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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
|Dates||Adult (USD)||Child (USD)|
|Apr 07, 2024 to Apr 12, 2024||$2,490£0€0$0$0||$2,490£0€0$0$0||BOOK NOW|
|Apr 21, 2024 to Apr 29, 2024||$2,490£0€0$0$0||$2,490£0€0$0$0||BOOK NOW|
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.
- 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
Please see our Baja Travel Guide for full details on travel to and from Baja.
Yes, all of our tour pricing is in US Dollars.
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.
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.
Yes, if at any time a guest does not want to paddle they are welcome to ride in the panga instead.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We know your Guide will make the biggest difference on your trip! Which is why we pride ourself on employing only the best local guides for all of the incredible locations that we visit. Part of this is to support our eco-tourism efforts, but we also believe that there is no better way to experience a new destination than through they eyes of a local! We find talented and skilled local guides, train and certify them, and provide a positive and consistent source of income to them and their families.
Most of our guides are with us for the long-term, despite the seasonal nature of the industry. Our top-notch equipment, unique itineraries, and perfected operations attract extraordinary guides, many of whom are highly sought after in the industry. ROW Sea Kayak Adventures guides know their outdoor skills as second nature. Each trip will have 2-4 guides to assist, inform, and lead the way so you get the most out of your adventure. They love to share conservation, knowledge, games and laughter - and they’re great cooks!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 San Jose kayak tour.
Please check out this great website Weather Underground for temperature averages in Baja.
Solo travelers will always have their own tent during kayaking tours, at no additional cost.
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.
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.
Please see our full Terms & Conditions HERE.