Sea of Cortez Islands Expedition
Inspired by John Steinbeck’s Log from the Sea of Cortez, Cabo Expeditions brings you an expedition to the same islands explored by the great novelist in 1940. Venturing along the inland coast of Baja is one of those La Paz attractions and Loreto attractions you don’t want to miss.
In two zodiacs, we’ll motor from island to island, beach to beach. We’ll explore coves and caves, snorkel and kayak, hike and sleep under the stars. Our top-notch, experienced crew does all the work, sets up tents, and prepares hearty Mexican fare.
Our naturalists show you what to look for. Like Steinbeck, you’ll be fascinated by the flora and fauna of a still little-known gulf. Today scientists call these islands “the Galapagos of North America” for the remarkable number of isolated habitats and endemic species.
Biologists see natural selection at work here: A rattle-less rattlesnake that can sneak up on birds in a tree. A barrel cactus as big as a man. A tiny browncheek blenny who inhabits empty worm tubes, one of 90 fish species found only in the Sea of Cortez.
The itinerary depends on whether you start your journey in Cabo San Lucas and head north (CSL-LOR) or start in Loreto and go south (LOR-CSL).
If you take the northward journey, your first island stop will be the marine preserve of Espiritu Santo Island. Here snorkeling La Paz is at its best. Kayaking in Baja takes on new meaning as you float on water so clear it seems like liquid light. At the north end is the Spanish colonial port of Loreto, where we’ll explore our Baja heritage.
If you start out in Loreto, kayaking in Loreto may turn out to be your favorite of all Loreto activities. The Marine Park encompassing five islands is the pride of the community. It’s also home to animals named by Steinbeck: whales, dolphins, whale sharks, fish, crabs, snails, chitons, octopi, anemones, sea lions, clams, sea hares, starfish, sea urchins, barnacles, shrimp, coral and countless mangrove birds. You’ll be glad you took a Cabo tour into the remote islands of the Sea of Cortez, for the full Baja experience.
Day 1 – Arrival in Cabo San Lucas, hotel check-in (Hotel)
Day 2 – Breakfast, depart for La Paz then Espiritu Santo Island and Los Islotes, orientation (Tent, B, L, D)
Snorkel with sea lions and race with dolphins. Keep an eye open for whale sharks, biggest fish in the sea (not a whale at all).
Day 3 – Breakfast, depart for San Jose Island, passing El Partido and San Francisquito along the way (Tent, B, L, D)
El Pardito is about 150 km northwest of La Paz, between the islands of San Francisquito and San Jose. Its little chapel signals the isolated, tiny family community that survives in this remote outpost.
A channel between the 17-mile-long long San Jose Island and the Baja peninsula is a favorite place to spot whales. Birds and bird watchers are drawn to tangled mangroves with surprisingly lush greenery in this desert clime. A cardon cactus forest, ancient Guaycura middens, and an great arena of pink rock distinguish San Jose.
Day 4 – Breakfast, depart for Agua Verde (Tent, B, L, D)
Breathtaking landscapes tell a story of ancient violent upheavals and lava flows. Red, black and tan layers of rock are broken open. Finally, Agua Verde is unmistakable when you come upon the deep harbor with light green water, lit from below by a pale seabed. A backdrop of craggy mountains looms over a dusty fishing village.
Day 5 – Breakfast, depart for Danzante Island stopping in Puerto Escondido for a fresh shower (Tent, B, L, D)
Some can sense the spiritual energy of “Dancing Island.” Here for ages gathered tribes of the three aboriginal peoples of Baja –Cochimi, Guayacara and Pericu—to dance for days in peyote-driven trances, entreating the gods for rain.
Day 6 – Breakfast, depart for Loreto, may visit Isla del Carmen and others along the way, free evening (Hotel, B, L)
Five islands stud the Bay of Loreto National Marine Park: Isla del Carmen, Isla Catalina, Isla Coronado, Isla Danzante and Isla Montserrat. It’s a seasonal home to an astonishing range of migratory birds and marine mammals, including sperm whales, blue whales, fin whales, humpbacks, and orca.
Mission Loreto was founded by Jesuits in 1697. Ancients valued the oasis, too—Loreto is thought to be the oldest human settlement in Baja.
Day 7 – Departure from Loreto
Day 1 – Arrival in Loreto, hotel check-in (Hotel)
Day 2 – Breakfast, depart for Danzante Island, orientation (Tent, B, L, D)
Day 3 – Breakfast, depart for Agua Verde Island, stopping in Puerto Escondido for a fresh shower (Tent, B, L, D)
Day 4 – Breakfast, depart for San Jose Island (Tent, B, L, D)
Day 5 – Breakfast, depart for Espiritu Santo Island and Los Islotes, passing El Partido and San Francisquito (Tent, B, L, D)
Day 6 – Breakfast, depart for La Paz then Cabo San Lucas, free evening (Hotel, B, L)
Day 7 – Departure from Cabo San Lucas