*Please note that the following information is meant to provide a general overview of your tour. The specifics of your trip will be contained in a pre-trip letter you will receive prior to your confirmed departure.
Important Trip Details:
MEETING PLACE: Hotel Oasis, Loreto
MEETING TIME: 6:00 PM MST
TRIP MILES: Varies depending on group size, weather and kayaker's abilities
PUT-IN: San Carlos
TAKE-OUT: Magdalena Bay
RETURN TIME: 4:00 PM MST
THE LAST SUPPER: Join your guide and fellow trip guests for a non host farewell dinner at a favorite local restaurant.
TRIP LENGTH: 6 days
AGE LIMIT: Minimum age is 12
BOAT TYPE: Sea Kayak
NEAREST AIRPORTS: Loreto International Airport (LTO)
Day 0: Arrive in Loreto
Upon arrival at the Loreto Airport take a quick cab ride to your hotel. After checking in (not included in the tour cost) you are on your own to explore Loreto, take a walk down the malecon, or relax by the hotel pool before your evening orientation meeting. At the orientation meeting you will meet your guides who will give you details about the plan for the next morning and answer any questions you may have.
Day 1: Travel to San Carlos, Begin Kayaking
We depart from Loreto, Baja, Mexico early in the morning and drive about two and a half hours across the Baja peninsula to the coastal town of San Carlos. On the way we pass through the small city of Constitucion, where 50 years ago, a government project created a city in the desert by investing in a massive pumping system that draws from an underground aquifer, in order to develop this area into a large agricultural center.
On arrival in San Carlos, you meet your other guides and have a thorough orientation and kayak safety talk. You load your personal gear into your kayak and soon we’re paddling north on our grand adventure!
Our motorized panga travels slightly ahead of the group, loaded with food, drink and camping gear. It supports us for our first lunch, then goes ahead to set up your tents for camp.
Our camps are set on the west side of the lagoon and the east side of the coastal barrier islands. Your guides prepare delicious and bountiful meals. Sunsets here are some of the most spectacular you’ll find anywhere on earth. Dinner is served after sunset, and then stars appear. Retire to your tent at your leisure.
- Accommodations: Beach Camping
- Meals: Lunch, Dinner
Day 2: Sea Kayaking, Sand Dunes and Mangroves
We rise soon after the sun and wake up with a morning beverage. After a Baja breakfast we put on our kayaking skirts and set out for another day of fun and discovery. We spend some of our time paddling through the narrow channels amid the mangroves. Other times we hug the shore to peer down into clear water at fishes and underwater plants. It’s a beautiful day. We again stop for lunch to rest and reenergize. By the time we arrive in camp we hope you feel more at one with nature and yourself. We transition to another evening of camaraderie and story-telling, dinner and laughter.
- Accommodations: Beach Camping
- Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 3-4: Sea Kayaking, Sand Dune Hiking, Wildlife Viewing
More days to relish life and wide-open spaces. Very few people visit this area, so the sense of isolation and raw nature is palpable. Wind-swept dunes rise above the salt water, providing home for many species of plants and animals. Your guides share their knowledge of this ecosystem, but the main reward comes from simple observation. Back on the water, we continue our way. We paddle through the narrowest channel of our trip, the Curva del Diablo. We fall into a peaceful paddling rhythm, soaking in the salty air while also enjoying each stroke. We paddle among the mangroves and along the edges of the dunes. Our lunch stops give us more time to explore and rejuvenate. Late afternoon we arrive at camp, each slightly different, but all offering options for walking, relaxing with a book, or simply watching the sea.
- Accommodations: Beach Camping
- Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 5: Sea Kayaking, Lopez Mateo and Whale Camp
We rise early today to start our final paddle. It’s a good stretch of paddling, past more splendid dunes, and a stop for lunch. Soon we arrive at the fishing town of Lopez Mateos. Here we board our whale-watching panga (motorized skiff) for a two-hour whale watching session. We discuss a few “rules of respect” relative to whale-watching and head out. There is palpable excitement in the air as we see whales blow, perhaps breach, and swim in the protected waters of Magdalena Bay. When we find a whale that seems relatively stationary, we cut our motors and float. It’s then up to the whale to engage with us or not. Sometimes they choose to swim away. Sometimes they approach us, coming right up to the edge of our 22’ (7 meter) boats. If we don’t interact with the whales, they quickly lose interest and leave.
