Anyway. Now that you know where you'll be staying, it's time to start thinking about where you'll be snorkeling and scuba diving while you're down there. You'll probably want to split your time (which I'm assuming will be about 1-2 weeks -- but feel free to ignore my time recommendations) between Cabo San Lucas, Cabo Pulmo, La Paz, and various Pacific coast cities, like Todos Santos and Los Cerritos.
First, some logistics.
2. Around the exact time I went (November), the wind picks up for the winter. (I think this is true for a lot of Central America.) That can mean more chop and less visibility. I would recommend going a little earlier in the fall or spring for better conditions. Especially if you want to see schooling sharks.
3. If you're bringing your own weight belt, there are two things to keep in mind. First, the water in Cabo is super salty. Saltier than most places I've been diving. It has to do with the whole, lots-of-evaporation-but-very-little-rainfall thing. Second, Justin and I brought our weight belts and brought them onto the plane as carry-ons. We've done this many times before without problems. Getting into Mexico, it was no problem. But getting out, the security people insisted that we check the weights, since... I guess they're weapons? So that ended up costing $25. Which, in my opinion, was worth it -- it's nice to always have weights with you for freediving and whatever. But it's something to keep in mind.
4. If you're planning on renting a car, I'd recommend against Europcar. There's always a huge line there, because they let people confirm online, but once you get there, they try to charge you 4x what they said they would. There's also this thing where lots of credit card companies will insure rental cars for you if you pay for the rental car with a specific card. If you're planning on using this insurance to save money on your rental, GET A LETTER FROM YOUR CREDIT CARD COMPANY verifying that they will insure your car. A lot of car rental places will try to rip you off on this. We called Chase WHILE we were at Europcar, and had them send this letter via email three times. Mysteriously, Europcar claimed they never got any of the emails. So be careful whom you rent from, and make sure you bring a copy of your letter thingy.
Cabo Pulmo (Allow 2-4 days, if possible)
Cabo Pulmo National Park (CPNP) was created in 1995 and is the only well enforced no-take area in the Gulf of California, Mexico, mostly because of widespread support from the local community. In 1999, four years after the establishment of the reserve, there were no significant differences in fish biomass between CPNP (0.75 t ha−1 on average) and other marine protected areas or open access areas in the Gulf of California. By 2009, total fish biomass at CPNP had increased to 4.24 t ha−1 (absolute biomass increase of 3.49 t ha−1, or 463%), and the biomass of top predators and carnivores increased by 11 and 4 times, respectively. However, fish biomass did not change significantly in other marine protected areas or open access areas over the same time period. The absolute increase in fish biomass at CPNP within a decade is the largest measured in a marine reserve worldwide, and it is likely due to a combination of social (strong community leadership, social cohesion, effective enforcement) and ecological factors. The recovery of fish biomass inside CPNP has resulted in significant economic benefits, indicating that community-managed marine reserves are a viable solution to unsustainable coastal development and fisheries collapse in the Gulf of California and elsewhere.
Here's a map of some of the more popular sites:
But, like I said, there's a possibility you might not be allowed to visit these sites. My advise is to call or email one of the dive shops (you've got about four options) and find out when the monthly quota is reset, and plan your trip around that.
El Islote is also a nice spot -- technically accessible from the shore, if you're willing to go a really long surface swim from Los Arbolitos (which, by the way, also has some great snorkeling close to the shore on the right side of the beach), it has some interesting features and swim-throughs
Wherever you go in Cabo Pulmo, if you go in the winter, you're likely to see mobula rays:
To be perfectly honest, I really liked Cabo Pulmo, but I didn't love it. I thought the diving around Isla Espiritu Santo (off La Paz) was equally good, but less expensive. To be fair, I visited Cabo Pulmo between two stretches of windy days, so the visibility was good, but not amazing. But one of the things that bummed me out the most was that dives are only allowed to be 45 minutes long, no matter how much air you have left. (Which, for me, was over half a tank!)
As far as lodging, you only have a few choices. You can book a cheap-ish place near the preserve on Airbnb (use this link to get a $25 credit). You can camp on the beach, either for $5 or for free. Or you can book a dive package at the Cabo Pulmo Beach Resort. That'll cost you about $139/person/night, and includes two dives and either one or three meals per day (for reference, the two-tank dive by itself costs ~$75).
La Paz/Isla Espiritu Santo (2-4 days -- or longer! -- if possible)
Otherwise, book a couple of dives when you arrive with the guys who hang out in front of the Burger King on the Malecón.
So, same guides, same menu, same everything. Except we paid something like $70 each for two people to do a 2-tank dive, rather than $180 for one person to do the same. Plus, they'll take you on a scenic boat tour on your way out to the island, including stops at the Mushroom Rock at Bahai Balandra
Justin and I didn't exactly know what was going on. We thought we'd booked (well, "booked" -- Jorge had asked for a deposit, but we hadn't been comfortable leaving any money with him, since he was just some dude we met outside of the Burger King, and that was fine) some sort of private thing specifically with Jorge, but we ended up going out with a different captain as well as a family that was visiting from Guadalajara. Neither of these things bothered me, though -- the family was very sweet. When a huge grasshopper landed on my mask, the little boy took it to the shore to release it for me.
As far as which sites to visit, your best bet is to ask for recommendations, as conditions are always changing. My recommendation is to start with the famous sea lion colony on Isla Espiritu Santo. Even if you're from California and you see sea lions all the time, you should still visit this site. Swim to the arch and spend most of your time in and around that. You'll see lots of fish, sea lions and great coral.
Another site you might consider is El Bajo, at the Marisla Seamount. (Not the same El Bajo as in Cabo Pulmo.) This spot, located another 8.2 miles (so maybe another hour or more) out from Espiritu Santo, is a long boat ride from La Paz. I wasn't able to do this dive, due to the fact that I don't have a death wish and didn't want to face eight miles of 20-foot waves in a panga (or even a larger boat). But! It's supposed to be the place to see schooling hammerheads in the Cabo area (there's some talk about hammerheads at Gordo Banks, near Cabo San Lucas, but the divemasters there told me that there haven't seen any in years -- probably due to the indiscriminate killing of local fishermen and their gill nets, as well as Japanese long-line fishermen offshore). I don't promise you'll see anything, because some days they see nothing. Other days, they see this:
Cabo San Lucas (1-3 days)