In La Paz, Mexico, Take a Day Trip to Gorgeous Espiritu Santo Island

On the eastern side of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, near the southern tip, the small town of La Paz occupies the bottom of a fishhook shaped bay that juts into the Sea of Cortez. While the town has much to offer in the form of typical Mexican culture and extremely friendly people, it is the waters surrounding La Paz that truly astound.

Exquisite, deserted Corralito Beach on Espiritu Santo Island

Off the tip of the fishhook, about an hour’s boat ride north of La Paz, lie the sister islands of Isla Espiritu Santo and Isla Parfida, both of which have been designated protected nature preserves. The only type of structures allowed are temporary encampments of fishermen who arrive in small launches and fish for a few days. However, camping by permit is allowed, and Espiritu Santo Island is the perfect place to get away from it all. Dozens of secluded coves dot the island, offering white sand beaches and water so turquoise that it seems unreal. Though the view is spectacular from the beach, it is even better from the mountain top, accessed by myriad tails that cris-cross the island.

The surrounding seas teem with wildlife. Colorful tropical fish munch on coral reefs within easy swimming distance from shore. In deeper waters, young sea lions are so friendly they come right up to your snorkel mask and sometimes grasp your hand in their mouths, as if inviting you to come and play. There are deep water reefs too, which are patrolled by mature sea lions and sharks. One species, the enormous whale shark is easily spotted in the warmer waters of La Paz Bay. Unlike their scary relatives, these sharks eat only plankton and krill. They swim straight up from the depths with their mouths wide open, scooping up sea water and straining it through their gills to capture food. These gentle giants allow snorkelers and divers to swim alongside and even tolerate being touched as they feed.

Whale shark surfaces next to the boat

While there are numerous tour operators in La Paz from which to choose, I spent the day with Carey Dive Center and was very pleased with the quality of the tour. The $85 price included two dives, lunch on one of the island’s exquisite beaches, a stop to see a sea lion community sunning on the rocks, a pass by Balendra Beach on the mainland to see an unusual rock formation, and swimming with the whale sharks. The tour can be modified to include snorkelers as well and I highly recommend it. The owners were well versed on the natural environment and history of the area, and were also excellent dive masters, providing pre-dive briefings and following accepted safety practices.

Photo Credit: Barbara Weibel
Article by Barbara Weibel of Hole In The Donut Travels

Comments are closed.