Isla San Francisco to the City of La Paz

Mar 09, 2020 - National Geographic Venture

Today we woke up in the beautiful bay of Isla San Francisco with a fresh (and a little chilly!) snorkel adventure on the western side of the rocks. The morning was hazy and a little eerie, but the visibility of the water was nonetheless stunning. We saw the usual Gulf of California suspects – schooling yellow snappers, the colonizing pocillopora corals of the Pacific, the dodgy parrot fish, grunts, Cortez angelfish, tiny scissorfish, some crown of thorns starfish feeding action, decorative flower urchins and an everlasting intertwining of marine species all in one small, rocky reef.

We also had a glimpse of Isla San Francisco’s white sandy beaches and gorgeous red rocky ridges, which set the scenery for some spectacular nature walks and birding. We spotted some seagulls, California pelicans, and the curious black-throated sparrow.

Time flew by as we quickly wrapped up to grab brunch and set sail for the city of La Paz. In the meantime, we learned about the local fishing refugia; fisheries management tools employed by the local fishing communities from Loreto to La Paz to improve their catch while preserving the biodiversity of their coastline. We also got to spot some swimming sea lions en route to La Paz and were given a video presentation from our wonderful undersea team on the type of life that abounds right beneath National Geographic Venture. We learned about the pufferfish’s ability to expand 3 times its volume by gulping water, a novel scientific discovery, as well as the Moray eel’s ability to breathe through its mouth, coat itself in slime and shine its distinctive green color. We also learned about starfish anatomy and how they pump water from their madreporite to keep their blood flowing.

Arriving to La Paz was a boost of excitement, as we were greeted with locally made ice cream and the most stunning sunset. Some of us took advantage of the proximity to the malecon and rented bikes to ride through the different sculptures. Others enjoyed viewing the eclectic street art and visiting the cathedral. Finally, we enjoyed a sunset dinner served at the malecon with a series of performances provided by the local folkloric ballet, and an opera singer from Mexico City, who delighted us with traditional Mexican songs while the full moon rose in all of its yellow, hazy glory. Such a stunning end to a marvelous second day navigating the magical peninsula of Baja California.

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About the Author

Yann Herrera


Constantly on the move, Yann’s nomadic nature and his desire for exploration has led him to stumble in awe over and over again with the planet’s astounding wildlife, sceneries and cultures. Growing up in Morelos, Mexico’s capital for ‘eternal spring’, and the rainy coasts of the Pacific Northwest in the United States, the outdoors became an unavoidable home which nurtured his formation as a human being. But living in the chaos and excitement of Mexico City fed his interest in culture, art and people’s relationship to land.

About the Photographer

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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