overlooking the sea of cortez from a field of cacti on a sunny day in baja california
group of adventure travelers in a zodiac skiff watch a dolphin jump out of the water on the whales and wildness spring in the sea of cortez small ship cruise
flock of white seabirds with black heads and orange bills flying on a sunny day in the sea of cortez baja california
tails of two humpback whales sticking out of the blue water of the sea of cortez on a sunny day in baja california
sea lion starts to dive underwater in the sea of cortez on a sunny day in baja california with land in the distance
View Photos
North America Baja California Cruise

Exploring the Sea of Cortez: A Living Sea & Desert Isles

Cruise Baja, California, in April and December, a prime season for this stunning landscape. The 8-day Exploring the Sea of Cortez: A Living Sea & Desert Isles cruise includes a National Geographic crew with more than 25 years of experience in the region. Experience the best that Baja has to offer and take advantage of the consistently calm waters that are ideal for swimming and snorkeling. In December and April, air temperatures are warm but not too hot and the occasional rains bring forth colorful cactus blossoms. 

Watch whales and dolphins from the deck of the 100-passenger National Geographic Venture. Activities for many levels, like hiking, kayaking and Zodiac rides, are the perfect way to view myriad seabirds and whales up close. Best bets are fin, sperm and Bryde’s whales, but other possibilities include the great blue whale.

Take advantage of the Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic Certified Photo Instructor on board every departure, to provide help to beginner and intermediate photo enthusiasts. Special Photo Expeditions feature award-winning photographers that have graced National Geographic pages. These special Photo Expeditions are designed expressly to move at a photographer’s pace so that you can take advantage of some of the most photogenic places on the planet.

Miles of uninhabited beaches and desert are ripe for exploration, with possible sightings of rare desert birds and endemic species. Swimming and snorkeling are great options to view reef fish and playful sea lions. This unique Baja small ship cruise is designed with a flexible itinerary, adding a stimulating sense of adventure to each day.

Read on for details about this trip, or learn more about AdventureSmith’s Baja cruises.


Exploring the Sea of Cortez: A Living Sea & Desert Isles Itinerary

This 8-day Baja California cruise begins and ends in Loreto, Baja, visiting islands, remote coves and a marine park.

Route map of Exploring the Sea of Cortez: A Living Sea & Desert Isles cruise, operating round-trip from Loreto with visits to Isla San Esteban, San Pero Martir, Isla San Marcos, Isla San Jose, Bahia Loreto Marine Park, Los Islotes & Isla San Francisco.
Read More
Day 1
Arrive Loreto, Baja & Embark

Fly into Loreto and transfer to the ship to set sail on the Sea of Cortez.


National Geographic Venture



Read More
Days 2 - 7
Exploring the Sea of Cortez

This cruise’s routing is designed with flexibility in mind, to maximize opportunities for wildlife sightings and includes the islands listed below, although the order may vary:

Islas San Esteban & San Pedro Martir: 
Enjoy a walk up a desert wash to search for desert birds and the endemic pinto chuckwalla, a harmless desert lizard. Later, visit Isla San Pedro Martir, a 1,000- foot-high, guano-covered island that is home to thousands of seabirds, including blue-footed boobies, red-billed tropicbirds, pelicans, frigatebirds, Brandt’s cormorants and California sea lions.

Isla San Marcos:
At Isla San Marcos there is a beautiful shoreline for swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking. Again in rich whale waters in the afternoon, near the mouth of Bahía Concepción where there are excellent possibilities for sighting several species of dolphins – with common and bottlenose dolphins being the most frequently encountered species.

Isla San José:
One of the larger islands in the Sea of Cortez, San José offers several landing possibilities depending on conditions and the whim of the moment. Photograph the ochre cliffs of the island’s eastern shore, hike an enchanted, cactus-laden arroyo and visit the abandoned salt works to the west. Snorkel with sea lions and discover rare wildlife among desert islands.

Bahía Loreto Marine Park: 
Search for whales in the waters south of Isla Carmen, an area that has proven to be one of the best for finding blue whales and bottlenose and common dolphins. Visit one of the islands of Bahía Loreto Marine Park, with ample time for kayaking, snorkeling, stand-up paddleboarding and possibly hiking, and enjoy a beach barbecue under the desert sky.

