A paddler’s tour of Espíritu Santo

The best way to discover the spectacular Sea of Cortez is by gliding over the water in a kayak, trailing an almost imperceptible wake as you paddle through tight, narrow spots in a setting that teems with wildlife.

Espíritu Santo

You’ll see sea lions, and possibly mantas and dolphins leaping above the water; this region is also the habitat of blue herons, pelicans, frigate birds, osprey, and if you’re lucky you might even catch a glimpse of a blue-footed booby.

View Baja California Sur Islands in a larger map

Tropical fish abound beneath the surface of the sea.  All of the spectacular colors and shapes confirm the claim that the Sea of Cortez has the biggest variety of marine life in the world!

Scuba diving

There are various tours heading out of La Paz that let you spend from a half to full day gliding along the coast, exploring the pristine region between Pichilingue and Tecolote.

Paddle up the coast to the splendid Balandra Bay, with its turquoise water and no fewer than seven beaches, all with fine white sand.  At the base of this magnificent setting are impressive volcanic mountains in a vivid shade of red.

Balandra Bay

Continue paddling and, along the way, stop to snorkel in a hidden spot, a cavern which is only accessible by kayak and where you can swim among enormous volcanic rocks and through underwater channels.

For advanced paddlers, the “star” tour is an exploration of Espíritu Santo Island, the “jewel of the Sea of Cortez”.  If you go snorkeling, you may find yourself in the company of some friendly sea lion pups.

Espiritu Santo Kayaking

On the island itself, you may want to take a hike to the canyon; back in your kayak, you’ll be paddling at the base of cliffs over 980 feet high, dotted with fascinating cavities.

When you contract the services of a marine outfitter/operator, an experienced bilingual guide will help you get to know all about this natural treasure and will probably share some entertaining fish stories and myths.

Camping and kayaking

This beautiful island has been declared a Natural Protected Area (NPA) and has several gorgeous beaches.  Among them is Ballena Beach, hundreds of yards long and located just opposite the island of the same name.

Playa Ballena

At the lovely beach located at Candelero Bay, a mountain range tapers right into the water, ending in a series of islets that skip out to a final, big one.

This beach also has a natural pool of freshwater, a waterfall, wild figs and a spectacular hanging rock.

Mesteño is another attractive beach where you can climb the north side to get to some large caves with excellent acoustics.

Punta Lupona, located on the south side of the island, is a magnificent spot for camping before crossing over to the mainland.  At San Gabriel Beach you can see the ruins left behind by the 19th-century pearl-fishing industry.

Espiritu Santo Kayaking

Finally, between Partida and Espíritu Santo islands, there are two sandbanks; the northeast bank is a fabulous site for camping.

Sealions Espíritu Santo

High cliffs surround the area; a vast expanse of shallow water provides a spectacular view and lets you imagine how the islands once formed a single body, before the volcanic crater was submerged by the sea. Now, you can only cross the channel at high tide.

Author: M. A. Gallardo