As our plane descended into Loreto, Mexico the Sierra de la Giganta mountain range, Isla Carmen and Danzante Islands came into view. After a quick overnight in the sleepy fishing village of Loreto, we were off to begin our week long sea kayaking and whale watching vacation with Row Sea Kayak Adventures. Our group of 10 came from all walks of life; a father and son, two former Outward Bound employees, an active adventure couple, three friends who had met previously on a whale watching trip in the Azores and me. While we all had different levels of kayaking experience, our common bond of wanderlust and adventure bound us together over the next eight days.
Our 3×3 Combo Tour of three days of sea kayaking and three days of whale watching, in addition to upscale hotel stays between departures, was broken into manageable bites. The blend of ocean activities, sprinkled with hotel visits, was ideal for this active adventure baby boomer. I also surveyed my fellow travelers and everyone agreed that the trip delivered the perfect mix of adventure with relaxation. Our vacation in Baja California Sur began in the islands of Loreto Bay National Marine Park, followed with gray whale watching in Magdalena Bay.
Kayak to Honeymoon Beach
After a thorough safety briefing, we launched our fiberglass touring kayaks from API Master Harbor beach. Head Sea Kayak guide, Maria Aguilar and guide Edgar Magallanes served as our wing men in single kayaks, while guide Sergio Mariscal was my kayak partner.
“For new kayakers, I tell them that it’s not all about your arms,” notes Mariscal. “It’s about engaging your core muscles. It’s a little like dancing with your paddle.”
Our morning paddle was a leisurely two-hour trek in order for the guides to gauge our sea kayaking abilities and allowed us to take in the views of this magnificent UNESCO World Heritage site. What a pleasure having knowledgeable guides with us. Maria pointed out the desert flowers and cacti when we landed on the beach of the uninhabited Danzante Island, while Edgar and Sergio dove deep into the aqua marine colored water, brings up sea urchins and seastars for us to oggle up close – being careful to gently place them back onto the ocean floor below. They pointed out brightly colored Sargent Major fish and shy Puffer fish as we snorkeled in the Sea of Cortez – wet suits and snorkel gear provided by Row Sea Kayak Adventures.
“My dad suggested this trip,” said Alan Chancellor, 24 of Cary, North Carolina. “I live at home, but this was a chance to really be together. I have never camped, so I was a little leary about six days camping in a tent. This was my first time ocean kayaking. The trip was outside of our typical vacation. I definitely feel like I’m learning more about myself. As a trip, it’s nice to be cooperative on a more adult level. I like the group. It’s nice to meet in different walks of life.”
Life is good on the beach when someone else takes care of everything. The company covers all the details from suggestions for things to see and do in Loreto to providing a packing list with what to bring on your sea kayaking adventure. The Idaho-based company provides Kelty single and double tents, Thermarest sleeping pads, pillows, Slumberjack sleeping bags with McNeill Folio sleeping bag liners and all the snorkel gear for this all-inclusive Mexico vacation.
“I’ve been active my entire life,” noted Brint Adams, 67, of Lake Alfred, Florida. “I seek out active adventure trips. I used to be a long distance runner. Now I do long distance kayak racing. Once or twice a year my wife and I do some type of active adventure trip. When I look for things to see and do, things like Row Adventures pop up. This is our second trip with Row. This type of vacation allows use to pack in a lot within a relatively short amount of time.”
“I like adventure, but I want someone preparing my meals and setting up my tent,” laughed Linda Adams. “I’m a retired school teacher. I love nature and learning from the guides about various flowers, fauna and sea life.”
I never want to over-promise experiences in my reviews, as guides come and go, but let me tell you, these sea kayak guides can cook! All guests agreed that happy hour on the beach, followed by a Baja California Sur sunset is the best way to start and end a vacation. Don’t even get me started on the food! Maria’s chicken mole and Edgar’s pineapple lime upside down cake, hot out of the dutch oven, are hard to beat. The fresh ceviche and Triggerfish Vera Cruz were as good as any served at a top-notch restaurant.
Spring Courtright, 39, of Port Orchard, Washington is a sea kayaking guide and formerly managed and outdoor company. “As a former logistics coordinator for Outward Bound and a naturalist instructor, I’ve worn many hats. It’s amazing to me that I spent the money on someone’s elses tour, but it’s been absolutely worth it,” Courtright notes upon reflection. “I met Beth, my kayak partner, doing logistics for Outward Bound around 15 years ago. We’ve been adventure buddies ever since. This is our first international adventure together. We were both recently engaged and while we felt we should take our fiancees, we had already booked this trip. We didn’t know when we’d have this opportunity again. As a guide myself, it was nice to not have to worry about the tides and logistics.”
Both of my children were involved in scouting and enjoy backpacking in the wilderness. Our family is very familiar with the “Leave No Trace” principles. I appreciate that Row Sea Kayak Adventures practices responsible travel. Additionally, the guides presented local history, environmental issues in Mexico, as well as cultural heritage and natural history lessons to enhance our trip.
Need to know
While it helps to be physically fit, you don’t need to be an experienced paddler to join this adventure. Anticipate two plus hours of kayaking in the mornings and afternoons. Campsite locations are fluid and will ebb and flow like the tides. The guides receive weather reports daily in the morning from Puerto Escondido. We encountered a particularly windy morning and abandoned plans to camp on Danzante Island, instead, we crossed the channel safely and pitched our tents on the mainland. If at anytime you feel too tired to paddle, a support boat is there to tow the kayak and you are free to sit back and enjoy the boat ride.
A packing list is provided but if you are like me, and haven’t camped in awhile, you might overlook an important item not included on the list – pack a flashlight! Check the website for more information and pricing. For additional insider tips follow luxury travel writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter @nancydbrown and follow @RowSeaKayak.
If you go
Row Sea Kayak Adventures (800) 616-1943 http://www.seakayakadventures.com
P.O. Box 3862
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho 83816-3862
Baja California Sur sea kayaking review, photos and YouTube video by travel writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Row Sea Kayak Adventures, however all opinions are my own.