Island Kayaking & Marine Wildlife
About This Trip
Our Espiritu Santo Island Circumnavigation Trip is the quintessential, classic Baja sea kayaking trip for paddlers looking for a challenging kayaking experience and wanting to get a glimpse of this island’s spectacular east coast. This desert island paradise has over 20 white sand beaches with shallow bays of turquoise waters gently sloping toward giant cactus along the west coast and towering cliffs dropping into deep, blue waters along the east coast.
Kayaking and camping along the shores of this island paradise, an attempt to circumnavigate it, allow us the opportunity to explore ancient archaeological sites, canyons adorned with hanging fig trees, freshwater wells, classic desert arroyos, prime fishing holes, snorkel among friendly sea lion pups and tropical fish as well as paddle its unique east coast of sheer rock walls.
This is the perfect escape for the novice to advanced sea kayaker seeking to challenge their paddling skills with the goal of circumnavigating this 12 mile long and 6 mile wide island. Our goal on this trip is to paddle south at the base of the extraordinarily steep cliffs of the east coast ending up on the beautiful 3-mile long Bonanza beach on the south east coast of the island, weather permitting of course. Our professional guides evaluate each participant’s paddling and fitness abilities to provide the appropriate activities accordingly so each person can paddle, hike and/or snorkel to their desire in a flexible and relaxed environment.
We will camp on 2 to 4, depending on the weather, beautiful white sand beaches while exploring the island. Motorized, support skiffs are used to carry heavy equipment from camp to camp so your kayaks are light and easy to paddle. While kayaking, one skiff will accompany the group for safety or to accommodate tired paddlers with a ride, yet remains out of earshot so you’ll forget it’s even there while enjoying the serenity of the island. The motorized skiffs also come in handy when a whale blow is sighted in the distance for a speedy ride out to opportunistically whale watch in the spring months or for transport to distant snorkeling and fishing “hot spots”.
There is no other island in the Sea of Cortez like Espiritu Santo! It is truly a paddler’s dream, offering unique scenic beauty combined with abundant wildlife viewed from above and below the water’s surface.
October-December Trips: expect to spend the sunset watching baby turtles be released into their ocean home.
March-April Trips: Try your hand at snorkeling with whale sharks!
Day 1: Arrive in La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico. Evening on your own to explore La Paz and dine at one of its many fine restaurants.
Day 2: Breakfast at hotel. Pick up rental gear and transfer by boat to the island of Espiritu Santo (approximately 2 hours). Lunch upon arrival at camp. During lunch we will give a camp orientation followed by sea kayak instruction and paddling. B/L/D
Days 3 – 6: Guided kayak excursions of 5-12 miles are offered daily as our guides and crew lead you around the island in an attempt to circumnavigate it. We’ll move camp most days and over-night on a variety of beaches with one or two layovers depending upon the winds. Other guided activities from the various camps include hiking, fishing and skiff excursions to nearby snorkeling “hot spots” including a sea lion rookery where we join these graceful creatures, swimming alongside them while enjoying their playful and curious nature first hand. B/L/D
Day 7: After lunch we transfer back to La Paz by motorized boat, check into the hotel where you can enjoy a hot shower and have time to take a walk into downtown La Paz or an afternoon siesta before meeting for the farewell dinner that evening. B/L/D
Day 8: Travel day for getting to the airport to return home or continuing your trip in Baja.
B/L/D indicates meals included with trip cost.
Although we do our best to adhere to the above itinerary, it is subject to change for reasons beyond our control including weather.
Not included: Airfare, meals on travel days to and from Baja, Loreto airport/hotel transfers, beer or soft drinks (there will be an option to purchase these and we will provide coolers with ice for storing them at camp), personal gear such as sleeping bags, pads, snorkel gear and wet suits (available for rent in Baja) and guide gratuities.
Reservations: Reservations are on a first-come basis and subject to space availability. A $500 per person deposit confirms your trip space. This can be made to Holiday Expeditions office by check, MasterCard or VISA. Upon receipt of your deposit (or final payment within 60-days) we will send you a trip application, an acknowledgment of risk form, and a clothing/equipment list. Final payment is due 60-days prior to the trip departure. Once your final payment is received, your trip details and the rendezvous site will be sent within 2 weeks of your departure. Please make sure we receive your application and waiver no later than 3 weeks before your trip.
Cancellations: If you need to cancel a trip for any reason, please notify us immediately.
*All cancellations outside 60-days to the departure date, will incur a $250 per person handling fee.
*Cancellations made less than 60-days prior the trip departure will be charged 100% of the trip cost.
*We reserve the right to cancel the trip if the minimum of 4-6 passengers is not met 30-days prior to departure, and you will be given a full refund.