Los Islotes/Isla San Francisco:
At Los Islotes, snorkelers have one of life’s great opportunities—swimming with graceful and curious sea lions. At Isla San Francisco, enjoy a leisurely afternoon to swim, kayak or hike. Endemic yellow-footed gulls, brown pelicans and blue-footed boobies are all part of the landscape.


National Geographic Venture


breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 8
Disembark Loreto

This morning after breakfast, disembark in Loreto where you will have the opportunity to visit the first mission in Baja California as well as the nearby museum to learn more about what makes this town so special. Enjoy free time to explore quaint shops and vibrant side streets. After lunch, transfer to the Loreto Airport for flights home.




breakfast, lunch

Read More
Inclusions, Terms & Notes


Accommodations aboard ship; meals as indicated; non-alcoholic beverages; excursions; services of expedition leaders, naturalist staff and expert guides; use of kayaks and snorkeling equipment; all port charges and services taxes.


Air transportation; voyage DVD; personal items such as alcoholic beverages, emails, etc. discretionary tips to ship’s crew; insurance of any kind.

Payment & Cancellation

In order to confirm this trip, a deposit of $750 is required per person at time of booking. The balance of the trip price is due 90 days before the departure date. Special holiday payment and cancellation terms may apply. Guests who must cancel their trip for any reason must do so in writing. Standard cancellations are subject to the following per-person penalties, based on number of days prior to departure:
120 or more days – $350 of deposit retained (may be applied to future trip by trip operator)
119 to 90 days – 100% of deposit
89 to 60 days – 25% of total trip cost
59 to 45 days – 50% of total trip cost
44 to 0 days – 100% of total trip cost

Terms & Conditions

This trip is subject to AdventureSmith Explorations Terms and Conditions. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A Traveler Information Form, which includes a release of liability, must be completed and signed by all travelers. Your Adventure Specialist will send you a unique link to complete this form along with a packing list and extensive pre-departure and travel insurance information upon booking confirmation.

Arrival & Departure

The Exploring the Sea of Cortez: A Living Sea & Desert Isles cruise begins and ends in Loreto, Baja, California (LTO). Embarkation time on day 1 may vary based upon arrival of group flights from Los Angeles, California (LAX). Disembarkation is after breakfast on day 8 of the outlined itinerary; departure times may vary depending on group flights to Los Angeles, California. If you would like assistance with international flights, please visit ourBooking Flights resource page.


Whether you are looking for light activity options or more challenging outdoor pursuits, the ship’s crew can tailor most excursions to suit your skill level. Adventure activities may include hiking, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, inflatable boat/skiff excursions, photography, whale watching and wildlife observation.

Room Configuration

In addition to listed Solo cabin rates, select double-occupancy cabins may be available for single occupancy with a single supplement fee. If you would like to share accommodations with another guest of the same gender, we will be happy to try to accommodate you in select cabin categories. This program allows you to pay the per person double-occupancy rate whether or not a roommate is found. Contact AdventureSmith for further details and availability.

Families & Children

Kids under the age of 18 at time of travel save $500, at double occupancy. Skilled staff members are trained in organizing activities that inspire curiosity in young people of all ages. Programming for kids may include activities like photo workshops, journaling, scavenger hunts, Zodiac-driving lessons, hands-on nature and science programming and kid-friendly menu options.

Travel Insurance

Protect your travel investment with insurance. Our partners at Travelex Insurance offer a variety of plans and policies to fit every trip and budget. Coverage for a pre-existing medical condition is also available if you purchase the Travel Select plan within 15 days of the initial trip payment; refer to plan details. Learn more about travel insurance or get a free quote.

Itinerary Notes

Use the itinerary as a guide only. Itineraries may be altered due to weather, wildlife, national park regulation or at the captain’s discretion. The ability to be flexible makes this type of small ship cruising unique. 

Rates & Dates

Cruise Rates & Dates

See Deals section for details on flexible booking policies.

