The Gulf of California has long been known as a stretch of some of the prettiest coastline on the planet. More often to referred to as the Sea of Cortez – a tribute to the explorer who first ventured here five centuries ago – the region is a marine life-lovers paradise. Marvel at large whales, super-sized Marlin and an underwater world even the most well-seasoned diver would be in awe of.
Travel to San Diego, where your journey begins. Board your yacht and steam overnight to the carnival town of Ensenada.It is a delightful way to begin your cruise and a great introduction to what lies ahead.
Sea birds on San Benitos | © Istock
Day 2: Ensenada to Todos Santos Island
Todos Santos Island has great colonies of Harbour Seals and Northern Elephant seals, as well as clouds of seabirds. Once you’ve cruised the shallows, your yacht will continue south towards the San Benitos Islands. En route you can enjoy whale and dolphin watching in the blue Pacific waters.
Inquisitive sea lions | © Istock
Day 3: San Benitos Islands
These stunning desert islands have a wide range of cacti and other succulents – but no trees, making it easier to spot some of the local bird life, such as the fish-eating bird of prey, the osprey nesting on the ground. Take the tender to explore the Californian Sea Lion rookeries.
These inquisitive mammals show little fear as they swim over to meet you – little wonder this area is often referred to as the Mexican Galapagos.
Pacific Grey Whales around San Ignacio Lagoon | © Shutterstock
Day 4: San Ignacio Lagoon
This lagoon is world-famous for its friendly Pacific Grey Whales. They return here every winter to mate, then again the following year to give birth. A trip in the tender is a must, as the curious whales will often come right up to take a look at you. Adult whales leave the area in around March, the mothers and calves stay until April. As well as whales, nearby muddy shores and mangroves support a wealth of bird life. On shore the desert provides a backdrop of shifting dunes, salt flats and scattered scrub. This is a great place for beachcombing – almost inaccessible by boat, you’ll often have the strand to yourself.
Blue Whales grace the coast of Magdalena Bay | © Shutterstock
Day 5: Magdalena Bay
The rich seas here attract huge flocks of birds as well as numerous cetaceans. This might be your first opportunity to catch sight of the largest animal that has ever lived – the blue whale. Pods of Long-beaked common dolphins can sometimes number into the thousands. The clear waters reveal a whole variety of colourful sea life.
The lively resort town of Cabo | © Luca Bazzi / Shutterstock
Day 6: Cabo San Lucas
In complete contrast, head to the resorts of ‘Cabo’ and spend a day shopping, eating and drinking, or perhaps taking in a spa before dancing the night away. Much later you can return to your yacht for more peaceful pursuits.
A leisurely kayak along the coastline of Baja | © Istock
Day 7: Isla Los Islotes and Espiritu Santos
These stunning islands lie at the entrance to the Bahia de La Paz. The dramatically eroded faces are in stark contrast to the clear gentle sea. Here you can snorkel among the curious sealions who will happily play with you,their effortless underwater acrobatics is humbling. This is also a great spot to explore by kayak and enjoy a beach barbecue come sundown.
The cacti here can grow to over 40ft tall | © Shutterstock
Day 8: Isla Santa Catalina
This is yet another beautiful desert island with massive cacti over 40ft tall. Keen birdwatchers can enjoy a hike on land, and everyone will enjoy watching undersea life in the crystal clear waters – there are vast shoals of colourful fish, and blue whales are often found ‘chilling out’ at the surface.
The lively Sea of Cortez is a treasure chest of discoveries | © Istock
Day 9: Return to Cabo
En route back to ‘Cabo’ stop off at the largest living coral reef (the Cabo Pulmo) on the Western side of North America for some snorkelling or diving. (Experienced divers can also find some fantastic deep dives such as the Gordo Banks, and the El Bajo Seamount is great for large pelagics.) And of course the fishing is incredible throughout the trip.
Back in Cabo San Lucas you can pick up International flights as you (reluctantly) head home.