Baja California & Sea of Cortez
- 9 Days
- San Jose del Cabo, Mexico - San Jose del Cabo, Mexico
- Voyage code:
- Sylvia Earle
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The Gulf of California, also known as the Sea of Cortez, was once famously dubbed the ‘aquarium of the world.’ The rugged islands, coastal desert and the surrounding turquoise waters are of striking natural beauty. The islands and protected areas of the Gulf of California is one of Dr Sylvia Earle’s designated Hope Spots and a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site. It is one of the most productive ocean regions in the world – home to over 900 species of fish, including sharks – 90 of them endemic – more than 2,000 invertebrate species and a variety of whales, dolphins, rays, sea turtles and sea lions. Hike among coastal cactus forests, enjoying splendid views of crescent-shaped bays and be spoiled by some of the best snorkelling and diving experiences offered anywhere on earth. Zodiac cruises will bring birders close to enormous bird colonies where you might spot blue-footed boobies, red-billed tropicbirds and Heermann’s gulls. Sunsets over the Sea of Cortez are among the most spectacular you will find anywhere in the world.
World-renowned conservationist, marine biologist and explorer, Dr. Sylvia Earle, will join us as special guest as we explore Baja California and the Sea of Cortez. Experience once-in-a-lifetime talks on board from Dr. Sylvia Earle - the first female chief scientist of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Time magazine's first 'Hero of the Planet'. Hear all about the significance of climate change and the effect on our oceans, and why this is one of Dr. Earle's designated Hope Spots and a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site.
- Spend six days exploring immersed in the wonders of the Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California—a UNESCO World Heritage site
- Delight in the region’s exceptional biodiversity, and keep watch for the spectacular sight of the mass migration of flying mobula rays
- Hike across coastal desert plains and ascend a ridge overlooking Isla San Francisco Bay, which offers sublime views of the iridescent sea below
- Savour fresh local produce and experience Mexico’s world-famous cuisine
Keep watch for the spectacular sight of the mass migration of flying mobula rays in the Sea of Cortez
In true expedition style we encourage exploration and adventure, offering flexibility in challenging environments in a way that puts you among the action to see and do as much as possible. This itinerary is only a guide and subject to change due to ice and weather conditions.
Day 1 Los Cabos
Arrive in Los Cabos and transfer to our group hotel. Upon check-in, reception staff will provide you with Aurora Expeditions cabin tags. Please fill out the luggage tags clearly, showing your name and cabin number to allow us to deliver your luggage to your cabin. Enjoy a welcome drink and meet fellow expeditioners at our voyage briefing this evening.
Accommodation: JW Marriott Los Cabos Beach Resort & Spa (or similar)
Day 2 Embark in Pichilinque
Birders can enjoy an early morning visit to the nearby bird sanctuary where several endemic species are seen. Check out and explore the historic quarter of San Jose on a guided tour before transferring to Pichilinque for embarkation. After boarding, there’s time to settle into your cabin before learning important safety briefings. This evening meet your expedition team and crew at the Captain’s Welcome Dinner.
Days 3–8 Gulf Islands & Protected areas of the Sea of Cortez
Over the next six days, our flexible itinerary allows for spontaneity where we hope to experience the many spectacular wildlife encounters offered in the Sea of Cortez, including the amazing spectacle of tens of thousands of mobula rays congregating, where they exhibit their unique behaviour of literally flying out of the water, allegedly to attract a mate. We plan to explore a few of the 244 islands, islets and colourful coastal sandstone formations that make up the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California.
This small island near Loreto is surrounded by turquoise waters teeming with marine life, including sea lions, dolphins and an abundant variety of fish. It is also home to a variety of waterfowl, including the famous blue-footed booby. Hikers can explore one of the many short trails that lead to magnificent scenic lookouts.
Isla del Carmen
Privately-owned Isla del Carmen is Loreto National Marine Park’s largest island and features marine fossils, colourful cliffs, bighorn sheep and diverse beaches ranging from smooth cobbles to red pebbles to white sand. The island’s west coast offers kayaking, snorkelling and easy walks along the shoreline. On the remote and wild east coast is Arroyo Blanco, where divers can explore the underwater caves.
