Just across the water from the north-west of Mexico is an arid region, part of the Sonora desert - Baja California. The 1300 km-long peninsula separates the Pacific Ocean from the Sea of Cortez and stretches from Mexicali to Los Cabos.

Along the coast

Much of Baja California is covered by the Sierra Mountains, some of which reach an altitude of up to 3000 m and plunge deep into the Sea of Cortez. The peninsula is a result of a unique geographic configuration which has created its austere yet exceptional nature.

The coasts enjoy a warm, dry climate, unaffected by the Sierras' oceanic influences. Vegetation in Baja California is mostly made up of cacti, boasting around one hundred varieties, 80 of which are endemic. A few oaks and conifers have made the higher ground their home while mangrove trees can be found along the coasts as the water filters inland. A few palm trees border the long stretches of white sand, lapped by clear, deep-blue waters. Meanwhile, ochre yellow sheer slopes and earth offer a striking contrast with the blue of the sea and the breathtaking sunsets.

Islands and islets are a refuge for many species of seabird and are home to rare reptiles - this is why they are nicknamed the Galapagos of the Northern Hemisphere.

Dive into the waters of Baja California

While the cool waters of the Pacific which border the west coast of Baja California are full of hundreds of species of fish, molluscs, dolphins and whales, the true treasure is without a doubt the warm, calm waters of the Sea of Cortez. Nicknamed "aquarium of the world" by Commander Cousteau, set sail here to discover the largest sea mammals in the world.

The Sea of Cortez is famous throughout the world for its incredible wealth of marine life. It's clear waters are home to nearly 900 species of fish, around a hundred of which are endemic, 39% of the planet's marine mammals and a third of cetacean species. One of the most eagerly-awaited spectacles in this aquatic paradise is the breeding season for the blue whale, the biggest marine mammal in the world, which takes place from December to April. Calves are born here before leaving for cooler waters in the North Pacific.

Playing with sea lions is another fantastic experience to be had during your cruise in the Sea of Cortez. These friendly mammals are not shy at all and will quite happily enjoy themselves in the water with new species of animals, such as you. And even if the whales are not always guaranteed, it is not hard to miss the numerous colonies of sea lions which live all over the islands in the Sea of Cortez. Los Islotes, the islands to the North of La Paz, especially the tip of Espiritu Santo, were classed as a UNESCO natural reserve in 2005. In addition to being a rocky formation with amazing mountains, it is one of the most beautiful diving spots in the world.

Sail in the Sea of Cortez

There are not many departure points for sailing in the Baja California Gulf. La Paz, at the southern tip of the peninsula, is the most accessible destination for renting for sailing boat or catamaran. The rest of the region is not very developed in terms of tourism. Although La Paz is a lovely town, you do not go to this part of Mexico for its beach resorts. Sailing in the Sea of Cortez is an exceptional opportunity to go and discover wild fauna that cannot be seen anywhere else in the world and discover landscapes which are magnificent yet inhospitable.

The best time to go is from November to May, as winds are calmer. However, be aware of Chubascos - these storms are both violent and sudden. On the other hand, if you want to go and see whales, you should go in the winter months. Whatever your choice, this cruise will give you unforgettable memories.


Worth knowing/Advice

  • Official language: Spanish. English is widely understood
  • Time difference: -8 in winter, -7 in summer
  • Currency: the Peso is more or less indexed to the US Dollar. Therefore, the exchange rate can vary a lot (mid 2016, €1 = 20 pesos)
  • Only drink bottled water
  • There are not many places to refuel, so plan what you need when you depart from La Paz. Fishing will create fantastic, varied menus
  • Secluded anchorages in sheltered bays and coves
  • A world-famous diving destination
  • Wild destination with few tourists, enjoying exceptional nature


The ports in this sailing area

Isla Espiritu Santo, Isla San Jose, La Paz ...


Formalities

  • To go to Mexico, you must have a passport which is valid at least for the duration of your stay. However, if you have a layover in the United States, please be aware of the formalities for entering the country (ESTA).
  • To sail in Mexico, you will need a sailing license and up-to-date sailing experience.

When to travel?

There isn't really a better season to be sailing in the Sea of Cortez. The busiest season is from November to May - the breeding season for blue wales.

Temperatures vary between 21°C in the winter and 35°C in the summer but the nights can be cool, especially during the winter months. The wind blows from the north-west during the winter months, and changes to south-east in summer. The mostly calm and constant winds and the calm sea provide easy and comfortable sailing conditions. Be aware of Chubascos - sudden and violent thunderstorms.

The south of Baja California can also be affected by storms from time to time during the tropical period, but this is quite rare.

Winds

summer
10 knots
(average)
Winter
12 knots
(average)

Temperatures

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun
21° 20° 20° 22° 24° 26°
Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
28° 29° 30° 29° 26° 22°