You have a chance to see whale sharks, sea lions, schooling mobula rays, humpback whales and dolphins – all on one day trip from La Paz Baja California.
All of those can be seen on just one day trip from La Paz. However, sorry divers, you can only dive with the sea lions. But still, snorkling with whale sharks, observing mobula rays jumping out of the water, diving with sea lions, observing humpback whales and having dolphins following the boat on the way back is not too bad.
Staying a while in La Paz, Baja California, Mexico I took a day trip to Isla Espiritú Santo. Normally the trip includes two dives at the island including lunch at a beautiful beach. However, due to a special request our tour left earlier and we went snorkeling with the whale sharks first. Even better! So far I haven’t seen any whale sharks as they seem to disappear when I’m around.
A short boat ride from La Paz we arrive where the whale sharks feed. Before we start looking for sharks we get a short briefing, we are not supposed to swim in front of the animals, not closer than 1 m and if someone touches a sharks the person will be removed from the water immediately. Good to hear that they take these rules very serious here. The whale sharks are the largest known fish species with up to 12 m (40 ft) in length. They filter-feed mainly on plankton. The season in Baja California to see the gentle giants lasts from November till April.
A couple of other boats are already there with snorkelers in the water. I’m getting excited to swim with a whale shark for the first time, fingers crossed. Only a few minutes later our guides spot a shark and the first group of snorkelers jump in. There is a second one just next to the boat and the second group including me jump in. And there it is. Wow! And it is moving kind of fast, I start swimming to keep up with him while trying to take pictures and videos. I’m out of breath within a couple of minutes. The shark is not directly at the surface so I dive down but being exhausted already I can only stay down some seconds before I have to swim back up to the surface. We get a chance to swim with a second whale shark before we start our 90 minute boat ride to the island.
Playful sea lions
We head directly to the sea lion colony at Los Islotes, some small islands in the north of the island. Even before we see the sea lions we can hear them barking. The large males are pretty loud and a bit scary too. Good that they are not interested in scuba divers or snorkelers as long as we stay away from the colony.
In the waters with us are the young animals and they are really playful. Mostly they swim directly towards me look at me from very close for a second and then swim off or around me. They turn upside down, swim in circles, spin around and some play with the bubbles. They stay around longer when I start to do all that as well (at least try to do so, I am sure it did not look a little tiny bit as elegant when I attempt to copy them).
I could have stayed for hours just watching the sea lions and playing with them.
White beach and old metal
After a sandwich lunch at a white sandy beach overlooking a bay with turquoise water we head to the second dive site.
We dive on a ship wreck which was sunk as an artificial reef and as an attraction for scuba divers. Around wrecks, like other artificial reefs, marine life starts to build up. First it provides a hard surface for the first inhabitants to attach to which then attracts further creatures.
As this wreck close to the island was sunk for scuba diving as well it provides big entries for wreck penetration. As not all of the group are trained to do so we only swim around it and I sneak through some swim-throughs at the back of the group.
Amazing ride back
I am completely satisfied. I could not imagine a better day trip. On our way back, with a beer in hand, dolphins appear around the boat. They follow us around for a while, swim in front of the boat and jump next to it.
What a wonderful end of an already perfect day 🙂
During this time of the year it is also possible to see humpback whales as well as mobula rays. The mobula rays look a bit like manta rays but are smaller. Here they can be seen jumping out of the water (breaching) up to two meters. This is also the region where some years back a huge gathering of mobula rays has been observed.
I did not see them this time but 6 years ago during my last visit we saw dozens of them flying. Some people on the tour today had the chance to catch a glimpse of humpback whales as well as the mobula rays from a distance.