- Sample Itinerary
- Trip Details
- About the Area
The kayaking portion of this trip is spent exploring the beautiful island of Espiritu Santo in the Sea of Cortez. The other half of the trip offers close encounters with the Pacific gray whales in MagdalenaBay on the Pacific coast of Baja.
Kayaking from our base camp on Espiritu SantoIsland allows us the opportunity to explore beautiful white sand beaches, canyons adorned with hanging fig trees, boulder up arroyos, and snorkel among friendly sea lions and tropical fish.
In MagdalenaBay, daily excursions into the bay provide close encounters with the magnificent and friendly gray whale. The whales migrate here every winter from their feeding grounds north of Alaska to court, breed, give birth and simply frolic in the warm, calm waters of Baja’s Pacific bays. Motorized skiffs, skillfully and sensitively operated by local boatmen, are used for whale watching excursions. Other activities may include exploring the dunes and coast in search of whalebones, bird watching, kayaking in the mangrove estuaries, or playing beach volleyball.
Meals are a combination of the best of American and Mexican traditions prepared with fresh local ingredients. Barbecued chicken, fresh fish Vera Cruz style, grilled steak tacos accompanied by guacamole and a variety of Mexican salsas, plus fresh soups and salads are just a few examples of our tasty menus. The skiffs allow us to bring large blocks of ice to store fresh produce and indulge in luxuries such as cold sodas, juice and beer. Each evening we serve a cocktail and appetizer for “happy hour” so you can enjoy the spectacular Baja sunset while sipping an ice cold Margarita! Special diets are easily accommodated due to the variety of foods we are able to store with a skiff-supported trip.
This trip provides the experience of a lifetime for avid kayakers, wildlife lovers, whale watchers and outdoor enthusiasts as they encounter the magnificent gray whale and the wonders of the Sea of Cortez.
2015 Dates: Jan. 30-Feb. 8, Feb. 3-12, 6-15, 14-23, 17-26, Feb. 20-March 1
- Sea kayaking and snorkeling in the Sea of Cortez
- The safari-style base camp is nestled in the dunes on a remote barrier island
- Daily excursions for up-close-and-personal whale watching encounters
- True blue Baja serenity
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Your people in the Baja were fantastic. The whale watching was awesome. Espiritu Santo Island was a paradise...the weather was fantastic. I could go on and on about the entire trip, but suffice it to say that it was one of the best run tours I've ever been on and everything was just perfect.
Camping, kayaking, snorkeling with sea lions and hiking on the uniquely beautiful islands was, for this family of 14, an outstanding experience. It will be recalled with the greatest pleasure for the rest of our lives. Ranging in age from 5 to 75, every one of us loved it and our only complaint is that it was all over too fast. The campsite organization was faultless and the food delicious. We received unlimited care, kindness and encouragement from Miguel and his cool team of Manolo, Ramon, Angel and Martin. We were especially touched by the golden wedding cake baked by Ramon at the campsite. Miguel's knowledge of and love for his native land are inspirational. Thank you again for all your help.
Karen was our trip planner and she answered all of our questions. Carlos was an outstanding guide. He managed the guests with kind humor and enthusiasm. He was very knowledgeable. Allejandro was a very capable boat captain and lots of fun. Although we had hoped to kayak and snorkel more, the weather--wind--made it impossible. We also had hoped to see more animals--dolphins, rays, whales, etc. Ramon's cooking was delicious and creative. I've never eaten such fresh fish so often in one week. And his soups were wonderful.
Gear was clean and in good condition and the guides were fantastic, way better than we imagined. The hikes and the activities were perfect, so many different ways of looking at a single spot. Food was great, cooks were great. It was mostly regular food, tasty, hearty, plenty of it, and served with lots of smiles. Our Baja trip exceeded our expectations from every angle. We ran out of superlatives, and we're still talking about it.
*PLEASE NOTE: Some trips will go to Magdalena Bay first and Espiritu Santo second. All activities remain the same, only reversed.
Day 1: Fly to 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 our base camp on Espiritu SantoIsland (approximately 2 hours). Lunch upon arrival at camp. During lunch we will give a camp orientation followed by sea kayak instruction and paddling. The sea kayak orientation includes a mandatory wet exit or “dunk test.” So get ready to have some fun as we all take the plunge! It’s a piece of cake! B/L/D
Days 3-5: Kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, fishing and relaxing along the shores of the enchanted island of Espiritu Santo. Guided kayak excursions from 1 1/2 – 4 hours are offered daily along the coast and to outlying islands. Camp is located in a large protected bay, allowing folks additional kayaking time to explore the large sheltered bay. Other guided activities from camp include 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. Hiking into canyons draped with fig trees or fishing for sea bass and red snapper are other side attractions. B/L/D
Day 5: After lunch, return boat ride to La Paz for a nice hot shower and a no-host dinner in town on your own (our La Paz office will be happy to give some recommendations). Overnight hotel. B/L
Day 6: Breakfast at hotel. Transfer to Magdalena Bay by van (approximately 4 hours) and 1/2 hour skiff ride to our whale camp. Lunch and camp orientation. Possible afternoon whale watch. B/L/D
Days 7-8: Motorized skiffs take us into the bay for close encounters of the magnificent gray whales. From 2-4 hours per day may be spent observing whales from the skiffs. Active whale watching by kayak is prohibited in Magdalena Bay. Other activities include bird watching by skiff or kayak and beach combing along miles of pristine Pacific coastline. Each evening our knowledgeable naturalists present slide shows on gray whale natural history, behavior and birds of the area. B/L/D
Day 9: After morning whale watch, transfer back to your hotel in La Paz. Afternoon free to shower, shop and wander through downtown La Paz before meeting for the farewell dinner that evening. B/L/D
- Day 10: Transfer from hotel to airport (approximately 20 minutes) for flights home.
B/L/D indicates meals included with trip cost.
Included: La Paz airport/hotel transfers, 2-5 nights hotel accommodation based on double occupancy, all meals from breakfast day 2 through a farewell dinner in town the last evening of the trip, purified drinking water with powder drink mixes and an evening cocktail. Community camp equipment including kayaks and associated equipment, tents, motorized skiffs, captains, guides and crew/cooks.
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.
What to Bring
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.