After our two-hour session, we arrive at our island camp. After a brief camp orientation and moving baggage to the tents, we gather for appetizers and sunset. Our camp is set up with a large camp dome that serves as our dining room. Delicious meals of typical Mexican fare are prepared by our local cook. After dinner, the dome is also the perfect setting for a presentation on the natural history of the gray whales. Guests love these interactive sessions where we all learn about the lives of these giant sea creatures. Our guides have a depth of knowledge they love to share. Some are marine biologists and others grew up in fishing families. They bring passion to their talks and hope to create more advocates for the protection of the whales and the world’s oceans.
Depending on weather conditions you might sit outside to stargaze, or head to your own walk-in tent replete with cots and insulated sleeping pads.
- Accommodations: Whale Camp
- Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 6: Dune Walk, Whale Watching, Return to Loreto
Get up with the sun, or later, as you wish. After breakfast it’s time for an optional walk across the dunes, led by our naturalist guides. We learn about the various dune plants, insects, birds, reptiles and mammals. Soon we arrive at lapping Pacific waves on the beach. Time to take off shoes and let the tingle of sand and water sooth the spirit. After a little beachcombing, we make our way back to camp.
Leaving your luggage on the beach for our gear panga to load, everyone climbs aboard one of the whale-watching skiffs for another exhilarating session with these gentle giants. We motor out into the lagoon, watching for whales and absorbing the beauty of the bay, making our way back towards Lopez Mateos. Once back at the town dock, we enjoy a late lunch, followed by a 2 ½ hour drive to Loreto. Check into your hotel and then celebrate with a no-host final dinner in one of the town’s restaurants to share memories of a wonderful week.
Note: If you have the time, we encourage you to extend your trip by joining one of our one-day excursions from Loreto. These include a day of blue whale watching, hiking in Tabor canyon or a visit to the mission town of San Javier.
- Accommodations: Not Included
- Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Please see our Baja Travel Guide for full details on travel to and from Baja.
Baja has a desert climate. The weather is typically dry, warm, and sunny, with temperatures ranging between 60 - 90 F. While it may be very warm during the day, temperatures can drop down to the 60’s (50’s at Whale Camp) during the evening hours. Please plan to pack appropriate layers for the evenings. If you are interested in more specific information regarding the weather in Baja, we highly suggest this website. If you put in the location you are traveling, and the date, it will provide you with historical weather data that you can use to plan for your upcoming adventure.
Baja weather is much more mild than many places in North America, but it is still in North America, as it is north of the equator, and does have all four seasons. The summer months of June through August are blistering hot and rather humid in Baja Sur. It's a time that sport-fishers and a few other tourists come, but it's not peak season due to the heat. All the summer heat has the benefit of heating up the sea and that is appealing to people that love warm water. As the weather cools down in September and we begin our kayaking and tour season in October, the water holds that heat and the Gulf of California is wonderfully warm. If your dream is hot weather and warm water, then October through mid November is a great time to visit Baja. By early December the seas have cooled somewhat and daytime temperatures are lower. It's not cold by any means, but it's not hot either. Days are generally in the 70's (20’s C) and nights in the 60's (15 C). Clear blue skies and sunshine can make it feel warmer of course, but these are the true temperatures. We go snorkeling, but as water temperatures are in the 60's (15 C), most people wear the wetsuits that we provide.
- Loreto average temperatures
- Loreto Gulf of California average water temperatures
- La Paz average temperatures
- La Paz Gulf of California average temperatures
Winds are also a factor in Baja. The Gulf of California is less windy in October, November, and mid-March through the summer, than it is in December through February. That's why some of our trips, like Isla San Jose, are only offered during the less windy timeframes because of logistics and the orientation of the islands. Be aware that your trip may be altered by wind conditions at any time, but it's more likely to be an issue in the December through February timeframe.
