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By Pete Gauvin • Photos
by Danny Boyer
There’s nothing quite like spending a week on a desert island surrounded by turquoise water to recharge your batteries, recenter your priorities, and lighten your soul.
Throw in the adventure of getting there by sea kayak, camping on remote beaches, lots of Vitamin D sunshine, and a margarita or two, and you’re just about guaranteed one relaxing, memorable winter/spring escape.
This is no pipe dream. It’s as easy as booking a trip with an outfitter to the enchanted Sea of Cortez and surrendering to “Baja time.” Two Northern California outfitters currently offer trips to Baja: Blue Waters Kayaking (www.bwkayak.com) and Outback Adventures (www.outbackadventures.com).
Both companies run trips out of Loreto, the oldest town in Baja California Sur. Loreto, located about 750 miles south of the border, is set amongst the 4,000-foot escarpment of the Sierra de la Giganta mountains and the warm, blue Sea of Cortez. Aero California (800-237-6225), the only airline that flies into Loreto from the U.S., offers daily flights from LAX for about $280 round trip.
Kayak trips put in at Puerto Escondido (“hidden harbor”), about 15 miles south of Loreto, and kayakers paddle out to the protected islands of the newly designated Loreto National Marine Park, including Isla Carmen and Isla Danzante (“dancing island”).
Don’t forget to pack your mask and snorkel! These islands are famous for their sun-washed beauty and the proliferation of sealife in the waters around them. Sightings of manta rays, dolphins, roosterfish and sea turtles are common, and sometimes even a whale or two. Visitation is strictly controlled to minimize environmental impacts and maintain the wilderness experience for fortunate visitors.
Trips are eight days long and include five nights of camping out on the islands. The first and last nights are spent at a hotel in Loreto. Blue Waters will run six trips in March and April. Outback Adventures will run five trips from February through May. No prior sea kayaking experience is necessary.
Double and single kayaks are available through Blue Waters. Lead guides Roger Schumann, a noted author on sea kayaking, and Emily Beckwith, a naturalist and yoga instructor, are available for skills training. Trips are limited to 12 people. A Mexican chef cooks the meals, including plenty of fresh seafood.
A Whale of an Experience
As an alternative Baja adventure, Blue Waters will run seven whale-watching/kayaking trips to Magdalena Bay this winter from January to mid-March. From Loreto, “Mag Bay” is an hour-and-a-half drive across the peninsula to the milder Pacific side. A big base camp is established on a beach on a little island amid a mangrove at the north end of the bay, near the small fishing village of Lopez Mateos. The entrance to the bay between two sandbar islands, Isla Santo Domingo and Isla Magdalena, is a great place to see whales right from camp.
For closer views, pongas take campers out into the lagoon’s whale calving area, where you’re likely to see whales surface, breach and spy hop. In addition, there’s great hiking, bird watching, and calm-water kayaking in the mangrove, where you’ll see dolphins, sea lions and fish.