Over the next 6 days, enjoy a flexible itinerary and hope to experience the many spectacular wildlife encounters offered in the Sea of Cortez, including the amazing spectacle of tens of thousands of mobula rays congregating, where they exhibit their unique behavior of literally flying out of the water, allegedly to attract a mate. Plan to explore a few of the 244 islands, islets and colorful coastal sandstone formations that make up the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California. Possible sites may include:
This small island near Loreto is surrounded by turquoise waters teeming with marine life, including sea lions, dolphins and an abundant variety of fish. It is also home to a variety of waterfowl, including the famous blue-footed booby. Hikers can explore one of the many short trails that lead to magnificent scenic lookouts.
Isla del Carmen
Privately-owned Isla del Carmen is Loreto National Marine Park’s largest island and features marine fossils, colorful cliffs, bighorn sheep and diverse beaches ranging from smooth cobbles to red pebbles to white sand. The island’s west coast offers kayaking, snorkeling and easy walks along the shoreline. On the remote and wild east coast is Arroyo Blanco, where divers can explore the underwater caves.
In the heart of the marine reserve, Isla Montserrat is the idyllic location for aquatic activities, especially kayaking. An abundance of marine life makes the waters perfect for snorkeling and diving. Blue whales and bottlenose and common dolphins are often found in the waters surrounding Isla Monserrat, Isla Danzante and Isla del Carmen.
Bahia Agua Verde
Bahía Agua Verde offers excellent land-based birdwatching, a unique experience in Baja where most birdwatching takes place at sea. Species that may be spotted include the endemic Costa’s hummingbird, vermilion flycatcher, grey thrasher and northern mockingbird. In Zodiacs, there is a great chance to spot blue-footed boobies, brown boobies and perhaps even osprey.
Characterized by its bright-red rocks, Puerto Gato offers great snorkeling and kayaking, plus excellent exploratory hikes with terrific views from the top. After some rain, the arid desert is awash with colorful blooms.
Isla San José
Photograph the ochre cliffs of one of the larger islands in the Sea of Cortez. Hike an enchanting arroyo or gully at Punta Colorada, or snorkel in the clear waters that attract bottlenose dolphins, Risso’s dolphins, mobula rays and pilot whales.
Isla San Francisco
With pink sea cliffs and a stunning crescent-shaped bay, Isla San Francisco is one of the most beautiful islands in the Sea of Cortez. Enjoy a day hiking along the ridge, with sweeping views of the bay below and its possible whales. Also snorkel among colorful marine life and later, enjoy a barbecue under the desert stars.
Isla del Espiritu Santo & Isla Partida
Jointly known as Espiritu Santo, these islands are two of Baja’s gems. Venture into a secluded cove surrounded by fingers of red rock and golden beach. Spend the day exploring the beach on foot, where large numbers of roosterfish are known to appear, or venture farther on a guided hike. The deep bays are ideal for kayaking. Several wrecks, wall dives and vast undersea canyons support a rich ecosystem where whales, sharks and manta rays roam, making the island a must for any diver.
In the quiet seaside town of Loreto, choose one of the following excursions:
Loreto City Walking Tour (2 hours)
From Loreto pier, explore the serene town of Loreto on foot. Loreto was Spain’s first permanent settlement in the Californias and served as California’s capital from 1697 until 1777. From Loreto, Spanish rule slowly expanded south to Cabo San Lucas before spreading north towards San Diego. During the walk, visit the museum and the City Hall.
San Javier Mission Tour (4.5 hours)
From Loreto pier, drive approximately one hour through vibrant desert landscape to San Javier Mission, located roughly 1,375 feet above sea level. Explore the mission, where the church still stands in its original form since it the mission was founded by Jesuits in 1699. Visit the museum and stroll around the charming countryside surrounding the mission.