In the heart of the marine reserve, Isla Montserrat is the idyllic location for aquatic activities, especially kayaking. An abundance of marine life makes the waters perfect for snorkelling and diving. Blue whales and bottlenose and common dolphins are often found in the waters surrounding Isla Monserrat, Isla Danzante and Isla del Carmen.
Bahia Agua Verde
Bahía Agua Verde offers excellent land-based birdwatching, a unique experience in Baja where most birdwatching takes place at sea. Species that you may spot include the endemic Costa’s hummingbird, vermilion flycatcher, grey thrasher and northern mockingbird. In Zodiacs, there is a great chance to spot blue-footed boobies, brown boobies and perhaps even osprey.
Characterised by its bright-red rocks, Puerto Gato offers great snorkelling, kayaking, and excellent exploratory hikes where at elevation you can be rewarded with terrific views. After some rain, the arid desert is awash with colourful blooms.
Isla San José
One of the larger islands in the Sea of Cortez, you can photograph San José’s ochre cliffs, hike an enchanting arroyo or gully at Punta Colorada, or snorkel in the clear waters that attract bottlenose dolphins, Risso’s dolphins, mobula rays and pilot whales.
Isla San Francisco
With pink sea cliffs and a stunning crescent-shaped bay, Isla San Francisco is one of the most beautiful islands in the Sea of Cortez. Enjoy a day hiking along the ridge, with sweeping views of the bay below where you might glimpse whales. You can also snorkel among colourful marine life and later, enjoy a barbecue under the desert stars.
Isla del Espiritu Santo & Isla Partida
Jointly known as Espiritu Santo, these islands are a two of Baja’s gems. Venture into a secluded cove surrounded by fingers of red rock and golden beach. Spend the day exploring the beach on foot, where large numbers of roosterfish are known to appear, or venture further on a guided hike. The deep bays are ideal for kayaking. Several wrecks, wall dives and vast undersea canyons support a rich ecosystem where whales, sharks and manta rays roam, making the island a must for any diver.
In the quiet seaside town of Loreto, choose one of the following excursions:
Loreto City Walking Tour (2 hours)
From Loreto pier, we explore on foot the serene town of Loreto. Loreto was Spain's first permanent settlement in the Californias and served as California's capital from 1697 until 1777. From Loreto, Spanish rule slowly expanded south to Cabo San Lucas before spreading north towards San Diego. During the walk, visit the museum and the City Hall.
San Javier Mission Tour (4.5 hours)
From Loreto pier, drive approximately one hour through vibrant desert landscape to San Javier Mission, located 420 metres above sea level. On foot explore the mission, where the church still stands in its original form since it the mission was founded by Jesuits in 1699. Visit the museum and stroll around the charming countryside surrounding the mission.
Day 9 Pichilinque
Disembark in Pichilinque, where you farewell the expedition team and crew before transferring back to San José del Cabo to continue your journey.
Important note: In the genuine spirit of expedition travel, we encourage exploration and adventure offering flexibility in challenging environments. This itinerary is only a guide and is subject to change due to weather, sea and other conditions beyond our control. Local regulations of the marine parks and reserves in Baja California can change with little or no notice. Under such circumstances, Aurora Expeditions reserves the right to amend the proposed itinerary accordingly.
- Transfer from airport to hotel on day 1
- One night’s hotel accommodation on day 1, breakfast included
- Sightseeing tour and transfer to the vessel on day 2
- Group transfer from ship to airport on day 9
- On-board accommodation during voyage including daily cabin service
- All meals, snacks, tea and coffee during voyage
- Beer, house wine and soft drinks with dinner
- All shore excursions
- Educational lectures and guiding services from expedition team
- Complimentary access to onboard expedition doctor and medical clinic (initial consult)
- A waterproof dry bag
- Complimentary use of muck boots during the voyage
- Comprehensive pre-departure information
- Port surcharges, permits and landing fees
- Gratuities for ship crew
- International or domestic flights
- Transfers not mentioned in the itinerary
- Airport arrival or departure taxes
- Passport, visa, and vaccination charges
- Travel insurance or emergency evacuation charges
- Hotels and meals not included in itinerary
- Optional excursions not included in the itinerary
- Optional activity surcharges
- All items of a personal nature including but not limited to: alcoholic beverages and soft drinks (outside of dinner service), laundry services, personal clothing, medical expenses, Wi-Fi, email or phone charges
Lectures on wildlife, our environment, history and destinations
Whale and mammal spotting
One of the most exhilarating ways to experience Antarctica, the Arctic or any of our global voyages. The experience of …
One of the most exhilarating ways to experience Antarctica, the Arctic or any of our global voyages.
