Sea Kayak Islands of Loreto Bay National Marine Park
Experience a remote area few people see. Encompassing 60 miles of coastline within the Loreto Bay National Marine Park, circumnavigating Isla Carmen in a sea kayak is one of Baja's best adventures. The Sierra Giganta Range plunges into the Sea of Cortez, creating a stunningly beautiful backdrop during your Baja kayaking trip.
Baja kayaking in the crown jewel of the Sea of Cortez: Carmen Island. Cliffs of red-hued basalt rising sharply out of the sea and the bold outlines of towering cacti provide the backdrop for paddling sea kayaks 60 miles on this little known, classic 9-day paddle of Baja California’s Isla Carmen, the largest island in Loreto Bay National Marine Park in the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California).
While visitors frequent the southern tip of Isla Carmen, the northern part of the island is a place few humans will ever set foot. On this unique paddle, you'll have a chance to snorkel with brilliant king angelfish and lobster, watch plunge-diving blue-footed boobies, and search for a variety of whales (fin, humpback, blue whales).
You'll even find a historic element on this wildlife and nature tour. Mid-way around the island, you'll make a brief stop at Salinas Bay to visit an abandoned 19th century salt mine and coral chapel. A two-day paddle rounding the island’s remote north shore leads to Balandra Bay, where you can hike an arroyo into the island’s desert interior past saguaro-like cardon cactus and wild figs in the company of desert iguanas and big-horned sheep. From your tented camps in sheltered coves, watch vermillion skies as they illuminate the banded layers of the Sierra de la Giganta range, the plume of a whale lingering in the still air, and leaping manta rays flopping back into the glassy water as guides dish out margaritas and delicious authentic Mexican food.
Each day's paddle will be around 4-5 hours of moderately paced paddling, stopping every 2 hours to rest. We'll spend the afternoons exploring by foot and snorkel. Activities include a nature hike up an arroyo, as well as opportunities for beachcombing, wildlife viewing, photography, stargazing, and swimming in crystal clear waters.
Note on Itinerary: Approximate paddling distances listed and can vary depending on group size and weather. We will do our best to adhere to the schedule listed above. However, the itinerary may change due to reasons beyond our control such as wind, waves or inclement weather. Please Note: Although there is a very good chance we'll see whales and other marine life throughout the week, the frequency, proximity, and quality of sightings will ultimately be determined by the wildlife.
Images & Videos
Arrive in Loreto
Upon your arrival in Loreto take a quick cab ride to your chosen hotel and check into your room (Not included in trip cost). Spend your afternoon exploring the beautiful town of Loreto. You can tour the historic Mission located in the center of town, stroll through the local market and dine on authentic Mexican cuisine before meeting your guides in the Hacienda Suites hotel lobby for an evening orientation meeting.
Please see our Baja Travel Guide for full details on travel to and from Baja.
Kayaking in the Sea of Cortez
After breakfast the group meets outside the same hotel to board the van for the drive south to our launch point near Puerto Escondido. At the beach the guides will give a comprehensive sea kayak instruction and then we'll paddle the loaded kayaks to Honeymoon cove at Danzante Island for lunch. We’ll have the time to do some hiking or snorkeling. After a short break we’ll paddle to Playa Blanca at Carmen Island which will be our first campsite. This beach will offer good swimming and snorkeling over reef as well as hiking and fossil identification opportunities. We’ll have time to explore the shoreline before our hors d’oeuvres.
Sea Kayaking and Camping
We’ll start kayaking around the southern point of Carmen Island. On our way there will be great chances to see different kinds of birds like cormorants, blue-footed boobies, frigate birds, etc. We’ll make our first stop at Punta Colorada to have lunch. This beach is good for snorkeling. We’ll jump back into our kayaks and keep paddling while seeing the rock formations including long cliffs of limestone. Our next campsite is Arrollo Blanco, which is a big beautiful white sand arroyo surrounded by fossil beds. We can paddle into a nearby sea cave just to the south. This beach offers great hiking and snorkeling.
Ghost town at Salinas Bay
After a hot, filling breakfast, we will kayak along the white cliffs to Bahía Salinas. We will be getting closer to a water source so the chance to see big horned sheep will be bigger. We may take a break here depending on how the group feels. We will arrive at Salinas Bay, ready for a well deserved lunch break. After lunch we’ll hike into the abandoned ruins of a salt mine.
Kayaking in the Sea of Cortez
Be ready for the longest paddling day as we continue kayaking along the shore line, exploring. At Lengua de Grava beach, we will stop for lunch and a snorkeling break. After, we will head around Punta Lobos where there will be a great chance to discover sea lions. Continuing our paddle, and if the weather allows, we will kayak into the caves that are located just before our next campsite, El Refugio. This is a beautiful white sandy beach and there will be lots of time to explore and talk about the flora.
