The narrow Sea of Cortez is flanked by mainland Mexico and Baja California, offering an intriguing coastline that remains somewhat of a secret destination. Aptly named “the world’s aquarium” by Jacques Cousteau, the waters here are thrive with an abundance of fascinating marine mammals such as whale sharks, humpbacks, sea lions and mobula rays.
The contrasting, rugged desert islands are scattered across the sea, rising with towering cacti-dotted crags, while powder-sand beaches are strewn below. These hidden gems are ideally discovered by yacht to explore and experience the wealth of natural treasures on offer
Big game fishing
History and culture
In the know
Best time to visit:
December - April
December - February
In the know
Best time to visit:
December - April
December - February
Day to day itinerary
La Paz to Balandra Cove
Once settled on board, the yacht will get underway, and head to an anchorage in the stunning bay at Balandra Cove. Keep your eyes out for pods of dolphins playing in the warm water along the route. During the afternoon take time to enjoy the water toys in the crystal-clear, shallow water and then take a sunset cruise around the gorgeous Baja California bay on the yachts’ tender. Look out for the El Hongo de Balandra (translated at the mushroom of Balandra) – a unique rock structure resulting from thousands of years of erosion. Star gazing at night will soon become your favourite pastime.
Balandra Cove to Isla Espiritu Santo
Watch the undulating scenery unfold as the yacht cruises to Bahia San Gabriel at the southern end of uninhabited Isla Espiritu Santo. Renowned for a geological rainbow of colours, the vibrant red, pink and brown volcanic rocks lapped by bright aquamarine sea and fringed by white sands are an incredible sight. Punta Prieta to the north end offers sublime snorkelling grounds, while hikers will enjoy the trail leading from the beach to beautiful Playa Bonanza on the east side. A declared UNESCO Natural Protected Area and World Heritage Site, the biodiversity of endemic flora and fauna, varied marine life together with important archaeological remains found here is astounding. Take time to explore on the tender, kayaks or wave runners and head ashore to stroll along white-sand beaches plus some amazing snorkelling.
Espiritu Santo to Isla Partida
Separated by a narrow channel next to Espiritu Santo island, head to enchanting Isla Partida at sunrise and drop anchor in the turquoise waters on the northern tip at Ensenada Grande. Watch lively sea lions frolicking in the waters at the nearby Los Islotes islands whilst taking a leisurely breakfast on the flybridge. Tender over to explore and take the unique opportunity to swim with the sea lion pups as they playfully whirl around you – a truly memorable experience. Go to the eastern side of Isla Partida for some lively snorkelling spots and marvel at the reefs twinkling with life in the sunshine. On land visit the sea caves and explore the beaches famed for turtle nests. Great fishing action can be found at Marisla Seamount a few miles away, which is also a top spot for diving with manta rays and schools of hammerhead sharks.
Isla Partida to Isla San Francisco
Cruise to anchor in Half Moon Bay at uninhabited Isla San Francisco, once homeland to gold miners and pearl prospectors. Soak up the relaxed atmosphere amongst complete tranquillity and snorkel the rocky reefs with yellow-tail surgeonfish. Enjoy the yachts’ tenders and toys for a day of fun, soak up the sun on deck and try paddle boarding in the secluded bay. For those seeking adventure, hike to the top of the mountain for a stunning panoramic view and watch for schools of bottlenose dolphins leaping out of the water. Nearby inhabited Isla Coyote, aside from a wealth of snorkelling sites, offers a great place to mix with the friendly local fishermen – go to the quaint cantina perched on top of the hill for a warm welcome. The village itself is charming with a whale museum and some interesting sculptures. Alternatively explore Bahia Amortajada - through the dense mangroves you will find a beautiful lagoon to snorkel or kayak along the reef - also a perfect spot to admire the flocks of pelicans splashing around. Walk along the white sandy shoreline flanked by cactus gardens, red mountains and turquoise waters.
Isla San Francisco to Isla Carmen
Cruise across the calm Sea of Cortez early and enjoy breakfast whilst passing through the Loreto Triangle; you will see Bahia Balandra in the distance. The yacht will drop hook in a protected anchorage ready for guests to enjoy a full day of activities. Set in the Loreto Bay Marine Park, Isla Carmen is one of the largest islands. Tender ashore to explore this once bustling salt mining community, now turned to ghost town, with a mile-long pink salt pond. Birdwatching enthusiasts will delight in the species here, such as the scissor-tailed flycatcher, brown pelican and blue-footed booby, together with abundant nesting sites for local seabirds. Equally, the water flourishes with marine life including turtles, orcas, dolphins and sea lions, a veritable nirvana for snorkellers and divers. From the yacht, soak up views in undisturbed tranquillity over the Gulf of California and the looming Sierra del Gigante on the mainland above Loreto.
Isla Carmen to Isla Monserrate
Start the journey back south, the yacht will anchor off the deserted island of Monserrate. Very few visitors stop here, so you can relish the complete privacy and isolation. The clear waters are teeming with fish and it is an ideal location to try reef fishing or billfishing – today’s catch can be tonight’s dinner! Enjoy time snorkelling around the craggy cliffs with friendly manta rays and whale sharks. Yellowstone beach on the north end, named for the mustard colour of the sandstone cliffs, is almost a mile of pristine sand and a lovely place for a relaxed stroll and snorkelling. Diving at Isla Galeras, a small set of islets about 2 miles north, is superb – expect rocky ledges populated by large schools of yellowtail snappers and pacific creol fish – guitar sharks are often spotted here too
Isla Monserrate to Isla Partida
Enjoy the final full day of your charter in an anchorage at the Partida Cove. Packed with secret spots to explore on waverunners or kayaks - at high tide take a dinghy ride through the channel between Partida and Espiritu Santo to explore the fascinating sea caves. Alternatively, at low tide, the sandbar pass is a unique place to enjoy a picnic and some fun beach games. Some 6 miles north of Partida is the El Bajo seamount and an ideal dive site. This group of pinnacles hidden some 60 feet below the water is very popular with moray eels, mantas, whale sharks and hammerheads. After a day of activity on the beach and in the water, spend the evening relaxing on deck with a mouth-watering dinner prepared by your dedicated chef.
Isla Partida to La Paz
The captain will get the yacht underway during brunch on board, passing by Espiritu Santo on the way through the Bahia de la Paz. Once ashore enjoy the small seaside city of La Paz with its wonderful waterfront malecon walkway and local markets. Stop at a seaside cantina to enjoy a locally made margarita and a fish taco as a perfect end to your voyage of island discovery.