The experience of sea kayaking in the humbling wilderness of Antarctica or the European Arctic is guaranteed to stir your soul. Paddle between brash ice and icebergs of all shapes and sizes, skim past penguin rookeries or under soaring bird cliffs, or drift quietly as you watch wildlife unobtrusively, absorbing the majestic scenery.
Led by experienced guides, paddling in small groups allows us the opportunity to paddle between ice floes, brash ice and icebergs of all shapes and sizes as well as allowing easy and intimate access to beautiful coastlines.
Rather than travelling large distances, our aim is to see as much as possible. We paddle anywhere between 5 to 15 kilometres (2 to 4 hours) per outing, sometimes taking a snack and a flask of hot chocolate to enjoy on our excursion.
Each group of 4 to 10 kayakers will have their own intimate exploration of the small hidden bays and coasts that may be inaccessible to the Zodiacs and will also make time for their own shore excursions and wildlife encounters.
When we visit the poles, the elements play an important role. It is important that you have an adventurous attitude and understand that our kayaking time will be affected by the weather that we experience.
Even if your experience is limited, we’d encourage you to call us to discuss your suitability. There is often ample time to gain the required experience before you depart. Kayakers should be aged 14 years or over.
- Kayak & Paddle
- Neoprene boots
- Safety gear
- A 15-litre dry bag
- Life jackets
- Dry suits
- Pogies (insulated mittens that attach to your paddle)
Our guides have years of kayaking experience in our destinations. The sea kayaking guide will lead the group on each excursion, explaining facts about the wildlife and other highlights we paddle across. You can view our sea kayaking guides’ profiles here or see below.
How to Book
Please return the kayaking form at time of booking that you would like to include the optional sea kayaking activity for your expedition. Places are limited so we recommend reserving your place early.View more details
The icy waters of Antarctic and the Arctic guarantee amazing new experiences. In 1998 Aurora Expeditions offered the world-first commercial dive …
The icy waters of Antarctic and the Arctic guarantee amazing new experiences.
In 1998 Aurora Expeditions offered the world-first commercial dive trip to Antarctica, and we’ve built on our polar experience ever since. In Antarctica and the Arctic, we bring you the exciting and unique chance to get a closer look at the amazing marine life of our polar regions.
Antarctic and Arctic diving reveals a world of ice, where glaciers, gigantic icebergs and a unique blend of marine life greet us, making for a very special experience. With numerous diving opportunities along your voyage, no two days will be alike a truly inspiring and unforgettable experience awaits.
To participate in our polar diving activity, all divers must be a trained, certified scuba divers with proof of certification beyond entry level, i.e. Advanced Diver certification or equivalent rating issued by a recognised scuba training organisation.
In addition to this, it is extremely important that adequate training and experience is gained in dry-suit diving, and in the use of other new and unfamiliar equipment to be used in polar waters. To ensure your safety and enjoyment and to avoid any unnecessary problems on the trip, recent diving experience and proof of a minimum of 20 logged dives using a dry-suit is required prior to joining the voyage.
Our team of experienced dive guides have over 20 years’ polar diving experience and provide divers with detailed briefings and best practice procedures to ensure a safe diving experience. Your dive master will ensure Standard Safety Diving Practices are adhered to at all times.
How to Book
Please return the scuba diving activity form at time of booking. If you have any queries regarding our scuba diving option, please contact our friendly Expeditions Experts for more information.
View more details
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*Terms & Conditions apply. Valid on select ship voyages only. Offer is valid on new bookings only aboard the Greg Mortimer or Sylvia Earle which must be booked and deposited by 28th May 2021. Promotion is subject to availability at the time of booking and capacity controlled. The promotion is only available in conjunction with the back to back voyage discount or the loyalty program offer, and not available with any other offer. The promotion can be withdrawn at any time and is not redeemable for cash. Normal booking terms and conditions apply. To confirm your booking, a completed booking form and non-refundable deposit of $2,500 pp in the booking currency is required within 7 days of reserved berth/s. Additional terms and conditions may apply. Please see full terms and conditions.