Espiritu Santo—Bonanza Bay & Punta Dispensa

Feb 08, 2018 - National Geographic Sea Bird

We started our day anchored off the island of Espiritu Santo in the Sea of Cortez. The morning light illuminated the starkly beautiful hills on the island. After a filling breakfast, we went to shore, landing on a gorgeous white beach. Several people went with our wellness specialist, Michelle on a long aerobic hike across the island. Others joined the naturalists for shorter walks that focused more on learning about the island’s wildlife, plants, and geology. The massive cardón cacti were among the amazing natural wonders we saw. Some of us managed to see two of Espiritu Santo’s endemic vertebrates: the black jackrabbit and the whiptail lizard. Other activities in the morning included free-form exploration and kayaking in the bay.

We assembled for lunch on the National Geographic Sea Bird as she carried us to the other side of the island. In the afternoon, many of us took the opportunity to snorkel off of Punta Dispensa where we discovered the fascinating world under the waves. We saw numerous fish species among the corals including king angelfish, porcupine fish, reef cornetfish, and many more.

In the late afternoon, we ventured onto the shore again as the galley and other crew worked swiftly and efficiently to set up a beach barbeque for all of us. Meanwhile, some guests joined our photo instructor Emily, along with naturalist Alberto, for a photo walk along the beach. Some people opted to kayak along the shore and some even used the stand-up paddleboards.

The evening was delightfully warm and calm as we ate dinner on the beach by our fire. The clouds became multi-hued and beautiful with the setting sun. The end to an exceptionally great day in Baja!

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About the Author

Ivan Phillipsen


Ivan is a passionate naturalist with a background in scientific research. He has participated in studies of a diverse assortment of organisms: aspen trees, cactus wrens, aquatic snails, frogs, and beetles. He holds a M.S. in biology from Cal State San Bernardino and a Ph.D. in zoology from Oregon State University. The population genetics of freshwater animals was his area of focus. He has published a series of papers on the evolutionary biology of amphibians and aquatic insects. Ivan’s scientific work invariably involved backpacking into remote wilderness areas to find his secretive research subjects in their natural habitats.

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