An Unforgettable Adventure at Mexico’s Isla Espíritu Santo

There’s no doubt that, if you’re living out of a backpack, there lies adventure in every single day. When your daily routine is so far removed from the ‘traditional’ 9-5 job, each moment can be thrilling, adventurous, terrifying and hilarious all at the same time. But every now and then, you might come across a day that is so especially beautiful that it will stand out like a shiny trophy among your collection of adventures. For us, that memorable day was our visit to .

Isla Espíritu Santo

A recent visit to , had to be rescheduled not once, but twice while we were preparing our itinerary for Baja California Sur. Despite the headache over planning and scheduling, the mix-up meant we could now dedicate a full day to exploring Isla . Luckily things happened as they did because if not we would have missed out on what has been regarded as the most beautiful island in the Sea of Cortez.

panga Isla Espíritu Santo

Our view from our panga

Heading to La Paz, check out our list of the Best Things to do in La Paz

Our Airbnb host recommended Rebequitas Tours and arranged for us to meet our guide in town at 10:30am. We boarded our panga (a small fishing boat) with a German backpacker, a couple from the US, their translator and our Rebequita guide. Having a small group of seven made for a much more personalized and enjoyable day exploring the nearby beaches and the island. And so, with no expectations, we set off from La Paz toward the open sea.

Isla Espiritu Santo

Our first stop at Isla San Rafaelito

San Rafaelito

The first stop of the day was at a little island called San Rafaelito. At first glance, we saw only a small white lighthouse but once we got closer, we could tell that the island was home to several birds and even more sea lions. Most were relaxing on the rocks but some were huddled together in the water with their fins in the air as if they were waving to welcome us. We learned that sea lion flippers have capillaries to help them either cool off or stay warm. Apparently, when they’re sun bathing and fanning their flippers, they are cooling off and when they’re swimming with their flippers out of the water, they’re trying to keep warm. Who knew?!

Isla Espiritu Santo

The Mushroom of Balandra

Balandra Beach

Following San Rafaelito, we continued north admiring the coastal landscapes and learning from our guide. When the dark blue waters turned to wonders of turquoise, we knew we had made it to our next stop: Balandra Beach. Not only are the waters here crystal clear, they are also calm and very shallow which makes the beach that much more enjoyable. An iconic landmark in this area is ‘El Hongo de Balandra’ which translates to ‘The Mushroom of Balandra’. The unique rock structure is a result of thousands of years of erosion and, as you might have guessed, is shaped like a mushroom. Afterwards, we followed the cutest dolphin over to Tecolote Beach where our driver picked up our lunch and we had a short break.

Isla Espiritu Santo

Snorkeling with colourful fish at Los Islotes

Los Islotes

After over an hour at sea, we reached the highlight of our excursion: Isla Espiritu Santo and swimming with the sea lions. Isla Espiritu Santo is among the many islands in the Gulf of California Biosphere Reserve that are protected by UNESCO and by the Mexican government under the Área de Protección de Flora y Fauna. It is connected to by a narrow isthmus and the sea lion colony we were visiting is at Los Islotes which is just north of . We first toured Los Islotes and saw dozens of sea lions basking under the sun on the rocks. After learning that this area is said to be home to roughly 300 sea lions, we put on our snorkel gear and jumped in with excitement. Initially we could only see schools of tropical fish but once we first caught sight of a sea lion in it’s natural habitat, it just about took our breath away. The pups were particularly curious, playful and not shy to swim near us. It was our first time swimming with sea lions and a memorable experience to say the least.

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