I nose my kayak toward a deserted beach. Well…deserted except for six tents, a tarp, and two of our guides who have been setting up camp while our group paddles through the turquoise water. Rumour has it, we’ll be having ceviche for lunch. Afternoon options will include snorkeling, paddle boarding, hiking, and relaxing on the beach. Appetizers, margaritas, and easy conversation will follow. We’ll dine on something scrumptious like fish tacos or chicken mole. A full moon will cast an outrageous sheen on the ocean and desert hills. We’ll stumble, happily exhausted, into our tents. Then, we’ll blissfully repeat it all again the next day. But first, there’s café y heuvos. That was the rhythm of our 5-day kayaking excursion to Isla Espíritu Santo with ROW Sea Kayak Adventures.
Isla Espíritu Santo is an island in the Gulf of California, near the city of La Paz, in Mexico’s Baja California Sur. Its sheltered bays, spectacular scenery, and abundant marine life make it an exceptional kayaking destination. In 1995, the island was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. There is no permanent development on the island, so kayaking excursions like ours enjoy idyllic solitude.
Our group of nine, plus four really awesome guides, spent five days leisurely paddling up the west side of Isla Espíritu Santo and Isla Partida, camping on exquisite beaches along the way. You can see from the map how the bays are deeply carved into the island, forming sheltered beaches with clear, shallow water.
You probably guessed that this was not a roughing-it camping trip. Our tour included a skiff support that carried our food and camping gear. We kayaked a few hours each day, led by our friendly, competent lead guide Sergio. This left plenty of time for snorkeling and chilling on the beach—the perfect pace for our family. We were pampered with tent set-up, shade tarps, beach chairs, and delicious meals (some freshly caught that day). I felt like a sea princess under my yellow tarp with a cold cerveza.
The sheer beauty of the desert meets ocean scenery made kayaking and camping at Espíritu Santo an incredibly soothing experience for me. The colour of the water ranges from iridescent greens to deep blues and makes a stunning contrast to the red-toned mountains. We were lucky that our trip coincided with a full moon, which just added to the splendour.
One of the highlights of the trip was the bird and marine life. We saw blue-footed boobies, frigate birds, sea turtles, dolphins, mobulas (flying rays), moray eels, and lots of tropical fish. But, my favourite marine encounter—and one of the most memorable days of my life—was snorkeling with a colony of friendly sea lions.
Ruben, one of your guides and amazing free diver, captured great moments with the sea lions at Los Islotes, a rocky out cropping to the north of Espíritu Santo. It was pure magic watching these graceful and curious creatures perform their underwater acrobatics. I’ll be doing another post about the Los Islotes sea lions.
Our family’s time in this heavenly spot was enhanced by the company of a very pleasant group of fellow travellers and our guides Sergio, Ruben, Lino, and Guillermo. These four young men are professional and hard-working, and at the same time easy-going and good fun. Alex, our 19-year old, especially appreciated their company among our mostly middle-aged group.
This final photo, taken by Cindy, a fellow participant, really sums up the combination of natural beauty, outdoor adventure, peacefulness, and camaraderie of our Isla Espíritu Santo excursion. It was a phenomenal experience in a spectacular part of the world.
IF YOU GO:
- ROW Sea Kayak Adventures offers many different trip options in Baja California Sur that vary in location, duration, and activity. Our trip started and ended in La Paz. Other trips depart from Loreto.
- ROW’s Baja California Sur kayaking excursions run from October through April. Our Espíritu Santo trip was in mid-April, a good time for calm winds and water, and fewer visitors than Christmas and Spring Break. The weather was hot, but the ocean was refreshing, and the nights were pleasant. The best time to see whales is January-March. The warmest water temperatures during kayaking season are in fall.Check out ROW’s website for all the details.