Sea of Cortez Kayaking
Baja Mexico: (ZZ-SK-H21)
The islands of the Sea of Cortez contain striking natural beauty in a dramatic setting formed by rugged islands with high cliffs and sandy beaches, which contrast with the brilliant reflection from the desert and the surrounding turquoise waters. The area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers the perfect blend of Baja kayaking, hiking and snorkeling. Abundant wildlife, massive whales, sunny weather and warm, crystalline waters make the Sea of Cortez in Loreto Bay National Marine Park one of the best winter sea kayaking and whale watching destinations in North America. NOTE: First and last days for any Baja tour are arrival and departure days.
Imagine sea kayaking Baja in the warm, clear waters of Loreto Bay National Marine Park in Mexico s Sea of Cortez, paddling along a spectacular section of coastline and exploring desert islands which pierce the tranquil waters. The towering volcanic escarpments of the Sierra Giganta Mountains rising out of the sea create your backdrop. Red-hued desert colors, azure blue water and magical land formations give this area great aesthetic and photographic appeal.
These waters offer exceptional opportunities for viewing dolphins, sea lions and whales in the wild. High-flying frigate birds, blue-footed boobies and squadrons of pelicans are your companions as you kayak past manta rays and brightly colored fish.
Huge cacti thrive in this captivating landscape of white sand beaches, dramatic cliffs and hidden coves. Nature hikes take us up scenic canyons and headlands offering unforgettable panoramas of wild coastline and scattered islands. Kayaks are the best way to explore the volcanic shoreline, its sea caves and reefs. The warm, crystalline waters of the Sea of Cortez host a breathtaking array of tropical fish - perfect for snorkeling.
Each winter endangered blue whales more than five times as long as your sea kayak migrate to these waters looking for tasty crustaceans. Encountering the largest animal on earth is a thrilling experience. Fin, Humpback and Sei whales also frequent the area.
Our six- to eight-day self-supported and motorboat-supported Sea of Cortez Islands expeditions explore the beautiful Islas Danzante and Carmen. Both itineraries begin in Loreto and include both arrival and departure days. Optional motorboat support carries camping gear, food and supplies ahead of the main group, for lighter kayaks. The panga also carries comfortable chairs and tables for dining as well as a cooler with ice for cold drinks.
Since 1993, we have created a category of travel we call "camping plus". The food served on our trips is on par with what you get in a first-rate restaurant; we provide all camping gear of the best quality: tents, sleeping bags with clean linens, self-inflating foam pads and comfortable camp seats; you get the best beach sites and you don't have to worry about missing the wildlife. We're all about truly "getting away", but not quite "leaving it all behind". It's rugged adventure with some worldly amenities. And best of all, you'll receive unbeatable support and camaraderie from each of our guides.
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. “Camping Plus” is all about truly “getting away,” but not quite “leaving it all behind!”
What type of kayaks do you use on this trip?
Our fleet of kayaks on each trip is comprised of mostly double kayaks and one or two single kayaks shared among guests and guides. They are made by SEAWARD KAYAKS of fiberglass construction and ALL are equipped with rudders. Light weight Werner paddles, PFD's (Personal flotation device otherwise known as a lifejacket), nylon spray skirts, paddle floats and bilge pumps are all provided on our expeditions.
What are the differences between motorboat-supported and self-supported trips?
In Baja, some of our tours use a motorboat (panga) to carry camping gear, food and supplies ahead of the main group. This allows our kayaks to be lighter. The panga also carries chairs and tables for dining as well as a cooler with ice for cold drinks.
On our classic self-supported trips, all the gear is carried inside the kayaks allowing for expedition-style paddling without the motorboat.
Is previous kayaking experience necessary?
No prior sea kayaking or camping experience is necessary for this trip. Anyone in good health with a positive attitude can enjoy these activities. Paddling a sea kayak is easy to learn and your experienced guides will teach you all you need to know to enjoy kayaking.
Are there any physical requirements?
