Isla Espiritu Santos – UNESCO World Heritage Site
Monster Cliffs Alongside Us
We took a tour to a large, beautiful, uninhabited island on one of the few crazy windy days. We had a body-slamming 90 minute boat ride, on a panga. The words remote and pristine are appropriate for many places in Mexico, and this is one of them. Isla Espiritu Santos, on the Sea of Cortez, is a natural sanctuary to sea lions, rays, turtles, dolphins, whales, blue footed boobys, frigate birds, pelicans and marine life found nowhere else.
The cliffs along the eastern side of the island were amazing…simply amazing. We saw a geologist’s paradise, as our boat turned into caves and arches. It would have been a sin if we had come all this way and not seen that island.
Swimming with Sea Lions
We crashed our way through the waves up to Los Isolates, a sea lion colony at the tip of Espiritu Santos, where 300 sea lion families hang out. Here you can don your wet suit and snorkel mask to swim with these animals. The waves were too much, so rather than be smashed into the rocks, our small group of 4 opted to stay in the panga and watch a few determined snorkelers from the other boats. The sea lions are curious, and will pull on your flippers, zippers and masks.
Caves, Coves and Kayaks
The water was clear turquoise, and away from the windy sea, the inlets and caves were calm and shallow. Perfect for kayaking which I was happy to do when we stopped at a placid cove for lunch.
Turtles, Manta Rays, Dolphins
That afternoon the water calmed and we saw masses of turtles swimming all around us. Sometimes just heads popping up, but many full body swimming on top of the water. Cliffs on one side, turtles all around…clear turquoise water, then shades of dark blue. Dolphins are here, but the bay is so huge, that they are not frequently seen and tour groups are not allowed to swim with them
Not done yet…we saw dozens of mantra rays leaping out of the water (mating season)…one right after another, showing off and slamming belly first onto the water.
Tons of Birds
We were on the lookout for the blue footed booby along the cliffs, but instead found a nesting area for frigate birds that had taken over a 100-year-old pearl farm. These are large soaring seabirds with a forked tail, who spear fish – but can never get wet in the sea, or they will drown. (I know how they feel.)
Fact: The island gets less than an inch of rain per year. The tectonic forces that ripped the Baja strip off the Mexican mainland are still pushing the peninsula west, at two inches per year. The basin consists of sunken mountain ranges and grand canyons (and a sunken ship or two for diving sites).
We were Raemona’s first tour to Espiritu Santos – so she took a selfie to send to her mom.