ACCOMMODATIONS: For those seeking incredibly rich wildlife encounters by day and comforts by night, this trip is for you! Our 5 day adventure in Baja includes 3 nights of lodging at the cozy PosadaLuna Sol in La Paz. This quaint Baja Inn is located in la Paz with restaurants and shopping near by. Double occupancy rooms and all meals will be provided throughout the program. On our final night in Baja, we may stay at the Desert Moon BeachHotel near the quaint town of Todos Santos on Baja’s rugged Pacific side. With a morning arrival into Todos Santos we’ll explore this quaint artist town before we wait for the heartwarming experience of helping a local community project release baby sea turtles. In the morning before your departure, you may walk the incredible Cerritos Beach or even rent a surfboard or boogie board. If you decide to extend your stay in Baja, please email Kim Powell, Owner at firstname.lastname@example.org for suggestions.
MAR Y AVENTURAS, OUR MEXICAN BASED OUTFITTER: We are thrilled to be under the care of Mar Y Aventuras while we explore the wonders of the Sea of Cortez. Like Blue Water Ventures, Mar Y Aventuras provides naturalist-led adventures and active vacations with an educational focus. Our naturalist guides have an excellent reputation for water safety, client care and imparting natural history.
MEDICAL REQUIREMENTS: Baja Mexico does not require any specific immunizations for entry. However Mexico, including Baja has a relatively high occurrence of Hepatitis A. While all precautions at our hotel and base camps are made to prevent the spread of this serious liver disease, we recommend getting a vaccination for Hepatitis A. Make sure that your Tetanus (Td or Tdap) vaccine is current as well. For updates on travel to Mexico, please visit the Center for Disease Control (CDC). The travel advisory for H1N1 influenza ended in 2010. The seasonal flu vaccine will protect against H1N1 and several other flu strains. Dengue Fever and the Zika Virus are both transmitted by mosquitoes and exists in Mexico (although currently less than 10 reported cases of Zika in Baja). A strong repellent is a good defense against mosquitoes. See more recommendations below under the heading: INSECT REPELLENT. Please consult your physician regarding your trip. All medical precautions are the decision of each participant. Be sure to pack all medications in the original prescription package or bottle to avoid problems while clearing customs.
Boat rides may be bumpy and jarring with the prevailing winds across the Baja Peninsula, however sometimes, there is little jarring. We can not predict marine condition far in advance. If you have a chronic lower back condition you may find the boat rides uncomfortable. Sitting in the back of the ponga offers a much smoother ride. Please call us if you have any questions regarding the activities planned at 831 459 8548.
CLIMATE: The weather in the La Paz area is notably beautiful in early November with temperatures ranging from 75-85 degrees during the day and 60-65 degrees at night. We may experience windy conditions so warm clothing (a medium rated fleece jacket/ warm cap), a waterproof windbreaker and good rain gear is required. Water temperatures in the Sea of Cortez will be in the low 80’s, ideal for swimming. Bring a waterproof sun block/lip balm with a protection factor of 20 or higher.
PHYSICAL CONDITIONING: While experience in snorkeling or hiking is not required to participate in this program, good general health is recommended. Some level of upper body conditioning is advisable to prepare for snorkeling. You will need some level of upper body strength to hoist yourself up on the boat ladder several times throughout the day. Boat rides may be bumpy and jarring with the prevailing winds across the Baja Peninsula. Please call us if you have any questions regarding the activities planned at 831 459 8548.
ACTIVITIES INCLUDED: Snorkeling, beachcombing, intertidal exploration, turtle release, natural history talks and enjoying delicious local cuisine are all included.
SNORKELING:. Your Blue Water naturalist are avid snorkelers so please join us in the water! Colorful reef fish such as the Cortez damselfish and King angelfish as well as an array of invertebrate species can be observed along the rocky reefs. Our plan is to travel by boat to Los Islotes, a sea lion rookery to have an unforgettable encounter with these graceful aquatic mammals. We always recommend that people bring their own mask and snorkel to Mexico. However if you prefer to travel light, you may borrow a set of mask, fins and snorkel in La Paz.
a playful sea lion pup investigating a snorkeler’s PFD at Los Islotes, Photo by Kim Powell
SNORKELING WITH WHALE SHARKS: Entering the water next to a shark which may exceed 30 feet in length is truly an unforgettable encounter! As filter feeders, whale sharks are considered harmless to snorkelers who respect these majestic sea creatures. To participate in this program, you should consider yourself a moderately strong swimmer or physically fit and comfortable in open water. Sometimes whale sharks are feeding leisurely at the surface while other times they are gliding effortlessly at a high speed. It takes a strong swimmer to swim parallel to whale sharks when they are on the move. Excellent viewing can be made from our support boat.
