Sheltered behind the 800-mile-long Baja Peninsula, the third largest in the world, Mexico’s Sea of Cortez is one of the most unique cruising grounds on Earth. Nowhere else is such a pristine and remote desert region so accessible to power cruisers, with soaring mountains that change from yellow, to red, to purple as the day progresses, gleaming white-sand beaches set in secluded coves fringed with forests of massive cardón cactuses, and brilliant blue waters so clear it’s like looking through glass to the seafloor below.
The fishing is some of the best in the world in the Sea of Cortez and off Cabo San Lucas. Blue, black, and striped marlin, Pacific sailfish, mahi-mahi, yellowfin tuna, wahoo, and many other species of fish thrive in these waters. The rocky, sandy, and sometimes coral-studded seabed supports millions of tropical fish, presenting the opportunity during a Baja powerboat charter to snorkel and scuba dive virtually every day on steep drop-offs, along canyon walls, into caves, and among stone pinnacles. California gray whales, dolphins, sea lions, and herds of shy antelope ashore are all in evidence. A Baja charter also offers sightseeing in La Paz and relaxing at the luxurious Costa Baja Resort & Marina.
A Baja powerboat charter promises a stress-free, rejuvenating cruise in one of the most spectacularly beautiful places on Earth. The waters are generally clear of hazards, and the anchorages are secure with good holding in sand. With a Moorings Powercat capable of cruising at a fuel efficient 14 to 16 mph, it’s possible to easily cover a lot of ground quickly, assuring that there’s plenty of time to enjoy numerous destinations every day before heading to an overnight anchorage. Basic navigational skills are all that’s required. The Sea of Cortez is pleasant year round. The Coromuel winds often blow from the southwest at night from early spring through late fall, creating a pleasant cool breeze. The average daytime temperature in the summer is 95°F (35°C). Temperatures during the rest of the year range from 70°F to 85°F (21°C to 29°C). In the winter months, it can get chilly at night. Expect sunshine most of the time, roughly 300 to 340 days per year. The tide ranges from two to six feet.
It’s difficult to describe just how beautiful the cruising is in the Sea of Cortez, but the fact that it draws sailors and powerboaters from around the world attests to its incredible wonders. The Sea of Cortez truly must be experienced firsthand to fully understand why it’s so popular, and yet remains pleasingly free of the usual tourist trap ambience found elsewhere in premier yachting locales. A Baja powerboat charter is not all about marinas and nightclubs, though that is obviously part of the fun when in La Paz. The pleasures come more from an appreciation of the natural beauty of the desert, the mountains, and the shimmering blue sea aboard a private luxury yacht so spacious it feels a little like a floating 5-star hotel that shifts from one gorgeous cove or bay to the next, revealing an ever-changing view of the exotic and unique. A Baja charter is great for the entire family and will inspire fond memories for years to come.
La Paz is the largest city and capital of the Mexican state of Baja California Sur with a population of about 300,000. Yet it retains a small-town ambience. A scenic boardwalk runs along the edge of the harbor, with its historic grand hotels on the north and south end of the waterfront. Cafes, restaurants, nightclubs, shops, art galleries, and the Juarez Theater for performing arts are downtown. The museums in the city – National Art Museum, Museo de Oro, Casa Murillo, to name a few – present a fascinating tableau of Mexican history. Nearby is the world-class CostaBaja Resort & Marina, site of the Moorings base in La Paz. Amenities at the resort include a full-service, modern marina, excellent restaurant, infinity pool, championship golf course, and a business center with high-speed Internet access. It’s an ideal location to begin a Baja yacht charter.
About 20 million years ago the peninsula of Baja California broke away from the mainland to create the Sea of Cortez and the mountains that rise steeply from its shores. Large and small islands capped with high hills were left behind. Isla Espiritu Santo, roughly 18 nautical miles north of La Paz, broke apart to form Isla Partida (the island that parted). A sandspit bisected with a narrow channel still connects them, so they are both only technically two separate islands. The Nature Conservancy has identified Isla Espiritu Santo, designated as a protected area in 1978, as one of the most ecologically significant islands in the Sea of Cortez. With its ecosystem largely undisturbed, the terrestrial and marine life is among the most diverse in the region; some species of rabbit, squirrel, and snakes are found nowhere else in the world. It’s a remarkable place for sailors to explore.
Situated at the tip of Isla Espiritu Santo is a formation of rocks rising sharply from the Sea of Cortez called Los Islotes. The rocks and cliffs appear as though they are from another world, twisted and misshapen, and somehow sublimely grand. Hundreds of golden-colored sea lions sun themselves on the rocks, their strident barks filling the air. It is possible to swim with the sea lions, and the snorkeling and scuba diving at Los Islotes is some of the best in Mexico.
One of the delights of a Baja charter is the chance to walk through a forest of cardón cactuses, the largest such plants in the world. Just a short distance from the anchorage at Isla San José is a superb example of these cactuses, which branch upwards as high as 60 feet with the 2,000-foot, reddish hued mountains and a sparkling blue sky in the background. Children and adults alike will find the cardón forest unforgettable, a must for the shutterbug of the family. A beautiful white-sand beach fronts the shore of the island, a great place to explore with the kids. Snorkeling is excellent in the area.