Whales! Both the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez) and the Pacific are important habitats for whales who come here by the thousands. Seeing gray whales at our Magdalena Bay whale watching camp on the Pacific coast, is a highlight for many. The mothers arrive starting in late December to give birth and nurture their calves before swimming north to Arctic waters, starting in late March and April. On the Gulf of California side of the Baja peninsula there are blue, minke, fin and orcas and we often see these while we are kayaking from mid-January to mid-March. Seeing whales is a big draw for many and one reason our peak season is generally mid-January through late March. If you don't care so much about whales, and warmer weather is of paramount importance, then it's best to come outside of the whale season. You will still see plenty of marine life, and some animals, like manta rays, are more active in the late spring.
Compared to much of North America, Baja weather is idyllic. Even the coldest day in Baja is mighty nice! With the proper clothing and expectations, it's always the "best" time to be in Baja! But consider your wishes and the experience you want to have when deciding when to go. Always feel welcome to contact our staff if you have questions.
Sea Kayak Adventures Physical Requirements
Here at Sea Kayak Adventures our first and foremost goal is for you to have an enjoyable and safe experience. While most of our trips are suitable for beginners, some of our trips are more active than others and it’s important that you understand the physical requirement of the trip you choose.
All of our sea kayaking trips are active adventures that involve some level of physical exertion and possible exposure to the elements including but not limited to wind, rain, heat, sun, cold temperatures and cold water conditions. Sea Kayak Adventures is able to accommodate people with physical limitations, disabilities and medical conditions; please speak with your Adventure Consultant if you think you will require any additional assistance while on the trip. We ask that you consult your Doctor if you have health or medical conditions that could impact your ability to participate in an active and outdoor adventure. In general, all trip participants must be able to do the following:
- Wear all protective and safety equipment that are required by Sea Kayak Adventures and recommended/required by industry wide standards.
- Load and unload, on their own or with the aid of a qualified companion, the bus and/or van providing transportation for Sea Kayak Adventures activities.
- Reach the water access points (put-in and take-out) on their own, or with the aid of a qualified companion.
- Enter and exit the raft, kayak and/or inflatable kayak on their own or with the aid of a qualified companion.
- Remain seated and balanced in a floating raft, canoe, kayak or inflatable kayak w/ the aid of adaptive equipment, if necessary.
- Float on their back when entering moving and still water. The participant must be capable of turning from face-down to face-up in the water with the aid of a Personal Floatation Device and must be able to hold their breath while under water.
- Remain calm and keep breathing under control in the event of a swim.
- Climb into the kayak, with the help of another person, should an involuntary swim happen at any point on the water.
- Make progress toward the shoreline or a boat by swimming in moving water and must be able to exit the water and ascend the shoreline once reached.
- Participate as an active paddler when instructed by the guide for the duration of trip.
- Move about the campsite on their own or with the aid of a qualified companion on all trips that include overnight camping and/or lunch.
Whether you are an avid sea kayaker, or it is your first time, you’ll enjoy these incredible trips, and share in our passion for adventure, commitment to conserving the environment, and relishing unique experiences. For those new to the sport, kayaking is easy to learn in the sheltered waters that we visit, and we provide all of the camping gear, kayaking equipment and guidance needed. In addition, we keep our groups small to allow you to not only travel intimately among nature, but to ensure you receive the necessary attention from our guides.
WHALE WATCHING CAMP PACKING LIST
The packing list outlined below is meant to serve as a guide to help you plan, prepare and outfit yourself for your upcoming travels. We have provided our best recommendations and suggestions. If you pack according to this list, you will have what you need.
Our whale camp is located on an island on the Pacific Coast side of Baja. At times it is quite a bit cooler on the Pacific side than the Gulf of California side. Fog and mist are common. When out in the pangas (motorboats) for whale watching, it can be windy and cool. If you’re lucky and the sun is out during the day you will need to focus on sun-protection. However, evenings are always cool and the weather is highly variable. Thus, be sure to pay attention to our recommendations about cold-weather gear.