Kayaking in the Sea of Cortez
After breakfast we will jump back into our kayaks and start paddling along the cliffs. After a relaxing lunch break at Otho beach, we will continue kayaking to our next campsite at Balandra Bay.
Kayaking in the Sea of Cortez
Balandra Bay is a fishermans camp. We will spend the day at this beach, relaxing, exploring and resting our paddles. There is a nice hiking trail and more snorkeling opportunities.
Kayaking in the Sea of Cortez
After waking, fully rested and refreshed, we hop back into our kayaks. We will stop briefly at Marquer Bay to have lunch and snorkel. After this we continue paddling to our next campsite La Terraza where we take time to appreciate the cacti vegetation of this area.
Kayaking in the Sea of Cortez
We’ll start our way to our last campsite El Faro. The large sandy point of this beach offers some of the best wildlife viewing in the area. Enjoy long hikes north to canyons and south to fossil beds and beautiful white sand beaches. Snorkeling along rocks south of camp will offer more sea wildlife viewings.
Return to Loreto
After a final lunch, we break camp and paddle to our take-out site around 2 PM. Load van and proceed to Loreto. Check into your hotel. Join your guides and fellow travelers for a No host farewell group dinner at a favorite local restaurant.
Say good-bye to lovely Loreto and head back to the airport to fly home, or extend your vacation in this charming village (at our preferred rates). Day tour and add-on options available.
* Note on Itinerary: We will do our best to adhere to the schedule listed above. However, the itinerary may change due to reasons beyond our control such as wind, waves or inclement weather.
Dates & Rates
|Dates||Adult (USD)||Child (USD)|
|Apr 14, 2023 to Apr 22, 2023 |
Lowest Tier Price
2022/2023 Season Pricing:
5-7 Guests $2990
8-13 Guests $2290
Single Supplement: Solo travelers will always have their own tent during kayaking tours, at no additional cost. Single kayaks are available to reserve and use throughout the trip for an additional cost of $100. Please note, you must have previous ocean paddling experience to reserve a single kayak.
- Full services of our Adventure Consultants
- Professional naturalist and bi-lingual guides
- All meals and beverages as indicated on the itinerary
- All transportation while on tour
- All kayaking, camping and snorkeling equipment
- Panga supported kayaking tour
Tour Does Not Include:
Transportation to and from the airport
Hotel before and after the tour
$30 National Parks & Biosphere Reserves access fees required by itinerary
Items of a personal nature
WEATHER-CAUSED TRIP ALTERATIONS
Strong winds and/or rough water conditions sometimes prevent our trips from going as scheduled. We are at the mercy of nature, as well as the local Port Captains who determine if ports are open or closed. In particular, on our La Paz-based trips, winds may prevent us from crossing from the Port to Espiritu Santo Island which may also be reason for the Port Captain to close the port or prohibit crossing. In these cases there are different solutions. Sometimes we have to delay the crossing by a day or two, or have to leave Espiritu Santo Island a day or two early. In these cases we provide a substitute activity for the day(s) we cannot kayak. If the weather forecast predicts a series of days with strong winds, we also reserve the right to transfer the trip to Magdalena Bay on the Pacific Coast, which is almost always in calm, protected waters. We recognize this isn't ideal, however we have no control over nature. Most people prefer to still have a trip going, versus no kayak trip at all. Decisions to alter trips are not made until the last minute*, since we are basing our decisions on wind and weather forecasts that can change. Your guides will inform you at the evening orientation meeting if the trip location has changed or the itinerary has been altered. We use apps like Windy or Windfinder Pro to monitor winds and forecasts. The safety and security of our trips is the primary focus of our decisions.
If you purchase Trip Insurance and wish to cancel on the day of the trip, the "Trip Interruption" coverage may apply if Mexican authorities have closed the Port. If you have questions about your coverage, call the toll-free number on your Travel Insurance policy to ask. Neither our guides nor our office staff can determine if coverage will apply. Sea Kayak Adventures does reserve the right to modify and alter trip itineraries and in these circumstances will not provide any refund of trip monies paid.
*Last-minute means no sooner than noon the day prior. Final information will be provided at the evening orientation meeting.
ALL PRICES IN US DOLLARS. We will do our best to adhere to the itineraries and trip descriptions listed on our website. However, tour itineraries or sub contractors (such as taxi, cruise boats or hotels) may change slightly due to reasons beyond our control including but not limited to Acts of God, wind, waves, inclement weather or other. We always welcome you to call us to clarify any item - often this is the best way to fully clarify expectations - call us collect or on our toll-free number. You will be sent pre-trip email with latest details within a month of your tour - it is your responsibility to check in with us prior to your trip to see if you have all the information you need. We will always do our best to provide you with the best possible tour and to fully meet your expectations to the best of our ability.
