Kayaking and Camping Bliss at Isla Espíritu Santo, Baja California Sur, Mexico


Kayaking at Isla Espíritu Santo in Baja California Sur—C.Helbig

I nose my kayak toward a deserted beach. Well…deserted except for six tents, a tarp, and two of our guides who have been setting up camp while our group paddles through the turquoise water. Rumour has it, we’ll be having ceviche for lunch. Afternoon options will include snorkeling, paddle boarding, hiking, and relaxing on the beach. Appetizers, margaritas, and easy conversation will follow. We’ll  dine on something scrumptious like fish tacos or chicken mole. A full moon will cast an outrageous sheen on the ocean and desert hills. We’ll stumble, happily exhausted, into our tents. Then, we’ll blissfully repeat it all again the next day. But first, there’s café y heuvos. That was the rhythm of our 5-day kayaking excursion to Isla Espíritu Santo with  ROW Sea Kayak Adventures.


Kayaking along the west coast of Isla Espíritu Santo, Mexico—C.Helbig


Our tour traveled up the west side of Isla Espíritu Santo—C.Helbig


Isla Espíritu Santo is an island in the Gulf of California, near the city of La Paz, in Mexico’s Baja California Sur. Its sheltered bays, spectacular scenery, and abundant marine life make it an exceptional kayaking destination. In 1995, the island was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. There is no permanent development on the island, so kayaking excursions like ours enjoy idyllic solitude.

Our group of nine, plus four really awesome guides, spent five days leisurely paddling up the west side of Isla Espíritu Santo and Isla Partida, camping on exquisite beaches along the way. You can see from the map how the bays are deeply carved into the island, forming sheltered beaches with clear, shallow water.


Me, enjoying a typical morning of calm paddling and great scenery at Isla Espíritu Santo—C.Helbig


Ensenada Grande, one of our awesome campsites—C.Helbig

You probably guessed that this was not a roughing-it camping trip. Our tour included a skiff support that carried our food and camping gear. We kayaked a few hours each day, led by our friendly, competent lead guide Sergio. This left plenty of time for snorkeling and chilling on the beach—the perfect pace for our family. We were pampered with tent set-up, shade tarps, beach chairs, and delicious meals (some freshly caught that day). I felt like a sea princess under my yellow tarp with a cold cerveza.


Our group enjoying snacks and conversation (and shade!) at Isla Espíritu Santo—C.Helbig


Lovely camping spot at Ensenada El Candelero—C.Helbig


Plenty of time to relax on the beach and cool off in the water—Credit:Cindy Smith

The sheer beauty of the desert meets ocean scenery made kayaking and camping at Espíritu Santo an incredibly soothing experience for me. The colour of the water ranges from iridescent greens to deep blues and makes a stunning contrast to the red-toned mountains. We were lucky that our trip coincided with a full moon, which just added to the splendour.


Exceptional clear, shallow water in the bays of Isla Espíritu Santo—C.Helbig


One of my favourite desert meets ocean photos from Isla Espíritu Santos—C.Helbig


View to our camp from El Candelero hike—C.Helbig


The full moon rising over Isla Espíritu Santo—C.Helbig

One of the highlights of the trip was the bird and marine life. We saw blue-footed boobies, frigate birds, sea turtles, dolphins, mobulas (flying rays), moray eels, and lots of tropical fish. But, my favourite marine encounter—and one of the most memorable days of my life—was snorkeling with a colony of friendly sea lions.

Ruben, one of your guides and amazing free diver, captured great moments with the sea lions at Los Islotes, a rocky out cropping to the north of Espíritu Santo. It was pure magic watching these graceful and curious creatures perform their underwater acrobatics. I’ll be doing another post about the Los Islotes sea lions.

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My family and sea lion friend at Los Isoltes—Credit:David Oguey and Ruben Sandoval

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Face to face with a sea lion at Los Islotes—Credit:David Oguey and Ruben Sandoval

Our family’s time in this heavenly spot was enhanced by the company of a very pleasant group of fellow travellers and our guides Sergio, Ruben, Lino, and Guillermo. These four young men are professional and hard-working, and at the same time easy-going and good fun. Alex, our 19-year old, especially appreciated their company among our mostly middle-aged group.


Socializing in our outdoor kitchen—C.Helbig


Chef Lino showing off dessert—Credit:ROW Sea Kayaking Aventures


Dining under a full moon at Isla Espíritu Santo…total bliss—Credit:Cindy Smith

This final photo, taken by Cindy, a fellow participant, really sums up the combination of natural beauty, outdoor adventure, peacefulness, and camaraderie of our Isla Espíritu Santo excursion. It was a phenomenal experience in a spectacular part of the world.


  • ROW Sea Kayak Adventures offers many different trip options in Baja California Sur that vary in location, duration, and activity. Our trip started and ended in La Paz. Other trips depart from Loreto.
  • ROW’s Baja California Sur kayaking excursions run from October through April. Our Espíritu Santo trip was in mid-April, a good time for calm winds and water, and fewer visitors than Christmas and Spring Break. The weather was hot, but the ocean was refreshing, and the nights were pleasant. The best time to see whales is January-March. The warmest water temperatures during kayaking season are in fall.Check out ROW’s website for all the details.




Categories: Activities, Kayaking, Mexico, Places, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

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15 thoughts on “Kayaking and Camping Bliss at Isla Espíritu Santo, Baja California Sur, Mexico

  1. Beside myself with joy to know that I am going to be visiting here. That blue water color, those landscapes, that food! I may not be able to convince the Captain to do ROW, but I am sure as heck going to try since we’ll be in the neighborhood

    Liked by 1 person

    • Our trip to Isla Espiritu Santo was incredible. I adore the desert meets ocean scenery, and seeing it via kayak was very special (being pampered with cold beers and lovely meals wasn’t bad either). Since you guys have your own transportation it will be easy to explore all the pretty coves and beaches and you’ll cover more “ground” than we did. The island around Loretto are wonderful too and I’d love to return and spend more time there, and north of there.

      Liked by 1 person

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  5. Adam Morris

    That sea lion is wonderful – I love your photos, especially the moon rising. Looks like a wonderful trip!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This looks like absolute bliss! From the kayaking, to the sea lions and the chef in the sand. What a gorgeous island! The water is SO clear and SO blue.

    I love the photos too. The one taken from underneath is very fun. What an amazing trip.


    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wonderful colours of water and rocks! Lovely place! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The light and colours are exquisite. Looks great. You know I think I would more worried about the sea lions than the manta rays. Can’t they be dangerous? What about washing and toilets?


    • Good questions Louise. The company we went with was excellent at making sure we knew how “to behave” around the sea lions…don’t touch, hands to yourself, don’t provoke…The sea lions swimming with us were all juveniles and they have become accustomed to humans. They are curious and playful but not aggressive. We were told not to go near the rocks where the bulls hang out and tours don’t run during certain times like mating season. Even the juveniles can be intimidating as they dart toward you but they are just playing with you…quite extraordinary. It is a wonderful experience once you relax.
      As far as washing goes, it’s swimming and some handi wipes. We had a portable toilet with privacy tarp and a view to the ocean…all super well organized and hygienic. Highly recommend this trip and company.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Brian Foster

    I thought the Blue Footed Boobies were only in the Galapagos. Looks like it was great fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Me too, but there they were, blue feet and all. Unfortunately only saw them from a distance, not close up like at Galapagos. It was a very fun trip.


  10. So beautiful! Sign me up:) Love your silhouettes with sea lion.

    Liked by 1 person

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