Puerto Escondido and Isla San Francisco

Feb 18, 2019 - National Geographic Venture

We docked at Puerto Escondido as the slow flare of the early morning skies exhibited bright pinks, reds, and oranges all around us. The dramatic display of sky reflected with great intensity off a gleaming horizon while craggy, serrated cliffs and layered ash flows descend into the sea. It does not take much to lose one’s breath to the beauty of this space.

It was clear to us that the day was going to be a day where the opportunity for experiences would surpass the amount of time available. Not yet off the dock toward land, a small group of bottlenose dolphins took our attention by barreling in and out of the water from one side of the pier to the other and back. Who knows how long they would have kept at it if we had stayed!

In the afternoon guests went ashore for several activities around Isla San Francisco. Many went for a snorkel to investigate the rich marine waters. Others took an extended hike up the ridge to get some exercise and to gain a commanding view of the small protected anchorage and the surrounding topography. Some hikers happened across the salt deposits and the halophilic plants that thrive in an otherwise extreme and ecologically select habitat.

Inspired by a group of kids on board, many of the adults joined in on the tide-pooling. We had the good fortune being there at a time in which the island was undergoing an unusually low minus tide. This allowed us to get further down into the intertidal zone. And we are surely the better for it as we were graced in witnessing an array of creatures, including brittle stars, pencil urchins, hermit crabs, nudibranchs, sea stars, flat worms, and one particularly popular baby octopus! We had no less than to pry those kids out from the intertidal rocks—otherwise they still might be there!

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About the Author

Sean Neilson


The summer after Sean graduated from college, he waited tables in Yellowstone to delay entering “the real world”. It was there, in the unending beauty of such a special place, where he realized the natural world was the real world—and it had captured him.

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