Gear Provided by Sea Kayak Adventures
Sea Kayak Adventures provides all necessary equipment for your selected tour. This includes all necessary camping equipment for your tour. At whale camp we have standing canvas tents, each with two cots. In addition, we provide a sleeping pad, sleeping bag, sleeping bag liner, and pillow with pillow case.
Sea Kayak Adventures trips are best enjoyed if you travel light. We think it is wise to avoid checking any luggage under the plane. If you do check a bag, make sure that you have everything that is either essential or would be hard to replace, with you in your carry-on.
We recommend packing in one soft sided, roll-on (ideally a non-hard-sided version) or duffle luggage that meets carry-on requirements. Alternatively, if you must have a checked bag; make sure your personal item is packed with your “hard to replace items.” You will be able to leave luggage not needed for your kayaking trip in hotel storage.
We also recommend bringing one small day pack. This dual purpose pack can serve as your personal item during your flights as well as your day pack for hikes during the tour. Outside zippered pockets are nice and allow you to organize your travel gear. Carry medications, travel documents, important personal items and other essentials or “hard-to-replace” items in this on the plane.
Baja Whale Watching Packing List:
- Passport – must be valid for at least six (6) months after the date of your arrival
- A photo of your passport on your phone. A photocopy of your passport, inside a ziplock bag and stowed elsewhere in your luggage. (As an additional precautionary measure, consider leaving a photocopy with family or friends at home as well.)
- Copy of your air tickets with ticket numbers, placed elsewhere in your luggage and/or email someone back home your air ticket information in case you lose your phone.
- Credit and/or Debit/ATM card that works internationally, ideally with chip technology (Some banks want you to notify them of travel plans ahead of time which often can be done online.) In Loreto there are two banks where you can get pesos using your ATM debit card. The one with the best rate is Banco Azteca.
- Plan to use cash (pesos) for small purchases, taxis and incidental tipping
- USD, CAD or Euros for guide gratuities at the end of your trip
- Watch or small travel clock with alarm (if you are taking a phone, this can serve as your alarm clock)
- Money belt or concealed passport carrier to carry your passport, travel documents and money, hidden under your clothing
- TSA-accessible lock for luggage security when not on your person (optional- can buy these at any travel or outdoor recreation store)
We highly suggest that all of your kayak clothing is synthetic or wool, not cotton. Synthetics are also ideal for activity, as they wick away moisture from the body and dry quickly. Added SPF protection in your clothing is always a great option for Baja. We recommend keeping one outfit out of the following packing guidelines as a “pre and post-activity” outfit for mornings and nights at camp.
- One - two pair long, lightweight, nylon pants with zipper pockets (zip off legs give you more options)
- One- two pair nylon shorts
- One light-weight bottom layer like a long-sleeve synthetic shirt or merino wool t-shirt
- One medium-weight layer of fleece – synthetic or merino wool for warmth
- One heavier-weight layer of fleece OR a “puffy jacket” of synthetic down
- One windbreaker or light raincoat (better) that truly stops wind, for use on the pangas when whale watching
- Sarong (optional, but super handy for changing clothes, laying on the ground, etc.)
- One - three short sleeve button-up shirt(s) or t-shirt(s)
- One - three long sleeve shirts, ideally with SPF protection
- One wide-brim, tie-on hat
- Three pair light synthetic or merino wool socks
- One pair tennis or running shoes, to use for hiking and for casual camp time that can get sandy
- One pair of sandals with ankle straps to wear while kayaking, on the beaches, walking around towns, etc.
- One buff - for sun protection as well as wind protection on cold days
- One warm beanie cap or ski cap (especially important on whale watching trips and November to March when cooler winds can be present)
Casual Pre & Post Activity Clothing
- One - two other comfortable pairs of bottoms: pants, shorts, skirts, dresses, etc.
- One pair other lightweight shoes for time in town
- One - two tops: short sleeve, long sleeve and/or button up shirt(s)
- One light sweater or jacket for warmth in the evenings and mornings
- One pair pajamas
*The suggested numbers of clothing items are based on a one week adventure tour. We suggest using 1-2 kayaking or touring outfits, and 1-2 camp outfits that you will reuse throughout the trip. You are welcome to bring extra clothing for before or after your trip.
