Today was a very full and exciting day in Baja California. It began with guests and staff gathered on the bow of National Geographic Venture. We enjoyed cool breezes off the Sea of Cortez and a beautiful sunrise.

After breakfast, we went ashore on Espiritu Santo Island, not far from La Paz on the mainland. We broke into groups to explore the beach at Punta Dispensa. Some guests enjoyed a long, aerobic hike, while others took a more moderate hike. Everyone learned about the plants and animals of the island. Many of us spotted a black jackrabbit, endemic to this island only.

The beach was strewn with an amazing assortment of biological flotsam: fish skeletons, shells, driftwood and—most amazing of all—a complete dolphin skull and backbone!

We returned to the ship to enjoy a delicious lunch. Then we had an unexpected change in plans for the afternoon. We went into the city of La Paz, where we boarded several pangas (the local name for fishing boats). Local guides took us out into the bay to swim with whale sharks! We jumped into the water with our snorkel gear and swam side-by-side with gargantuan sharks. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most of us, and it was truly amazing.