Today we woke up at our spectacularly calm anchorage at Mangle Solo, located on the western shores of Isla San Jose. We cruised to our nearby snorkel site off the coast of San Francisco Island. On the way, we spotted bottlenose dolphins riding on the bow of National Geographic Venture. It seemed like the dolphins were demonstrating their love for Bernoulli’s principle, which Lee Moll had just lectured about the day before…good timing! As we neared our snorkel spot, a scouting Zodiac confirmed the safety of the site. The scout also confirmed that there were sufficient California sea lions in the area, called Rocas de La Foca. This means “the seal rocks.” We informed our guests that this is actually a misnomer, as sea lions and seals inhabited the rock. This led to a discussion about the differences between the two species.

The guests broke up into two groups to enjoy snorkeling with the sea lions and Zodiac cruising. I had a chance to do both, and I really got a kick out of our snorkelers’ reactions to the sea lions. The sea lions swam up close and personal to guests, did flips and turns, and generally put on an amazing underwater show of acrobatics. In addition, we were treated to schools of yellowtail surgeonfish and sergeant majors patrolling the area.

On our Zodiac cruise, we passed the island of El Pardito and talked to the guests about the history of this small fishing village. We toured beaches and rocks to see birds like Brandt’s cormorants and endemic yellow-footed gulls. It was an amazing morning. When we came back to the ship, we enjoyed seared ahi with rice for lunch. Wow, this is paradise!

After lunch, we weighed anchor and motored a short distance to the turquoise waters of Half Moon Bay, San Francisco Island. We all went ashore for an afternoon of kayaking, hiking, stand-up paddleboarding, and general relaxing. There was something for everyone. This anchorage is one of our most beautiful in the Sea of Cortez, and it did not disappoint on this calm and dreamy afternoon.

Once back onboard, we began our slow journey north to Marina Puerto Escondido. We enjoyed the comradery of our shipmates on our last night together, realizing we had made many new friends over the last week at sea.

Photographers: Tim Hatler and Shane Sander