Sea of Cortez Islands Expedition

Loreto, La Paz, Cabo San Lucas

A week exploring the remote and dramatic Sea of Cortez islands

Explore the islands made famous by John Steinbeck in his Log from the Sea of Cortez. Ride in a zodiac boat from island to island, then snorkel or kayak from the beach. The crew sets up camp.

Our naturalist guides will share with you the flora and fauna of each island, from rattle-less rattlesnakes and barrel cacti to whales and migratory birds. You’ll see spectacular geologic formations while paddling in pristine waters, and discover our colorful Baja heritage. From snorkeling with sea lions to kayaking, hiking and bird watching, this is a unique journey of exploration, learning, and appreciation.

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.


LOR-CSL starts in Loreto and ends in Cabo San Lucas.
CSL-LOR starts in Cabo and ends in Loreto.

Day 1 Arrival in Cabo San Lucas, hotel check-in. (Hotel) Arrival in Loreto, hotel check-in. (Hotel)
Day 2 Breakfast, depart for La Paz then Espiritu Santo Island and Los Islotes, orientation. 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). (Tent, B, L, D) Breakfast, depart for Danzante Island, orientation. (Tent, B, L, D)
Day 3 Breakfast, depart for San Jose Island, passing El Pardito and San Francisquito along the way. El Pardito is about 93 miles 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 a great arena of pink rock distinguish San Jose. (Tent, B, L, D)

Breakfast, depart for Agua Verde Island, stopping in Puerto Escondido for a fresh shower. (Tent, B, L, D)
Day 4 Breakfast, depart for Agua Verde. 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. (Tent, B, L, D) Breakfast, depart for San Jose Island. (Tent, B, L, D)
Day 5 Breakfast, depart for Danzante Island stopping in Puerto Escondido for a fresh shower. 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. (Tent, B, L, D) Breakfast, depart for Espiritu Santo Island and Los Islotes, passing El Pardito and San Francisquito. (Tent, B, L, D)
Day 6 Breakfast, depart for Loreto, may visit Isla del Carmen and others along the way, free evening.

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 orcas.

Mission Loreto was founded by Jesuits in 1697. Ancients valued the oasis, too—Loreto is thought to be the oldest human settlement in Baja. (Hotel, B, L)

Breakfast, depart for La Paz then Cabo San Lucas, free evening. (Hotel, B, L)
Day 7 Departure from Loreto Departure from Cabo San Lucas


April 15-21, 2016 CSL – LOR Cabo San Lucas Loreto
April 22-28, 2016 LOR – CSL Loreto Cabo San Lucas
April 29-May 5, 2016 CSL – LOR Cabo San Lucas Loreto
May 6-12, 2016 LOR – CSL Loreto Cabo San Lucas
October 28-November 3, 2015 CSL – LOR Cabo San Lucas Loreto
November 4-10, 2015 LOR – CSL Loreto Cabo San Lucas
November 11-17, 2015 CSL – LOR Cabo San Lucas Loreto
November 18-24, 2015 LOR – CSL Loreto Cabo San Lucas

Ages 8 years and up. Some walking/hiking is involved and guests should not be mobility challenged.


We require a minimum of 4 individuals to run the trip and we can accommodate up to 10 persons at a time.


Depending on your itinerary, we’ll pick you up at San Angel Suites in Cabo San Lucas or at Hotel Angra in Loreto.

  • Airport transfers
  • One-way ground transportation in comfortable, air-conditioned vans and zodiac boat transportation on the Sea of Cortez
  • A guided tour providing complete information about Baja’s natural history, native plants, animals, birds, and marine life
  • Use of kayaks and snorkeling equipment
  • 2 nights hotel accommodation on first and last night, 4 nights tent accommodation on camping nights
  • Meals and beverages, plus unlimited photo opportunities
  • Airfares
  • Additional hotel stays
  • Ground transportation from Cabo San Lucas to Loreto (or vice versa)
  • USD 30 park fee*
  • Gratuities

* The park fee, or Conservation Passport, is valid for one year and allows you to visit Mexico’s protected areas as many times as you wish in one year.

  • Minimum age is 8 years old. Anyone under 18 years old must be accompanied by an adult.
  • Guests should not be mobility challenged.
  • This tour is not allowed for guests who are pregnant or those with heart, back and/or neck problems.
  • No one under the influence of alcohol or drugs is allowed on the tour.
  • Depending on weather and wind conditions, the ride can be bumpy.
  • Casual/camping clothes packed in a water-resistant collapsible duffel bag: shorts and long pants or convertibles, short- and long-sleeve shirts, warm jacket/fleece/sweatshirt, socks, sleepwear, underwear, sun hat, windbreaker/rain jacket, sneakers/walking shoes, water-friendly sandals, towel
  • Toiletries kit (biodegradable products, please): toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, brush, comb, waterproof sunscreen, skin lotions/lip balm/insect repellant, personal medicines, contact lenses/glasses
  • Miscellaneous gear: dry bag for camera and personal gear, waterproof camera, memory cards, batteries, battery charger, ear plugs if you have trouble with noise, binoculars, flashlight with extra batteries, non-breakable water bottle
  • Money and passport

Eight species of whales regularly visit the waters of Baja—blue whales, gray whales, humpback whales, sperm whales, pilot whales, Bryde’s whales, minke whales, and false killer whales—while you can see the resident fin whales year-round in the Sea of Cortez.

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