Oh, joy! That buoyant, sunny emotion. Sometimes so intense a sensation that fills your chest with millions of fluttering butterflies. Can you relate to feeling overcome by sheer childish joy? Feeling like bouncing off the walls? Oftentimes, so elusive a feeling to get wowed, especially when your daily routine involves thrilling, adventurous, and hilarious moments over and over again. But every now and then, the pure joy is brought on by something as simple as staring at the pure island wilderness of Isla Espiritu Santo. Set in a parched desert landscape starkly contrasted by the sparkling turquoise water, frigate birds circle overhead. Sea lions bask in the sun. The playful pups swirl around you and each other. You are simply in a place out of this world.
The impossibly beautiful island archipelago of Isla Espiritu Santo in the Sea of Cortez, off the coast of La Paz in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur, is teeming with biodiversity. A wide variety of seabirds, manta rays, dolphins, organ pipe cactus, ringtail cats, a wealth of reptiles, myriads of tropical fish, seasonal whales, whale sharks, and a colony of resident sea lions, all call these volcanic islets home.
|This area is said to be home to roughly 300 sea lions.|
Isla Espiritu Santo is among the many islands in the Gulf of California Biosphere Reserve since 1995, vigorously protected by UNESCO and by the Mexican government. According to our snorkeling guide, the area has actually been protected since the 1970s. In the 1990s there happened to be a dispute with a landowner who wanted to build a casino resort on the island. After long discussions and a huge amount of money paid out, the conservationist and government were able to get back the land. Today the island archipelago is uninhabited and the tours are strictly regulated. Only from December to March, overnight trips are allowed where you can camp under the stars on a lonely beach, kayak, snorkel, whale watch, swim with sea lions, whale sharks, manta rays, and walk the authorized hiking trails, to name some of the activities.
|Frigate birds have red throats that can inflate like balloons to attract a mate|
Having arrived in La Paz, the capital of Baja California, slightly too early for the camping season, we had to content ourselves with a day trip to observe the endemic fauna, snorkel in the crystal clear waters, swim with schools of sardines, and befriend the resident sea lions.
|Can you spot the camouflaged birds? Look closer, there is more than one!|
Obviously, one day wasn’t enough to truly immerse ourselves in this unreal place. All the same, I am grateful to the Mexican government for protecting the islands from any kind of development, granting this slice of untouched land to preserve its natural beauty for future generations.
Filled with a deep sense of gratitude, I proudly present this crown jewel among my collection of unforgettable adventures.