ISLAND EXPLORATION SEA OF CORTEZ: Imagine exploring a vast biologically rich sea without the worry of kayaking across windy, exposed stretches of water or packing gear into a kayak in the wee hours of the morning. With our motorized support skiff, we are able to easily explore remote islands, coves and desolate beaches of the Sea of Cortez. Our support boat and crew will move gear and kayaks daily giving us more hours to explore our next destination. Each participant will help break down and set up their own tent as we move from island to island. We will kayak in protected island coves rather than miles of choppy exposed seas. If large marine mammals such as fin whales or super pods of common dolphins are spotted off in the distance, we can boat in for closer look. We will even have the luxury of cold beverages at camp as we will travel with an ice chest!
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.
ACCOMMODATIONS: Our 9 day adventure in Baja includes 3 nights of double occupancy lodging (both in La Paz and then at Cerritos Beach near Todos Santos) with all meals provided including our hotel stays on Day One, Day Two and Day Eight. For five days we are exploring islands in the Sea of Cortez, camping at various island locations. Spacious 3 person tents (crawl in style) are provided for 2 people on a double occupancy basis. At all campsites, a porta-potty system is used, a small self- contained toilet basin. Throughout our experience, we have the ease that motorized boat support provides. While sleeping in a tent is always an option, you may choose to sleep some nights under a starry sky. Please ask us about our single supplement options.
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 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 September 15th, 2021 the United States requires proof of a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours before our flight home. We have arranged for testing and this service will cost $60 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.
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: 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. Warmer temperatures are possible. 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 mid to upper 70’s with an average of 78, nice for swimming. See wetsuits below. 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 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: Snorkeling, kayaking, beachcombing, intertidal exploration, night snorkeling, 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 rent 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 wildlife 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: A few years ago, we 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.
WETSUITS: In Bahia de la Paz, water temperatures will be in the mid to upper 70’s, with an average in November of 78. Wetsuits are required for snorkeling at the sea lion rookery at Los Islotes where ocean currents make the water temperatures cooler. You may rent a 3mm long sleeve wetsuit with short pants in La Paz. Wetsuits are also welcomed when we offer night snorkeling.
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.
Leaping Mobula Ray in the Sea of Cortez en route to Los Islotes, Photo by Kim Powell
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.
Olive Ridley sea turtles off on a big journey, Photo by Kim Powell
INSECT REPELLENT: Mosquitoes and sand gnats will be encountered in Mexico. 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 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. We also highly recommend Avon Skin so Soft Bug Guard when we encounter no see ums (sand gnats).
CAMERAS, CELL PHONES, ETC: If using a digital camera, please bring enough battery power to use for at least 5 days while camping or bring a small portable solar charger. We will have access to electricity only 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 and Todos Santos. 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 “smart phone” before leaving home for use while in La Paz and Todos Santos. Apps such as Messenger and Facetime should work during our hotel stays.
WIFI CONNECTION: Wifi connection is available at our hotel in La Paz on Day One-Day Two and on Day Eight-Nine near Todos Santos
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 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.
USEFUL LINKS: 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. 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.