Above: An islet populated with sea lions off Isla Espíritu Santo near La Paz, Mexico

Excursion to Isla Espíritu Santo

I’d hoped to find a recommendable hotel in La Paz because of the city’s convenience to one of Baja’s star attractions, Isla Espíritu Santo. Alas, that wasn't the case, but Andrew Harper Travel arranged for a private boat to take us from CostaBaja Resort & Spa’s marina to this UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, a journey of 90 minutes to two hours, depending on the sea conditions.

Once at the island, we cruised past sea cliffs striped with granite and compressed volcanic ash en route to an islet popular with sea lions (as well as camera-toting scuba divers). There we had a marvelous time snorkeling with the sea lions, which seemed to greatly enjoy swimming and playing with us (as opposed to the far less nimble scuba divers).

Aquamarine bays with deserted beaches indent much of the island, and at one of these, surrounded on all sides by cliffs and water, we indulged in a private beach picnic of triggerfish ceviche and quinoa with fresh pineapple. We ventured into another bay punctuated with rock stacks, where the water was clear enough for us to observe schools of rays swimming along the sandy bottom. We alighted on the beach and hiked the Candelero trail, sometimes clambering over boulders, in order to access rock overhangs where Pericúes, the now-extinct indigenous inhabitants of southern Baja, likely took shelter. Viewed from the trail, the bay glowed turquoise and electric blue.

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Above: An islet populated with sea lions off Isla Espíritu Santo near La Paz, Mexico

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