Beaches and Reef
Playa Los Arbolitos
A large new marine park sign marks the way to this white-sand beach at the south end of Bahía Pulmo. Follow the Coastal Road south about five kilometers from the village of Cabo Pulmo and look for the only dirt road on the left without a fence or gate. The turn is the last road you can take before passing Los Frailes Mountain. Rent snorkeling gear and/or kayaks in Cabo Pulmo before you go.
Playa La Sirenita
The most attractive beach on Bahía Pulmo goes by many names: La Sirenita (The Mermaid) seems to be the most common one, but it is also known as Los Chopitos (The Squids) and Dinosaur Egg Beach.
All the more enchanting for its difficult access, the beach is hidden at the base of a cliff that frames the southern end of the bay. You can only reach it by small boat or kayak or by walking along a path from Playa Los Arbolitos to the north, which has a small parking lot.
The beach is narrow but covered in white sand and dotted with rocks. The cove and beach are protected from winds coming out of the south, and you can snorkel around the rocks just offshore. A towering boulder pile marks the divider between Bahía Pulmo and Bahía de los Frailes; on its south-facing side lives a colony of sea lions.
Pulmo Reef System
The fragile hard-coral reef in Bahía Pulmo is one of only three coastal reefs in North America and the only living one in the Sea of Cortez. It plays a vital role in the health of the Sea of Cortez ecosystem and for this reason was designated a national marine park in 1995.Commercial fishing and sportfishing are banned within the park (this means no shore fishing, either), as is anchoring on the reef or anywhere in the bay. Both foreign and Mexican residents are committed to protecting the water and land from pollution, but they worry that runoff from developments on land—especially from the mega-resorts that are just breaking ground—poses a serious threat to the reef.
The reef is made up of eight separate fingers, four of them close to shore and the other four farther out in the bay. Depths range 4.5–10.5 meters close to shore and as deep as 33 meters in the outer bay.
The abundance and variety of marine life here rivals anything you’ll find in the Caribbean. The fact that the reef begins within a few meters from the shore makes it even more appealing. For divers, boat rides are a quick five-minute jaunt out into the bay; snorkelers can skip the boat ride altogether and hop right in from shore. You can find a wide variety of tropical fish, eels, and rays—as well as the occasional nurse shark—in waist-deep water.
© Nikki Goth Itoi from Moon Baja, 9th Edition