The amount of paddling is a good balance of challenge and ease for most of our participants. Expect a moderate workout every kayaking day. Pre-trip time spent in any activity that uses your upper body will help you enjoy your adventure with us. We do require that anyone over 70 or with any health or weight concerns consult us before signing up to make sure you are up to fully participating.
What is the minimum age limit?
The minimum age for our trips is normally 14 to ensure that all our guests are capable of fully participating in the kayaking and other activities involved. Also, a child must be at least 5 feet tall and 100 lbs in order to participate in our sea kayak tours. We do make exceptions on occasion, so call us if you think your child is physically capable of kayaking and comfortable in an adult setting.
What if I'm by myself?
If this is your first adventure tour, and you are naturally a little apprehensive about going solo, we will support you each step of the way. We get a mixture of singles, couples, families and friends. You can have your own tent, but you may share a two-person kayak with another single person or one of the guides. Please call if you have any concerns.
What about safety?
Your safety, comfort and enjoyment are our priorities. Any concerns about risks and physical abilities are handled with the greatest care by our office staff and trip leaders. Your guides are always in close proximity, well equipped with First Aid kits and specially trained in Wilderness First Aid to handle emergency situations. Your trip leader will provide a comprehensive kayak orientation and safety discussion before you begin paddling. We take your concerns or apprehensions to heart - to make kayaking a positive, fulfilling experience for you.
When is the best time to go?
Spring and fall are the most ideal times for enjoying the Sea of Cortez. The strong northerly winds blow longest and strongest from late November through early March so spring and fall trips are characterized by calmer, warmer days. Fall trips (October & November) offer warm and clear waters for great snorkeling and little chance of strong winds. An added attraction is the opportunity to observe the Baja desert in bloom following the rainy season in August and September. Winter trips (December, January & February) tend to be cooler with more chance of wind. Spring trips (March, April & May) offer warmer waters with warm calm days being common. As an added bonus on spring trips many cetaceans migrate into the Sea of Cortez at this time and sightings may include blue, fin, and humpback whales.
When is the best time to see whales?
We design our wilderness adventures to provide you with the best whale encounters imaginable. Baja California is a whale-watchers' paradise. There are few other places that harbor such a concentration and diversity of whales. 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 is the world-renowned winter nursery grounds of the Gray whale. From late-January to mid-March is the best time to see gray whales.
Do I need a passport to enter Mexico?
Yes, passports are required to enter Mexico. Click here for the U. S. Department of State’s Passport Requirement page.
What do the trip costs include?
Skilled professional guide services, airport transfer upon arrival, 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.
What is not included?
Pre- and post-trip accommodations and meals, airfare, gratuities, and park fee in Loreto.
Day 1: Welcome to Loreto in Baja!
Upon your arrival in Loreto take a quick cab ride to the tour hotel and check into your pre-assigned room (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 hotel lobby for an evening orientation meeting.
Meals Included: 0 (Travel Day)
Accommodations: La Mision Hotel or similar
Grab breakfast on your own before meeting your guides for the start of your kayaking adventure. You’ll board our van and ride to the launch site 20 minutes south of town. Before launching our kayaks your guides will provide a basic paddling overview and thorough safety orientation. We then push off for the start of our kayaking adventure, dipping our paddles into the turquoise water of the Sea of Cortez for the first time. We make our first crossing before stopping for lunch, snorkeling and hiking. Following lunch we jump back into the kayaks and head to our first campsite. Spend your evening mingling with new friends, enjoying our hors-d’oeuvre hour and feasting on an authentic Mexican dinner. As the evening comes to a close retreat to your tent and fall asleep under a blanket of stars.
Meals Included: L, D
Paddling duration: 3-4 hours
Our days begin with spectacular sunrises and end with delightfully cool evenings. Expect to paddle about 4 hours per day, broken up by a long lunch break and floating rest stops. You'll have opportunities at lunch and after kayaking to snorkel, hike, swim or relax with a good book. Each day we will have the opportunity to encounter whales, dolphins, flying manta rays, incredible birds and the beautiful scenery surrounding the Sea of Cortez. Evenings find us feasting on delicious fresh food and enjoying margaritas as the sun sets on the horizon. On dark nights don’t forget to check for bio-luminescence before heading to bed. We occasionally get the pleasure of witnessing this incredible phenomenon!
