Isla San Jose Kayak Tour

Baja's Sea of Cortez is the world's most iconic winter sea kayaking destination, hands down. The reasons are endless. Warm, crystal-clear water, spectacular desert scenery, sunny skies and an astounding variety of marine life including whales, dolphins, sea lions, sea birds and countless fish. These are just a few of the many reasons.

Since 1993 Sea Kayak Adventures has been pioneering trips in Baja, and our Isla San Jose trip is a favorite.  The island is more difficult to reach than some other Baja sea kayak destinations, and that is the main reason few others venture here.  Our itinerary takes advantage of this by including a possible overnight at Isla Espirtu Santos and a chance to swim with sea lions!  Because of the island's north/south orientation, we only offer these trips during October/early November and April, the times of year that traditionally have less wind. 

Like our Loreto to La Paz trip, this kayak journey takes you to waters that few others paddle.  We usually have the entire island to ourselves, and camp on expansive beaches of glorious white sand.  In addition, this trip features some of the best snorkeling of all our trips with a vast variety of colorful fish.  Isla San Jose features some of  the most spectacular paddling scenery found in Baja, as we kayak under arches and along cliffs of twisted shades of red, pink, brown and yellow. There is excellent hiking for those that wish to explore the desert wonders of Baja, including a cross-island traverse.  Trips are limited to a maximum of 8 guests, making for a more exclusive and intimate kayak tour.

The bit of extra time and effort required to reach Isla San Jose is well worth it. Join us on this island paradise for a challenging kayak tour, fantastic snorkeling, superb hiking and the high likelihood of being the only group around.

 

Images & Videos

Birds eye view of a red kayak paddling through the clear waters of the Sea of Cortez
pelicans baja
Tandem sea kayakers off the coast of La Paz paddling by a beautiful sandstone scape wall
Playing volleyball in Sea of Cortez while camping on the beach
Overview of sea kayaking in the Sea of Cortez near La Paz
Sea Kayak Adventures guests smiling while on a paddling trip through the Sea of Cortez
Sea kayaking near Isla San Jose Baja
People whale watching near the peninsula of Baja California Sur
Sea kayakers camping set up on Isla San Jose along the Sea of Cortez
Man fly fishing in the Sea of Cortez in Baja California Sur
Group of kayakers smiling in front of the Sea of Cortez before a day of paddling
kayakers beach camp
Dolphins swimming through the crystal clear waters of the Sea of Cortez
sea kayaking through a scenic cove in the Sea of Cortez off the coast of La Paz
Group of guests smiling next to a heart rock found in Baja California Sur
Hiking on Isla San Jose along the Sea of Cortez
Desert rock formations jetting out of the turquoise waters of the Sea of Cortez in Baja California Sur
Birds eye view of a red kayak paddling through the clear waters of the Sea of Cortez
pelicans baja
Tandem sea kayakers off the coast of La Paz paddling by a beautiful sandstone scape wall
Playing volleyball in Sea of Cortez while camping on the beach
Overview of sea kayaking in the Sea of Cortez near La Paz
Sea Kayak Adventures guests smiling while on a paddling trip through the Sea of Cortez
Sea kayaking near Isla San Jose Baja
People whale watching near the peninsula of Baja California Sur
Sea kayakers camping set up on Isla San Jose along the Sea of Cortez
Man fly fishing in the Sea of Cortez in Baja California Sur
Group of kayakers smiling in front of the Sea of Cortez before a day of paddling
kayakers beach camp
Dolphins swimming through the crystal clear waters of the Sea of Cortez
sea kayaking through a scenic cove in the Sea of Cortez off the coast of La Paz
Group of guests smiling next to a heart rock found in Baja California Sur
Hiking on Isla San Jose along the Sea of Cortez
Desert rock formations jetting out of the turquoise waters of the Sea of Cortez in Baja California Sur

Itinerary

Collapse all days

Day 0

Arrive in LaPaz, Evening Orientation Meeting

Fly direct to La Paz (LAP) or to San Jose del Cabo (SJD) and transfer north three hours to La Paz by bus, shuttle or taxi. Overnight in La Paz and meet in the evening for an orientation with your Sea Kayak Adventures tour leader. We hand out waterproof bags to pack and answer all your last-minute questions. You also have time to explore the city, capital of Baja Sur, with its lively seaside promenade and many exceptional seafood restaurants.