SNORKELING GEAR: Please test out new gear prior to arrival. If you have purchased a new mask, you will need to clean it at home and then test it. Repeat cleaning until it is fog free. It will be frustrating to have a new mask fog up on our first whale shark encounter. Instructions may be reviewed here Cleaning your Mask. If you are using new fins, try them out! Some fins which have a back heel strap will fit more comfortably with a wetsuit booty or wetsuit sock. Fins that lack the back strap usually don’t require a booty or sock. A visit to a local dive shop will help answer your questions on snorkeling gear. If bringing your own wetsuit, Be sure that if fits comfortably while doing sprints and that your arms are not feeling too restricted.
IMPORTANT UPDATES ON SNORKEL GEAR: We have recently learned about the potential dangers in full face masks. Apparently, in some models CO2 builds up inside the mask leading to blackouts, potentially fatal. Here are just a few articles regarding the dangers of full face masks: https://www.scubadoctor.com.au/snorkelling-full-face-mask-dangers.htm With that said, Blue Water Ventures is banning the use of full face masks while we snorkel in Baja and on all of our snorkeling programs. In Baja. we use fins and sometimes kick into some current or enjoy long snorkels. You may argue that you did your own research and purchased the top of the line full face mask. However, we can not assume this risk nor ask our guides to shadow anyone in the water who chooses to wear a full face mask. Full face masks can not be used.
WETSUITS: In Bahia de la Paz, water temperatures will be in the low 80’s so wetsuits are not required for snorkeling with the whale sharks. Wetsuits are required for snorkeling at the sea lion rookery at Los Islotes where ocean currents make the water temperatures cooler. You may borrow a 3mm long sleeve wetsuit with short pants in La Paz. If you tend to get cold easily, we recommend that you bring a 3-4mm full body wetsuit.
CORAL SAFE SUNSCREEN: If you have had a chance to look over our website packing list, you will have noticed several brands of Coral Safe Sunscreens. There are many out there, some that claim to be safe but actually are not. A key ingredient to avoid is oxybenzone, harmful to marine life. Two brands that we personally like are: Raw Element and Stream2Sea, although there are other good brands on the market. Review this link for more details: Coral Safe. We truly appreciate your consideration of coral safe sunscreen to help reduce our impact on the fragile marine ecosystem.
SEA SICKNESS PREVENTION: If you are prone to sea sickness, we highly recommend bringing some form of prevention. Medications such as Bonine or Dramamine are usually effective although drowsiness or thirst can be a side effect. Many clients have been very happy with Scopalimine patches that requires a prescription. Your local pharmacist or physician can advise you. Many health food stores will recommend herbal remedies such as Motionease for sea sick prevention and we have found this brand quite effective. In the past, several clients have successfully used “sea bands” which employ a pressure point on the wrists rather than medication. Sea Bands have no side effects and can be purchased at most dive shops or online at Prevention.
CAMERAS: Photographing a large whale shark can be exciting as well as distracting! Sometimes its highly recommended to leave the camera behind and simply be in the moment! Your Blue Water Ventures guides will photo document your trip and we will send a photo link to you. Over the years, we have preferred the Olympus Tough Underwater Camera with the round lens rather than the square lens. Other clients have been extremely happy with the Cannon or Fiji underwater cameras. GoPro cameras work extremely well with their wide angle setting as whale sharks approach you, but are less effective for distance. Be sure to review your equipment prior to arrival. We will gladly offer any guidance on your equipment that we can.