Meals Included: B, L, D
Wake up and enjoy a hot cup of coffee or tea while taking in sunrise before your final day of kayaking. We will spend the morning exploring the shorelines and watching for a final glimpse of marine life! After lunch we break camp and paddle to our take-out site around 2 p.m. Upon arrival at the take-out site we quickly unload our kayaks before making the return drive to Loreto. Once in Loreto you will check into your hotel room. Enjoy a hot shower before joining your guides and your fellow guests for a no host farewell dinner at a favorite local restaurant.
Meals Included: B, L
Paddling duration: 3-4 hours
Day 6: Return home or extend your stay
Say good-bye to lovely Loreto and head back to the airport to fly home, or ROW Sea Kayak Adventures can arrange to extend your vacation at the tour hotel in this charming village. Day tour and add-on options available.
Meals Included: 0 (Travel Day)
Accommodations: La Mision Hotel or Similar
Full services of our Adventure Consultants
Professional naturalist and bi-lingual guides
All meals as indicated on the itinerary
Hotel before and after the tour (and between activities when dictated by the itinerary)
All transportation while on tour
All kayaking, camping and snorkeling equipment
Whale watching sessions by Panga
Trip Does Not Include:
Transportation to and from the airport
$25 National Park fee
Items of a personal nature
Please note: The 6- and 7-day Itineraries will follow the same schedule as the 8-day itinerary, but with one to two fewer days of kayaking and camping. The first and last day remain arrival (fly in) and departure (fly out) days.
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.
Updated October, 2016
Rates and Dates for Sea of Cortez Kayaking
Accommodations (hotel in Loreto & camping at Danzante & Carmen), all meals at camp, kayak gear & guiding as per chosen itinerary, camping equipment & sleeping bags, airport transfer on arrival
Transfer and Other Options:
Transfer is included from Loreto airport.
Rates do not include:
Any meals in town, National Park fees, snorkle and wet suit rentals, guide and staff gratuities, airport transfer on departure
Airport: Loreto (LTO)
The weather in Loreto is generally mild in the winter with day-time
temperatures averaging 70 to 85 degrees and night-time temperatures
averaging 40 to 55 degrees between December and mid-March. Spring
day-time temperatures average 75 to 90 degrees and night-time
temperatures average 50 to 65 degrees between mid-March and May. Loreto
is in a desert where the possibility of rain is very small, but it can
happen. Winds can occur anytime but are more frequent from December
through February. Magdalena Bay air temperatures are a little cooler
than on the Sea of Cortez side of the Baja Peninsula. Water
temperatures in the Sea of Cortez range from 65 degrees in December to
73 degrees in May requiring the use of a shorty 3mm wet suit for
extended snorkeling. In October and November, air temperatures range
from 80 to 90 degrees and water temperatures range from 75 to 80
What To Bring:
PERSONAL EQUIPMENT CHECKLIST
The packing list outlined below is meant to serve as a guide to help you plan, prepare and outfit yourself for your upcoming travels. Below, we have provided our best recommendations and suggestions. These suggestions are broken down by your tour type and are based on the outlined itinerary, the geographic region, our knowledge of Baja, and our personal experience. We hope you find this list helpful, use it as a guide and feel free to amend it with your favorite travel items too!
We provide all necessary equipment for your selected tour, including: personal flotation devices (PFDs), snorkeling gear, all kayaking equipment, bikes, and paddle boards. We will also provide will also provide all necessary camping equipment for your tour, including: tent, cot (on whale camp & multi-sport tours), sleeping pad, sleeping bag, sleeping bag liner, and pillow with pillow case.
Our adventures 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. Please see below for our specific luggage recommendations for your sea kayaking, whale watching, or multi-sport tour.