Please see our Baja Travel Guide for full details on travel to and from Baja.

ACCOMMODATION : Not included. Recommended tour hotel: Seven Crowns Centro

Day 1

Travel by Panga to Espiritu Santo or San Jose, Snorkel and Swim

We meet in the morning and board our 32' custom-built panga (motor skiff) loaded with our kayaks and gear for our 6-day kayak adventure. This boat and captain stay with us for the entire trip or we may be supported by local pangas (motorboats). Our guides, all bilingual Mexicans from the area, are a fountain of knowledge, eager to share their home with you.  Weather will determine our exact route and each day’s destination. For our first night, we may camp on Espiritu Santo, Isla San Jose or Isla San Francisco.  If we go to Espiritu Santo we stop for lunch and snorkeling at a beautiful beach.  If we go directly to Isla San Jose we have time for some late afternoon kayaking.  We should also find time to swim and snorkel.

To our west the Sierra de la Giganta rise precipitously above the sea and as the sun sets, the silhouette is spectacular.  We sit down to a festive and traditional Baja dinner of fresh seafood, tortillas and more. The evening sky is soon studded with diamond-sparkling stars and sleep beckons.

ACCOMMODATION : Beach camping
MEALS INCLUDED : Lunch, Dinner

Day 2

Sea Kayaking, Hiking, Beach Camp

We rise early for a hearty breakfast and to start paddling to take advantage of the usually windless mornings.  If we didn’t visit yesterday, we may visit another small island today located between Islas San Francisco and San Jose called El Pardito.  This is a small rocky outcrop where several artisan fishing families live and we stop to learn about their life on this remote island. After a couple hours of paddling we beach our kayaks on Isla San Jose for a well-deserved break and chance to stretch our legs with a walk on a beach. This beautiful island in the Sea of Cortez has dozens of long beaches of golden sand, perfect for beach combing. Depending on our mood and sea conditions we may have lunch at our first landing, or continue a short distance more.

After lunch we continue paddling to our camp. Here you are introduced to our routine for the next few days. Arrive at camp, set up tents, take a swim or snorkel, go on a walk or perhaps, read a book.  Relish the free time away from any phones or email. Disconnected from your world at home and totally connected with where you are and the people you're with. Soon it's time for appetizers, then dinner under the stars. Relaxed, physically tired and hopefully at peace with everything around you, you fall into a deep sleep.

ACCOMMODATION : Beach camping
MEALS INCLUDED : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3

Paddle North

We rise early for a hearty breakfast and to start paddling to take advantage of the usually windless mornings.  As we paddle, the towering mountains of the Sierra de la Giganta to the west,  provide endless inspiration, while to our east is the shore of Isla San Jose.  As the sixth largest island in Mexico, Isla San Jose has a great variety of topography and rises to 2077’(633 meters).  Rugged arroyos, sky-reaching cactus and an ever-changing coast make for great views. There is a great variety of biodiversity, with many species of marine and terrestrial birds. This is also the home of the spiny pocket mouse and the endemic, and extremely rare, Isla San Jose kangaroo rat.

After a couple hours of paddling we beach our kayaks on Isla San Jose for a well-deserved break and chance to stretch our legs with a walk on a beach. This beautiful Sea of Cortez island has dozens of long beaches of golden sand, perfect for beach combing. Depending on our mood and sea conditions we may have lunch at our first landing, or continue a short distance more.  As our sea kayak Baja Mexico trip continues, we paddle around 7-8 miles today and try to arrive at today’s camp by lunch so we have time for an afternoon of snorkeling and hiking.

Isla San Jose has some amazing hiking trails including one that crosses the entire island and is accessible from this camp.  Reaching a high point on the island with expansive vistas over the azure Sea of Cortez, perhaps with whales blowing spouts in the distance, may be the highlight of the trip for you.