Apr 12 - Apr 19, 2021
National Geographic Venture • 8 days
From $6690USD
Per Person
Read More
Read More

Learn About the Small Ship on Your Itinerary 

Expedition Ship
National Geographic Venture

The 100-guest National Geographic Venture is a state-of-the-art, purpose-built expedition vessel made for exploring coastal waters, shallow coves and fast-moving channels while sailing with the luxury of supreme comfort.


Current Deals on This Trip

Add to Wishlist
Offer expires January 31st, 2021
Receive 2021 Rates for 2022 National Geographic Expeditions

Book now for 2022 savings aboard the National Geographic fleet of ships.

Add to Wishlist
Offer expires March 31st, 2021
Flexible Cancellation Available Up To 14 Days Before Departure on 2021 National Geographic Expeditions

Book or re-book 2021 travel aboard the National Geographic fleet of ships with confidence using these risk-free, flexible policy details.

Add to Wishlist
Offer expires March 31st, 2021
No Solo Premium On Select 2021 National Geographic Baja Cruises

Book your Baja cruise as a solo traveler and don't pay the premium in this special deal.

Add to Wishlist
Offer expires March 31st, 2021
Kids Save 25% On Select 2021 National Geographic Baja Cruises

Book your 2021 Baja cruise for two full-fare adults and save up to 25% per child in this special deal.

Expert Review

Reviews from Our Experts So You Know What to Expect

Chris Harter • June 1st, 2008
Expert Review: Untamed Baja Cruise with National Geographic

An AdventureSmith Specialist reviews his 8-day Baja and Sea of Cortez expedition with National Geographic guides.

Book with the confidence that comes from experience.

100+ combined years of experience, 7 continents explored, decades of expedition cruising around the world & here to help you find & book your dream trip.

Extend Your Trip

Additional Travel Options Before or After Your Cruise

Add to Wishlist
9 - 12 Day Cruise
Westward Voyages in the Sea of Cortez

Actively cruise between La Paz and Loreto aboard the 8-guest adventure yacht Westward, stopping at remote islands and beaches for hiking, kayaking and snorkeling. Venture to premier sites along Baja's Sea of Cortez for up-close encounters with gray whales and snorkeling alongside whale sharks.

From $6750USD
Jan Feb Mar
Add to Wishlist
3 Day Land Tour
Camp Cecil Adventure

Indulge your desert island experience in the best way possible, on the 3-day Camp Cecil Adventure with excellent naturalist guides and incredible adventure options to explore an entire island via kayak, hike and snorkel.

From $750USD
Jan Feb Mar Apr Nov Dec
Add to Wishlist
6 Day Land Tour
Baja Intimate Insider

Travel like a local on this customizable Baja Insider active adventure. Mingle with owners, artists, rancheros and chefs amidst a small group of likeminded travelers. With our hand-picked local guides and connections, you will quickly become an "insider" in Baja California!

From $2235USD
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Oct Nov Dec
More to Explore

Trips You Might Also Like

Add to Wishlist
8 Day Cruise
Baja California: Among the Great Whales

Encountering a gray whale is a life-changing experience! Venture into both coastlines of the Baja Peninsula to be among these giants via kayaks, Zodiacs, snorkeling and diving from aboard the 100-guest National Geographic Venture.

Special Offer
From $6270USD
Jan Feb Mar
Add to Wishlist
8 Day Cruise
Baja's Bounty Cruise

Explore the Sea of Cortez, a World Heritage Site, for 8 days aboard the 66-guest Safari Voyager. Experience Baja's warm crystalline waters and cactus-clad rims while watching for birds, whales, dolphins, mobula rays and other marine life.

Special Offer
From $5595USD
Jan Feb Mar
Add to Wishlist
6 Day Cruise
The Whales of Magdalena Bay

Experience several days in the company of California gray whales on this Baja whale watching cruise while also exploring mangrove forests, desert landscapes and pristine beaches aboard the 62-guest National Geographic Sea Lion.

Special Offer
From $3740USD
Jan Feb Mar
Exit Created with Sketch.

Exploring the Sea of Cortez: A Living Sea & Desert Isles

test message
View Wishlist