900-Pound Playmates, Decorative Bird Poop, and Finding Moby Dick

Posted by Deborah Huso on Jun 19, 2011 in Travel Archives |

That's not white cake frosting on the rocks; it's accumulated bird poop.

After being chased by Steller sea lions in Alaska’s Glaciery Bay (check out the Alaska section of this blog for details), I wasn’t particularly enamored of the idea of swimming with California sea lions in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. But as it turns out, the 400 to 600 sea lions that call this protected gulf home are a good deal friendlier (or perhaps lazier) than their Alaska cousins.  Friendly enough to swim with, in fact.

I'll take a helicopter with my yacht.

La Paz based Fun Baja offers day-long excursions into the Sea of Cortez for $110 USD per person. The price includes transfer from your hotel as well as any snorkeling, scuba, or kayaking gear you may need. Fun Baja departs from the marina at Costa Baja, a luxury resort just outside La Paz. The marina also plays host to the yachts of the well-heeled who visit this sea and desert paradise.

Snorkeling in the Sea of Cortez

Among the activities Fun Baja offers is the opportunity to snorkel with sea lions. Good luck getting the creatures to leave their sun-warmed rocks and hop into the water to play, however.  Never fear though. Even if you can’t coax a 900-lb. playmate into the water, you can still enjoy swimming among the sea’s incredible array of fish. But slather on the sunscreen first.

Fun Baja also offers scuba diving, kayaking, fishing, and whale watching. The Sea of Cortez is one of only 10 places in the world where juvenile whale sharks congregate, and in winter months, you can see sperm whales (of Moby Dick fame) swimming in this sea that has enjoyed government protection for almost a decade.

Skidding along these turquoise waters with barren desert mountains and rock formations rising on all sides, it’s hard to imagine humans calling such a place home outside the city limits of La Paz, but more than a few Mexican families still make their livings in the Sea of Cortez as traditional fishermen, living on isolated islands with no running water and no electricity. The Mexican government allows them to stay so long as they continue to live in this traditional way, but if the families leave, they lose claim to their island homes forever.

Secluded swim beach off Espiritu de Santos Island

Fun Baja will also anchor off Espiritu Santos Island and ferry passengers to a private white sand beach, where they can enjoy lunch, cocktails, and clear blue-green water rife with fish. Swimming in the sea here is something like a liquid massage as the water changes from warm to cool and back again.

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