Soon it's time for appetizers, then dinner under the stars. Relaxed, physically tired and hopefully at peace with everything around you, fall into a deep sleep.

ACCOMMODATION : Beach camping
MEALS INCLUDED : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4

Paddle around the northern tip – Weather permitting

Warm rays from the rising sun awake you from your slumber. If that doesn't do it your guides wake you gently. We have breakfast on the beach, then while you pack up your stuff, your guides pack the kitchen and camp. Then off we go into the inviting Sea of Cortez, one of the healthiest marine ecosystems in the world. Pods of dolphins sometimes play with us as we paddle and manta rays often soar above the surface. In the spring we may even see humpback or other whales.

Today is a kayaker’s paradise.  The coast has a number of small coves, arches and shallow caves.  It’s a favorite day for guests and guides alike.  After paddling a couple of hours then stop when we find a rocky cove for lunch, with time for snorkeling or sunbathing.  The clear water make for superb snorkeling.  After lunch, settling into the rhythms of island life, we paddle a bit farther to camp, making our total around 10 miles for the day.

Isla San Jose has some amazing hiking trails including one that crosses the entire island. Reaching a high point on the island with expansive vistas over the azure Sea of Cortez, perhaps with whales blowing spouts in the distance, may be the highlight of the trip for you.

Now familiar with our routine, we spend another glorious evening.

ACCOMMODATION : Beach camping
MEALS INCLUDED : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5

South along the island’s eastern shore

Another day of adventure and relaxation with the addition of spectacular cliffs colored in pinks, purples, browns and reds.  It’s a glorious day of paddling. By now you are as one with this place. Life at home seems far away. We land and explore, on foot or snorkeling in the transparent water. In the afternoon, if you’re interested, you might also enjoy learning how to fish with one of our guides who has a passion for this!

We arrive at camp to soak in the scenery, take a walk, swim and enjoy each other’s company.  Tonight is our last night and we have another dinner under the Baja sky.

ACCOMMODATION : Beach camping
MEALS INCLUDED : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6

Return to LaPaz

Depending on our camp location, we may take a short morning paddle. Then before long we load into our panga. We complete our circumnavigation of the island. Our panga may take us all the way back to La Paz, or we may cross back to the mainland, load up into our van for the 2 ½ drive back to La Paz. By late afternoon we’re back at the hotel and a warm shower feels great. and, refreshed, we meet for a lively farewell dinner at a local restaurant and regale each other with tales of the trip.

If you want to add an amazing wildlife adventure to your trip, we highly recommend you join our half day tour Swimming with Whale Sharks.

ACCOMMODATION : Not included
MEALS INCLUDED : Breakfast, Lunch

Day 7

OPTIONAL: ADD A DAY TO SNORKEL WITH WHALE SHARKS . 

Note: If you are not extending your stay to snorkel with whale sharks, day 7 will be your departure day. 

Extend your stay in La Paz a day before or after your kayak tour for a chance to snorkel with whale sharks. These plankton-eaters are the world's largest fish, and can reach lengths of up to 42' (13 m)! Whale sharks migrate into the bay of La Paz from October through April, where the shallow water of the bay harbors the favorite treats of these filter-feeding animals. Meet your guides bright and early to get a head start on the water in search of these peaceful creatures. The tour is approximately four hours, depending on the number of whale sharks present, so you'll have time to spend the afternoon exploring La Paz's beautiful Malecon. 

Dates & Rates

DatesAdult (USD)Child (USD)
Oct 12, 2024 to Oct 17, 2024 $2,640£0€0$0$0$2,640£0€0$0$0
Nov 03, 2024 to Nov 08, 2024 $2,640£0€0$0$0$2,640£0€0$0$0
Apr 06, 2025 to Apr 11, 2025 $2,640£0€0$0$0$2,640£0€0$0$0
Apr 20, 2025 to Apr 25, 2025 $2,640£0€0$0$0$2,640£0€0$0$0

Supplementary Information

Departure Details:

2024/2025 Season Pricing:

Adults $2640 per person

Maximum Group Size 8

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 $120. Please note, you must have previous ocean paddling experience to reserve a single kayak.

