Twice before I tried & failed to get to this idyllic island.
Finally made it Feb. 1-4th, 2006. 🙂
I was a client with the BOA company out of La Paz. 14 clients, 2 guides, 2 boat captain/cooks setting off on a 4-day kayak tour to Isla Espiritu Santo from La Paz, Baja, California.
The boat trip to the north end of the island was my least favourite leg. It can be noisy & choppy. Sit in the back for the most comfortable possible ride.
I was surprised to see that high cliffs surround most of the island. This face they call the “Cathedral”.
You could kayak 4.5mi from the mainland (in the distance) across the San Lorenzo channel to the island >> but it can be dangerous if the wind kicks up when you are half way across. Crosses like this one have been erected by fishermen in many of the bays.
We needed 2 boats to transport the 18 people, food & gear. One skiff we kept. The other headed back to the mainland.
Manuel grew up in the Baja, one of the top kayak guides in the region. He dreams of kayaking 800mi or more >> the length of the Sea of Cortes.
Ah! Los Islotes. These are tiny islands off the north tip. We started with the highlight of the entire tour >> snorkeling with sea lions! It was awesome.
Juveniles like to play with snorkelers. One even hugged some of our group & “kissed” them on the mask. Amazing! They are prone to nipping at the divers too, playfully in almost every case. Big bulls & older females can be aggressive. You cannot get too close to the islets.
Most snorkelers wear wet suits as the waters are still a bit chilly in winter.
The food on the BOA tour was super. Our chef “Big Al” had been with the company for over 10-years.
First night we camped at Ensenada beach. I immediately took off down the Ensenada Grande hiking trail, 6km return to cross the island. VERY RUGGED. I ran out of daylight.
The harsh desert is beautiful & intimidating.
Wild fig trees were my favourite plant. They grow in cracks cold enough to generate some drops of moisture.
Every kayak tour paddles a mangrove swamp >> a fascinating, under-appreciated ecosystem.
White sand. Bright kayaks & tents. Beautiful.
The Park guards checked in with us twice. They looked to be doing a good job protecting the island.
Day 2 – setting out in typical, perfect weather. Mornings are calm. Afternoons usually bring north winds during the winter.
Permanent camp of Mar Y Aventuras (Sea and Adventures) – KayakBaja.com – the main competitor for BOA. Both companies seem to do an excellent job, offering similar itineraries.
Our BOA camp on the other side of the same beach.
This view gives you a good perspective on beach life. Foreground is a big tarp >> providing essential shade.
Happy Hour! We had Pina Colada or Margaritas every night. Non-stop beer & wine too. Whoo Hoo!
The biggest concern for many kayakers are the toilet facilities. This is the ladies pee tent. Men need “scan for whales” below the tide line.
The second toilet is marked by the blue bag: toilet paper & disinfectant alcohol gel. If the bag is visible >> the toilet is vacant.
Here is the loo for #2. It worked quite well, actually. All human waste is carried off the island. It was declared a Nature Conservancy in 2003.
Off on the skiff for another session of snorkelling. Typically we took the boat to the nearest good coral.
At each beach I took a hike into the hills. There are few trails, however. And plenty of loose scree.
There are a couple of sources of fresh water on the islands including this well at Candelero beach. Do not count on it, however! Carry enough water to get you through.
Gorgeous desert colours late in the day.
Seems the bizarre rock formations are carved by wind, not water.
On this hike we saw bats starting their evening feed.
Another amazing Baja sunset.
Isla Espiritu Santo is wonderful.
Millions of oyster shells are heaped in middens on these islands. The Spanish enslaved pearl divers for decades >> until European disease killed them.
Gear provided by BOA was excellent & up-to-date.
The most popular walks take you atop coastal cliffs for magnificient sea views.
Sea turtle rock painting.
Wear long pants when hiking in Baja. Almost everything tries to stick you!
This is the life. 🙂
Leah from Vancouver, our second guide. She learned the kayak “eskimo roll” during our tour!
The company provides both single & double kayaks for the group to share. If you prefer a single you might want to INSIST and get it in writing in advance of the tour. (We did not have enough singles on our tour.)
I trolled a trout lure from a hand reel behind my kayak. Nada! Not even a bite.
It’s essential to stay hydrated in your kayak. Safety first.
The water is incredibly clear. But in the heat of summer it is clearer yet. The best months for scuba divers are July & August.
Our hand washing station. Fresh water, pump-operated, is in the bucket.
Life is good under the big tarp.
Our cooks caught some fish. The rest was delivered by local fishermen: mackerel & bonita.
Rocky beaches are infested with a “sea cockroach” (isopod). They do not bother humans & keep the rocks spotless.
Our guides coming in from another session of eskimo rolling.
I will never forget the Baja sunsets.
Of the 14 clients in our group, everyone left the tour happy. One even decided to sign-up for a second BOA tour: 7-days circumnavigating the entire island.
Hope you can make it to Baja … SOON.
My best kayak trip. So far. 🙂