Bahia Magdalena and Mission San Javier

Mar 15, 2019 - National Geographic Venture

The wind was blowing all through the night and today across the Sea of Cortez, though this did not stop us from exploring between the east and west coast of the Baja Peninsula. The group that opted for the west boarded a nine-car caravan this morning, which took Mexico Highway 1 over the extraordinarily scenic central Baja mountains.

Destination: Magdalena Bay for more gray whale watching. 

The morning was calm and warm as we boarded local pangas in the small cannery town of Lopez Mateos, heading south along the lagoon of upper Magdalena Bay. The trip by water along seemingly endless sand dunes that separate the lagoon from the open Pacific was incredible.

And then there were the gray whales…Not a large number but enough of them to have a fantastic morning of watching. The water was so clear here that we could see each whale’s length as they glided under our pangas! After a delicious local lunch, most of us returned to the shoreline and reboarded the pangas for another session of gray whale watching. Although the wind had come up a bit, we were still able to enjoy wonderful encounters with the gray whales deep in the lagoon before heading back across the stunning Baja mountains in the late afternoon light toward our voyage home.

Those that stayed closer to our shipboard home on the Sea of Cortez boarded other vans for a ride to visit the amazing San Javier Mission, followed by a ride into the beautiful town of Loreto. The drive to the mission was no less incredible than the other group’s as we wound through the mountains to the lovely little town of San Javier in the very center of the peninsula. At the end of town sat the charming mission of San Javier itself. Not only were we able to walk around and into the mission, but we were also guided into a secluded small museum that housed some of the original documents of the mission from the 17th century. What a treat!

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About the Author

Larry Hobbs


Larry has been involved in marine mammal research and natural history education for over 45 years.  His undergraduate training is in zoology, with graduate work in marine biology.  He also holds a master’s degree in psychology and is a certified counselor in the State of Washington.  In addition to his academic training, Larry has spent many years at sea, including two years as mate or master aboard open-ocean sailing ships.  Larry is a professional photographer and his photographs have appeared in Europe, Asia, Australia and Mexico as well as the United States.

About the Videographer

James Napoli

Video Chronicler

Jim was born in rural New England where he quickly developed an appreciation for the outdoors and a love of exploration.  Four years with the U.S. Navy further enhanced his appetite for travel. Always interested in the visual arts, he studied Television at Boston University and Northeast College of Communications, landing his first job in the industry working as an editor at a Boston television station. His wanderlust drew him to a job with two major cruise lines; installing and managing broadcast centers onboard a total of over a dozen ships. He has since moved on to specialize in expedition travel and wildlife productions.  

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