Private Charter Trips

Available all month we offer trips in Isla San Jose. Minimum Number - 8 paid spaces at regular rate.  No charter discounts. You can pay for 8 spaces and bring less people if desired.

*Maximum Trip Size: 8 guests.

Tour Includes:

  • 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
  • Taxes

Tour Does Not Include:

  • Airfare
  • Transportation to and from the airport
  • Hotel before and after the tour 
  • $30 National Parks & Biosphere Reserves access fees required by itinerary
  • Gratuities
  • 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.

Reviews

5
Average: 5 (6 votes)

Reviews

Google Review
5

Excellent adventure!

We just did the Isla San Jose kayak trip out of La Paz. We had an amazing time. The food was phenomenal and the guides were awesome. Mario was our lead guide. We had a lot of weather changes in our trip and he worked hard to make sure we had a great time even if we had to change our plans many times. Rudolph was a fantastic boat captain and kept us nice and safe when the waves got big. Damien was very caring and always great to make conversation with. He took care of us nicely. Tania was gold. We all especially loved her chocolate flan cake! And Nathan was always up for an adventure, jumping in the water to get things that flew out of the boat without complaining. Rudolpho and Nathan also collected some very yummy scallops for us to eat one night! This was my second sea kayaking tour but my first in Baja. It was an excellent adventure.

Google Review
5

Highly recommend Sea Kayak Adventures

Isla San Jose was my first guided trip experience and it was absolutely enjoyable. We highly recommend Sea Kayak Adventures. Guides, meals, scenery, snorkeling, and paddling were all awesome. We felt safe and well-supported at all times.

Google Review
5

I would give my trip 10 stars!

Only five stars? I would give my trip 10 stars! I highly recommend a trip with Sea Kayak Adventures. The trip was amazing in every way! The office staff was very informative and friendly. The crew members on the trip were outstanding and some of the hardest workers I have met in my life. They were well prepared, professional and fun. They cooked delicious meals including homemade cakes for dessert. We did the Isla San Jose kayak and camping trip out of La Paz. Nature really puts on a show- dolphins, whales, rays, tons of fish, seals, birds, goats… The water was crystal clear and the beaches were clean. The water was on the chilly side so be sure to check the water temperatures before you go in case it warrants a full wetsuit. The geology of the island is captivating with so many different colors and formations.The campers and crew make a big effort to leave no trace behind. We just had the best time ever laughing, eating, hiking, relaxing, swimming and kayaking. The trip was super fun and I am so glad I went!

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FAQ & More

How do I get to La Paz?

Please see our Baja Travel Guide for full details on travel to and from Baja.

What’s included in this kayak package? What’s not included?

Included: Skilled professional guide services, ground transportation, motorboat-support to carry gear,, 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, hotels before and after your tour, 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.

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.

When is the best time to go?

Spring and fall are the most ideal times for yoga on the beaches of the Sea of Cortez, as the seasons are characterized by warm days, glassy calm waters for paddling, and endless sunshine. Fall trips enjoy the chance for a desert in bloom and warm water snorkeling, while during spring, many cetaceans migrate into the Sea of Cortez and sightings may include blue, fin, and humpback whales.

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.

Can I fish?

In general, fishing in allowed in Loreto. 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.

What’s the weather like in Baja?

Please check out this great website Weather Underground for temperature averages in Baja.

Is there any extensions I can add to the beginning or end of my trip?

If you will be extending your stay in lovely LaPaz before or after your tour, consider joining us for a day to snorkel with Whale Sharks. La Paz is home to a unique and prolific Whale Shark population. We partner with a local research and non-profit organization to facilitate these tours. Don't miss the adrenaline rush of snorkeling with these gentle giants, while simultaneously learning about this unique species. Please inquire with the office if you would like to add on a Whale Shark tour to your reservation.

Where can I store my luggage while I’m on your tour?

You can leave your luggage at your 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 just in case. Please discuss with your hotel at check in.

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