FAQ & More
Is previous kayaking experience necessary?
Our tours are suitable for novices. However, this particular tour is more-kayak focused than our standard Baja and BC tours, and therefore best suited to those with some prior kayaking experience or a regular fitness program. Call us with any questions! 1-800-616-1943.
How do I get to Loreto?
Please see our Baja Travel Guide for full details on travel to and from Baja.
Are your tour prices in USD?
Yes, all of our tour pricing is in US Dollars.
What’s included in this kayak package? What’s not included?
Included: Skilled professional guide services, ground transportation, motorboat-support to carry gear, hotel nights as indicated on itinerary, snorkeling equipment, camping equipment including tents, sleeping bags, liners, and sleeping pads. Our camping trips include all meals from lunch on the first day to lunch on the last day.
Not Included: Airfare, transportation to and from airport, gratuities, $25 National Parks & Biosphere Reserves access fees required by itinerary, and items of a personal nature.
What kind of kayaks do you use?
For all of our Baja tours we use high quality, fiberglass kayaks, made by Seward. The majority of our fleet is comprised of tandems, as these boats offer the greatest stability, speed, and ease of paddling. There are typically a small number of single kayaks present on the tour, which will be utilized by the guides. Depending on weather conditions, and interest, they may allow guests to rotate into singles; however this will be at the guide's' discretion based on safety and the paddling objectives for the day. We also have a limited number of solo kayaks available to reserve and use throughout the trip (for an additional cost) for paddlers who have ocean kayaking experience.
Are your kayak trips motorboat supported?
Yes, if at any time a guest does not want to paddle they are welcome to ride in the panga instead.
Can I paddle a single kayak?
We have single kayaks available to reserve and use throughout the trip (for an additional cost of $100) for paddlers who have previous ocean paddling experience. If you would like to reserve a single kayak for your trip you will need to contact our Adventure Consultants to add this to your reservation and provide a summary of your ocean paddling experience.
What are the physical requirements for this trip?
When stopping at shore, you should be able to climb in and out of the kayaks on your own. They will be floating in calf-deep water. Your guides are happy to assist, but balance and limberness are required. When you get to your evening campsite, all group members must to be able to help carry the kayaks above the high tide line, in teams of 6-8, before the group disperses. You will change camp sites almost every night, but may have a layover day. Camp sites are assigned by the National Park Service immediately prior to the tour.
What’s camp like? Are there toilets and showers at camp?
When you get to your evening campsite all group members must be able to help carry the kayaks above the high tide line. You will change campsites almost every night, but may have a layover day. Campsites are assigned by the National Park Service immediately prior to the tour. We endeavor to secure the very best campsites for the natural beauty and amenities of the area. Your guides will give a demonstration of how to set up and take down your provided dome tent. We also will provide you with a sleeping bag, liner sheet, pillow and an inflatable thermarest sleeping pad. There will be a kitchen/dining area and shade tarps where you can sit back and relax.
While kayaking, we can only carry enough fresh water for drinking and cooking. There are no fresh water sources on most of the coastline and islands we visit. You can clean up with saltwater and soap off above the high tide line, or bring disposable shower wipes. A porta potty will fit into a hatch of the kayak or on the panga support boat, and will be transported to each campsite and set into a sheltered area for solid waste. Liquid waste can be expelled below the high tide line, or in a separate porta-potty bucket.
Is it safe to be around whales in sea kayaks?
As with all adventure travel, there is certainly an inherent risk that comes along with this sort of travel, as well as multiple external factors and variables that are outside of our control. However, we do take every measure to ensure that you and your family are in a safe situation while paddling. We paddle large, expedition style Sea Kayaks. Their size, girth, and weight make them very stable to paddle. We have never experienced a situation in which a whale has harmed a kayaker in the water. The whales are very aware of their surrounding, and we maintain a safe distance at all times.
What happens if it’s too windy to paddle?
If it’s too windy to paddle your guides will have alternative activities for guests to enjoy. There are opportunities to snorkel, hike or just relax on the beach with a margarita. We plan our itineraries to minimize risks posed by weather, but there is always an element of unpredictability in nature. The risk capsizing is reduced by our stable boats, but exists. All of our kayak guides are certified in kayak rescue.
What are the highlights of this tour?
The Islands of Loreto Bay are high traffic areas only to whales, dolphins, and other marine life! Boats are few and far between, and even other kayakers are seldom encountered. A few coves are popular lunch sites for passing boats or local fisherman, but otherwise you may feel as if you're alone in the wilderness. The Loreto Bay National Park Service assigns campsites on these islands, and only allows one group per site. Barring mix-ups or weather emergencies, your tour will have the beach to yourself.