- Retaining strap for glasses and sunglasses
- Flashlight or headlamp
- One pair of paddling gloves
- One pair of light wool gloves if you get cold easily
- Small day pack or fanny pack for hikes
- One large-mouth water bottle, 1 liter or larger
- Camp towel (small lightweight towel, backpacking style works great)
- Camera and appropriate charging mechanism (we do have a solar panel at whale camp that can recharge phones but it doesn't always work based on sunshine)
- Back up battery pack for electronic devices
- Waterproof camera or valuables case
- Binoculars or monocular
- Glasses or contacts if needed
- Polarized sunglasses
- Reusable dirty/clean gear bags for wet or soiled items
- Small reusable, leak-proof bags for liquid or spillable personal items
- Books or E-reader, pen and notepad, headphones, etc. If you want to listen to music, please do it privately with earbuds or headphones
Toiletries and First Aid
- Standard toiletry kit including general hygiene products, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, etc. (keep liquids under 3.38 oz.(100ml) for carry-on)
- Insect repellent
- Sunscreen and lip balm with SPF 20-50
- Pre-moistened toilette packets or disposable shower wipes to refresh
- Prescriptions and any necessary personal medicines (please be sure to bring necessary prescriptions and any needed emergency medicine such as an EpiPen, Benadryl, etc)
- Heavy duty skin lotion for dry, sun-baked, and salted skin
- Small squeeze bottle of hand-sanitizer gel
- Shampoo and soap (we recommend biodegradable, multi-purpose options)
- *Optional female urinary device (allows women to urinate standing up without removing clothing). Silicon or hard plastic ones work great. Popular name brands include Gogirl and Shewee.
Mosquitoes and no-see-ums (sand flies) are sometimes present during our Baja tours. Please ensure that you pack a quality insect repellent and consider full coverage clothing for the evenings and time around camp. The full coverage clothing will provide great sun protection as an added bonus. We recommend repellent with DEET or Picaridin Insect Repellent (Picaridin is less toxic and less harsh on gear/clothing than DEET. Here is one example of a Picaridin-based repellent.
Some of our Favorite Books about Baja
Reveles, D. (2004). Tequila, Lemon & Salt from Baja...Tales of Love, Faith and Magic
The border town of Tecate comes to colorful life and the lives of its inhabitants unfold, full of surprises and a few broken dreams in this collection of stories from Daniel Reveles.
Reveles, D. (2007). Guacamole Dip: From Baja...Tales of Love, Faith and Magic
The beloved storyteller takes readers back to Tecate, Baja California, for another helping - his tales are always humorous, often magical, and sometimes poignant. Reveles captures the Hispanic culture and flare perfectly.
Minch, J. (2017). Roadside Geology and Biology of Baja California, 2nd Ed
The book contains road logs that provide kilometer-by–kilometer highlights of the roadside geology and biology of specific areas.
Botello, J. (1998). Other Side: Journeys In Baja
A tale of two journeys, one outer and one inner. The outer explores the length, breadth, and depth of Baja and its rich history, its vibrant people, and the haunting beauty of the land. The inner journey involves a border world where cultures clash illuminating the landscape of the soul.
Swartz, S.L. (2014). Lagoon Time: A Guide to Grey Whales
An extraordinary first-hand account of the experiences and discoveries made by Dr. Steven Swartz and his colleagues in San Ignacio Lagoon, Baja California Sur, Mexico, that provides visitors a look into the human and natural history of Laguna San Ignacio
Crosby, H. (2010). Cave Paintings of Baja California
The Cave Paintings of Baja California are considered one of the 5 most significant areas in the world for pictographic murals and the only one in the Western Hemisphere.
Keir, D. (2016). Baja California Land of Missions
This book contains a detailed history of the activities by the Spanish and others attempting to colonize the peninsula of California from 1535 to 1855.
