Isla Espiritu Santo Marine Reserve

Isla Espiritu Santo and its surrounding islands were declared part of a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1995. The islands are both uninhabited, Ensenada Grande beach, on Isla Partida, is one of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico. The reserve is made up of two main islands, Espiritu Santo and Isla Partida. There are numerous smaller islets and islands with white sandy beaches, shallow coral reefs, extinct volcanoes, endemic wildlife and interesting geological formations to explore. Due to the large size of the reserve (It would take many weeks of exploring to see everything) our tours are customized to your interests. There are opportunities for snorkeling with sea lions, reef snorkeling, free-diving, whale watching, bird watching, hiking and just plain old hanging out on the beach.

One of the main highlights of the park is a visit to Los Islotes, two small rocky islets home to a colony of California Sea Lions. These majestic creatures are highly inquisitive and are a thrill to view in the water, often posing for photographs, chasing bubbles and will even gently bite and tug on fins and equipment. The Los Islotes sea lion colony is located at the northern tip of the Isla Espiritu Santo biosphere reserve and is inhabited year round by a large population of California Sea Lions, approximately 300 individuals. During the tour we will have the chance to swim and interact with these playful animals and also enjoy snorkeling with the large amount of fish found at this shallow dive site.

The Tour

During a typical full day tour we will encircle the islands, making stops at Isla Ballena and Candalero Bay for snorkeling before arriving at the Los Islotes sea lion colony to snorkel with the sea lions. Your tour includes an education on the dynamics of these habitats, the fish and wildlife species that live here and the best practices for viewing them in the wild. The tour is led by a guide knowledgeable of the history of the islands and marine life found here in La Paz.

The sea lion colony lies approximately 2 hours from the harbor of La Paz. As we cruise out of the harbor we will pass San Rafaelito, a smaller sea lion colony where mainly adult sea lions live. Another half an hour will bring us the to the San Lorenzo Channel which separates the mainland from the islands of Espiritu Santo and Isla Partida, a UNESCO Bio-reserve. After crossing the channel we will cruise into the islands, enjoying the desert scenery and keeping an eye out for sea turtles, manta and mobula rays and any other pelagic creatures that may be on the surface. During the whale watching season there is also a chance to see humpback whales who often breach and put on a good show.

Once we arrive at Los Islotes we will suit up and snorkel with the sea lions, an experience you won’t soon forget. The juvenile sea lions are very playful and have no reservations about approaching humans. Los Islotes is also an excellent snorkeling site with varied topography and a large amount of reef fish and soft and hard corals. We will have time to snorkel both sides of the colony, you will see both the north side’s deep reef and the shallower basin of the south side. After snorkeling with the sea lions we will begin our journey back to La Paz, stopping in one of the picturesque bays for a picnic lunch and enjoy some more snorkeling, sunbathing or go on a short walk of the beach and explore some of the uninhabited island. The late afternoon is also a good time to spot the jumping mobula rays, a wildlife display unique to only a few areas in the world. These mobula rays are not very large but will often school in large numbers and can jump very high out of the water.

This is a full day tour and includes

  • Wet-suit and snorkeling equipment.
  • Lunch (vegetarian/vegan options), juices and water, snacks and fresh fruits.
  • In-water guide (Spanish/English)
  • A private tour is $500 usd (max. 4 ppl). Add $20 for each additional person up to 6 passengers maximum. For larger groups please contact us.