ACCOMMODATIONS: Our 10 day adventure in Baja includes 3 nights of lodging at the PosadaLuna Sol in La Paz. This quaint Mexican inn is located in la Paz with restaurants and shopping near by. Double occupancy rooms and all meals will be provided during our hotel stays on day one, five and nine. For three nights we are camping at our base camp in Magdalena Bay on Baja’s Pacific Side. Spacious double occupancy walk-in style tents with cots are provided here. A dining area complete with tables and chairs adds great comfort to our experience. For three nights we are camping at Espiritu Santos Island in the Sea of Cortez. Spacious yet slightly smaller tents with cots are provided here as well. At both sites a camp style toilet system is used, a comfortable self contained seated toilet basin with a privacy tent. Throughout our experience, we have the ease that boat supported camping provides. This allows us more time to explore Baja’s natural wonders rather than making and breaking new camps each day that occurs on kayak expeditions. While sleeping in a tent is always an option, you may choose to sleep some nights under a starry sky.
MAR Y AVENTURAS, OUR MEXICAN OUTFITTER: We are thrilled to be under the care of Mar Y Aventuras while we explore the wonders of Baja. 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 lessons. In addition to our naturalist, we will be joined by our Mexican support crew and cook.
MEDICAL REQUIREMENTS: As new information unfolds regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, we will update this link as we learn new requirements if any, for travel between Mexico and the United States. Mar Y Aventuras has always strived to maintain a clean, well sanitized hotel and camp. As new protocol evolves (such as the use of face masks during certain activities), we will update information here. Due to the nature of this trip traveling in vans and boats together, we will require everyone to submit proof of the COVID-19 vaccine. As of November 8th, 2021 the United States requires proof of a negative COVID-19 one day before our flight home. We have arranged for testing and this service will cost $50 payable in cash in Baja. If someone tested positive, the owners of Mar y Aventuras would help coordinate a quarantine at their hotel for $70 per night which includes breakfast. They would also help coordinate other meals, visits to doctors, etc. For those traveling to Loreto, we will discuss options with you in the event that someone test positive.
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 CDC Mexico . The seasonal flu vaccine may protect against several other flu strains. Dengue Fever and the Zika Virus are both transmitted by mosquitoes and exists in Mexico (although currently very few cases of Zika reported 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 conditions far in advance. If you have a chronic back, shoulder or neck injury or condition you may find the boat rides uncomfortable and we don’t recommend joining us. Please call us if you have any questions regarding the activities planned at 831 459 8548.
CLIMATE: February temperatures may range from 60-85 degrees during the day and 45-70 degrees at night. We may experience windy conditions especially on the Pacific side of Baja so warm clothing (a heavy 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 mid 60s. 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 and kayaking.. You will need some level of upper body strength to hoist yourself up on the boat ladder several times throughout the day while in the Sea of Cortez. Your guides will offer a variety of excursions each day for those who want to keep active. Please call us if you have any questions regarding the activities planned at 831 459 8548.
ACTIVITIES INCLUDED: Whale observations from motorized skiffs in Magdalena Bay, snorkeling (Sea of Cortez side only), sea kayaking, fishing, foraging, beachcombing, intertidal exploration, desert hiking, natural history talks, beach volleyball and enjoying delicious well balanced meals are all included. Our hikes are relatively easy with harder hikes optional.
KAYAKING: A variety of single and tandem closed deck sea kayaks are provided. All boats have rudders and boat selection for our group will be determined by May Y Aventuras upon arrival. Informal instruction will be happily provided if you would like to fine tune your kayaking skills and rescues. Our sea kayaking destinations range from 4-6 miles per day depending upon the strengths and interest of our group. Sea kayaking will be offered along the dramatic Sea of Cortez coastline as well as within the mangrove forest that edges Magdalena Bay on the Pacific side.
SNORKELING: From our base camp at Espiritu Santos Island in the Sea of Cortez, we will kayak to white sandy beaches stopping at snorkeling locations en route. Good snorkeling can be done right from our base camp and 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. Weather permitting, our support boat will take us to a sea lion rookery to have an unforgettable encounter with these graceful aquatic mammals.
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. 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. We will attempt to swim among these gentle giants enroute to our campsite in the Sea of Cortez or upon our return, weather permitting.
GET READY FOR SNORKELING: It is helpful if you test out your snorkel gear ahead of time. You want to be ready to go and feel comfortable with your gear before we slip into the Sea of Cortez! If you are buying new gear, you should prep it before Baja. There is a film on new masks that can be removed with nongel, non whitening “cheap” toothpaste. Here’s a link on how to clean your mask A dive shop where you purchase gear can help you with proper fit and cleaning method. You may also buy a small bottle of drops that helps to clean the masks (bought at your dive shop).
