After what seems like weeks in La Paz, we finally got a good week to sail to the Islands of Isla Espiritu Santo and Isla Partida with our Canadian friends Matt and Madalin, and we’re happy to report that they didn’t disappoint. The local cruising community refers to the bungee cord that keeps sailors here and given the proximity of these gorgeous islands to La Paz we now know why.
We left relatively late and wanted to sail (instead of motor as many cruisers tend to do when the wind direction is not favorable) so our first destination was Ensenada de la Raza in Puerto Ballena, which is on Isla Espiritu Santos and approximately 21 nautical miles from La Paz. Twenty-one nautical miles is not too far but since the wind was blowing 15-25 knots from the north, which is exactly where we were heading, and you can’t sail directly into the wind. We ended up sailing probably 30 miles and got settled just in time for sundowners (what a coincidence!) with our friends Peter and Mary (and their dog Lucy) from Neko who left earlier in the day.
The anchorage was in a cove with towering cliffs that were more reminiscent of Arizona than the tropical anchorages we all tend to picture when sailing and, once we had the anchor set, the view from the stern included the tiny islands of Isla Gallo and Isla Gallina. The highlight was a beautiful sunset that occurred at virtually the same time as the full moon was rising through a valley just off the bow as you’ll see in this gorgeous shot that Audrey captured.
After that it was just the usual Celebration imbibing, dining and partying so I won’t bore you with those details.
The next morning the bay was relatively flat, so we jumped in the dinghy and went snorkeling off Isla Gallo. No whale sharks, wrecks or reefs but there were some fish, and it was my first snorkel since we’d arrived in Mexico, so it was great to finally get in the water. With our first snorkel checked off the list, we grabbed lunch before heading to our next destination.
Once again the wind was up, so we had a great sail to Ensenada El Cardonal, a long shallow bay on Isla Partida that extends almost 1.5 miles into the island, providing excellent protection from the strong north winds. El Cardonal was also a very dramatic setting with cliffs all around and a small beach but, given that it was almost sunset when we arrived (did someone say sundowner?), we stayed onboard and enjoyed an evening under the stars.
The next day was one of the highlights of our entire trip so far as we headed for Los Islotes, which is famous for its sea lion rookery AND where you are allowed to swim with the sea lions. In fact, the sea lions – especially the small ones – seem to look forward to it as they were almost jumping in the dinghy when we tied off on one of the mooring balls. Needless to say, swimming with the sea lions was a thrill that none of us will forget – even me since unlike the whale-sharks; I did get in the water this time. We probably could have stayed at Los Islotes for hours, but it was too deep to anchor the mother-ship so after an hour or so it was time to head for our next anchorage.
Los Islotes was the most northern destination on this little trip, so it was time to turn around, and we headed for Ensenada Grande, another scenic anchorage on Isla Partida. This one, however, had a beach and a place to snorkel and was calm enough for kayaking, so we spent the entire afternoon and next morning just hanging out and enjoying island life.
We could have stayed at Ensenada Grande for days but the forecast said we were going to get strong winds from the southwest, from which there is no protection in the islands, and so we headed toward La Paz. But, as we got closer and closer to La Paz (and a marina) none of us liked the idea of being on a dock and after a “meeting of the minds” we decided to anchor in Bahia Pichilingue for the night. It wasn’t the most scenic anchorage as its backdrop includes the ferry terminal however it did have a beautiful beach and was somewhat protected from the SW wind. The next morning the SW wind came up but fortunately we were close to La Paz and after a couple of hours of motoring, we were at the dock but planning to leave again the next day – if the weather cooperated.
Finally, Mother Nature was on our side. The next morning was beautiful, and we set sail for Bahia San Gabriel, a huge bay on Isla Ispiritu Santo with one on the nicest and longest white sandy beaches in the area. We spent two glorious days there relaxing onboard, walking the beach and kayaking. It was everything we hoped an excluded island anchorage would be, and these pictures don’t do it justice, but I think they give you a general idea of how we spent our day in the Islands and how lucky we were to hit The Cruising Trifecta.