LORETO

  1. Loreto is the oldest modern settlement in Baja. It was the first place settled by Western civilization in all of California, and the Spanish used it as a base to expand into the rest of the Baja peninsula and into what is now the US state of California.
  2. Founded in 1697, the Mission of our Lady of Loreto still stands today.
  3. Loreto used to be the capital of Baja until a hurricane devastated the city in 1829.
  4. Baja's best snorkeling season is from June through November, when the waters are clearest. However, the cooler waters of December though April bring more nutrients, and thus attract the larger marine mammals.
  5. Loreto alone has 160 different species of algae, octopus, clams, snails and marine animals.
  6. Loreto has 5 islands located off it's coast. We visit two of them on our kayak tours, and have a snorkeling extension to the third.
  7. Just 9 miles from Loreto are large cave paintings dated back to more than 10,000 years ago. The meaning of the large cave paintings in Loreto are unknown. You can visit these cave paintings on our Baja Desert Culture & History day tour.
  8. The islands of Loreto Bay were designated a nature reserve and National Marine Park in 1996 by presidential decree. 2065 square km are protected, which hosts 72% of all marine mammal species in Mexico.
  9. In 2005, the National Marine Park joined the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Islands in the Sea of Cortez, and now are internationally protected. With over 800 species of marine life and 600 species of plant, many of which are endemic to the area, the Sea of Cortez hosts the greatest biodiversity in the UNESCO World Heritage Site register.
  10. The efforts to protect Loreto's natural resources were entirely citizen-driven, and it took 4 years of petitioning to enact protections on these stunning places. In our initial days of operation, we witnessed first-hand the destruction of the sea column by dredge netting prior to conservation efforts and the decimation of precious resource. Now, with over 20 years in the area, we have seen the return of whales, a steady increase in sea turtles, waters once again teeming with tropical fish, and the change of a culture toward environmental stewardship.

MAGDALENA BAY & GRAY WHALES

  1. "Magdalena Bay" is a general term for a series of lagoons on the Pacific side of Baja.
  2. Magdalena Bay is just two hours drive from the international airport of Loreto.
  3. It is one of three lagoons in which gray whales calve in Baja, but by far the easiest to access without sacrificing the quality of whale encounter. 
  4. The Gray Whales have the largest migration of any mammal, and may travel up to 10,000 mi in a single year. They swim from the Arctic Circle down to Baja's warm waters to mate and give birth.
  5. Though most well-known for gray whales, Magdalena Bay is also a destination for sport and commercial fishing.
  6. Magdalena Bay is under strict federal protection. Whale watching and fishing are both highly regulated to best preserve this area.
  7. The only way to view the gray whales is by the federally-licensed skiffs. No kayaking, paddleboarding, or swimming is allowed, which is just as well because the whales are not interested in or comfortable with such activities.
  8. Much of the lagoons that make up Magdalena Bay are lined with Mangroves, which makes this estuary environment an extremely valuable fish nursery and bird habitat.  
  9. The rich feeding grounds of the bay also tempt dolphins and sea lions to fish in these calm waters. The dolphins even try to eat the milk from the nursing gray whales as a high-fat dietary supplement.
  10. In our permitted whale camp site, right where the lagoon meets the sea, whales congregate in the deeper waters to teach their calves about currents. When the calves can swim out past the current into the Pacific ocean, they are ready to journey home to the Arctic. Best of all, we can view whales right from the sandy shores of our camp - a feature unique to ROW SKA!

LA PAZ

  1. La Paz means "Peace" in Spanish. It is the capital of Baja California Sur.
  2. La Paz was settled in 1720, abandoned in the 1750s, and permanently settled in 1811. There were a smattering of settlements in these years so brief that they barely make record. Resistance from the native population, epidemics, and piracy all contributed to these short-lived attempts.
  3. La Paz was originally valued due to the world-famous pearls from the Bay of La Paz. The Queen of England supposedly has pearls from La Paz in her crown. However, in the 1930's, the oyster populations were ruined by disease.
  4. La Paz industries post-pearl harvesting include silver mining, agriculture, fishing and now tourism.
  5. Local La Paz fisherman were hired by tourists in the 1990's to watch and photograph the whales instead of hunting them, which initially started the Baja whale watching movement in the Sea of Cortez.
  6. The desert island of Espiritu Santo, just off the coast of La Paz, is 23,800 acres. It is uninhabited, and recently became a National Park. This is the island around which we kayak!
  7. Los Islotes, a small group of islands off the northern tip of Espiritu Santo, is home to a colony of friendly sea lions. You can snorkel with these playful pups, who are well-accustomed to human visitors.
  8. Fishing is excellent in the waters off-shore of La Paz, but catch and release is encouraged. Fishing is not allowed on Espiritu Santo. Instead, consider snorkeling with these colorful reef creatures!
  9. Juvenile whale sharks winter in the nutrient-rich waters in the Bay of La Paz to feed on the plankton of this area. Though federally regulated, you can snorkel with these remarkable animals!
  10. Malecon Road, La Paz' boardwalk, is a focal point for tourists due to its plethora of stores, bars and restaurants. At over 6 km long, the malecon offers an incredible ocean view and a great place for a stroll.

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