Aitchison, S. (2010). The desert islands of Mexico's Sea of Cortez
The desert islands in the Sea of Cortez are little known except to a few intrepid tourists, sailors, and fishermen. Though at first glance these stark islands may appear barren, they are a refuge for an astounding variety of plants and animals
Alderfer, J., & Hess, P. (2011). National Geographic backyard guide to the birds of North America
Essential for the millions of Americans who watch and feed birds in their backyards—whether experienced birders or new birding enthusiasts.
Berger, B. (1998). Almost an island: Travels in Baja California
Berger takes readers beyond the Baja of guidebooks and offers a wildly entertaining look at the real Baja California.
Carwardine, M. (1995). Whales, dolphins, and porpoises
The perfect introduction to 96 species of whale, dolphin, and porpoise. This pocket-size guide is essential for the family reference shelf, helping you to identify each species and discover more about them.
Day, T. (2006). Whale watcher: A comprehensive guide to the whales of the world and where to see them
Every year, more than four million people go whale watching, and the numbers keep growing.
Dedina, S. (2000). Saving the Gray Whale: People, Politics, and Conservation in Baja California
Once hunted by whalers and now the darling of ecotourists, the gray whale has become part of the culture, history, politics, and geography of Mexico's most isolated region.
Gotshall, D. (1998). Sea of Cortez marine animals: A guide to common fishes and invertebrates, Baja California to Panama
Howell, S. (1999). A Bird-finding Guide to Mexico
With a rich variety of stunning avifauna, Mexico provides the first taste of the Neotropics for many birders. At last here is a guide to Mexico's best birdwatching sites, from Baja California to the Yucatan Peninsula.
Hupp, B., & Malone, M. (2008). The edge of the Sea of Cortez: Tidewalkers' guide to the upper Gulf of California
Krutch, J. (1961). The Forgotten Peninsula; a Naturalist in Baja California
Krutch describes the desert plants and marine animals as well as the human and natural history of Baja California.
McPeak, R. (2000). Amphibians and Reptiles of Baja California
Covers species that occur on the Baja California Peninsula, islands of the Gulf of California, and the islands along the Pacific Coast.
Niemann, G. (2002). Baja Legends: The historic characters, events, and locations that put Baja California on the map
Perlo, B. (2006). Birds of Mexico and Central America
This is the only field guide to illustrate and describe every species of bird in Central America from Mexico to Panama, including Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. This handsome work covers more than 1,500 species.
Rebman, J., & Roberts, N. (2012). Baja California Plant Field Guide (3rd ed.)
This new edition of the Baja California Plant Field Guide discusses or describes over 715 different plants in more than 350 genera in 111 families.
Russell, D. (2001). Eye of the Whale epic passage from Baja to Siberia
Named a Best Book of the Year by three major newspapers upon its initial publication, and now available for the first time in paperback, Eye of the Whale offers an exhilarating blend of adventure and natural history as Dick Russell follows the migration of the gray whale from Mexico's Baja peninsula to the Arctic's Bering Strait.
Steinbeck, J., & Ricketts, E. (1976). The log from the Sea of Cortez: The narrative portion of the book, Sea of Cortez
1941, here reissued with a profile "About Ed Ricketts" In search of a respite from the national stage, Steinbeck and his close friend, biologist Ed Ricketts, embarked on a month long marine specimen-collecting expedition in the Gulf of California, which resulted in their collaboration on the Sea of Cortez.
Thomson, D., & Findley, L. (1979). Reef fishes of the Sea of Cortez: The rocky-shore fishes of the Gulf of California
Wilson, B., & Wilson, A. (2006). The complete whale-watching handbook: A guide to whales, dolphins, and porpoises of the world
Weather Report - Check the local weather before you go.
Trip Advisor - Read guest reviews
Sea of Cortez -The amazing geology, flore, and fauna of this region
Common Birds of Magdalena Bay - Learn about birds you'll see while kayaking.
Birds of the Sea of Cortez - Get to know the birds of the area
The Migration of Gray Whales - Learn the migration patterns of the magnificent Gray Whales
Insiders Guide to Loreto, Baja - Everything to see and do in Loreto
Terms & Conditions
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