*You may apply the cost from a canceled trip to another trip within one-year of the canceled trip date with an additional $150 charge.
Insurance: Medical Evacuation and cancellation insurance on a vacation plan can be obtained from numerous insurance companies. You should be aware that medical evacuations in the backcountry can easily cost $10,000 and up. You are responsible for these potential expenses and we strongly encourage all guests to have this coverage. We offer plans by TRAVEL GUARD that cover evacuation, baggage and cancellation claims. It is available to American and Canadian citizens, as well as citizens of another country as long as you have a U.S. address. For a quote or questions give us a call or include Your Names, Birth Dates in an Email and we will send a quote. Also, if you are bringing expensive cameras, binoculars, or other items we suggest you have insurance coverage for them (commonly available through Homeowners Policies). In the event of a loss, our insurance will not cover those items.
Documents – Everyone is required to have a passport to enter Mexico as of January 1, 2007. On the plane or crossing the border you will be given a tourist visa to fill out. Please do not lose your copy as you will be asked to present it when you leave the country or pay a fine.
Passengers Under 18 years of age – If you are bringing a minor to Mexico without both legal parents traveling together, a notarized affidavit from the absent parent allowing the minor to be taken into Mexico is required. This also applies to minors traveling with friends and/or relatives who are not the legal parents.
Acknowledgment of Risk and Release of Liability (Waiver) – Our insurance requires that all participants sign our waiver form before participating on a trip. Safety is our first concern at all times, yet due to the nature of the activities, it is necessary for you to sign our form in acknowledgment of the risks and release of liability. This form will be included with your trip application, which is sent to you once we receive your deposit. We will ask you to sign it in Baja before your trip. Refusal to sign the form will prevent you from participating on a trip.
Gratuity: Many people ask, “should I tip the guides and how much?” Tipping is voluntary and any amount you leave is greatly appreciated! If you would like to leave your guides a generous tip showing appreciation for an excellent job, 10% of the trip cost is standard in the adventure travel industry. Gratuities are pooled and distributed among your trip guides and staff evenly. If you do choose to leave a tip, please leave cash only. No traveler’s checks, personal checks or credit cards can be accepted.
Our fleet of kayaks on each trip is comprised of approximately 2/3 double kayaks and 1/3 single kayaks. Most are made by Seda Kayak, fiberglass construction and all are equipped with rudders. Based on your experience, size and the group composition, your guide will help determine what kayak you will paddle, double or single. We also encourage paddlers to rotate kayak seats so everyone has a chance to paddle to their desire. If you are particularly tall (over 6’2″) or large (over 200 pounds) please let us know well in advance as we may have to arrange a special kayak to be brought to camp.
We offer exclusive use of a single kayak on most trips for a fee of $50 per kayak. You must be fit and experienced in kayaking and screened in advance by our office. Single kayaks are not available at our Magdalena Bay camp. The option of exclusive use of a single kayak is limited on the Island Hopping trip to a first-come basis and available on our Combination Trip during the Espiritu Santo Island portion only.
We provide lightweight Nimbus and Werner paddles, Kokatat paddling PFD’s (personal flotation devices – also known as lifejackets), nylon spray skirts, paddle floats, and bilge pumps on our expeditions.
On our Espiritu Santo self-supported trips, we provide 2 dry bags per person for personal gear. Dry bags and not necessary or provided on our skiff-supported trips because your luggage and gear are transported in the skiffs.
Spring and fall are the most ideal times for enjoying the Sea of Cortez. The strong northerly winds blow longest and strongest from late November through early March, so spring and fall are characterized by calmer, warmer days.
Fall trips (October & November) offer warm, clear waters for great snorkeling. Average water temperatures are 80-85° F (26-30° C) with up to 80 feet (25 meters) of visibility. Daytime high air temperatures are in the 80’s to 90’s (26-32° C) with little chance of rain or strong wind. An added attraction on fall trips is the opportunity to observe the Baja desert in bloom following the rainy season in August and September.
Winter trips (December through the end of February) tend to be cooler with a greater chance of wind and some chance of rain. Water temperatures are in the mid 60’s (15 to 20° C) and daytime highs are from the 60’s to 80’s (15 to 26° C). The weather at Magdalena Bay on the Pacific coast during whale watching season in mid-winter tends to be windy and chilly although calm sunny days are common. Daytime highs may be in the 70’s or 80’s (21 to 26° C) with the wind it may feel more like the 50’s (10 to 15° C).
Spring trips (March, April and May)offer warmer water temperatures, ranging from 68-75° F (19 to 23° C). Days are generally calm and warm with air temperatures ranging from the mid 80’s to 90’s (26 to 32° C).
