A week-long island adventure in the Sea of Cortez designed to teach students about marine ecology through exciting outdoor adventures and amazing animals encounters.
“What truly amazes me about the Gulf of California is how alive it is. Its islands— populated not by people but by seabirds, sea lions, and lovely, life-asserting desert plants—give an impression of wilderness far beyond the proximity of the U.S. and mainland Mexico. Despite serious over fishing for some species, the Gulf is largely a safe haven. For us it is a safe haven too, an easily accessed place to marvel at wild abundance, wide horizons, and intense desert beauty.” – Author & Scientist Carl Safina
Just 7 million years ago, the Baja Peninsula began to separate from mainland Mexico. Sea water from the Pacific filled the low-lying basins to form the Gulf of California, or the Sea of Cortez. It is one of the youngest marine systems, but due to the constant sunlight, deep nutrient upwelling, and mixing of tides and currents, it is an oasis for marine life and one of the most biologically diverse places on Earth!
There are over 900 species of fish, 30+ species of marine mammals, 170 species of shore and marine birds, and 1700 species of invertebrates. Our island camp is set on an uninhabited island World Heritage Site surrounded by a marine preserve. It is a classroom in the wild surrounded by a living laboratory to explore, play, and discover! Snorkeling day trips combined with student centered research projects, and evening presentations will teach young adventurers about the ecology of the Sea of Cortez, and ways to protect the world’s waters no matter where on Earth they live.
Our camp is set on an uninhabited island and World Heritage Site 26 miles from La Paz, Baja Sur, Mexico. Surrounded by a marine preserve, it is a classroom in the wild, with a living laboratory to explore, play, and discover! Far from roughing it, the camp provide all of the creature comforts you are used to except that you are sleeping in a tent. A 6 person crew, 1-2 guides, naturalist, and boat captain will ensure that participants are well fed, cared for, and that they have a positive experience that they will remember forever. Amenities include, solar power, manual flushing toilets, solar showers, and all equipment is provided! During free time, students can enjoy the use of kayaks, paddle boards, and beach volleyball net.
Educational day trips combined with student centered research projects, and evening presentations will teach young adventurers about the ecology of the Sea of Cortez, and ways to protect the world’s waters no matter where on Earth they live.
- Learn to snorkel and explore coral reefs, rocky reefs, and sandy bays.
- Dive in with 500 wild and playful wild sea lions.
- Experience beach-life while glamping on an uninhabited island.
- Kayak through sea caves and along rugged desert coast.
- Hike through pristine desert and learn about seemingly otherworldly creatures that have adapted to this extreme environment.
- Daily whale watching and dolphin spotting boat trips at sunset.
- See the sky full of billions of stars, unhindered by light pollution.
- Learn to SCUBA dive! (Additional Fee)
Meet Your Guides
Trip Facilitator / Guide
Tara has 17 years of experience in eco-tourism, guiding and educating students of all ages in the Americas, the Caribbean, and Iceland. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in Natural Resource Management with an emphasis in Environmental Education/Interpretation. Tara has worked for notable educational, scientific, and conservation organizations and institutions such as the John G. Shedd Aquarium, Chicago’s Museum of Science & Industry, USDA Forest Service in the Chugach National Forest in Alaska, and Wild Studies in the Bahamas. Tara is a PADI Open Water Diver, Advanced Diver, Rescue Diver and has specialty certifications as Underwater Naturalist, Deep Diver, Multi-Level diver and Night Diver.
Divemaster / Fun Baja Diving & Eco-Adventures, LaPaz, Mexico
Chabelo (Pronounced Chaah Bell-O) is a Divemaster for Fun Baja Diving & Eco-Adventures based out of La Paz. Chabelo has been instructing and leading SCUBA divers for 15 years with Fun Baja and instructing snorkeling and free-diving with Green Edventures for 8 years. Our guests consistently tell us how they appreciate the care and attention he gives to everyone in the group. Chabelo is funny, playful, and loves to share everything he knows about his backyard, the Sea of Cortez and his home, La Paz. Chabelo is talented at finding marine life so participants can see the most of the reef. He is also a sea lion whisperer. With him, you will see and interact with the sea lions in a very special way. Your friends won’t believe the pictures!
►Where Do We Stay?
- Night 1: Camp
- Night 2: Camp
- Night 3: Camp
- Night 4: Camp
- Night 5: Camp
- Night 6: Hotel in La Paz
- Night 7: Hotel in La Paz
►Day 1: Arrival to San Jose del Cabo, journey to Espiritu Santo Island.
Groups arrive from the US at Los Cabo Airport (SJD) between 11am-2pm. We’ll board the 15-passenger vans and drive 1.5 hours north toward La Paz with a stop for lunch in San Bartolo. After lunch we’ll continue north another 1.5 hours. In La Paz, we head toward the marina and the Fun Baja Dive Shop. Here, dive gear is issued and the boats are loaded for the journey to Espiritu Santo Island, your home for the next five nights! We will arrive at camp before dark, just in time for a fabulous dinner! The tents will already be set up and ready for you to move in.