IMPORTANT UPDATES ON SNORKEL GEAR: A few years ago, 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 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.
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 animal 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 or Gray whales 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.
FISHING: While in the Sea of Cortez, you are welcomed to grab a rod and reel and try some fishing! We ask that you bring your own lures or buy them used at our hotel. Suggested colors include: blue/silver, black/gold, green mackerel/gold or blue mackerel/silver. Popular lures are: a Rebel jointed Fastrac, mid-size Rapala Magnums or other minnow style lures. Most fishing is offered as a pre breakfast outing where you will troll behind a motorized skiff.
RENTAL GEAR: As indicated on the packing list, you will need to provide a sleeping bag, snorkeling equipment and a wetsuit. You may rent these items in La Paz before our adventure begins. Sleeping Bags may be rented for $15, snorkeling equipment (mask, fins and snorkel) can be rented for $15 or separate items for $10 and a wetsuit for $15. A thermarest pad and pillow is included on the sleeping cots within your roomy tents.
WETSUITS: In the Sea of Cortez water temperatures hover in the mid to upper 60’s so wetsuits are recommended for snorkeling. In La Paz, you may rent a 3mm long sleeve wetsuit with short pants for $15. If you tend to get cold easily, we recommend that you bring a 3-4mm full body wetsuit. A wetsuit hood would provide additional warmth if you like to dive below the surface. Wetsuits are worn while snorkeling but not required while kayaking.
Leaping Mobula Ray near our campsite in the Sea of Cortez ,
LUGGAGE: A medium to large duffel bag is recommended. Our support boat will take our luggage to camp but for extra security please waterproof your gear by lining your duffel on the inside with a garbage bag. We suggest bringing a small dry bag to protect personal items such as cameras, extra clothing and binoculars while kayaking and during boat excursions. Small dry boxes such as those made by Pelican are handy for waterproofing miscellaneous items such as small cameras, sunscreen, lip balm and sunglasses.
PACKING TIPS AND STORING GEAR: You will be able to store any gear, electronics or clothing not needed while camping at our hotel in La Paz. There is a secure indoor storage area. With that in mind, you may leave a larger duffel or suitcase at the hotel and pack only what you need into a smaller duffel that you bring for camping. Rolling style duffels or large suitcases are not recommended while camping, but may be left at our hotel.
For those joining us on the extension to Loreto you will not be able to store items at our hotel in La Paz. We would still recommend bringing a smaller duffel for our 3 days of camping in the Sea of Cortez. Bring everything with you as we leave for whale camp then onward to Loreto. Light weight rolling duffels are acceptable for those traveling to Loreto.
INSECT REPELLENT: Mosquitoes and a few sand gnats will be encountered in Mexico. Dengue Fever and the Zika Virus are both transmitted by mosquitoes and exists in Mexico (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: If using a digital camera, please bring enough battery power to use for at least 4 days ( although electricity for charging batteries should be available while camping though may be limited). We will have access to electricity at during our hotel stays. If daily phone contact is required while traveling, we recommend renting a satellite phone from the United States before our trip departure. Some of you may have cell service while in La Paz. 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 La Paz. Apps such as Facetime, Messenger and WhatsApp should work from our hotel as well.
WIFI CONNECTION: Wifi connection is available at our hotel in La Paz on Day One, Five and Nine. If you can’t part with your laptop bring it along! It may be safely stored at the hotel while we are camping.
CLOTHING: Loose fitting cotton or quick drying nylon work well while kayaking and hiking. Lighter colors seem more comfortable in the heat. Laundry is done by hand as needed by each participant.
TAKING SHOWERS AT CAMP: Bathing can be done in saltwater followed by a quick freshwater rinse using sun showers that are provided. Joy, Dawn and CampSuds are biodegradable and lathers up nicely in saltwater. Dr. Brommer’s is not recommended for saltwater bathing.
LOCAL CUISINE: Throughout our Baja adventure, expect to enjoy a variety of well balanced meals prepared by our Mexican Cooks. Though not expected, you are welcomed to help in the kitchen and practice your Spanish! Vegetarian meals can be arranged upon request. Please specify any dietary restrictions or allergies on the registration form that will be sent to you.
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 rental shop 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. Travellers checks are no longer used at most stores in La Paz so cash is preferred. Credit Cards are accepted at most shops and restaurants.
TIPPING: It is customary to tip our Mexican crew as we depart our adventure. We have factored in a per person gratuity. to be shared among our Mexican crew of cooks, 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 ) any size would be a wonderful contribution. Clothing for children of all ages is needed. Please ask your Blue Water Ventures guides when best to drop off your gifts at our hotel office in La Paz
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.
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. This is the same number for the hotel where we can be reached on the evenings of Day One, Five and Nine.
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.
Photos by Kim Powell