Though the sun may officially rise around 7a.m., some of the most stunning sights in Baja California occur during half an hour before its rays break over the horizon. This morning was no exception, as National Geographic Venture cruised north within the Sea of Cortez in search of any sort of large marine wildlife. Naturalists and guests alike stood watch on the bow and in the bridge, binoculars and spotting scopes glued to faces, hoping for a splash or a blow in the distance to indicate the presence of a cetacean.

Just before noon, the hard work paid off, as natural history staff spotted a blow and falcate dorsal fin towards the shoreline of the Baja Peninsula. A cow and calf pair of Bryde’s whale (pronounced “brutus”) darted around above a relatively shallow coastal shelf. As one of the smallest of the great whales, they are a little more erratic and difficult to watch; this did not deter Captain Andrew Cook as he skillfully maneuvered National Geographic Venture so that guests could watch them from the spacious bow and observation deck.

After a delicious lunch, we anchored in a protected bay known as Puerto Los Gatos for an afternoon beach bonanza. Guests were able to explore the area by snorkeling above a rocky reef, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding throughout the bay, wandering a nearby arroyo, or just relaxing on the beach. While all this activity was happening, the deck team brought grills ashore so that the galley could prepare a dinner feast to be enjoyed as the sun set on the beautiful rosy sandstone that surrounds the bay.

It is incredible to think about how much has been experienced here in just the last week. From gray and humpback whales, to walks through stunning deserts and sand dunes, there is no question that Baja has truly shown its majesty to us during this voyage.