When is the best time to go to see whales in the Sea of Cortez?
The islands of Loreto National Marine Park, located in the Sea of Cortez, are home for 6 different species of whales including Blue, Fin, Sei, Humpback, Bryde's and Pilot whales. From January through April look for spectacular sightings of Blue, Fin and Humpback whales in the warm, calm waters near Loreto on our Sea of Cortez Islands tours. Magdalena Bay and San Ignacio Lagoon, on the opposite side of the peninsula, are both world-renowned winter nursery grounds of the Gray whales. From late-January to mid-March is the best time to see gray whales. We operate both Gray Whale Base Camps and Kayak/Whale Watching Combos during this short season.
Can I fish?
In general, fishing in allowed in Loreto/La Paz. You would need to obtain a fishing license either before arriving or upon arrival. Our guides will not allow fishing if you are unable to produce a valid license. You will also need to bring all of your own fishing equipment. Along our kayaking routes there are areas where fishing is allowed, the guides will let you know where fishing is prohibited. Also, fishing is only allowed at the guide's discretion, as we have an itinerary, schedule and other group members that we have to take into consideration.
What gear do I need?
Sea Kayak Adventures will provide you with a detailed packing list prior to your trip. We provide all of the necessary camping, paddling and snorkeling equipment, which you will need to fully enjoy your adventure. If you are interested in more specific information, check out our general Baja packing list here! If you have any questions, or need help deciding what to bring, you can call or e-mail one of our friendly Adventure Consultants at any time for some extra advice!
What kind of food will I eat? Do you accommodate dietary restrictions?
Our renowned wilderness meals are prepared daily by our guides using local, fresh, healthy ingredients. In Baja you can expect an authentic dining experience, with savory dishes like chiles rellenos, tostadas, ceviche, and chicken mole. We even serve delicious desserts like brownies and pineapple upside-down cake! Each morning, we serve up freshly brewed coffee or tea. Throughout the day we provide an abundance of local fruits, vegetables, and other snacks. Wine and mixed drinks are served with hors d’oeuvres each evening for happy hour.
We do our best to accommodate special dietary requests, working within the parameters of the destinations in which we operate. If you have a very strict diet, we recommend packing extra snacks that you know you can eat.
How many guests per tour?
To keep our group size small and our impact minimal, we typically limit our tours to 14 people or less. Our standard minimum to confirm a departure is 4 guests for our Isla Carmen Circumnavigation kayak tour.
What’s the weather like in Baja?
Please check out this great website Weather Underground for temperature averages in Baja.
Will I have cell phone reception?
Contact your service provider for the best options for taking your cell phone to a different country. You are unlikely to receive cell service while paddling, but WiFi is available in many coffee shops in town. Your guides will be equipped with radios during the tour in case of emergency.
Is there a single supplement fee for solo travelers?
Our tour costs are based on double occupancy on any included hotel nights. Solo travelers who would like their own single hotel room can pay a single supplement (see "Dates & Rates" above for the single supplement price for this tour), or can be matched up with another solo traveler of the same gender if one is available and willing to share. If we are unable to pair you with another solo traveler, we must apply the single supplement charge to cover our hotel costs. Solo travelers will always have their own tent during kayaking tours, at no additional cost.
Where can I store my luggage while I’m on tour?
You can leave your luggage at your tour hotel while you are on tour. We recommend getting a luggage lock if you are leaving any electronics in the bags. We’ve never had any issues with guests leaving their bags at the hotel but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
What are your Terms and Conditions?
Please see our full Terms & Conditions HERE.
These trips are always extraordinary
We returned for the 6th time for the unique miracle of the Baja, its stark land and rich sea life with snorkeling in no current or surf and the incredibly informed, capable and caring guides who make the kayaking fun and safe. These trips are always extraordinary. Already eager for next year!
I highly recommend this company
I did the Carmen circumnavigation in November of 2022. It was excellent. This was my fifth trip with SKA, they have all been outstanding. The guides find the right balance of keeping us safe and letting us explore on our own if we want. The food is always top-notch. And the guides are always very helpful and knowledgeable. I highly recommend this company for Baja kayak trips.
Another excellent Carmen Circumnavigation
This was my fourth trip with ROW and my second trip around Carmen. It was the best yet. Alejandro kept us well-fed, safe and provided excellent leadership. The kayaking was challenging but doable. The snorkeling was the best I've ever experienced. The dolphins came by our camp less than 20 meters offshore. The stargazing was "out of this world". And the weather perfect. I highly recommend this trip.
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