sunblock cream. Bring a hard waterproof case no larger than 21”x13”x9” for your topside camera, and a waterproof soft bag for dry clothes to carry onboard. Be sure to bring all medicines you take on a regular basis. Bring your passport and a credit card.
We recommend a 3mm wetsuit or Lycra lightweight body protection. Bring your mask plus an extra strap, snorkel and fins (plus extra straps — spring-loaded straps are highly recommended). Ankle weights (to keep your fins in the water for maximum efficiency while snorkeling). A BC & regulator.
A general note
Although we’re confident about what you’ll experience in Mexico, we’d like to remind you that we’re in the wilderness and despite all our careful preparation, Mother Nature may not cooperate with us exactly as we’d wish. Remember, the sailfish are not on contract with us. When we’re at sea, we’re not at Sea World. We trust our previous experiences, and so far our record is excellent. We believe that with good planning and a realistic approach, you’ll have a wonderful time with us in the Caribbean and with the noble game fish, the sailfish.
All information is current as of January 2011. Dates and prices are subject to change without prior notice.
For Booking and/or further questions, please contact Amos:
We look forward to your joining us on this adventure of a lifetime!
To join us, please complete the Registration Form