Photo by Kim Powell
OLIVE RIDLEY SEA TURTLE RELEASE AT TODOS SANTOS: For 1000’s of years, the remote beaches of Baja have provided a critical nesting habitat for several species of now highly endangered sea turtles. As human development increased, the pressures on sea turtle populations intensified. Habitats were loss, sea turtle eggs and meat consumed and countless numbers of sea turtles drowned in fishing nets. While some sea turtle populations are declining at an alarming rate, efforts to protect these ancient reptiles are happening on a global scale. Throughout Baja, various projects have been established to monitor nesting sea turtle beaches and relocate eggs to a protective hatchery. 45-60 days later, baby sea turtles emerge from a nest and begin a perilous journey though life. At Maquina Beach near Todos Santos, we will join Grupo Tortuguero Todos Santos A.C., a local sea turtle conservation project as they release baby sea turtles into the vast Pacific Ocean. Three species of critically endangered sea turtles nest in the vicinity of Todos Santos: the East Pacific green sea turtle also referred to as the black sea turtle, the olive ridley and the leatherback sea turtle.
Leaping Mobula Ray in the Sea of Cortez en route to Los Islotes, Photo by Kim Powell
INSECT REPELLENT: Mosquitoes and a few sand gnats will be encountered in Mexico. Since we are hotel based, we don’t expect to encounter many insects but its always best to be prepared. Dengue Fever and the Zika Virus are both transmitted by mosquitoes and exists in Mexico (although currently no cases of Zika reported in Baja). A strong repellent is a good defense against mosquitoes and other insects that we may encounter. A layer of lightweight, light in color clothing is an effective defense against insects. In recent years, clients have been very happy with a Eucalyptus Lemon Natural Repellent as an alternative to products with Deet.
CHARGING CELL PHONES, ETC: We will have access to electricity throughout out program at our hotels. Some of you may have cell service while in Mexico. You may want to call your provider before you depart to see what the fees are for calls and texting. Another option is to set up a Skype account on your lap top or “ smart phone” before leaving home for use while in Mexico . Various Apps such as facetime and messenger should work from our hotels as well. Wifi connection is available at both hotels.
PASSPORTS: Everyone is required to have a current passport for entry into Mexico. It usually takes 6 weeks to process a passport. For information on obtaining a passport, please visit: passports where you can also find information on how to obtain a passport quickly. Most post offices provide the service to process US passports. On your outbound flight, all passengers are given a tourist visa to complete. Please hold onto this form as you will need to provide it as you depart Mexico. You will pay a fine if this form is lost.
MONEY: There is no need to exchange US dollars into pesos before your arrival into Mexico. Most restaurants and stores including our gear rentals accepts US currency. After your arrival into La Paz, the only costs you are responsible for during our program are: airport baggage fees, phone calls, unscheduled boat excursions, activities not described in the itinerary, personal liquor, and any airport departure taxes (some airlines include these taxes in your ticket and this varies year to year). We recommend bringing small bills (1’s, 5’s, 10’s, 20’s) since pesos may be given as change. Credit cards are accepted at many stores in both La Paz and Todos Santos.
TIPPING: It is customary to tip our Mexican crew as we depart our adventure. We have factored in a per person tip to be shared among our boat captains, guides and hotel staff. Tips are included in your trip cost. However, as is customary in hotels you may choose to leave a small tip in your room for hotel staff each morning. Us dollars are fine but no US coins.
DONATIONS: Members of the local fishing villages would greatly appreciate any used clothing or shoes you would like to donate. Fleece jackets, rain coats, pants, t-shirts and shoes of all kinds (Tevas, hiking or tennis shoes ) and sizes would be a wonderful contribution. Clothing for children of all ages is needed. Please drop off your gifts at our hotel office in La Paz on the morning of Day Two.
DELAYS: Blue Water Ventures and Mar Y Aventuras are not responsible for any costs incurred due to delays that may occur due to transportation (airline), weather, road conditions, government intervention, sickness or other contingencies for which we are unable to control.
Whale Shark Research in Mexico
HOW TO REACH US IN MEXICO IN THE EVENT OF AN EMERGENCY BACK HOME: In the event of an emergency only, please call the La Paz based headquarters at: 406-522-7596.This is a US phone that will connect directly to Mexico. An alternate number is: 011-52-612-123-0559. b On our last night, we can be reached at the Desert moon Hotel at: 011-52-1-811-911-9300.
ILLEGAL DRUG USE: The Mexican government has very severe penalties for the use of illegal drugs. Do not bring illegal substances into Mexico or purchase/use them during this program. Products containing CBD oils or THC remains a debatable topic for international travel so please do your own research if you plan to bring them.
Phone: (831) 459-8548
Santa Cruz, California
Monday – Saturday:
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Sunday CLOSED