►Day 2: Snorkeling in Ensenada Grande and Las Cuevas.
Participants will learn basic snorkeling skills and then free-diving techniques in the shallow bay of Ensenada Grande.
Participants will use their snorkeling skills to explore the rocky shoreline at Las Cuevas and their free-diving skills to see garden eels in the sandy flats at 25ft.
Survival of the Finnest: Fish are the most abundant vertebrate animals which dominate nearly every habitat in the hydrosphere. Why are they so successful?
►Day 3: Cross Island Hike and Snorkeling at El Candelero Island
The Cross Island Hike is a 2.5 to 3 hour round trip hike which is relatively flat with a few boulders to scramble up or slide down. It terminates at the opposite side of Isla Partida and reveals stunning views of the eastern side of the island.
Escape the heat and jump into the cool water at Isla El Candelero. This tiny island is a great spot to get up close to birds like cormorants, gulls, and pelicans; as this island serves as a small rookery.
Gulf of California: Introduction to an ocean oasis: 40 minute slide show presentation that introduces students to oceanography and the physical processes which formed the Gulf of California and the biotic and abiotic factors that make it one of the most biological diverse marine systems on the planet.
►Day 4: Snorkeling at El Candelero & Hike at El Cardonel
El Candelero is a tiny island that serves as a small rookery for cormorants, gulls, and pelicans. Below the waterline, you will find a rocky reef that tapers from 3ft to 25 ft. There are soft and hard corals in the shallow, well-lit water. Take your time to let your eyes adjust and see the rocks come to life. Tiny invertebrates like crabs, nudibranchs, and tube worms are well camouflaged. That “thing” that looks like a rock is probably an animal! There are large schools of beautiful fish hanging out around the reef. Grunts, yellowtail surgeonfish, king angelfish, triggerfish, scissortails, and parrotfishes are just some of the fish we see here.
El Cardonel Hike:
The only forest on Espiritu Santo Island is a Cardon Forest. Resembling the Saguaros of Arizona, these cacti are endemic only to the Baja Peninsula. Slow growing and long lived, these plants can live over 300 years and weigh over 2000 pounds. The hike is easy over flat terrain. Your guide will introduce you to many plant species of the desert and the adaptations they have to surviving in this harsh environment.
Empty Ocean: Human caused environmental issues threatening biodiversity of the global ocean.
►Day 5: Snorkel w/ Sea Lions at Los Islotes
Get up close and personal with our favorite underwater “dogs.” Named the friendliest sea lion colony in North America, Los Islotes is the best place to interact with them in their natural habitat. They dart past you, nibble on your fins, and get whisker-to-dive mask with you for great photos and videos, too.
We return to Los Islotes to explore other habitats for those who want a little more time with the sea lions. SCUBA divers and DISCOVER SCUBA divers will have a chance do their dives at this time, too.
There are many different habitats around Los Islotes, we may visit several times. On the North side of the island is a shallow reef of hard and soft corals. The water is so clear that the sunlight brings out the natural colors of the corals and fishes. It is so easy to take photos here with even the most basic of cameras. At the arch, large boulders the size of cars, are piled on the bottom forming habitat for very large groupers, eels, and Amarillo Snappers. Bright Orange Cup corals, barnacles, tube worms, and other sessile inverts cling to the rocks. This site will be your favorite for the week, if not your favorite for life!
►Day 6: Hike to Archeological Site and Snorkel at El Coralito
After breakfast we will depart by boat and travel 30 minutes south to San Gabriel Bay to explore an archaeology site and then to snorkel El Corralito Bay. The clear, calm, sun-filled waters provide prime conditions for a very large expanse of continuous hard coral reef known as the carpet of corals. Return to La Paz. Check into hotel. Dinner in town.
►Day 7: La Paz: Shopping and Cultural Day
We will visit some of the cultural attractions of La Paz including the Whale Museum & Anthropology Museum. Then shopping for souvenirs along the malecon.
Free time at the hotel and finish up research projects.
We’ll gather once last time at Rancho Viejo Restaurant for a mouth watering dinner of their famous arrecherra style meat with fresh salsas and tortillas.
►Day 8: Departure Day
We will meet in the hotel restaurant for a hearty breakfast for your big travel day. Depending of departure times and arrival times of the next group, your group may depart La Paz as early as 9am. You will journey by 15-passenger van to Los Cabos Airport. Flights depart after 4pm.
Please note: The activities and schedule may change without notice as practical considerations arise during program development, or onsite for the safety of participants.
Inclusions & Exclusions
- All activities listed on this page.
- Group ground transport from Los Cabos Airport.(SJD)
- Group meals from lunch on arrival day to breakfast on departure day.
- All activities and lodging.
$300 deposit then equal monthly installments. Final payment is due 30 days prior to travel.
All payments are non-refundable if cancelled by the participant. Participants are highly encouraged to purchase travel insurance to cover unforeseen circumstances that may interrupt or cancel the trip.
Students will need a valid passport to travel to Mexico that is valid for the duration of the stay and has one blank page. Participants are also required to have a notarized form signed by both parents providing permission for minor children to travel.