Isla San Francisco, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Dec 29, 2018 - National Geographic Venture


From start to finish, our full day at Isla San Francisco was filled with exploration and excitement. Warm winds swept across the dry desert island throughout the day adding an edge of adventure to our hikes, beach yoga and time spent kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkeling and swimming in the extraordinarily clear, blue-colored water.

Our final day of Base Camp Baja on National Geographic Venture was a wonderfully busy one with ample opportunities to go ashore at Isla San Francisco and enjoy all the area has to offer. Just after sunrise and breakfast, our Zodiacs began taking us to the long, sandy beach where we could choose from several different natural history and aerobic hikes guided by naturalists and wellness specialists through the salty, cactus-filled desert. Some enjoyed searching for lizards and discussing succulent plants, even tasting the extraordinary nipple cactus berry straight from the plant. Others climbed high to cross the scenic ridge which divides the island, back-lit by the bright yellow sun rising to warm the land.

We then returned from our land journeys to fill our senses with thrill by taking part in our favorite water activities in the afternoon. Some kayaked and paddle boarded the calm seas near shore, others embraced the local marine life through snorkeling.  Shallow within the large boulders and bright green coral, we quickly observed giant blue damselfish darting under rock ledges, tan and yellow-spotted sea stars lying within red and brown algae, flower urchins camouflaging themselves with small stones, and long, slender cornetfish slithering through the water column. Those who explored the waters further around our cove were rewarded with thousands of sardines swirling into robust, silvery walls that light could barely penetrate.

As the sun began to set, we finished our time on shore by playing guitar, singing songs around a beach bonfire, roasting marshmallows, and eating smores. Once back on the ship, we shared our day’s highlights with new friends over a Mexican fiesta dinner. It was a wonderful visit to Baja California Sur, sure to be followed by many more.

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About the Author

Christine West

Undersea Specialist

Christine was fortunate to grow up in the Pacific Northwest on the shores of the Puget Sound. After graduating from the University of Washington, she decided to pursue her love of the ocean and exploration. Her passion for marine biology has inspired her through over 4,000 scuba dives around the globe in temperate and cold-water conditions, as well as snorkeling and freediving in extraordinary habitats such as in river beds with spawning salmon, in recently de-glaciated bays and lagoons filled with ice and glacial silt and in deep blue water with large marine animals including humpback whales, hammerhead sharks and pilot whales.

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