Bienvenida! Welcome to Mexico and a holiday in the natural wonderland of the Gulf of California, also known as the Sea of Cortez. If your passion is sailing and your idea of the perfect vacation setting is white sandy beach under bright blue sky where sparkling waters support an abundance of wildlife, then a bareboat charter out of La Paz is for you.
La Paz is an attractive city in southern Baja California, easily accessible with three flights from Mexico City daily. Alternatively it's a two hour bus trip from the popular resort city of Cabo San Lucas. In La Paz, your charter boat awaits at the exclusive Costa Baja resort.
La Paz is Spanish for 'peace'. What word could be more appropriate to describe a sailing holiday in the waters of the Sea of Cortez, Baja California Sur.
The popular sailing cruise out of La Paz goes north, with the first point of call an anchorage on Isla Espiritu Santo, designated a national marine park. Bahia San Gabriel is just a short sail or motor from the marina; its long sweep of beach is simply stunning and nature lovers will be rewarded for going ashore. Before the afternoon is too far advanced, sail on to Caleta Partida at the northern end of the island, a picturesque anchorage where you can get a good first night's rest, well tucked up if the Corumel decides to blow.
Isla Partida is another Gulf of Cortez gem, with Ensenada Beach offering shelter and access. The water around here teems with marine life, so snorkelling is a favoured pastime, while many visitors take time to observe the sea lions in their Los Islotes colony before venturing further north.
Sailing out of La Paz does require some reasonably long sailing days, and from Caleta Pardida it is 24 nm to Isla San Jose. Bahia Amortajada is highly recommended, where an expedition ashore takes you through a wildlife-rich lagoon and mangroves to higher ground that's dotted with giant cacti. Your plans for the night will determine how long you stay in this magical place, and you may wish to press on to the quiet fishing village of San Evaristo on the mainland. If it's hard getting away from San Jose, call back on the return journey.
From San Evaristo, your course depends on the length of your charter. On a seven-day itinerary, this is about the extent of your voyage north. If you've spent your second night in San Evaristo, there's still San Francisquito to explore, San Jose and Espirito Santo to revisit, and a bit more of the mainland to see.
The small island of San Francisquito has some beautiful white sand beaches and protected anchorages. It's a popular place so in season you are likely to have company in the bay. With a four to five hour sail/motor back to Espirito Santo, a scheduling decision needs to be made. Stay another day to enjoy this area and you still have time to stop over back at Espirito Santo on your return to La Paz via Puerto Balandra. Stay longer, and it's a 33 nautical mile passage to Puerto Balandra and its turquoise waters. This large cove on the mainland, with what some say is "the best beach in Mexico", is ideal for your last night aboard, just a short sail back to La Paz.
Should you book a 14-day charter out of La Paz, a whole new sector of Baja California cruising awaits. Remote fishing villages dot the coast, with places such as Puerto Gato and Bahia Agua Verde great to visit and generally acceptable as overnight anchorages. When you get to Puerto Escondito, you are in one of Baja California's most sheltered bays. Take a 15 minute taxi trip to nearby Loreto to replenish supplies, and if you wish take some resort time out. Loreto has some history too. The Jesuits came here in 1697, forming the first settlement in the entire west coast mission system.
Offshore this part of the coast is the ecologically-important Loreto Marine Park, including Isla del Carmen and Isla Danzante. There's time to enjoy these island's many coves and beaches and the marine life attracted to their waters. See a little more of the mainland too, by stopping overnight at Nopolo, before setting a southerly course back to La Paz, for which you'll want to allow at least five nights.
Sailing to Isla de San Francisco and Isla de San Jose were great places for hiking and aquatic exploration. Really enjoyed the waters and many inlets around Espirtu Santos on a Dufour 455. Mike, USA, Apr 9th, 2018
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