1. One roll-on (ideally a non-hard-sided version) or duffle luggage that meets carry-on requirements – This will serve as your main piece of luggage for the trip. You can leave luggage behind in storage at your tour hotel during your kayaking or whale watching tour. If desired, you can pack an extra soft-sided duffle inside your main luggage for souvenirs on your return flight. Again, while we recommend using only carry-on luggage, checking baggage can be done at your discretion.
2. One small day pack (Non-Kayaking Tours) – This dual purposed pack can serve as your personal item during your flights as well as your day pack during the tour (except on kayak tours, as explained in the dry bag section below). 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.
3. Dry bags (Kayaking Tours Only): At the orientation meeting on the evening before we start kayaking, we will provide each guest with 3 dry bags (two 20-Liter bags and one 10-Liter bag). Your kayaking guides will provide a full explanation of how to use and pack your dry bags. That evening you will pack all of your gear for your kayaking tour into your three dry bags. The rest of your luggage can be checked into the locked hotel closet the following morning before departing for your tour.
Packing List Essentials:
? Passport – must be valid for at least six (6) months after the date of your arrival
? 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
? Plan to use cash (pesos) for small purchases, taxis and gratuities
? Credit and/or Debit/ATM card that works internationally, ideally with chip technology (Before leaving home, notify your bank of your travel to help prevent any fraud detection holds on your card)
? 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)
? One - three pair long, lightweight, nylon pants with zipper pockets (zip off legs give you more options)
? One- two pair nylon shorts (this can double as a swimsuit for the guys)
? 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) (synthetic is best)
? One - three long sleeve shirts for sun protection (tight-weave nylon shirts with SPF protection made by companies such as Columbia, Patagonia, Exofficio or REI etc. Sun protection is essential)
? Underwear (synthetic is best)
? One wide-brim, tie-on hat (the floppy nylon variety is ideal, as it packs well.)
? One lightweight raincoat (a windbreaker that has some waterproof qualities will work as well)
? Three pair light synthetic or merino wool socks
? One pair sturdy trail shoes, or running shoes, to use for hiking and for casual camp time
? One pair sandals with ankle straps to wear while kayaking, on the beaches, walking around towns, etc. (Chaco, Keens or Tevas are preferred but there are many other brands that are suitable)
? Extra synthetic or wool layers (e.g. long underwear) for warmth during cool evenings
Casual Pre & Post Activity Clothing:
? One - two other comfortable pairs of pants/shorts/skirts/dresses
? One - two 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
? Underwear and socks
Gear and Other Essentials:
? One pair of paddling gloves (optional for all kayaking tours)
? Small day pack or fanny pack for hikes (optional)
? One water bottle, 1 liter or larger (A bottle that fits in a daypack pocket or clips to the outside is ideal)
? One buff or bandana for sun protection and cooling off
? Camera/batteries/battery charger (Mophie battery packs for all USB enabled devices are a great option)
? Waterproof Camera Case (For non-waterproof cameras you may want to bring a small dry box or bag to use while kayaking)
? Binoculars (Optional but nice for bird and wildlife watching)
? Sunglasses, polarized are highly recommended for sun protection and enhanced clarity (Extra pair of sunglasses and glasses/contacts)
? Retaining strap for glasses and sunglasses (Chums, Croakies or similar item)
? Flashlight or Head Lamp
? Three to four kitchen garbage can liners – for wet clothes, dirty laundry, soiled shoes, etc.
? A few quart-size or 1-gallon ziplock bags for packing sunscreens, lotions or anything that might make a mess
? Books or E-reader, pen and note pad, iPod/small portable music player with headphones (optional) (we recommend 1-2 books at most; keep games and “extras” small in size and to a minimum) ? Towel (small lightweight towel, backpacking style works great)
Toilet Kit/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 Bug Spray or Bug Balm
? Sun Screen and Lip balm with SPF 15-30
? Pre-moistened toilette packets or disposable shower wipes to refresh
? Personal medicines and Prescriptions (Dramamine-motion sickness, Benadryl -allergic reactions, Advil or Aspirin, 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)