Summer in Baja (June-September) is hot and humid with a chance of hurricanes in August and September, but it is ideal for fishing and scuba diving.
Insects: Due to the dry desert nature of Baja, it does not tend to be buggy. However, some years have sufficient precipitation to support mosquitoes, gnats and no-see-ums, especially on the islands. It is a good idea to bring insect repellent on our October and November trips, following the rainy season. The Magdalena Bay whale watching trips, Baja Coast and Island Hopping trips in March, April and May rarely experience problems with insects. Consult with our office for current conditions before your trip.
We offer fishing as a side activity on our Sea of Cortez trips only, not on our Magdalena Bay whale watching trips. If you want to fish, please come prepared with your own lures. Medium to small, minnow-type, sinking lures are suggested such as a Rebel jointed Fastrac or mid size Rapala Magnums (4.5 to 5 inches or 9-12cm in length). See photo at right. Suggested colors include: blue/silver, black/silver, black/gold, green mackerel/gold or blue mackerel/silver. We supply the rod and reel. Fishing is done by trolling behind a motorized skiff (two rods at a time) from one to two hours before breakfast on certain mornings or from your kayak.
IMPORTANT! FISHING PERMIT INFORMATION
Fishing permits are required for anyone who plans to fish during our kayak trips. This includes fishing from either our motorized skiff or your kayak.
Permits cost $16/day – $35/week – $40/month – $52/year (US dollar prices)
You can now obtain your fishing permit on line. If you need help with the Spanish translation, please contact our office. Here is the basic information that is requested to get your fishing permit:
A) NAME (surname) and mother’s surname (optional)
C) PERMISSION (mark what length of permit you want: daily/weekly/month or year and the date).
Press Pagar con Tarjeta (Pay with credit card) and fill in your credit card information.
For traveling to Baja and while in town
*Credit cards (Visa, Master Card and occasionally American Express are accepted by most, larger restaurants and shops but not by the smaller ones.)
The amount of cash is subject to how much you will spend shopping, on meals, and services in town and for tipping. Traveler’s checks are NOT recommended as they are difficult to cash. We recommend a minimum of $200 cash in bills no larger than $20’s. Please keep in mind you will need at least twice that much should you want to leave a generous tip for your guides, if joining a kayak trip, and also plan to spend money on equipment rentals at our office, meals, drinks and souvenirs in town. ATM’s are available but can be unreliable. Many shops and restaurants accept US dollars but this can vary depending on where you are. Once in La Paz or Loreto you may want some pesos for purchases around town. You can change your dollars into pesos at the airport, banks (closed on weekends and holidays) or possibly a store (you pay in US dollars and receive change in pesos). Please note, no more than $300/US can be changed into pesos per month at the banks.
You may also want to bring some nice clothes you can leave behind in a bag in our storage room while on your trip that you can wear upon returning to town. For cooler months (Dec-Feb) we suggest long pants and long-sleeved shirts. During the warmer months (Oct, Nov, March-May) we recommend shorts and short-sleeved shirts or casual skirts or dresses for women.
Pack light! We prefer NOT to overload our boats with lots of excess baggage. Bring only what you will use. For example bring a small to mid-sized duffle (approximately 14x14x24inches or 35x35x60cm) for clothing and personal items. If bringing your own sleeping gear bring another duffle of similar size for your sleeping bag, pad and pillow OR you can combine them into one larger duffle approximately 18x18x35inches or 45x45x90cm. Plus you will want to bring a day-pack for extra clothing, water bottle, sunscreen and camera to have with you daily. Snorkel gear and a wetsuit is yet another bag you may have while on the trip.
Rental Gear in La Paz
Sleeping bags, pads and snorkeling gear may be rented in Baja. Costs per trip are:
*Sleeping bag with pad $20
*Sleeping bag or pad separately $15
*Snorkel gear (mask, snorkel and fins) $15
*Mask, snorkel or fins separately $10
Note: Wetsuits are highly recommended for trips in November through May. The wetsuits we rent are 3mm thick, long-sleeved, with short pants and a zipper up the front. If you tend to get cold easily, we recommend you bring a thicker and/or long sleeved wetsuit during December, January and February. There is no snorkeling on our Magdalena Bay whale watching trips and sleeping cots with pads are provided at this camp. Therefore the only item necessary for you to bring or rent on these trips is a sleeping bag.
Pads are included on Magdalena Bay Whale Watching Quick Getaways.
Payment for rentals will be collected in Baja prior to your trip departure in CASH.
For all trips originating in La Paz, we will fit you with your rental gear the morning of your trip departure here at our office.
|Dates:||March, April, October, November|
|Meet At:||La Paz, Baja|
$1,195 per person
Single supplement fee additional
$100 hotel & tent, $25 tent only