Isla Isabel is a two-mile-square offshore wildlife study area 40 miles (65 km) and three hours north by boat. The cone of an extinct volcano, Isla Isabel is now home to a small government station of ecoscientists and a host of nesting boobies, frigate birds, and white-tailed tropic birds. Fish and sea mammals, especially dolphins and sometimes whales, abound in the surrounding clear waters.
Although it’s not a recreational area, local authorities allow serious visitors, accompanied by authorized guides, for a few days of camping, snorkeling, scuba diving, and wildlife-watching. A primitive dormitory can accommodate several people. Bring everything, including food and bedding.
Contact experienced and licensed boat captain Ricardo (Pato) Murillo (tel. 323/285-1281) or equally well-qualified captain Santos Villafuente (at the Hotel Brisas del Mar, tel. 323/285-0870, local cell 044-311/109-1993) for arrangements and prices. Tariffs typically run $250 per day for parties of up to four people.
Stormy summer and fall weather limits most Isla Isabel trips to the sunnier, calmer winter–spring season. For additional information and advice, check with manager Josefina Vasquéz, at the Hotel Garza Canela front desk (Paredes 106 Sur, tel. 323/285-0112, 323/285-0307, or 323/285-0480, toll-free Mex. tel. 800/713-2313, fax 323/285-0308, www.garzacanela.com ).