The islands near La Paz are some of the best places in the world to kayak, and several companies provide highly recommended tours.
Day trips are possible, but given the amount of gear and transportation logistics involved, many day-trippers end up feeling rushed and wish they had chosen a multiday tour instead.
Most trips fall into one of two categories: a four-day paddle along the west side of Isla Espíritu Santo (usually north to south) and a seven-day (or more) paddle all the way around Isla Espíritu Santo and Isla Partida (56 km).
Overnight package trips usually include the first and last nights in hotel accommodations, with camping on the nights in between. Meals, transportation to the islands, and airport transfers are also typically covered by the price. Some trips return to a base camp every night, while others move to a new place each day.
Some have motorized support boats to move camping gear from place to place and shuttle paddlers to the best snorkeling sites for the particular conditions each day. Some outfitters supply camping gear; others ask that you bring your own.
Many companies book kayak tours, but often they are brokers for the actual outfitter. In general, it’s better to book directly so you can get complete information about the itinerary and equipment before you sign up for a trip. Two of the most popular operators are Mar y Aventuras and Baja Outdoor Adventure.
Owned by a La Paz native, Mar y Aventuras (Topete 564, btw 5 de Febrero/Navarro, tel. 612/123-0559, toll-free U.S. tel. 800/355-7140, www.kayakbaja.com), near La Marina Don José and Marina de La Paz, leads one-day and multiday trips and rents kayaks and gear to experienced paddlers (reserve well in advance if you want to rent). Its boats are a mix of doubles and singles made of fiberglass and some plastic. All have rudders. A half-day coastal trip costs US$45. Full-day trips range US$75–100 per person, depending on the destination and size of the group. Multiday tours start at US$590.
If you want to explore El Mogote or the islands on your own, you’ll have to convince the staff that you know what you’re doing. For safety reasons, they are reluctant to rent to novice and intermediate paddlers. Single sea kayaks rent for US$45 a day, with a PFD (personal flotation device), paddle, bilge pump, and spray deck. Double kayaks cost US$65 a day. You can also rent snorkeling gear and camping equipment. Boat shuttles out to Isla Espíritu Santo cost US$200–400 round-trip for one or two people; a truck shuttle to Playa El Tecolote for launching from the beach to Espíritu Santo costs US$25 one-way for one or two people. You can pay the US$4-per-day camping fee at the Mar y Aventuras office.
Baja Outdoor Activities (BOA) (tel. 612/125-5636, www.kayakinbaja.com) offers two different styles of kayak trips: “Cooperatively catered” trip participants carry their own gear each day and help guides prepare meals, making for a more self-sufficient experience but with heavier boats to paddle. Others prefer a fully catered trip, in which guides prepare all meals and camping supplies are transported by motorboat. Four-day island tours start at US$590. Daily dolphin sightings are common on the 10-day Loreto to La Paz trip (US$1,280). Participants should expect to paddle about four hours per day on this trip.
The half-day tour for US$45 is a nice way for beginners to get a feel for the sport without committing to a full-day adventure. BOA also offers a one-day tour of Balandra Bay for US$75. BOA rents sit-on-top kayaks and sea kayaks by the day or week (US$35–60/day and US$110–220/week).
Baja Expeditions (tel. 612/125-3828, toll-free U.S. tel. 800/843-6967, www.bajaex.com) has been running seven-day trips to Espíritu Santo (US$1,125) since 1985. Other destinations include Loreto to the La Paz coast (10 days) and Magdalena Bay (eight days). An aggressive 10-day, open-water kayak trip hops among the islands of Espíritu Santo, Los Islotes, San José, Santa Cruz, and Santa Catalina (Oct.–Apr. only).
© Nikki Goth Itoi from Moon Baja, 9th Edition