by Julie Trevelyan


Make an especially memorable trip to Baja, Mexico, with this thoroughly awesome combo sea kayaking/whale watching trip. What makes this an adventurous yet soul-soothing vacation to remember? Paddling through Baja’s warm waters and also getting the chance to see the world’s largest animals pretty up close and personal! From a base camp on beautiful Espiritu Santo Island, you can head out daily in your kayak to experience the trip of a lifetime.


Underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau famously called the Sea of Cortez “the aquarium of the world,” and he definitely picked the right description. Many uninhabited islands dot the area, offering up blissful days to spend exploring their white beaches, picking through colorful shells washed up on the beaches, and chances to soak in the unbelievable serenity of this gorgeous slice of paradise on earth. Kayaking allows you to see parts of Espiritu Santo you wouldn’t be able to otherwise, opening up spectacular secret spots to you. Journey to Magdalena Bay to see the Pacific gray whales in action. You might even get close enough to have a very profound encounter with these huge, gentle creatures.


Trip specifics


Average Temperatures:
Water temps range from the mid-60s to mid-80s (Fahrenheit) depending on time of year. Air temperatures have a similar range, reaching upwards of 90 degrees in the hottest summer months. Specifics for each month’s temperatures can help you decide what time of year is best for a trip.


Kayaking around Isla Espiritu Santo can lead to friendly, curious sea lions, which is often a trip highlight. The volcanic island itself offers short hikes that lead to native flora, lovely vistas of the surrounding sea, and many chances to leisurely browse through the abundance of seashells washed up on shore. In Magdalena Bay, you may have the chance to kayak through mangrove estuaries, scout the landscape for whale bones, whip out your local bird book and check off some of the distinctive island species, or just hang out on the beach, playing volleyball and soaking in the Baja sunshine.


Historical Significance:
The volcanic history of Espiritu Santo island leaves it covered in layers of black lava and pinkish volcanic ash. Evidence of old seismic faults can be spotted in the rugged line of the cliffs, which add dramatic skylines to your vistas. In later times, “argh matey” type of pirates hid themselves and their loot on the island from other opportunistic pirates. There being no honor among thieves, etc., some entertaining tales about their exploits can be had for the asking. Magdalena Bay was first utilized by the U.S. Navy in 1868. During WWII, Japanese submarines hunkered below the quite surface of the bay. After whale hunting declined, commercial whale watching in the area began a sharp uptick. Magdalena Bay is on many peoples’ bucket lists, particularly because it is renowned for the opportunity it provides to observe newborn calves (all 15 feet of them) up close.



Who will enjoy this trip most:
Families, couples, singles, friends—anyone who wants to explore a gorgeous island by kayak is a good candidate for paddling Espiritu Santo. Beginners to experienced kayakers are welcome. If you’re a beginner, a willingness to learn the “wet exit” is mandatory during the orientation. It’s easy! A desire to watch whales, immerse yourself in beautiful Baja scenery, and simply relax are the only real requirements to get the most of of this combo adventure vacation.


Fun facts:
1. A male gray whale can reach 45 feet in length, and a female up to 50 feet.
2. Around for thousands of years in various forms, kayaking became commercially popular in modern times in the early 1970s.
3. A few cultural deposits (natural evidence of early humans) found in the waters around Espiritu Santo date back to the Pleistocene era, or over 11,550 years ago.


Julie TrevelyanWritten by Julie Trevelyan.

Julie is a freelance writer and wilderness guide in southern Utah. She especially enjoys books, coffee, yoga, wild country, horses, and dark chocolate.